The US Navy has reportedly struck a multi-year agreement to purchase nine Block V Virginia-class attack submarines, two fewer than the 11 originally planned.

According to a Bloomberg report, General Dynamics and the US Navy have agreed a deal for the construction and delivery of the next lot of Virginia-class attack submarines.

It is understood that the parties have not yet finalised the terms of the agreement.

Bloomberg cited US Navy spokesperson captain Danny Hernandez, who said that the final contract is expected to be announced by the end of the year.

Hernandez noted that the agreement will provide significant savings to the exchequer and deliver enhanced capabilities to the navy.

The contract is also likely to include an option for a tenth submarine.

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A shortfall in funding is said to be one of the key reasons for the shift away from the navy’s original plan to acquire 11 submarines.

House Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee Chairman Joe Courtney said: “Today’s news that the Block V contract is reaching the final backstretch with a framework that will be built around a minimum of nine subs and an option for a tenth to maintain the programme of record shows real progress in terms of getting a stable workload for this critical programme.

“The final design of the contract is still weeks away, and we are going to continue to advocate for a programme that addresses the navy’s attack submarine shortfall, as well as integrates this programme into the Columbia-class that is beginning in earnest.”

The Virginia-class submarine programme has seen repeated delays caused by a range of issues.

Last month, Huntington Ingalls Industries’ (HII) Newport News Shipbuilding division delivered the newest Virginia-class submarine, the Delaware. The delivery was nine months behind schedule.

The Block V submarines will feature the Virginia Payload Module (VPM), which will add four additional payload tubes. In addition to increased size, the Block V boats will possess increased lethality.