Namely, as Ronald O'Rourke, Specialist in Naval Affairs, noted the US Navy wants to build the first FFG(X) in 2020, the second in 2021, and the remaining 18 at a rate of two per year in 2022-2030. The Navy’s proposed 2019 budget requests $134.8 million in research and development funding for the program.

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Mr. O'Rourke found some issues in this, as he mentions that:

The Navy’s desire to procure the first FFG(X) in FY2020 does not allow enough time to develop a completely new design (i.e., a clean-sheet design) for the FFG(X).

The ship will probably be larger in terms of displacement, more heavily armed, and more expensive to procure than the Navy's Littoral Combat Ships . The Navy will not develop any new technologies or systems for the FFG(X), as the ship will use systems and technologies that already exist or are already being developed.

Thus, the Navy wants to build the FFG(X) to an altered version of an existing ship design, while also conducting a full and open competition to select the builder of the FFG(X).

Nevertheless, this program hides several potential oversight issues for Congress, including:

  • Whether to approve, reject, or modify the Navy’s FY2019 funding request for the program;
  • Whether the Navy has accurately identified the capability gaps and mission needs to be addressed by the program;
  • Whether procuring a new class of FFGs is the best or most promising general approach for addressing the identified capability gaps and mission needs;
  • Whether the Navy has chosen the appropriate amount of growth margin to incorporate into the FFG(X) design;
  • The Navy’s intent to use a parent-design approach for the program rather than develop an entirely new (i.e., clean-sheet) design for the ship;
  • The Navy’s plan to end procurement of LCSs in FY2019 and shift to procurement of FFG(X)s starting in FY2020;
  • Whether the initiation of the FFG(X) program has any implications for required numbers or capabilities of U.S. Navy cruisers and destroyers.

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