The US Navy has funded five potential designs, including one from Austal, for its future guided missile frigate FFG(X) requirement, with potential for the project to include an Australian flavour.
The US$15 million contracts were awarded to General Dynamics Bath Iron Works, Fincantieri's subsidiary Marienette Marine, Huntington Ingalls, Austal USA and Lockheed Martin. Both Austal and Lockheed Martin currently build Littoral Combat Ships – the monohull Freedom Class and the Independence Class trimaran – for the US Navy and both of their FFG(X) designs are based on those existing LCS platforms.
General Dynamics Bath Iron Works is proposing a modified variant of the F100 frigate, a Spanish design that is the basis for Australia's Air Warfare Destroyers. Huntington Ingalls will put forward a version of their Patrol Frigate concept based on the Coast Guard's Legend Class National Security Cutter.
Fincantieri Marinette Marine will offer a customised version of its FREMM vessels for the program, a class of frigate currently on offer to Australia for its SEA 5000 Future Frigate program.
Should Austal or Fincantieri's Marinette Marine be selected, there would be opportunity for Australian businesses in the companies' global supply chains.
The US Navy will need at least 20 vessels built and each vessel is expected to cost around $1 billion.
Giuseppe Bono, CEO of Fincantieri, said Marinette Marine's down-selection for the project is a tick of approval for the vessels capabilities.
"This contract, along with the selection of the FREMM project for the final round in the tender in Australia, confirms our global leadership in the design and construction of the most technologically advanced vessels and our ability to continuously innovate."