Lockheed Martin Markets Littoral Combat Ship Internationally - WBAY

Lockheed Martin Markets Littoral Combat Ship Internationally

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A number of foreign sales for defense contractor Lockheed Martin could help keep the Littoral Combat Ship program afloat, helping secure about 1,400 jobs currently at the Marinette Marine shipyard and hundreds more across the state.

The company is in the midst of negotiations with two countries in the Middle East and Southeast Asia to build a combined 14 ships. A spokesperson for Lockheed Martin wouldn't reveal what countries.

One country has budged for eight ships, the other six, according to company officials.

"We have created several ship designs for international navies," Joe North said in a statement to Action 2 News, Lockheed Martin's vice president of Littoral Ship Systems.

North adds the ships, with varying models, "could be built by partner Marinette Marine."

The Department of Defense wants to stop production of the LCS early for the U.S. Navy, which would produce 20 fewer ships than originally proposed. Half of the contracts are being built at Marinette Marine, the other half at a shipyard in Mobile, Alabama.

Productions on the current contracts will keep work at the northern Wisconsin shipyard through 2018, officials for Marinette Marine and Lockheed Martin said in a March conference call.

"I think it's the right move to make," Congressman Reid Ribble said, the Republican representing Wisconsin's 8th Congressional District. "I mean these nations are going to buy naval vessels from somebody. Would we rather they buy them from the Russians? Would we rather they buy them from the French? It would be better to have those jobs here in Wisconsin."

North said in a statement the design allows for flexible crew size and technology along with, "weapons capabilities that's based on Lockheed Martin's expertise with the U.S. Navy's littoral shipbuilding program."

Lockheed Martin officials say one of the sales could be complete this year, adding the company has received interest from multiple countries, especially in the Middle East and Asia Pacific.

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