In the memo, sent 4 June, acting Secretary of the US Navy Thomas Harker said the navy would have to choose one programme to pursue, with the other two postponed for later years.

Harker wrote: “The Navy cannot afford to simultaneously develop the next generation of air, surface and subsurface platforms and must prioritise these programmes balancing the cost of developing next-generation capabilities against maintaining current capabilities.

“As part of the POM 23 [programme objective memorandum 2023] budget, the Navy should prioritise one of the following capabilities and re-phase the other two after an assessment of operational, financial and technical risk.”

The US Navy had previously stood up a programme office to develop a replacement for the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and this month established another office to pursue the development of a new guided-missile destroyer.

The mulled future destroyer would replace the long in-service Arleigh Burke-class of destroyers. Plans for a future submarine the SSN(X) would form the replacement for the Virginia-class submarine.

USNI News reported that all three programmes are at similar stages of development and all three are expected to deliver results before the end of the current decade.

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In its Fiscal Year 2022 budget request, the US Navy has earmarked $121.8m for the development of the new destroyer dubbed DDG(X). In the same period, the Navy is set to invest $98m in efforts to design and develop the SSN(X).

The US Navy has not said how much it will invest in NGAD development in 2022.