The US Navy has awarded a nine submarine contract to General Dynamics Electric Boat.

The contract includes an option for one additional submarine with the Virginia Payload Module (VPM). The Block V contract is a $22.2-billion fixed-price incentive fee, multi-year procurement contract for fiscal years 2019 through 2023.

The Block V contract continues the Virginia class’s teaming arrangement between prime contractor GDEB in Groton, Connecticut, and the major subcontractor, Huntington Ingalls Industries’ Newport News Shipbuilding division (HII-NNS) in Newport News, Virginia. Block V submarines will incorporate acoustic superiority design changes to maintain undersea dominance on all Block V hulls and the VPM, with four large payload tubes in a new hull section on eight submarines, increasing Tomahawk strike capacity from 12 to 40 missiles per boat to maintain undersea strike capacity with the expected retirement of the US Navy’s four guided-missile submarines and providing future payload flexibility.

For more about the purpose of the VPM, head here.

“Our submarine force is fundamental to the power and reach of our integrated naval force,” said acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas B. Modly.

“I am very proud of the government, shipbuilder and supplier team as the Navy awards the Virginia Block V multi-year contract today”, said James F. Geurts, assistant secretary of the Navy for research, development and acquisition.

“This team developed a Block V multi-year contract which provides significant increases in lethality and performance for the fleet to support the National Defense Strategy while also ensuring we are maximizing the use of taxpayer dollars. The multi-year contract also provides the stability needed in this critical industrial base to ensure we can continue to maintain our competitive advantage in undersea warfare while also providing a solid foundation for the Columbia program to build upon.”

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james
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james

Nine! 9!, with 40 Tomahawks each!. If only we could.

Daniele Mandelli
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Daniele Mandelli

Agree with the thought.

But that’s the danger. You cannot compare with USA China Russia.

I for one am damn proud the RN is one of the few navies with the SSN, and with the operational experience to use them effectively, allied to the USN.

Numbers will always be an issue with such key capabilities.

james
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james

Its just that if the RN had such a capability it would make an enormous difference to our shrinking deterrent effect. But as you say we can’t compare to others or compete with them based on limits to crews, costs, facilities, manufacturing, etc. Still the RN is an amazing force.

Pacman27
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Pacman27

Me too Daniele, but we really do need a fleet of 10 SSN to be effective and efficient with budget.

The other thing to say is that our Subs are definitely class leading and we have a great history.

Perhaps with the creation of salt matrox reactors the RN can afford more nuclear subs in the future as I believe this technology is not only safer, but far cheaper as well.

Daniele Mandelli
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Daniele Mandelli

Agree. 7 too few.

Cam
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Cam

I think we were lucky to get the seventh boat.

andy reeves
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andy reeves

but tute is not the right thing to do it. its overhyped junk

Andy P
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Andy P

Agree Pacman, we’re woefully short on SSN’s. We’re building these hoofing big Astute’s but still looking to do ‘sneakies’ which would benefit from smaller platforms. The non-nuke diesels are getting better at staying deep and we could go back to SSK’s for a lot of the ‘sneaky’ roles for considerably less cash. The Aussies manage it with the Collins.

Daniele Mandelli
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Daniele Mandelli

The RN did “sneakies” as you call it successfully during the Cold War with SSNs in Russia’s backyard.

So they can still do that type of work. The Astutes also carry Sigint equipment, and the Chalfont chamber.

Conventional boats would be nice with spare money and people of course.

Andy P
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Andy P

Daniele, ‘sneakies’ didn’t stop with the end of the Cold War, some of the places would be easier with smaller platforms than the S and T boats, not larger.

I agree that its all going to come down to money and the ‘A’ boats are supposed to tick all the boxes, just I’m not sure they do.

andy reeves
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andy reeves

h.m.s onyx an old oberon, which served in the falklands war also did patrols off the russian kola peninsula modern diesel ssk’s could do it too, for a fraction of the price and a crew of under 60.in fact the scorpene a major export success operates with a mind boggling crew of 28!

Pacman27
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Pacman27

The real issue is that to get some sort of value out of our nuclear weapons industry we need to be building more nuclear not less. The cost of only building 4 SSBN reactors every 25 years is too great hence why we have nuclear ssns. I think this may change with future technologies and we can make the reactors cheaper(salt matrox?) or a new power source all together For me the subs are probably the single at most important military assets owned by the uk and we need to size right. Clearly I would like as many as possible… Read more »

Andy P
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Andy P

We have SSN’s (as opposed to SSK’s) because they are more capable especially for blue water ops. There have been a lot of advances in diesel boats capabilities though and for littoral/inshore ops diesel electric have a lot of advantages.

