The FFG(X) program is a Navy program to build a class of 20 guided-missile frigates (FFGs). The Navy wants to procure the first FFG(X) in FY2020, the next 18 at a rate of two per year in FY2021-FY2029, and the 20th in FY2030. The Navy’s proposed FY2020 budget requests $1,281.2 million for the procurement of the first FFG(X). The Navy’s FY2020 budget submission shows that subsequent ships in the class are estimated by the Navy to cost roughly $900 million each in then-year dollars.
The Navy intends to build the FFG(X) to a modified version of an existing ship design—an approach called the parent-design approach. The parent design could be a U.S. ship design or a foreign ship design. At least four industry teams are reportedly competing for the FFG(X) program. Two of the teams are reportedly proposing to build their FFG(X) designs at the two shipyards that have been building Littoral Combat Ships (LCSs) for the Navy—Austal USA of Mobile, AL, and Fincantieri/Marinette Marine (F/MM) of Marinette, WI. The other two teams are reportedly proposing to build their FFG(X) designs at General Dynamics/Bath Iron Works, of Bath, ME, and Huntington Ingalls Industries/Ingalls Shipbuilding of Pascagoula, MS.
On May 28, 2019, it was reported that a fifth industry team that had been interested in the FFG(X) program had informed the Navy on May 23, 2019, that it had decided to not submit a bid for the program. This fifth industry team, like one of the other four, reportedly had proposed building its FFG(X) design at F/MM. The Navy plans to announce the outcome of the FFG(X) competition in July 2020.
The FFG(X) program presents several potential oversight issues for Congress, including the following: whether to approve, reject, or modify the Navy’s FY2020 funding request for the program; whether the Navy has appropriately defined the cost, capabilities, and growth margin of the FFG(X); the Navy’s intent to use a parent-design approach for the FFG(X) program rather than develop an entirely new (i.e., clean-sheet) design for the ship; cost, schedule, and technical risk in the FFG(X) program; whether any additional LCSs should be procured in FY2020 as a hedge against potential delays in the FFG(X) program; the potential industrial-base impacts of the FFG(X) for shipyards and supplier firms; whether to build FFG(X)s at a single shipyard, as the Navy’s baseline plan calls for, or at two or three shipyards; and the potential impact on required numbers of FFG(X)s of a possible change in the Navy’s surface force architecture.