The next generation Columbia nuclear submarine program was giving a $8-billion affordability cap, and the program was sitting at about $7.3 billion for the average procurement unit cost (APUC) across all 12 planned submarines.
They have reduced cost by $80 million per hull, to bring APUC down to $7.21 billion.
The “stretch goal” is to get costs below $7 billion per submarine.
The US Navy has a total of 18 Ohio-class submarines which consist of 14 ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs), and four cruise missile submarines (SSGNs). The SSBN submarines are also known as “Trident” submarines, and provide the sea-based leg of the U.S. nuclear triad.
The first of the current Ohio SSBNs are expected to be retired by 2029. It was originally expected that the replacements would be $4 billion per unit compared to Ohio’s $2 billion. Now they are congratulating themselves if they can keep the doubled cost from doubling again.
Although still evolving, the following are some of the ship characteristics for the SSBN(X) design:
* Expected 42-year service life (it is planned that each submarine will carry out 124 deterrent patrols during its service life)
* Life-of-the-ship nuclear fuel core that is sufficient to power the ship for its entire expected service life, unlike the Ohio-class submarines, which require a mid-life nuclear refueling
* Missile launch tubes that are the same size as those of the Ohio class, with a diameter of 87 inches (2,200 mm) and a length sufficient to accommodate a D-5 Trident II missile
* Ship beam at least as great as the 42-foot (13 m) beam of the Ohio-class submarines
* 16 missile launch tubes instead of 24 missile launch tubes on Ohio-class submarines.
* Although the SSBN(X) is to have fewer launch tubes than the Ohio-class submarine, SSBN(X) is expected to have a submerged displacement about the same as that of Ohio-class submarines
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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