Why is the Virginia Class Submarine Budget Being cut?

In the 1990s, the Virginia class submarine was designed as part of the “Studio Centurion” project. Its goal was to be economically efficient, using pre-existing components in its network and computing systems.

The Pentagon’s budget plan for 2025 shows significant changes, particularly in the number of Virginia-class attack submarines. The original plan called for two submarines, but the new budget only funds one. This decision goes against the Navy’s recent trend of acquiring two submarines per year, even though they have only been delivering about 1.2 per year.

House Armed Services Committee members are concerned about the impact on the supply chain and the predictability of procurement plans. They wrote a letter to the Biden administration in January, warning that any changes to the planned construction of the Virginia class submarines could have negative effects on U.S. submarine supremacy and international relationships.

The budget also includes a reduction in the acquisition of Constellation-class frigates, limiting it to only one unit.

Navy budget adjustments: Impact on submarines and frigates

Why is the Virginia Class Submarine Budget Being cut?

The Virginia class of fast-attack nuclear submarines is at the forefront of advanced technological capabilities. The Navy currently has 21 units of this class, which were developed as a cost-effective alternative to the Seawolf class.

The Virginia class project was initiated in the 1990s as part of the “Studio Centurion” project, with the aim of achieving economic efficiency by using off-the-shelf components in its network and computing systems.

Newport News Shipbuilding and General Dynamics Electric Boat Company, the only American shipbuilders capable of building nuclear submarines today, built the first full-scale prototype of the Virginia class in 2001.

Evolution of the submarine fleet: From Blocks I-III to the innovation of Block V

Why is the Virginia Class Submarine Budget Being cut?

 

The Virginia-class submarine fleet currently consists mostly of Block I to Block III variants, with only three of the more recent Block IV versions in active service. These submarines are massive, with a displacement of around 8,000 tons and a length of 377 feet.

To address the challenge posed by China’s advanced missile capabilities, the US Navy has developed the Block V variant. The innovative Virginia Payload Module (VPM), which is central to the Block V design, aims to close the gap between the missile capabilities of the US Navy and those of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army.

The Virginia Payload Module will enable Block V submarines to carry significantly more Tomahawk missiles, tripling the capacity of their predecessors. This advancement is achieved through incorporating an 18-meter hull extension, which accommodates four Virginia Payload Tubes (VPT), each capable of housing seven Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles (TLAM). Additionally, two six-round VPTs located in the bow bring the total TLAMS arsenal per submarine to 40 units.