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LHA(R) LHA-Replacement

The LHA Replacement was the only class of ship in the SCN plan not intended to be a new design. The Naval Sea Systems Command awarded a sole source contract to Northrop Grumman Ship Systems, Inc. (NGSS), Pascagoula, Mississippi, for functional design support for the LHA(R) Amphibious Assault Ship, which would replace the LHA Class Amphibious Assault ships. The work would include functional design support, integrated logistics support, and developing/refining ship requirements, focusing on maneuvering, sea keeping and motions analysis, general compartment arrangements, propulsion/machinery/warfare/ mission systems, navigation, total ship design alternatives, protection, signature control, and ownership cost reductions. The contract would include effort for FY03 and would include options for additional effort in FY04 through FY06. NGSS had designed and constructed all LHA and LHD Class Amphibious Assault ships and was beginning construction of LHD 8. As the sole designer and shipbuilder for these ship types, NGSS possessed the requisite knowledge and experience to satisfactorily perform the requirements.

The first ship in the LHA(R) Program (at that time slated to be a modified "Plug Plus" LHD-8) was scheduled for an FY08 (formerly 2007) contract award (as LHD-9) and an FY13-14 timeframe delivery, with the following ships in the class being acquired every 3 years. Procurement of the first of four planned LHA(R) ships was part of a spiral development approach that continued the successful and low risk evolution of large deck amphibious assault ships that began with the Tarawa (LHA 1) Class and continued with the WASP (LHD 1) Class.

The Department was in the process of determining the preferred designs for the remaining ships of the LHA(R) class. This extended procurement and construction schedule would result in the last Tarawa-class LHA being retired in 2022, seven years past its 35-year expected service life.

The Marine Corps supported construction of a new LHA(R) design that would allow concurrent flight operations (rotary wing/tiltrotor aircraft turning on deck during fixed-wing launch and recovery) and increased vehicle stowage. Although the schedule remains somewhat uncertain, detail design was expected to start in FY07 with construction beginning in 2009, followed by the first ship delivery in 2013.

In March 2003, the Navy proposed to Congress a fleet of 375 ships, including thirty-seven amphibious ships and eighteen new MPSs capable of conducting sea-basing operations. Over a thirty-year period up to 2035, this would involve purchasing twelve LPD 17s (San Antonio class), ten amphibious ships of a new class (LHA-R) similar to the present LHDs but carrying more aircraft, twelve dock landing ships of a new class (LSD-X), and up to twenty-one new MPF(F)s, far more capable than the current maritime prepositioning ships.

The LHA(R) Flight Zero Required Capabilities Memo was signed by the CNO, CMC and ASN(RDA) in mid-2004. Flight Zero would be a LHD variant with enhanced aviation capabilities in lieu of a well deck. Further detailed requirements would be defined in a Capability Development Document (CDD) for Flight Zero. PEO (Ships) was tasked to provide a feasibility design and refined cost estimate to ASN(RDA) no later than 30 June 2004.

On 11 February 2005, the Acting Under Secretary of Defense (Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics) (USD(AT&L)) approved the Acquisition Strategy Report for the Navy's Amphibious Assault Ship Replacement (LHA(R)) Program, thus enabling the Navy to proceed with their plans to negotiate an advance procurement contract for the first LHA(R) ship. This first ship, referred to as a Flight 0 ship, would be an enhanced aviation variant of the LHD-1 class. The advance procurement contract would include funding for long lead time material and systems engineering.

On 15 July 2005, Northrop Grumman Ship Systems (NGSS), Pascagoula, Mississippi, was awarded a $109,865,504 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for Advanced Planning, Long Lead Time Material, Systems Engineering, and Special Studies for the LHA(R) Flight 0 Amphibious Assault Ship. The LHA(R) would replace the LHA 1 Class Amphibious Assault Ship and would provide forward presence and power projection as an integral part of joint, inter-agency and multi-national maritime expeditionary forces. It would launch tilt-rotors, helicopters, and fixed wing, short take-off vertical landing aircraft in support of amphibious operations. The LHA(R) Flight 0 Ship would be a variant of the LHD 8 Amphibious Assault Ship currently being built by NGSS and would have enhanced aviation capabilities. Work would be performed in Pascagoula, Mississippi, and was expected to be completed by December 2006. The contract was awarded on a sole-source basis. Contract funds would not expire at the end of the fiscal year. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, DC, was the contracting activity (N00024-05-C-2221).

The Navy, whose FY06 budget included money for just four ships, ranked its Number 1 unfunded priority as a $417 million bill to accelerate delivery of the big-deck amphibious ship, LHA(R).

The FY06 budget requested $150 million for acceleration of the LHA(R) critical capability. In order to meet future warfighting requirements, the Navy and Marine Corps leadership was evaluating LHA (Replacement), or LHA(R), requirements in the larger context of Joint Seabasing, power projection, the Global War On Terrorism, and lessons learned from Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. The resulting platform would provide a transformational capability that was interoperable with future amphibious and Maritime Preposition Force ships, high-speed connectors, advanced rotorcraft like the MV-22, Joint Strike Fighter, and Expeditionary Fighting Vehicles.




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