Posted by John McHaleWASHINGTON, 1 Jan. 2011. The U.S. Navy awarded a Lockheed Martin [NYSE: LMT]-led industry team a fixed-price-incentive-fee contract to construct as many as 10 Littoral Combat Ships (LCS). The first of the 10 ships will be acquired in 2010, at a contract value of $437 million, and the rest via options through 2015. LCS 3, the Navy's future USS Fort Worth and Lockheed Martin's second LCS, is more than 80 percent complete and was recently christened and launched. The program remains on schedule and budget for delivery to the Navy in 2012. In constructing LCS 3, the team incorporated lessons learned from USS Freedom -- the nation's first LCS -- to reduce costs and improve efficiency.If all options are exercised, the total value of the ship construction portion of the contract will reach approximately $3.6 billion. Marinette Marine Corp., a Fincantieri company, will construct the ships in Marinette, Wis., and naval architect Gibbs & Cox will provide engineering and design support."The Lockheed Martin team's Littoral Combat Ship is designed to confront rapidly changing global threats while providing a cost-effective solution in an era of tight budgets," says Bob Stevens, Lockheed Martin chairman and chief executive officer. "This team's strong performance will enable the Navy to deploy a class of affordable, multi-mission combatants to address the nation's needs for decades to come."Prior to this contract, the Lockheed Martin industry team designed and constructed USS Freedom. That ship's capabilities have been demonstrated since its commissioning in 2008. The ship successfully completed its first deployment earlier this year and also participated in the world's largest maritime exercise, the Rim of the Pacific Exercise, known as RIMPAC.