American defense giant Lockheed Martin is promoting a multi-mission combat ship in Southeast Asia, which it said will be based on its experience with the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) program for the US Navy, it said on Tuesday.
Officials of the company promoted at a press briefing on Tuesday at the International Maritime Defense Exhibition and Conference in Singapore the multi-mission combat ship, or MCS, as "a solution for protecting Southeast Asian waters."
Like the LCS, the multi-mission combat ship comes on a similar platform and a shallow draught that allows the ship to carry out missions in the coastal waters, said Neil King, director of international business development for ships and aviation systems at Lockheed Martin.
Also like the LCS, it will be fast and highly manoeuvrable.
The company, which has been building the LCS Freedom class of ships for the US Navy, said it can offer various hull forms. The design has been proven in sizes ranging from 67 meters to 150 meters, it said.
Asian Defense and Diplomacy also quoted the company as saying that it has seen the most customer interest in the range of 85 meters to 118 meters in length. The customers can configure the ships to meet different requirements and can choose to have a fixed mission package or have different packages so as to be able to switch between them.
The first-in-class USFreedom has been moored at Singapore's Changi Naval Base as part of the defense show since its arrival in Singapore in April for its maiden eight-month deployment.
Jonathan Greenert, US Navy chief of naval operations, said at a separate briefing at the exhibition on Tuesday that the defense chiefs of other countries had been impressed with the modularity of the littoral combat ship.
He said the United States is looking to send the second LCS to Singapore around mid-2015 as part of a plan to deploy up to four such warships in Singapore.
It is also looking to deploy up to 11 littoral combat ships in the region by the end of the decade or at 2021 or 2022. Other than Singapore, the ships will be deployed in Japan, too, to replace some older ships.
Officials of Lockheed Martin at the show said the ship is mainly targeted to compete against frigates. They said they expect the cost of the LCS to come down as it wins more orders. US Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus also said recently that the cost will be coming down from slightly more than 430 million US dollars for the first ships to 350 million dollars for the 10 under current contracts.
The US Navy has ordered 24 littoral combat ships so far with both Lockheed Martin and Austal. Its latest 30-year shipbuilding plan unveiled recently projects buying 52 littoral combat ships by 2029.