I can’t see it happening as we’ll have one class of fleet boats that are intended to do everything. Agree that we could really do with about 10 SSN’s though, there have been a lot of demand on the current (and recent) fleet of SSN’s.

andy reeves
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andy reeves

a diesel can literally lie on the seabed, silent and unmoving, a nuclear can’t, the saltwater pumping system has to be kept running, and pumps make noise.even the old oberon’s all 27 of them worked under the ice as recently as the 1990’s these were in their time, the best of the best, which is why so many other nations bought them as well. we should be able to design build, operate a class of our own, cheaper to build,faster to build crew s like the french scorpene has a whopping crew of wait for it28 !!!

andy reeves
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andy reeves

during the oncoming decade australia will be retiring its 6 collins class boats, i think the u.k should go for them maybe a t23 already slated for retirement and a few shekels might be enough to swing a deal

andy reeves
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andy reeves

who says they are world leading?(remember what they said about the t45?) best of the best(NOT) the makers of the catalogue they’re advertised in

andy reeves
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andy reeves

why do people get all gooey over ssns? astute is slow, leaking, already rusting overpriced, over hyped TOO EXPENSIVE, TOO SLOW TO BUILD, lucky to have them….NO. If that’s the truth, then why are more and more nations investing in A.I.P powered diesels? google the german 212 and you’ll see why the ssn is better than an ssk now blows away many of the old arguments between nuclear and conventional£1.8 billion for one piece of junk instead of up to 15 of the latest A.I.P powered conventionals economy of the madhouse

andy reeves
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andy reeves

oldest andy reeves Guest andy reeves astute is an utter joke people on this site are seduced by the claims made about it but 1;its slow,(none has yet to aoldest andy reeves Guest andy reeves astute is an utter joke people on this site are seduced by the claims made about it but 1;its slow,(none has yet to achieve the designers claims on maximum peeds 2; its leaky, the torpedo doors seal is inferior to the specs in the design 3;they are rusting prematurely on the inside they performed poorly in the recent major exercises, it was ‘sunk three times… Read more »

WatcherZero
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WatcherZero

8 of the 9 are having the extra tubes fitted, this is up slightly on original plan of 5 but balanced by a reduction in planned hulls from 11 to 9 with option of a tenth. The block V are replacing second and third flights of the Los Angeles Class (31 total) which had the VLS tubes added so it is considerable reduction in hulls. It also seems mainly to tie the Navy over between the normal Virginia and the classes successor due around 2030. Early designs of the successor seem to eschew the VLS tubes entirely in favour of… Read more »

Helions
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Helions

The future SSN (X) will look a lot more like the Seawolf class with (as you pointed out) a much greater hunter-killer focus.

https://news.usni.org/2018/10/19/analysis-of-navy-shipbuilding-plan-hints-at-return-to-blue-sea-great-power-competition

Cheers

Helions
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Helions

It was supposed to have been 10. Budget cuts.

https://news.usni.org/2019/12/02/navy-awards-22b-contract-to-electric-boat-newport-news-shipbuilding-for-9-block-v-virginia-subs?

There’s been quite a bit of problems in delivering these boats on time lately. Mostly due to lack of supplier base and skilled workers.

Cheers

Helions
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Helions

Interesting… My take on this is the P8 won’t be survivable in a high end conflict due to the fact that subs will have sea launched AAW missiles in their VLS tubes. Wonder what they’re planning to replace them with?

https://www.forbes.com/sites/lorenthompson/2019/12/02/us-navy-plans-to-stop-buying-p-8-poseidon-sub-hunters-despite-growing-undersea-threat/#5e385c9059fe

Cheers

the_marquis
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the_marquis

Yeah that is interesting – maybe also the USN feels that the P8 will be constrained from operating in the South China Sea so they need a bespoke solution for countering Chinese subs there, leaving the P8 to focus on the Atlantic and Pacific. But it does feel strange to stop when they are only 20 units short of their target number

Helions
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Helions

I think you have something there…

Cheers!

andy reeves
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andy reeves

astute is an utter joke people on this site are seduced by the claims made about it but 1;its slow,(none has yet to achieve the designers claims on maximum peeds 2; its leaky, the torpedo doors seal is inferior to the specs in the design 3;they are rusting prematurely on the inside they performed poorly in the recent major exercises, it was ‘sunk three times by the conventional boats from sweden,france and even an ex russian kilo operated by the polish navy how do i know? y son is on h.m.s talent, one of the last trafalgar’s, and everyone heard… Read more »

Watcherzero
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Watcherzero

The exercise was in submarine hunting, it was the practise target.

Andy P
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Andy P

Yup, on exercises like this they take turns hunting each other. Countries pay good money for their units to attend Joint Warrior to practice this stuff.

Saying that, the Astutes do have a few issues.