|11-25-2005, 11:59 AM||#1 (permalink)|
MSgt USMC Ret
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: San Diego
DD(X) gets go-ahead
By Christopher P. Cavas
Times staff writer
The Navy’s futuristic DD(X) destroyer program passed a major milestone Nov. 23 when a key Pentagon review board gave the project the go-ahead to begin construction.
The Defense Acquisition Board also approved the Navy’s dual-shipyard construction strategy to have Northrop Grumman and General Dynamics build the first two ships at the same time.
The controversial move, proposed earlier this year by former Navy acquisition chief John Young as another cost-reduction effort, calls for the first two ships to be built simultaneously at Northrop’s Ingalls yard in Pascagoula, Miss., and General Dynamics’ Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine. After that, Young said earlier this year, the Navy would evaluate the shipbuilders and could choose to award all later ships to only one shipyard.
Pentagon acquisition undersecretary Ken Krieg’s Milestone B approval of the project allows the project to enter its System Development and Demonstration phase, which includes detail design and construction.
The Navy is expected to ask for funds to begin building the ships in fiscal 2007, when the proposed budget is submitted to Congress in February.
The DAB review of the destroyer program had been delayed several times. Most recently, the board met Nov. 10, but no decision was issued. Further meetings between the board and the Navy were held late Nov. 22, and Krieg approved the project Wednesday morning.
The shipbuilding plan submitted to Congress last February called for only one DD(X) to be included in the 2007 and 2008 budgets, but Young altered the strategy this spring in a move the Navy hopes will increase competition between the shipbuilders and bring down or hold construction costs.
Pentagon approval of the DD(X) team’s design work and the Navy’s new acquisition strategy was greeted by relief by the service and Northrop Grumman.
“The Navy is pleased that Secretary Krieg has allowed it to continue to move forward with DD(X) and the dual lead ship acquisition strategy,” the service said in a statement released Nov. 23. “We believe that this is the best way ahead for DoD, the Navy, industry and the American taxpayer.”
Northrop Grumman Ship Systems, which until September had led a “national team” of contractors developing the destroyer, also was upbeat.
“With the Milestone B approval, we in industry are moving ahead with the Navy today to take a very mature program into detailed design and a construction schedule,” said Ship Systems spokesman Brian Cullin. “We are committed to seeing this ship through to reality.”
The Navy hopes to build between five and eight DD(X) destroyers, and has estimated the cost of the first few ships at $3.3 billion apiece. But in testimony to Congress last summer, several government analysts pegged the real price for the program’s first ships at $4 billion or even higher.
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