Defense contracting giant Lockheed Martin said early this summer that it won’t take part in the race to design the U.S. Navy’s new frigate, planning instead to concentrate on supplying combat systems for whatever design eventually wins.
Lockheed Martin, which on one recent day had 272 job openings in Alabama listed on its website, broke ground in May for a new 225,000-square-foot facility to build cruise missiles for the U.S. Air Force. LM officials plan for it to be complete by 2021. The company’s Missiles and Fire Control division employs about 500 workers in Troy.
On the frigate front, LM and four other companies (General Dynamics, Austal USA, Huntington Ingalls and Fincantieri Marinette Marine) each got $15 million to do a conceptual design for a new Guided Missile Frigate FFG(X). The eventual winner looks to take home more than $15 billion to build 20 of the vessels.
By June, the company had said in a statement that it had decided instead to “focus our attention on the FFG(X) combat system, delivering Lockheed Martin technologies, such as the Aegis-derived weapon system, MK 41 Vertical Launching System, anti-submarine warfare processing, and advanced electronic warfare.”
While some considered LM to be a long shot in winning the frigate design race, its Aegis weapons are already almost standard on Arleigh Burke-class destroyers. The Navy has indicated that it wants the new frigate to pack more punch than its Littoral Combat Ship program.
Alabama has two potential winners in the race, given Austal USA’s address in Mobile and Ingalls Shipbuilding, a division of Huntington Ingalls Industries in nearby Pascagoula, Mississippi. Industry observers have said giving the work to either Austal or Fincantieri’s Wisconsin shipyard would help avoid the worsening of military contractor monopolies.