The US Navy awarded the beginning of December 2019 the (measured by the value of the contract) largest procurement contract in the history of the armed force. The contract agreed with the company General Dynamics Electric Boat covers the procurement of nine hunting submarines of the Virginia class and includes the option for the procurement of a tenth unit. The first under the contract ordered the submarine to the end of 2024 will be delivered. The contract has a value of 22.2 billion dollars (24.1 billion if the option for the tenth unit is pulled).
The order includes the fifth installment (Block V) of the Virginia Class procurement and will expand the stock eventually to 37 or 38 units. In contrast provided to those already in service or currently under construction units are equipped the first eight boats of the fifth tranche of the so-called VPM module (Virginia Payload Module). Each boat is amidships extended by 26 meters to four of these payload container (capacity: each seven Tomahawk cruise missiles) insert. In this way, the payload capacity per submarine is increased from 12 to 40 cruise missiles. In the future, also be performed newly developed hypersonic missiles and unmanned underwater vehicles in the modules.
A new fuselage fairing and better sound insulation of the ship's engine will cause further reducing the acoustic signature of the new submarines. Simultaneously, a new passive sonar system will be installed at the bow, to promote the location of enemy forces.
The increase of the stealth properties and almost tripling of the payload potential is designed to enable the block V-units to operate an opponent within the maritime exclusion zone. From here, the submarines could specifically combat enemy guidance systems, anti-aircraft and Seezielflugkörperstellungen while aircraft carriers and other overwater associations for now remain outside the opponent's range. This tactical option would be mainly in the case of a war against a heavily armed opponents like Russia and China is important.
Sidney E. Dean
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