SSN-774 Virginia-class Batch 3 / Block IV / V
The VIRGINIA Class Submarine Program is at full rate production delivering two submarines per year at two shipyards. Build span has been reduced by two years. With the delivery to the Navy of SOUTH DAKOTA (SSN 790) on September 24, 2018, 17 VIRGINIAs are in service today and 11 are under construction. Block III (hulls 11-18) and Block IV (hulls 19-28) ships, starting with SSN 784, included affordability enhancements. A LAB array in place of the spherical array in the front of the ship. Two large diameter VPTs replace the 12 vertical launch tubes; each payload tube is capable of storing and launching 6 TLAMs used in strike warfare missions.
On February 13, 2017, an APB was signed by the acting Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Research, Development & Acquisition) reflecting an increase in the number of submarines from 30 to 48. The baseline update includes the VIRGINIA Payload Module (VPM) and Acoustic Superiority (AS) on Block IV and follow ships.
Block IV Virginia class
Electric Boat expected [as of late 2007] the RFP for Block IV to be released in 2012 with an award in 2014. Design changes might include new sensors, a new sail design, capabilities for communications at higher speed and greater depth, electric drive, and externally mounted weapons.
the Navy challenged the shipbuilders to continue to reduce submarine construction spans to 60 months by the end of Virginia Class Block IV while also ramping up and sustaining a two submarine per year build rate. Even while challenged to meet the aggressive construction spans due to the stressing of labor resources, material availability, and production area footprint across the industrial base, the shipbuilders continue to deliver ships with increasing quality while staying within budget.
Initially the Navy anticipated placing an advanced sail on hulls 5-6 of the VIRGINIA Class. The new sail shape and size might well provide the required volume for advanced future payloads. The Advanced Sail Program for the New SSN (NSSN) program has undergone model testing and later-stage design development. The Advanced Sail was installed on the Large Scale Vehicle (LSV) Kokanee, a self-powered 1/4-scale model of the Seawolf submarine, in late 1999. Changes to the LSV due to the new sail were quantified with a trim verification dive and an inclining experiment. The results indicated all changes to LSV's weight, moment and BG (center of bouyancy minus center of gravity) are exactly as predicted. The first Advanced Sail underway was on 17 November 1999. This underway was designed to compress sail components for final torque of attachment bolts and the installation of coatings over those bolts. The crew also tested sail pressure sensors at various depths. The first acoustic data collection underway for the Advanced Sail Trial was conducted just prior to Thanksgiving. The Advanced Sail will have as much as four times the enclosed volume as its predecessor. The navy is looking at whether to put a large UUV hangar, SOF equipment, or UAV in the Advanced Sail.
According to program officials, in 2007 one design change, the introduction of the advanced sail, was deferred from 2009 until 2014 to allow further design development and risk reduction. Near term funding for this effort was reallocated to take advantage of other cost reduction opportunities. When implemented, this design change will replace the existing sail, the structure that sits atop the main body of the submarine, with one that provides expanded space for sensor systems or equipment for special forces teams. The advanced sail will be constructed of composite materials whose feasibility had already been demonstrated under a separate development program.
DOE's National Nuclear Security Administration [NNSA] is working on a new Transformational Technology Core (TTC) pressurized water reactor that will provide an energy increase to VIRGINIA-class ships with minimal impact to overall ship design. TTC will use advanced reactor core materials to achieve a significant increase to the core energy density - more energy without increasing size, weight, or space - while still at a reasonable cost. Development plans in 2003 called for the delivery of the first TTC core in 2014. Naval Reactors has a limited number of specific long-term performance measures that meaningfully assess progress in achieving program purpose. By 2007 thse goals were to safely steam approximately 2 million miles annually, totaling 150 million miles in nuclear-powered ships in program history by 2015; to provide the reactor plant for the next generation aircraft carrier by 2015; and to deliver the first Transformational Technology Core by 2015. By 2007 DOE had completed 46% of the Transformational Technology Core reactor plant design.
Block V Virginia class
Block V and beyond will increase strike payload capacity from 12 to 40 Tomahawk land attack missiles by adding a set of four additional Virginia Payload Module (VPM) tubes amidships, capable of storing and launching seven Tomahawk missiles each, as well as providing the potential to host future weapons and unmanned systems. Extending the hull by 84 feet, the VPM boost the submarine’s strike capabilities. The VPM modules would eventually replace the capability of the four Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines that were converted to guided-missile submarines to field land attack cruise missiles.
The VPM module on the planned attack boats will eventually replace the capability of the four Ohio-class guided-missile submarines that were converted from ballistic missile submarines to field land attack missiles. VIRGINIA Payload Module (VPM) is needed to both 1) mitigate strike capacity of the decommissioning SSGNs and 2) provide flexibility to expand the range of payloads for the submarine force in response to evolving mission needs. The VPM will be a new hull section containing four large-diameter, SSGN-like, aft of the sail that can carry up to seven TOMAHAWK cruise missiles each and will be able to readily accept new future payloads. These future payloads could include unmanned undersea vehicles (UUVs) and advanced weapons, as well as additional sensors and stealth enhancements to counter capable adversaries, maintaining our dominance in the undersea domain. To reconstitute the payload volume lost when the SSGNs retire in the early 2020s in the most economical manner, the Navy must design the VPM now for incorporation into the Block V VIRGINIA Class contract that is schedule for awarding in Fiscal Year 2018.
