Two U.S. Navy officials told members of a House Armed Services Committee subpanel Wednesday that the service branch will move to fiscal 2020 the awarding of a contract to design and build a new frigate, Reuters reported Wednesday.
Eric Beech and David Alexander write Rear Adm. Ronald Boxall, director of the Navy’s surface warfare division; and Rear Adm. John Neagley, head of the littoral combat ship program office; said the one-year delay in the contract award stemmed from a decision to establish a frigate assessment team.
“The Navy is defining the requirements for the frigate to improve its ability to operate in a more contested environment than LCS,” Boxall and Neagley said in their testimony.
Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Virginia), chairman of HASC’s seapower subcommittee, called the Navy’s decision to push back the frigate contract award from 2019 to 2020 “reassuring,” according to a report by Sydney J. Freedberg Jr. for Breaking Defense.
“It’s reassuring in the sense that we want to make sure that we go through the proper due diligence,” Wittman told reporters Wednesday.
Wittman said the delay would give the military branch and shipyards enough time to address risks and explore the potential integration of Vertical Launch System missile tubes and other heavy weapons systems with new frigate ships, the report added.
The Navy’s decision came two weeks after the Government Accountability Office called on Congress to delay its decision on the service branch’s request for a block purchase of 12 frigates until more data becomes available on the ship’s design and cost.