US Navy has progressed into new development phase of a new class of nuclear-armed ballistic missile submarines to be used as undersea strategic deterrents for a second-strike nuclear ability from beneath the ocean in the event of a catastrophic first-strike on the continental US.
Ship specifications for the new Columbia-Class submarines have been completed and the program is now entering detailed design phase and initial production contract, service officials were quoted as saying by Scout Warriors today.
In acquisition terms, development of the new submarines have passed what's termed "Milestone B," clearing the way beyond early development toward ultimate production. Production decisions are known as "Milestone C."
"The program was approved to proceed to Milestone B Jan. 4, authorizing it to enter into the engineering and manufacturing development phase and permitting the transition from preliminary design to detail design," William Couch, spokesman for Naval Sea Systems Command, said.
The Navy intends to build and operate as many as 12 new nuclear-armed submarines, to be in service by the early 2040s and serve well into the 2080s.
The Navy has begun early construction and prototyping on a new class of nuclear-armed ballistic missile submarines.
The Ohio Replacement Program, a so-called SSBN, is scheduled to begin construction by 2021. Requirements work, technical specifications and early prototyping have already been underway at General Dynamics Electric Boat.
Designed to be 560-feet– long and house 16 Trident II D5 missiles fired from 44-foot-long missile tubes, ORP will be engineered as a stealthy, high-tech nuclear deterrent able to quietly patrol the global undersea domain.
The new submarines, called "Columbia-Class" are being designed for 42 years of service life.
Construction on the first submarine in this new class is slated to be finished up by 2028, with initial combat patrols beginning in 2031, service officials said.
Detailed design for the first Ohio Replacement Program is slated for 2017.
The new submarines are being engineered to quietly patrol the undersea domain and function as a crucial strategic deterrent, assuring a second strike or retaliatory nuclear capability in the event of nuclear attack.
The Navy is only building 12 Ohio Replacement submarines to replace 14 existing Ohio-class nuclear-armed boats because the new submarines are being built with an improved nuclear core reactor that will better sustain the submarines, Navy officials have said.