Design chosen this summer, then 6 years to deliver. First ship then physically out in 2026. More will follow closely, but there still won't be 20 of them by 2030, just that many on order or building. And that is assuming no delays or problems (or politics) in the program.
Meantime, the LCS are in production, and entering the fleet. They are scheduled to receive upgrades:
First of two-part series:
Second of series:
While the frigate remains a future hope, LCS now serve, and will for a decade at least. What few in the public know is that the first four LCS always were prototypes, and have structural and system differences which set them apart from the production ships. That is mentioned in the article posted by Jim, but is buried in it. Objective reporting would have made that a more prominent point. It is the reason only the first four are proposed to be let go. The best explanation of this in Jim's linked article comes from the link to the Admiral Crites interview video. He explains it quite plainly.
The original LCS idea was to do just the four test ships, then experiment for years on end. Instead--due to admittedly poor planning--it was realized no yard would build a few prototypes, then hold their production facilities open "indfinitely" while the Navy experimented. Production was then ordered, and Congress happily funded them due to their low purchase cost. Made them look like they were growing the fleet, and without (initial) painful costs. However, the production models are not just copies of the prototypes. Changes were made to the design for production. I went in search of the specifics of those changes years back when first made aware of them. A nice Congressional Research Service paper informed me they were classified. Was futile at that point to keep searching.
From the LCS program, and those first 4 experimental ships, come:
The 57 mm gun
The variable depth sonar
The COMBATSS-21 system
These systems--perfected in the LCS program--will be incorporated into the new frigate, and only already work because of testing on LCS. The frigate as an affordable, off the shelf option would basically not exist now if LCS had not come beforehand.
Further--as per the articles I link above--LCS are scheduled to receive Nulka and NSM, and an upgraded radar. While a VLS is under consideration, I personally do not have much hope for it, much as I would love to see it happen. I doubt the budget will support it.
An LCS will then have every major system a frigate has except the VLS and EASR. And, the LCS will be the primary mine warfare vessel. That alone will keep them around.
LCS are not frigates. They are something else. Separating them from the frigate program was the best thing for them. Too much confusion when they were not set apart. Much better now that each program is free to pursue their own paths. Frigates will do what they do best, while the LCS show how they will fit into the fleet over the coming decade. It is not "either/or." There will be both, perhaps with LUSV and MUSV as well.
As for 20 years from now, who knows? Maybe the LCS all will be gone. The fact will always remain that they were the founding platforms of most systems adopted by the frigates.