September 26 is the deadline for one of the largest defense contracts in history, at least $16 billion worth of bundled contracts for the construction of 20 newly designed Navy frigates.
One of the four contenders is Mobile-based Austal USA, the current maker of scores of Littoral Combat Ships for the Navy.
The new frigate is designed to replace the LCSs with a much heavier and more versatile vessel.
In June, the Navy issued its final request for proposals to the four prospective bidders, about one month after one prospect, Lockheed Martin, dropped out of contention.
Besides Austal, companies submitting final bids for the winner takes all $16 billion contract package are: General Dynamics, Huntington Ingalls Industries and Fincantieri Marinette Marine Corp., an Italian corporation.
Unlike the LCS, which was made to patrol coastal waters, the new frigate is a high seas vessel that supports a carrier fleet. And its Navy wish makers have loaded it with a deep stable of dream weapons, including:
- some 32 cells to fire surface-to-air missiles for aerial defense
- from eight to 16 anti-ship cruise missiles
- a flight deck for a Sikorsky Seahawk helicopter
- accommodation for a 150-kilowatt laser weapon
The Navy says to expect announcement of a winner some time in 2020.