Those of us who hoped for an LCS contract announcement during the dolrdrums of late August must sigh and twiddle our thumbs for a bit.
The two bids are apparently so close that the Navy has come back to the two companies and asked for more information. Although the Navy has repeatedly told the world the award for the Littoral Combat Ship would be made this summer it now looks as if it will be made sometime before the beginning of 2011, according to a service statement," Cmdr. Victor Chen said in a statement.
We hear the Austal ship is somewhat less expensive. But Lockheed's ship is reputedly more survivable, always an tremendously important consideration for U.S. Navy ships. [We picked the photo of the Lockheed ship at random. Don't read anything into it.]
Keenly aware of pressure from Congress and industrial supporters for a contract announcement, Chen's statement says that the Navy "is proceeding with the LCS source selection diligently, thoroughly, and consistently with its source-selection plan and applicable law and regulations. The Navy is taking the time necessary to carefully review and analyze the competing proposals." And he can't say much more about it. Indeed, Chen wrote, the service's "duty to protect the integrity of the source-selection process, as well as the confidentiality of the information submitted by the offerors, significantly limits our ability to provide additional details about the ongoing competitive procurement at this time.
This contract will be for 10 ships. Whoever wins this one can't bid in 2012 for the second tranche of five ships. A total of 51 ships will be bought, according to Navy plans.