WASHINGTON --- The U.S. Navy's LPD Flight II shipbuilding program received a $350 million increase in the final FY19 defense appropriations bill recently released by Congress. The funding was added for "advance procurement for fiscal year 2020 LPD Flight II and/or multiyear procurement economic order quantity." The Senate originally wanted to provide $500 million for this purpose, while the House version of the defense bill did not include additional funding.
LPD Flight II, formerly known as LX(R), will utilize a modified LPD 17 design at a lower cost to replace LSD 41/49 ships. While a standard LPD 17 (now referred to as Flight I) costs around $2 billion, the Navy expects Flight II ships to cost around $1.5 billion. However, the Congressional Research Service believes the Navy is underestimating the cost of Flight II ships, and has projected that the ships could cost an average of $1.7 billion each.
The Navy was planning to compete a contract for Flight II ships between Huntington Ingalls and General Dynamics NASSCO, but the service announced in an April 2018 presolicitation notice that it had selected Huntington Ingalls to construct the lead Flight II ship, LPD 30. The Navy had originally planned to fund the lead Flight II ship in FY20, but Congress added $1.8 billion to the FY18 defense appropriations bill for the ship. A construction contract is expected in early 2019. The second ship is currently planned for FY20, with subsequent ships being procured in FY22 and FY23. This construction schedule may change with the release of the FY20 budget request early next year.
Congressional authorizers were debating whether to provide the Navy with multiyear procurement authority for LPD Flight II ships. In its markup of the FY19 defense authorization bill, the House Armed Services Committee inserted a provision authorizing the Navy to enter into a multiyear procurement contract for up to five Flight II ships. That provision did not make it into the final defense policy bill, but the legislation did urge the Navy to utilize a multiyear contract for Flight II ships in its FY20 budget.