The contract, worth $118,673,894, was awarded to MBDA Missile Systems Inc. (the US branch of European missile manufacturer MBDA) on 31 January 2023. The Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) is the contracting activity.
According to MBDA, CAMM (Common Anti-Air Modular Missile) offers both world-leading close-in and local-area air defence. The weapon system has the capability to intercept and thereby neutralise the full range of current and future threats including combat aircraft and the new generation of supersonic anti-ship missiles. Capable of multiple channels of fire, the system will also counter saturation attacks. It has a range of 25 Km, a speed of Mach 3 and features an active RF seeker.
In service on upgraded Royal Navy Type 23 frigates, CAMM will also be fitted to Type 45, Type 26 and Type 31 in the future. The CAMM family has proven a rapid success with international customers, with Canada, New Zealand and Brazil among the new users. Poland is set to be next.
MMSC is based on the Freedom-class Littoral Combat Ship of the U.S. Navy. It utilizes the COMBATSS-21 Combat Management System, built from the Aegis Combat System Common Source Library, enabling anti-air and anti-surface capabilities in a small surface combatant platform.
For the record, Lockheed Martin was awarded a contract totaling $450 million to begin the detailed design and planning for construction of four Multi-Mission Surface Combatants (MMSC) to be built at Fincantieri Marinette Marine shipyard back in July 2018. The vessels are being procured as part of a modernization program for the RSN’s eastern fleet called SNEP II (Saudi Naval Expansion Program). Steel cutting for HMS Saud, the first ship-in-class took place on 28 October 2019. Construction on the second ship HMS Fahd started in March 2021.
The Saudi MMSC will be fitted with 8x Mk41 vertical launch systems for CAMM surface to air missiles (originally, ESSM were planned), a SeaRAM launcher on top of the helicopter hangar, 8x Harpoon anti-ship missiles, a BAE Systems Bofors 57mm main gun and 2x Nexter Narwhal 20mm remote weapon systems as secondary artillery. The sensor suite includes a Hensoldt TRS-4D AESA Radar, 2x SAAB CEROS 200 radar and optronic tracking fire control director, Argon ST WBR-2000 Electronic Support Measure and Threat Warning System and a variable depth sonar.
Naval News learned during SNA 2023 that the first ship, HMS Saud, is expected to be launched “soon”. It will be the first vessel to be launched (lowered in the water) via the new synchrolift at the FMM shipyard in Wisconsin. The synchrolift is part of the shipyard’s expansion plan as it gets ready to produce the FFG(X) / Constellation-class frigates. All Freedom-class LCS were previously launched sideways directly from the pier into the water.
According to our colleague Luca Peruzzi, the first-of-class ship is scheduled to be delivered by Lockheed Martin to the International Unmanned and Small Combatants Program Office (PMS 525), the organization responsible for the acquisition and implementation of the FMS case, in Q4 2023,. The ship will then be transferred on the Atlantic Coast from Fincantieri Marinette Marine shipyard on Lake Michigan, remaining in the US in Mayport facilities for another 12 months for post-delivery test and trials, post shakedown availability, and dedicated RNSF crew training, in preparation for the formal delivery and ship transfer to Saudi Arabia. Here the four MMSC will be based near Jubail on the Gulf coast at the King Abdul-Aziz Naval Base, which infrastructures are being prepared to welcome and support the new naval platforms.