General Dynamics (GD) Electric Boat has subcontracted BAE Systems to start work related with the production readiness of Virginia Payload Module (VPM) tubes for the US Navy’s Block V Virginia-class (SSN 774) submarines.
Under the contract, BAE Systems will perform the works connected to certification, special tooling, and other items at its facility in Louisville, Kentucky, US, and delivery of the tubes is scheduled for 2019.
BAE Systems weapon systems vice-president and general manager Joe Senftle said: “The new VPM will bring an additional 28 missiles to each Virginia-class submarine, tripling their payload strike capacity.
“Increasing the firepower of the Virginia class is a cost-effective way for the Navy to maintain its strike capability after its four SSGN guided missile submarines retire.”
In 2010, GD was awarded a $965m engineering contract by the US Navy to support its Virginia-class submarine programme.
The VPM is an additional mid-body section which will be fitted into the Virginia-class submarines, starting from the second boat of Block V.
It comprises four large-diameter payload tubes, each of which can launch up to seven Tomahawk cruise missiles.
The VPM also offers flexibility for a potential integration of future payloads into the submarines.
Nearly 28 Virginia-class submarines have been either delivered, are authorised for construction, or are under contract for the US Navy.
The US Navy’s Virginia-class submarines will have a 377ft hull and displacement capacity of 7,800t. They can operate at a speed of more than 25k while being submerged, and dive to more than 800ft-deep.
BAE was also selected earlier this year to provide propulsors, spare hardware, and tailcones for Block IV Virginia-class submarines.
Image: BAE to begin production of VPM tubes for Virginia-class submarines. Photo: courtesy of BAE Systems.