Navy Virginia (SSN-774) Class Attack Submarine Procurement
Source: Congressional Research Service
Ref: RL32418
Issued Mar 3, 2015
33 PDF pages

The Navy has been procuring Virginia (SSN-774) class nuclear-powered attack submarines since FY1998. The two Virginia-class boats requested for procurement in FY2016 are to be the 23rd and 24th boats in the class. The 10 Virginia-class boats programmed for procurement in FY2014-FY2018 (two per year for five years) are being procured under a multiyear-procurement (MYP) contract.

The Navy estimates the combined procurement cost of the two Virginia-class boats requested for procurement in FY2016 at $5,376.9 million or an average of $2,688.4 million each. The boats have received a total of $1,613.5 million in prior-year advance procurement (AP) funding and $416.9 million in prior-year Economic Order Quantity (EOQ) funding. The Navy’s proposed FY2016 budget requests the remaining $3,346.4 million needed to complete the boats’ estimated combined procurement cost.

The Navy’s proposed FY2016 budget also requests $1,663.8 million in AP funding and $330.0 million in EOQ funding for Virginia-class boats to be procured in future fiscal years, bringing the total FY2016 funding request for the program (excluding outfitting and post-delivery costs) to $5,340.1 million.

The Navy’s proposed FY2016 budget also requests $167.7 million in research and development funding for the Virginia Payload Module (VPM). The funding is contained in Program Element (PE) 0604580N, entitled Virginia Payload Module (VPM), which is line 123 in the Navy’s FY2016 research and development account.

The Navy plans to build Virginia-class boats procured in FY2019 and subsequent years with an additional mid-body section, called the Virginia Payload Module (VPM), that contains four large-diameter vertical launch tubes that the boats would use to store and fire additional Tomahawk cruise missiles or other payloads, such as large-diameter unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs).

The Navy estimates that building Virginia-class boats with the VPM might increase their unit procurement costs by about 13%. It would increase the total number of torpedo-sized weapons (such as Tomahawks) that they could carry by about 76%. The Navy’s FY2016 shipbuilding plan calls for building one of the two Virginia-class boats to be procured in FY2019, and one of the two Virginia-class boats to be procured in FY2020, with the VPM.

The Navy’s FY2015 30-year SSN procurement plan, if implemented, would not be sufficient to maintain a force of 48 SSNs consistently over the long run. The Navy projects under that plan that the SSN force would fall below 48 boats starting in FY2025, reach a minimum of 41 boats in FY2028-FY2030, and remain below 48 boats through FY2034.

Potential issues for Congress regarding the Virginia-class program include the Virginia-class procurement rate in coming years, particularly in the context of the SSN shortfall projected for FY2025-FY2034 and the larger debate over future U.S. defense strategy and defense spending.

As the CRS does not make its reports public, this report is hosted by the Federation of American Scientists on its own website.

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