The U.S. military is getting another big boost this year as the Pentagon announced its latest addition to its arsenal. The Pentagon this week announced plans to add two new LCS (littoral combat ship) to its current inventory. Additionally, the Pentagon will also receive more GPS-guided smart bombs.

According to SputnikNews, the Pentagon has awarded shipbuilders Austal USA and aerospace giant Lockheed Martin more than $1.1 billion in defense contract to add another two littoral combat ships to the current US Navy's inventory. As part of the deal, Austal USA will be responsible for the complete design, planning, and constructions for the littoral combat ships.

It will also oversee the test and trials activities in support of the delivery of the littoral ships to the US Navy.

On the other hand, the contract awarded to Lockheed Martin will include the associated cost-plus-fixed-fee LCS class services as well as firm-fixed-price integrated data environment support. Additionally, the contract will also include an option for the design and construction of additional LCS and post-delivery availability support. The new combat ships will be delivered to the US Navy in October 2023.

What to expect from the new combat ships

The Austral USA will build the much smaller and faster trimaran-hull Independence version of the LCS, while Lockheed Martin will build the larger version of the single-hull Freedom class.

As mentioned earlier by SputnikNews, the planned LCS will be designed to counter increasing threats from coastal mines, pirates, small attack boats and the latest types of diesel-powered submarines. The new ships will also capable of countering more advanced threats such as the China’s A2D2 (Anti Access/Aerial Denial) strategy.

The term refers to the weapons used by countries to prevent an adversary from operating nearby or transversing an area of air, land, or sea.

As for the ships’ main weapons, the LCS will feature an 11-cell Raytheon-developed RIM-116B SeaRAM missile-defense system along with AGM-114L Hellfire missiles, Mark 50 torpedoes, and one 57-millimeter naval gun.

Additional weapons and systems upgrades will depend on littoral ship’s module, which reportedly provides a number of mission-specific capabilities. These include mine-clearing mission, anti-submarine warfare, and the traditional naval surface warfare.

The US Navy has already received the delivery of the Freedom-class LCS USS Little Rock last September 25. The USS Little Rock completed testing on its improved propulsion system in August. The small, single-haul Freedom variant has been designed to operate in shallow coastal waters and even in the open ocean. More importantly, the ship is packed with firepower comparable to larger Navy warships.

Overall, Lockheed Martin has already delivered the four Freedom class LCS to the US Navy.

In addition to US Navy, Lockheed Martin also got approval to sell four Freedom class combat ships to Saudi Arabia under a foreign military sale.

The development of the Freedom-class vessels has experienced lots of controversies and problems, which include cost overruns and multiple technical problems. Last year, the LCS program came under fire from the Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain. The senator has criticized the US Navy program, claiming that the government has spent around $12.4 billion for 26 littoral combat ships with no practical or proven combat capability, SputnikNews reported.

Boeing to receive extra funding for smart bomb production

US aerospace giant Boeing is getting another big contract this week.

The defense contractor will be receiving an additional $153 million in Pentagon funding to boost its smart bomb production by 25 percent.

According to Bloomberg, the US Congress Defense Committee has finally given their required approval to provide the additional $153 million to the aerospace company. The additional funding will be used to increase production of tail-kits, which reportedly convert free-fall bombs into smart ones guided by the highly accurate GPS or global positioning satellite system.

The converted bomb is called JDAM (Joint Direct Attack Munition) and has been described as the Pentagon’s most widely used precision-guided weapon systems. The highly accurate JDAM has already been used in some of the world’s most hostile places. These include the Islamic terrorist states in Iraq, Syria and against Taliban forces in Afghanistan, Bloomberg reported.