Navy Virginia (SSN-774) Class Attack Submarine Procurement

The Navy has been procuring Virginia (SSN-774) class nuclear-powered attack submarines(SSNs) since FY1998. The one Virginia-class boat that the Navy is requesting for procurement inFY2021 would be the 33rd boat in the class. The Navy’s FY2020 budget submission had projected that the Navy would request two Virginia-class boats in FY2021.Virginia-class boats scheduled for procurement in FY2019-FY2023 are being procured under a multiyear procurement (MYP) contract. Most Virginia-class boats procured in FY2019 and subsequent years are to be built with the Virginia Payload Module (VPM), an additional, 84-footlong, mid-body section equipped with four large-diameter, vertical launch tubes for storing and launching additional Tomahawk missiles or other payloads. The Navy’s force-level goal for SSNs is to achieve and maintain a force of 66 boats. The Navy’s SSN force included 50 boats at the end of FY2019. From the mid-2020s through the early 2030s,the number of SSNs is projected to experience a valley or trough, reaching a minimum of 42boats in FY2027-FY2028. Some observers are concerned that this projected valley could lead to a period of heightened operational strain for the SSN force, and perhaps a period of weakened conventional deterrence against potential adversaries such as China. The projected SSN valley was first identified by CRS in 1995 and has been discussed in CRS reports and testimony every year since then. The Navy’s FY2020 30-year shipbuilding plan projects that, after reaching its projected 42-boat minimum, the SSN force will increase to 66 boats by FY2048.  Purchase this Volume