Report to Congress on Navy SSN(X) Next-Generation Attack Submarine

May 11, 2021 9:21 AM

The following is the May 10, 2021 Congressional Research Service In Focus report, Navy Next-Generation Attack Submarine (SSN[X]) Program:
Background and Issues for Congress.

From the report

 Introduction and Issue for Congress 

The Navy wants to begin procuring a new class of nuclear-powered attack submarine (SSN), called the Next-Generation Attack Submarine or SSN(X), in FY2031. The SSN(X) would be the successor to the Virginia-class SSN design, which the Navy has been procuring since FY1998. Congress approved $1 million in initial research and development funding for the SSN(X) program in FY2021.

An issue for Congress for FY2022 and subsequent years is whether to approve, reject, or modify the Navy’s funding requests and acquisition strategy for the SSN(X) program. Congress’s decisions on this issue could affect Navy capabilities and funding requirements and the U.S. shipbuilding industrial base.

Submarines in the U.S. Navy 

The U.S. Navy operates three types of submarines—nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs), nuclear-powered cruise missile and special operations forces (SOF) submarines (SSGNs), and nuclear-powered attack submarines (SSNs). The SSNs are general-purpose submarines that can perform a variety of peacetime and wartime missions.

Virginia-Class Program 

Since FY2011, Virginia-class SSNs have been procured at a rate of two boats per year, and a total of 34 have been procured through FY2021. Most Virginia-class boats procured in FY2019 and subsequent years are to be built with the Virginia Payload Module (VPM), an additional, 84-foot-long, mid-body section equipped with four large-diameter, vertical launch tubes for storing and launching Tomahawk cruise missiles or other payloads. When procured at a rate of two boats per year, VPM-equipped Virginia-class SSNs have an estimated procurement cost of about $3.4 billion per boat.

Download the document here.

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