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Penatgon Cuts LCS Order

This is not good news for the gang up in Marinette Marine.

The office of the secretary of defense (OSD) has directed the Navy to limit its overall buy of littoral combat ships to a total of 32 ships, foregoing 20 more of the small, fast and controversial warships, Pentagon sources have confirmed.

The decision, in a Jan. 6 memo from acting deputy secretary of defense Christine Fox, came after the Pentagon received its final 2015 budget guidance from the White House. Several major acquisition decisions, including direction on what to do with the LCS program, were awaiting the numbers from the Office of Management and Budget.

The program of record calls for the service to build 52 LCSs, built to two designs, one from Lockheed Martin and the other from Austal USA. Three of the ships are in service, and a fourth ship will be commissioned in April. Another 20 are under construction or on order, split evenly between the two prime contractors.

Asked for comment, Navy spokesman Cmdr. Ryan Perry said “we’ll continue to work with OSD on LCS acquisition plans.” No date has been announced for the submission of the 2015 budget to Congress, but it’s expected to take place no earlier than mid-February.

While the decision isn’t final, there has been some debate inside the Navy and Penatgon to potentially cut the order further from 32 to 24.  LCSs are meant for short-term missions dealing with things like SEAL Teams, anti-submarine recon, and counter-mining (as in “BOOM!” not “dig”) operations.

Cong. Reid Ribble (R-Sherwood) issued a statement yesterday on the news saying he’ll try to get the original contract order back online.  Honestly, this may be a tough row to hoe given how often directives from the OSD are hard to turn around especially if the branch of military the weapons system is meant for is debating it needs it or not.

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