Internal components required by VPM can be provided by existing systems. For example, VPM tubes have the same diameter (87") as the VIRGINIA Payload Tubes (VPT) located forward of the sail in Block III and beyond SSNs. This modification has minimal cost and technical risk in terms of development and procurement if funded to the President's Budget. Delaying design and construction will make VPM more expensive and place at risk the opportunity to leverage the VIRGINIA Class Block V multi- year procurement contract.
The Navy's approved capability requirements document, which defined this undersea payload strike requirement for submarine launched vertical strike, was submitted to the Joint Staff for final approval. The document was on track for validation by the Joint Requirements Oversight Council in the first quarter of Fiscal Year 2014. The Department of Defense and the Navy support VPM as the most viable near-term option for this capability. Electric Boat expected [as of late 2007] the RFP for Block V to be released in 2017 with an award in 2019. This timing is a bit puzzling, since it would appear that only four boats would remain in a 30 boat program Design changes might include new sensors, a new sail design, capabilities for communications at higher speed and greater depth, electric drive [first brooded in Bundle 2, once slated for the 2010 timeframe], and externally mounted weapons, if these are not introduced in Block IV.
A Request for Proposal for a Block V Multi-Year Procurement construction contract was released on August 25, 2017 for 10 ships (FY 2019 - FY 2023). Award is planned for FY 2019. The Block V Construction Contract will incorporate the Block IV design with Acoustic Superiority (AS) and VIRGINIA Payload Module (VPM). The VPM design is progressing with design products completing near schedule. Payload Tube manufacturing and material procurement are in progress to support Block V construction start. The design is expected to be 75% complete at construction start as compared to the Block III Design for Affordability (DFA) redesign which was approximately 60% complete at construction start.
Acoustic Superiority (AS) supports the Chief of Naval Operation's undersea dominance mandate and represents the first significant investment in VIRGINIA acoustic capability since initial design. The SOUTH DAKOTA Insertion Program (SDIP) is a near-term AS concept demonstration on a VIRGINIA Class platform to be installed during SOUTH DAKOTA (SSN 790) Post Shakedown Availability (PSA).
On March 19, 2019 the U.S. Navy awarded General Dynamics Electric Boat a $2 billion contract modification for long lead time material to support construction of Block V Virginia-class submarines. The award modifies a contract awarded in 2017 that provides funding for long lead time material for steam and electrical plant components, main propulsion unit and ship service turbine generator efforts and miscellaneous hull, mechanical and electrical system components. This modification brings the overall contract value to approximately $3.2 billion.
“This award allows Electric Boat and the submarine industrial base to continue to make preparations for construction of Block V, which will bring additional payload capacity to the Navy. Our team will continue to produce the world’s most technologically advanced submarines, safely and efficiently,” said Electric Boat President Jeffrey S. Geiger.
General Dynamics Electric Boat Corp. (GDEB), Groton, Connecticut, was awarded a $22,209,893,409 fixed-price-incentive, multi-year modification to previously-awarded contract N00024-17-C-2100 for construction of nine Virginia-class submarines, eight with Virginia Payload Module (VPM), from fiscal 2019 to fiscal 2023. The contract modification includes spare material and an option for one additional submarine with VPM. If the option is exercised, the cumulative value of this contract will increase to $24,097,439,556. The awarded amounts include previously-announced material awards (including long-lead-time material and economic ordering quantity material) totaling $3,197,633,908.
This contract modification is for the construction of the fifth block of Virginia-class submarines by GDEB and major subcontractor Huntington Ingalls Industries' Newport News Shipbuilding division, inclusive of design support and all efforts necessary to test and deliver each submarine. GDEB will continue to subcontract with Huntington Ingalls Industries' Newport News Shipbuilding division. Work will be performed in Newport News, Virginia (25%); Quonset Point, Rhode Island (21%); Groton, Connecticut (20%); Sunnyvale, California (8%); Norfolk, Virginia (1%); Bethlehem, Pennsylvania (1%); and Annapolis, Maryland (1%), with other efforts performed at various places throughout the U.S. below one percent (22%), and other places outside of U.S. below one percent (1%). Work is expected to be completed by August 2029. If the option is exercised, work is expected to be completed by February 2030. Fiscal 2017 and 2019 shipbuilding and conversion, Navy (SCN) funding in the amount of $3,155,793,018 will be obligated at time of award and will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year - funding: fiscal 2019 SCN (95%); fiscal 2017 SCN (5%). The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, District of Columbia, is the contracting activity.
The nine boat buy is less than the 13-boat optimistic outlook just a few years ago. A potential nine-boat construciton cadence over FY19-23 could be 2-2-2-2-1+1. Huntington Ingalls would assemble six of the boats, while General Dynamics would assemble three. "We're going to lean harder on Newport News for final assembly in this block because EB has got the first Columbia production up there,” Navy acquisition chief Hondo Geurts was quoted by Inside the Navy.
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