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