The U.S. Navy has begun an effort to redesign the forward sections of future SSN 774 Virginia-class submarines — one of several moves the service hopes can shrink the ships’ $2.4 b price tag. At the heart of the effort is the proposed removal of the large spherical array of transducers that supports the BQQ-6 sonar system. However, the redesign effort still requires for several issues to be resolved. But if successful the changes could be incorporated as early as the submarine ordered in 2010. A total of 10 Virginia-class submarines have been delivered or are under contract. The service is ordering one ship per year and hopes to order two in 2012. Key to that two-per-year plan
, though, is whether the price can be brought down to $2 billion per ship, counted in 2005 dollars. If that threshold can’t be met the Navy will continue to order only one submarine per year.
The submarines are being built under a 50-50 split between General Dynamics Electric Boat, New London, Conn., and Northrop Grumman Newport News, Newport News, Va. Each company is building half of each submarine and alternating assembly at its shipyards. Among other changes and developments that should bring about cost reductions are higher levels of completion for each portion of the submarines. Also, another change would be to reuse government-furnished equipment for some initial combat system installations. (Source: Defensenews.com)