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Lt. Gen. Karsten Heckl on Light Amphibious Warship Program

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Lt. Gen. Karsten Heckl, commanding general of Marine Corps Combat Development Command and deputy commandant for combat development and integration, said the Navy and the Marine Corps are close to reaching an agreement over the survivability and affordability of the light amphibious warship, Defense News reported Wednesday.

He said coming to an agreement about the vessel’s cost and capabilities could help keep the program on schedule for its planned start of construction in fiscal year 2025.

The Marine Corps wants the warship to provide small units of approximately 75 Marines the capability to discreetly move and carry reconnaissance drones, anti-ship missiles and other weapons systems.

Heckl said the amphibious ship is meant to look like a commercial vessel that could “hide in plain sight.”

“The [Indo-Pacific] sea lines of communication are the most traversed sea lines in the world; it would be a challenge for any power to surveil everything all the time in that area,” he said. “However, if you don’t look like everything else you’re trying to blend in with, you make your adversary’s problem set much simpler.”

Heckl noted that five companies were awarded contracts in June 2021 to work on preliminary designs for the vessel and the Navy-Marine team will evaluate such designs in January.