A plan is in the works for the purchase of Block VI Virginia-class submarines, and these vessels will serve as a bridge to the as-yet-undefined SSN(X) next-generation submarine program.
USNI News reports that the Block V submarines, three of which are under construction, will represent a big capability increase for the Virginia-class submarine program. These subs will have an additional 28 missile tubes to greatly increase strike capacity, and the upcoming Block VI buy will add even more capability and lethality, according to the report.
Block VI will be purchased from fiscal 2024-28.
The report states that the Navy and industry are improving the stealth and sonar performance of the Block VI submarines, which will not only improve the capability of the Virginia class but will also prove out technologies meant for SSN(X).
Navy leadership is also examining whether to base the SSN(X) design on the Virginia-class program or on the Columbia-class ballistic missile submarine design, or if it would be an entirely new design altogether, according to the report.
MAIN PHOTO: GROTON, Conn. (Oct. 26, 2020) The Virginia-class attack submarine USS Vermont (SSN 792) makes its way up the Thames River and past the City of New London as it returns home after conducting routine operations to Submarine Base New London, Oct. 26, 2020. The nineteenth and newest Virginia-class submarine, it is the third U.S. Navy ship to be named for the Green Mountain State. (U.S. Navy photo by John Narewski)