The US Navy has awarded a series of firm-fixed-price contracts totalling almost $75m to five shipbuilding companies for the conceptual design of its future guided missile frigate FFG(X).

The contracts are valued at approximately $15m each and have been awarded to Lockheed Martin, Austal USA, Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII), Fincantieri Marinette Marine and General Dynamics subsidiary Bath Iron Works.

Additionally, the deals include options that, if exercised, would take the maximum value for Lockheed to $21.9m and that of Austal to $21.4m, while the cumulative contract value for HII, Fincantieri Marinette and Bath Iron Works would reach $22.9m each.

"The deals include options that, if exercised, would take the maximum value for Lockheed to $21.9m and that of Austal to $21.4m."

Lockheed Martin has already submitted the parent design of its Freedom-variant littoral combat ship (LCS) as part of the project.

Fincantieri Marinette Marine is set to function as the shipbuilder for Lockheed under the initiative, while Gibbs & Cox will serve as the naval architect.

Austal has also submitted its frigate design, which has been developed with the aim of reducing the cost, schedule and performance risk for the follow-on detail design and construction contract.

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The US Navy’s FFG(X) guided missile frigate competition also includes the FREMM multi-mission frigate design, which has been provided by Fincantieri.

Austal chief executive officer David Singleton said: “With this latest announcement, the US has recognised the importance of being able to operate the most advanced naval vessels and we are excited to work with them to develop the technology to do this.”

The final specifications will be used for the detail design and construction request for proposal, which is intended to deliver the required capability for the US Navy vessel.

The Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington, District of Columbia, is serving as the contracting activity for the project.

Work on the project is expected to be completed by June next year.