BAE Systems has received a follow-on contract to produce 28 more payload tubes for the U.S. Navy’s Block V Virginia-class attack submarines.

Under the contract with General Dynamics Electric Boat, a builder of the Virginia class, BAE Systems will deliver seven sets of four tubes each for the Virginia Payload Modules (VPM).

The US Navy is adding significant capability to the latest Virginia-class boats by increasing the firepower and payload capacity of the Block V submarines. According to BAE:

“The VPM extends the length of Block V subs over previous versions of the Virginia class by adding a mid-body section to create more payload space. Each large-diameter payload tube can store and launch up to seven Tomahawk and future guided cruise missiles.”

“The VPM is critical to the Virginia class because it offers not only additional strike capacity, but the flexibility to integrate future payload types, such as unmanned systems and next-generation weapons, as threats evolve,” said Joe Senftle, vice president and general manager of Weapon Systems at BAE Systems.

“We’ve invested heavily in the people, processes, and tools required to successfully deliver these payload tubes to Electric Boat and to help ensure the Navy’s undersea fleet remains a dominant global force.”

BAE Systems is also providing nine payload tubes under previously awarded VPM contracts.

The company has a long history of supporting the US Navy’s submarine fleet. In addition to payload tubes, BAE Systems is also providing propulsors, spare hardware, and tailcones for Block IV Virginia-class vessels and is prepared to do the same for Block V.

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Sounds great, i would like to see a details comparison with the Astutes v Virginia and how they really compare against each other, I’m not sure how accurate that story of HMS Astute picking up a Virginia class long before they could pick up HMS Astute in a training exercise.

Chris H

@ Cam – It was accurate. At the time the US Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. Jonathan Greenert (and staff) were on board Astute and the reaction they gave was ‘“The Americans were utterly taken aback, blown away with what they were seeing.”
This has been reported in various ways but this was my source. It also makes enlightening reading for those who always think the Yanks do things better than us when we are actually regarded as ‘the best’. And it was written by an experienced Yank submariner!


That’s good to hear and read, thanks. Now let’s build another 5 Astutes ???


The important thing to note there is Virginia class subs are built in blocks. The sub in the exercise was USS New Mexico so a Block II boat. They have since changed the propulsor, sonar, sound matting, and weapons configuration on subsequent builds.

Big O

Yes, Each block in US builds are different, would like to see the test against a new build vs. not an older design.

Mr Bell

Cam this incident was a couple of years ago when astute travelked to the US east coast to conduct attavk exercises vs 2 virginia class, some Arleigh Burke class destroyers and a Ticonderoga class cruiser which was acting with the ABs in a shielding ASW acreen for a US carrier. Warships IFR and Janes weekly reportedthe incident. Astute tracked and locked onto both Virginia class and could have sunk them. Then proceeded to target both ABs and the Tico and coukd have sunk them. Then penetrated the ASW screen and could have acheived a firing solution on the Nimitz class… Read more »


Bet that made our American brothers happy, not.
Then again I did read a report where American sub skippers are saying that the issue they have is that their skippers are trained or are more engineer orientated than attack boat skippers who trust their specilist officers and men/women. What they want is a skipper course like our Perisher.


I assume the VPM was designed specifically for the Virginia Class (the clue’s in the name?). I wonder whether this might be pitched to new designs after Virgina and thus might to some extent be competition for the CMC for future classes of SSN or is the intention that this will only ever be produced for Virginia upgrades? I ask because I believe one of the design aspirations for CMC was that it could be configured to host things other than Trident, including multiple cruise missiles. If that design aspiration has been realised then CMC would seem to be an… Read more »


Planning for the SSN (X) is well underway. These boats (and the Columbia class SSGN variant) are going to be the replacement for many surface vessels in the USN as AD2 technologies render large surface combatants very vulnerable to neutralization or destruction IMO.