U.S. Navy submarine programs are geared up for vibrant funding in fiscal 2014 for both the Virginia-class and Ohio-class replacement boats.
The Virginia-class SSN attack subs have become the template for the U.S. Navy in terms of operational and acquisition proficiency, and the proposed fiscal 2014 spending plan includes about $5.4 billion for the boats, compared to about $4.3 billion last year.
The budget plan funds two new ships for about $3.7 billion as part of the multiyear procurement contract now in place — with builders’ Electric Boat and Huntington Ingalls Industries’ Newport News Shipbuilding — as well as advance procurement funds of about $1.6 billion for two ships slated for fiscal 2015. The plan also adds funding for one more Virginia-class sub across spread over fiscal 2014-2018, to bring the total to 10, which program proponents have been asking for several years.
The plan also continues funding development of the Virginia payload module (VPM) and technology, prototype components, and systems engineering needed for design and construction.
Navy officials expect to use the VPMs to deliver a host of missiles and other weapons or platforms, making the Virginia an even more flexible submarine.
The proposed fiscal 2014 budget also includes about $1.2 billion in research, development, test and evaluation (RDT&E) funding for the Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine fleet replacement program.
The replacement ships are slated to begin construction in fiscal 2021 and the Navy anticipates delivery of the first subs in 2028, when the first Ohio-class ships are due to be decommissioned.
Defense analysts generally consider the Ohio-class replacement fleet to be one of the most secure programs in the Pentagon because of the strategic importance of the fleet as well as international treaty implications — parts of the ship are being developed in concert with the U.K.
Together, the Virginia-class and Ohio-class replacement funding totals about $6.6 billion of the $13.6 billion proposed U.S. Navy ship spending in fiscal 2014.
Between 1999 and 2009, the Navy spent about $16.2 billion for submarine programs — excluding nuclear reactor procurement — making subs the fourth highest Navy expense for that time, according to an Aviation Week Intelligence Network (AWIN) analysis of contracting data aggregated by the National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting.
For continuing, through-the-day coverage of the U.S. budget rollout, Aviation Week Intelligence Network subscribers should click here to visit our Fiscal 2014 budget digest page often, where the Aviation Week editorial team will post expert coverage and analysis.