General Dynamics' (GD) subsidiary Electric Boat has received a $6.5m contract from the US Navy to develop the Virginia Payload Module (VPM).
The new deal is part of an overall engineering contract worth $965m, which was awarded in 2010, to support the Virginia-class submarine programme.
The VPM includes four large-diameter payload tubes in a new hull section, which will be inserted in Virginia-class submarines.
With the new section, the hull will be extended by up to 80ft and strike capacity will improve by 230%, with a cost increase of less than 15%.
Approximately 28 Virginia-class submarines have been either delivered, are in construction, or are under contract for the US Navy.
The submarines feature improved stealth, sophisticated surveillance capabilities, and special warfare enhancements. They have a displacement of 7,800t, a 377ft hull, and can cruise at speeds of over 25k, while diving to more than 800ft deep.
The submarines can be equipped with Mark 48 advanced capability torpedoes, Tomahawk land-attack missiles and unmanned underwater vehicles.The vessels can also accommodate advanced mission requirements, including anti-submarine, surface-ship warfare, and special operations support.
In addition, Electric Boat has received a $46.4m contract from the US Navy for planning efforts in support of maintenance and modernisation work on the Los Angeles-Improved class attack submarine, USS Montpelier.
Under this contract, Electric Boat will perform planning activities to conduct an interim dry-docking period for the submarine.
Image: The Virginia Class is designed for the mission requirements of the post-Cold War era. Photo: courtesy of US Navy Photo / Released.