Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) / Frigate (FF)

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Product Type:

Combat Ship (Close-to-Shore Operations)

Using Service (US):


Program Status:

In Production

Prime Contractors:

Lockheed Martin Corporation
Austal USA
General Dynamics - Bath Iron Works

Both Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) classes

About the Littoral Combat Ship:

The Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) is a fast, agile, and stealthy naval platform designed for operation in near-shore (littoral) environments. The LCS is designed to defeat threats such as mines, submarines, and fast surface craft. The ships are outfitted with interchangable mission equipment suited to the task at hand.

The LCS comes in two variants, the Freedom Class and the Independence Class. The Freedom Class is powered by two Rolls-Royce MT30 marine gas turbine engines, each delivering 36MW. The Independence Class is powered by two General Electric LM2500 marine gas turbine engines, each rated at 25MW.

The Freedom variant (LCS 1, LCS 3, LCS 5, LCS 7, LCS 9, LCS 11 and beyond) is built in Marinette, Wisconsin by a Lockheed Martin-led team, which includes ship builder Marinette Marine Corporation and naval architect Gibbs & Cox. The Independence variant (LCS 2 and LCS 4) was built by Bath Iron Works (BIW) - General Dynamics and Austal USA with BIW as prime contractor. Subsequent Independence Class ships (LCS 6, LCS 8, LCS 10, LCS 12 and beyond) are built by Austal USA in Mobile, Alabama.

The main differences between the two LCS classes are (apart from having different engines as described above) in the construction of the ships as well as the size. The Independence Class LCS has an aluminum trimaran hull, which incorporates more than one million pounds of high-quality aluminum 5083-alloy aluminum plate (supplied by Alcoa). The Freedom Class is designed with an advanced semiplaning steel monohull. The Independence Class is longer than the Freedom Class LCS at 419.6 feet (127.6 m) vs. 378.3 feet (115.3 m). The Independence Class is also wider and has a beam (beam = width at the widest point) of 103.7 feet (31.6 m) vs. 57.4 feet (17.5 m) for the Freedom Class. In terms of weight, the Independence Class is 188 metric tons lighter due to the high aluminum content. The Freedom Class is the fastest LCS variant at 47 knots (54 mph/87 km/h) vs. 44 knots (51 mph/81 km/h) for the Independence Class.

The LCS is outfitted with interchangeable payloads called Mission Modules that can quickly be switched. Modules are supported by special detachments that will deploy manned and unmanned vehicles and sensors in support of LCS missions. The three mission module configurations are Mine Countermeasures Mission (MCM), Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW), and Anti-Surface Warfare (ASuW). The Littoral Combat Ship has enough hangar space to carry two MH-60R Seahawk or MH-60S Seahawk helicopters or one MH-60R/S Seahawk and three Vertical Takeoff UAVs (MQ-8 Fire Scout).

The first Littoral Combat Ship, USS Freedom (LCS 1), was delivered to the Navy in September 2008. The Lockheed Martin LCS Team designed and produced LCS-1 in less than 2 years allowing the Navy to deploy the USS Freedom two years early in February 2010. USS Independence (LCS 2), built by Bath Iron Works and Austal, was commissioned in January 2010. The LCS will complement the U.S. Navy's AEGIS fleet, by operating in close-to-shore environments where it is less desirable to employ larger vessels.

In February 2014, Defense Secretary, Chuck Hagel announced the DoD's plan to stop building LCS ships after 32 vessels (52 vessels originally planned) and instead purchase 20 Frigates (FF) that will have more firepower and protection. Prior to this decision, the Navy had reviewed the capabilities of the LCS and explored alternatives to provide a more lethal and survivable ship to meet future missions. On December 14, 2015 the Secretary of Defense reduced the total to 40 LCS and FFs. The Navy will downselect one FF variant in FY 2019 and purchases will commence in FY 2020. A list in the FY 2018 Navy Budget shows that the first 30 ships will be LCSs followed by 10 FFs.

Armament/Ship Self-Defense:

The LCS is equipped with a BAE Systems Mk 110 57mm gun, two Orbital ATK Mk 44 Bushmaster II 30mm chain guns, four .50 caliber (12.7mm) machine guns, and one Raytheon Mk 49 RAM Guided Missile Launching System (GMLS) with 21 RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missiles. For more detail, see specifications at the end of this page.

LCS/FF Production Forecast:

A 15-year LCS/FF production forecast is available through Forecast International's Platinum Forecast System, which includes a breakout of total market unit and value statistics by manufacturer and end-user. This real-time service also includes information on all prime and subcontractors, contract awards, worldwide ship inventories, a complete program history, and a rationale detailing the outlook of the program. A 10-year LCS/FF production forecast is also available in report format through Forecast International's Warships Forecast service.


The Littoral Combat Ship performs Mine Warfare (MIW), Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW), and Anti-Surface Warfare (ASuW) missions. The ship is designed to defeat threats such as mines, quiet diesel submarines, and fast surface craft.

FY 2020 & FY 2021 - LCS/FF DoD Program:

This data is available in Forecast International's U.S. Defense Budget Forecast, a comprehensive analytical database containing historical and forecast budget figures, year-to-year funding comparisons, congressional budget markups, program justification documents, and much more.

Source: U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), Lockheed Martin Corp.,
General Dynamics BIW, Austal USA, Marinette Marine Corp., General Electric,
and Rolls-Royce plc.

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Warships Forecast:

Complete and detailed information, including production forecast data, is provided in our Market Intelligence Service: Warships Forecast.

Forecast International Budget Data:

With Forecast International's U.S. Defense Budget Forecast, you not only get the latest program news, the DoD funding, worldwide inventories and planned quantities, long range forecasts, but most important – an expert's rationale for all programs and the overall market.

DoD Spending in FY 2014, FY 2015, FY 2016, FY 2017 and FY 2018 + 5-year forecast

Platinum Forecast System:

Warships Forecast
Warships Forecast
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