Israel Considering Lockheed’s Littoral Combat Ship Design
The U.S. Navy has awarded Lockheed Martin a foreign military sales contract valued at nearly $5.2 million to conduct a nine-month Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) feasibility study for the Israeli Navy. Under the contract Lockheed Martin will examine possible modifications to its modified Fincantieri racing hull design, to see if it can meet specific Israeli naval requirements. This means examining its competing LCS design for hull, mechanical and electrical system compatibility with the Israeli Navy’s combat systems and other requirements – especially important since the Israelis use a lot of indigenous weapons and electronics. This is why Vice President of Lockheed Martin Israel Operations Joshua Shani says that “participation by the Israeli defense industry will be the cornerstone of this program’s success.”
The successful completion of this study could lead to follow-on contracts to design and build one or two ships for the Israeli Navy, as a follow-on or replacement for its capable and heavily-armed Saar-4.5 Hetz/ Nirit Class missile boats and/or Saar-5 Lahav/ Eilat Class corvettes. It will be interesting to see if the Israelis lean toward the core “LCS modular switch-outs” approach, or elect to create one or more standard multi-mission configurations.
Construction of these ships would occur at Marinette Marine and Bollinger Shipyards in the United States, and Lockheed notes that “several other countries also have expressed interest in Lockheed Martin’s LCS design concept.” There have been rumours that interested parties include Saudi Arabia, but it’s unclear which LCS design they might favour. General Dynamics and Austal, whose fast trimaran design is also being built as an LCS competitor, are remaining tight-lipped about potential foreign order enquiries.
UPDATE: The matter seems to be going beyond mere consideration… but Israel needs a number of changes to Lockheed’s American LCS design.