General Dynamics Electric Boat (GDEB) has been selected by the US Navy (USN) to perform Lead Yard Support, Development and Design efforts on Virginia-class attack submarines (SSNs) in a contract modification worth $967m.

GDEB and HII’s Newport News Shipbuilding division have jointly developed the Virginia class fleet since the Navy commissioned the first boat in 2004, and it has awarded GDEB several modification contracts over the years in support of the fleet.

The Navy awarded $9m in funds to support the continued development of the Virginia Payload Module (VPM) in December 2017. A year later, the company received contract modifications, totalling $778m, for research and development and lead-yard services to improve the design and study technologies for integration into the submarine.

Work on the latest modification will be performed in Groton, Connecticut; McLeansville, North Carolina; Newport News, Virginia; and Newport and Quonset Point, Rhode Island. GDEB expects its work to be completed by October 2024.

Kevin Graney, president of GDEB, stated: “We are proud to continue our tradition of delivering this state-of the-art platform that ensures the safety of our sailors and their continued dominance in the undersea domain.”

This modification comes just after the USN awarded GDEB a $517.2m contract to procure and deliver spare parts for the Virginia class. Under this delivery order, Electric Boat will provide spare parts necessary for the maintenance availabilities of the Virginia-class submarines.

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Virginia’s undersea dominance

The noise level of Virginia is equal to that of the previous Seawolf class (SSN 21) with a lower acoustic signature than the Russian improved Akula class and fourth-generation attack submarines.

To achieve the low acoustic signature, Virginia incorporates newly designed anechoic coatings, isolated deck structures and a new design of propulsor.

Virginia has two mast-mounted Raytheon submarine high data rate (sub HDR) multiband satellite communications systems that enable simultaneous communication at a super-high frequency and extremely high frequency.

The submarine fleet is also equipped with 12 vertical missile launch tubes and four 533mm torpedo tubes. The vertical launching system has the capacity to launch 16 Tomahawk submarine-launched cruise missiles (SLCM) in a single salvo.

There is a capacity for up to 26 Mk48 ADCAP Mod 6 heavyweight torpedoes and sub harpoon anti-ship missiles to be fired from the 21 in torpedo tubes. Mk60 CAPTOR mines may also be fitted.

The Virginia class sonar suite includes a bow-mounted active and passive array, wide aperture passive array on the flank, high-frequency active arrays on keel and fin, TB 16 towed array and the Lockheed Martin TB-29A thin line towed array with the AN/BQQ-10(V4) sonar processing system.