Lockheed Martin has been awarded the first contract for a quartet of frigates the company is building as part of a $20 billion foreign military sales package to Saudi Arabia.
Last week, the company was awarded a $22.74 million Pentagon contract to modify the design of the existing Freedom-class Littoral Combat Ship class for a more heavily armed, “Multi-mission Surface Combatant.”
The new frigates will the centerpiece of the long-awaited Saudi Naval Expansion Program II. SNEP II is set to modernize the Royal Saudi Navy’s Eastern Fleet as part of a wide-ranging estimated $20 billion arms package.
The frigates will be built at Marinette Marine in Wisconsin at an estimated cost of about $6 billion, the largest line item of the $20 billion SNEP-II deal. The package will also modernize the frigate’s planned homeport at the King Abdul-Aziz Naval Base on the Persian Gulf.
The new Saudi ships will be built around an eight-cell Mk-41 vertical launch system and a 4D air search radar. The deal also includes 532 Raytheon RIM-162 Evolved SeaSparrow Missiles (ESSM) which can be loaded four to a Mk 41 cell. With 16 cells per hull, the Saudi Freedoms will be able to potentially field 64 anti-air missiles per-ship.
At about 4,000-tons, the frigate can field a crew of 100 to 130. It runs on a power plant of two Rolls Royce MT-30 gas turbines and two Colt-Pielstick diesel engines. The ship will field eight RGM-84 Harpoon Block II anti-ship missiles (ASM), anti-submarine warfare (ASW) sonar suites, and torpedoes.