Extensive use of off-board sensors could be key component of SSN(X).Richard R. Burgess, Seapower
22 October 2015
FALLS CHURCH, Va. – The Navy is planning to field a new-design nuclear-powered attack submarine (SSN) in 2044, a Navy official said.
Speaking Oct. 22 to an audience at the Naval Submarine League’s annual symposium, George Drakely, executive director of the Program Executive Office-Submarines, said the service plans to begin an analysis of alternatives in 2024 for the design, designated SSN(X).
Drakely said the Navy expects to begin construction of the SSN(X) in 2034. He said that affordability will be a key focus of the design, leveraging the technology existing at the time. He expects the SSN(X) to make extensive use of off-board sensors.
The SSN(X) will follow the production of 48 Virginia-class SSNs, with the last scheduled for delivery in 2034.
Drakely said the first Block III Virginia-class SSN, USS North Dakota, just returned “from a highly classified mission” that is performed on its shakedown cruise.
He also said the Navy is considering installing the Virginia Payload Module (VPM) – an additional hull section with four payload tubes – on all Virginia production beginning in 2019. Current planning has VPM being installed on one of each year’s production of two SSNs.