Naval architecture and marine engineering firm Gibbs & Cox has secured a contract to support the functional design of the Royal Saudi Navy’s Freedom-class multi-mission surface combatant (MMSC).

The new contract was awarded by Lockheed Martin and supports the first sale of a US-built surface combatant to another country in more than 40 years.

The MMSC was chosen to address the Royal Saudi Naval Forces’ (RSNF) multi-mission surface combatant requirements.

Lockheed Martin’s MMSC is a lethal and highly manoeuvrable multi-mission combatant that has been designed to counter a range of modern maritime and economic security threats.

It is capable of conducting both littoral and open ocean operations.

"We are pleased to continue our long-standing relationship with Lockheed Martin and extend our partnership to a new derivative and customer."

Gibbs & Cox president and chief executive officer Chris Deegan said: “We are pleased to continue our long-standing relationship with Lockheed Martin and extend our partnership to a new derivative and customer.

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“Gibbs & Cox’s 85 years of surface combatant design experience has supported many of the world’s navies via foreign military sales.

“We look forward to working with Lockheed Martin to design the MMSC to meet the needs of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”

The MMSC can reach speeds of more than 30k and has a maximum range of 5,000 nautical miles (nmi).

Its design will be based on the Freedom-variant littoral combat ship’s (LCS) 118m-long hull and will be integrated with the same combined diesel and gas propulsion system.

The US Navy and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia originally signed a letter of offer and acceptance (LoA) for four MMSCs in May last year.

The MMSC is integrated with the COMBATSS-21 combat management system, which was developed from the Aegis Combat System Software library.