Procurement: Speeding Up Virginia

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August 10, 2007: The U.S. Congress has provided over half a billion dollars to speed up the production of new Virginia class SSNs (nuclear attack submarines), from one a year to two a year. These 8,000 ton boats cost about $2 billion each. France is buying six new 4,100 ton Barracuda class SSN's for about $1.6 billion each. A new class of Russian SSNs will displace 6,000 tons, and cost about the same. Britain is buying three new, 7,800 ton, Astute class boats for $2.4 billion each. The older American Los Angeles class boats were about 7,000 tons. Size does matter, as it indicates how much space you have available for sensors and weapons. Larger boats are better equipped and more heavily armed.

The U.S. already has two Virginia's in service, with a third arriving this year. Originally, it was going to take until 2010 before two Virginia's a year were being produced. Currently, the plan is to build about 30 Virginias, but the navy would like at least fifty. Just in case it doesn't get the higher number, the navy is investing over $100 million in new technologies for smaller, cheaper and more effective SSNs.

 


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