General Dynamics Electric Boat has awarded a contract to BAE Systems for the manufacture of payload tubes for the US Navy’s two new Virginia-class (SSN 774) submarines.
BAE Systems will manufacture two sets of payload tubes for the Virginia Payload Modules (VPMs) on-board the yet-to-be named vessels, SSN 804 and SSN 805, under the arrangement.
Each set of payload tubes comprises four large-diameter tubes and can be used to support increased firepower on-board the Block V version of the US Navy’s attack submarines.
The VPM provides an additional mid-body section to create more payload space for greater firepower, thereby extending the length of the Block V submarines compared to the previous versions of the Virginia-class vessels.
The payload tubes can store and launch up to seven Tomahawk cruise missiles, while their flexible design allows for the integration of future payload types such as unmanned systems or next-generation weapons.
BAE Systems Weapon Systems vice-president and general manager Joe Senftle said: “The VPM is critical to the navy’s undersea presence.
“With the VPM, the navy is adding significant capability to the Virginia-class by increasing the firepower of these subs and tripling their payload capacity.”
The company will also be responsible for developing the processes and tooling required for the production of the Block V payload tube as part of the latest deal.
Work on the project will be carried out at BAE Systems’ manufacturing facility in Louisville, Kentucky, US.
Deliveries are currently scheduled to commence in 2020.
The company has also agreed to deliver payload tubes for the US Navy’s SSN 803 submarine under a previously awarded VPM contract.