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SNA 2018: Lockheed Martin Showcasing Royal Saudi Navy MMSC

At the Surface Navy Association's (SNA) 2018 National Symposium currently held near Washington DC, Lockheed Martin is showcasing a new scale model representative of the Multi-Mission Surface Combatant (MMSC) recently procured by Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA).

Saudi Navy MMSC LCS Lockheed Martin SNA 2018 news 1 The Royal Saudi Navy MMSC on Lockheed Martin stand at SNA 2018

On May 22nd 2017, the KSA expressed its intent to procure more than $28 billion worth of Lockheed Martin integrated air and missile defense, combat ship, tactical aircraft and rotary wing technologies and programs. The agreement includes four MMSC based on the Freedom-class LCS Lockheed Martin’s industry team is building for the U.S. Navy. The four vessels are part of a modernization program for the Royal Saudi Navy's eastern fleet called SNEP II (Saudi Naval Expansion Program).

Back in October 2015, the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) announced via press release that the U.S. State Department gave its green light for a proposed sale to Saudi Arabia of four MMSC Ships.

Saudi Navy MMSC LCS Lockheed Martin SNA 2018 news 2From left to right: Decoy launchers, 2x Nexter Narwhal 20mm RWS, 8x Harpoon anti-ship missiles, Saab CEROS 200 FCR, Raytheon SeaRAM and 12.7mm weapon station (manned).

The model on display at SNA 2018 is a new one reflecting the latest and final configuration selected by the Saudi Navy:
- A BAE Systems Bofors 57mm main (while an earlier design was fitted with an Oto Melara 76mm main gun),
- 8x MK41 VLS cells placed forward ahead of the bridge (2x8 cells used to be placed on each side of the helicopter hangar in the earlier design)
- 8x Harpoon anti-ship missiles (in two launchers),
- A Raytheon SeaRAM launcher on top of the helicopter hangar,
- 2x Nexter Narwhal 20mm remote weapon stations (these were Mk38 turrets in a previous scale model unveiled at SNA 2016 however the DSCA release mentionned Nexter's Narwhal 20mm RWS as early as 2015).

Two triple torpedo launchers present on the 2016 scale model appear to have been removed on the final MMSC design.

Saudi Navy MMSC LCS Lockheed Martin SNA 2018 news 3 Head on view of the MMSC for the Royal Saudi Navy.

In terms of sensor systems, two CEROS 200 radar and optronic tracking fire control director by Saab are fitted: One forward (on top of the deck house) and the other one back aft, between the harpoon launchers and the SeaRAM system.The main radar system is an Hensoldt (formerly Airbus D&S) TRS-4D AESA Radar. Other sensors likely include a Variable Depth Sonar (likely Thales CAPTAS type), Argon ST WBR-2000 Electronic Support Measure and Threat Warning System. The combat management system is set to be similar to the one fitted onboard the Freedom class LCS: The COMBATSS-21 by Lockheed Martin.

Saudi Navy MMSC LCS Lockheed Martin SNA 2018 news 4 The KSA flag on the MMSC.

Below the helicopter deck is a mission bay area with built in modularity. Hull size and shape, propulsion system, power output, helicopter hangar etc remain unchanged compared to the U.S. Navy Freedom class LCS.

The deal signed in 2017 also include spares, training and other logistics items for the program. A Memorandum of Understanding between Lockheed Martin and Saudi Arabian Military Industries for the parties to work together to build defense capabilities in the KSA to support Vision 2030 and provide for localization efforts associated with Multi-mission Surface Combatants was signed as well.