Let’s continue our budget data examination. Here’s some budget numbers on the new LCS frigate from the 2019 initial frigate construction. It’s interesting that the budget data is included in the LCS account line. Is that telling us what ship the Navy will select as the basis for the new frigate? Hmm … Anyway, here’s the budget numbers for the first frigate scheduled to be funded in 2019 (1).
Net Procurement $822M
Cost To Complete $84M
Total Obligation Authority $906M
Outfitting and Post-Delivery $218M
Thus, we see that while the Navy will report some lesser cost, the “true” cost, if there is such a thing, is $1.1B for the first frigate. Bear in mind that there is no finalized set of requirements, no design, and no company has been selected to build the ship so the cost is just the Navy’s estimate, based on almost nothing.
What do we know about Navy estimates? We know that they’re always ridiculously underestimated. Thus, the first frigate will likely cost around $1.5B or more! This is the dilemma that has been pointed out before. We’re likely to get a ship that has 50% of the capabilities of a Burke at 80% of the cost – not a good deal.
(1) Dept of Defense 2017 SCN Budget, Exhibit P-40, LCS, FY2019 data column