The Pentagon's inspector general plans to audit how well the Navy is overseeing development of the propulsion and steering system for its new $128 billion Columbia class of nuclear-armed submarines.
An audit this early in the Navy's top-priority program - at least 17 months before construction is scheduled to start on the first of 12 vessels - signals concern about the potential risks in technology for the sub, which is still mostly in its design phase.
The review that's likely to begin by June will "determine whether the Navy is managing the development" of the system to "ensure that it meets performance requirements without cost increases or schedule overruns," the watchdog office said in its fiscal 2019 audit plan.
"There is a suggestion in this statement that the stern section may present some risk of cost growth or schedule delay," Ronald O'Rourke, naval systems analyst for the Congressional Research Service, said in an email. Until now, he said, concern about cost and delay "has focused on things other than the stern section." (end of excerpt)
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