The Navy has been procuring Virginia (SSN-774) class nuclear-powered attack submarines (SSNs) since FY1998. Fourteen have been procured through FY2011, and another two are requested for FY2012. The eight boats to be procured in the five-year period FY2009-FY2013 (boats 11 through 18, in annual quantities of 1-1-2-2-2) are being procured under a multiyear procurement (MYP) arrangement.
The Navy’s proposed FY2012 budget requests $3,232.2 million in procurement funding to complete the procurement cost of the 15th and 16th Virginia-class boats. The FY2012 budget estimates the combined procurement cost of these two boats at $5,142.8 million, and under Navy budget plans the boats are to receive a total of $1,910.5 million in prior-year advance procurement (AP) and Economic Order Quantity (EOQ) funding. The Navy’s proposed FY2012 budget also requests $1,524.8 million in AP funding for Virginia-class boats to be procured in future years.
The Navy’s 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 that the SSN force will fall below 48 boats starting in 2024, reach a minimum of 39 boats in 2030, and remain below 48 boats through 2041.
Potential issues for Congress regarding the Virginia-class program include the following:
the Virginia-class procurement rate in coming years, particularly in the context of the projected SSN shortfall and the larger debate over future U.S. defense strategy and defense spending;
the Navy’s plans for inserting new technologies into the Virginia-class design;
whether the Navy should build at least some Virginia-class boats in future years with an additional mid-body section equipped with large-diameter vertical launch tubes suitable for cruise missiles, unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs), and other payloads; and
the reliability of in-service Virginia-class boats. .
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