Summary of Congressional Research Service Report
The Navy has been procuring Virginia (SSN-774) class nuclear-powered attack submarines since FY1998. The two Virginia-class boats requested for procurement in FY2017 are to be the 25th and 26 th boats in the class. The 10 Virginia-class boats programmed for procurement in FY2014- FY2018 (two per year for five years) are being procured under a multiyear-procurement (MYP) contract.
From FY2025 to FY2036, the number of SSNs is projected to experience a dip or valley, reaching a minimum of 41 boats (i.e., 25 boats, or about 38%, less than the 66-boat force-level goal) in FY2029. This projected valley is a consequence of having procured a relatively small number of SSNs during the 1990s, in the early years of the post-Cold War era. Some observers are concerned that this projected valley in SSN force levels could lead to a period of heightened operational strain for the SSN force, and perhaps a period of weakened conventional deterrence against potential adversaries.
The Navy has been exploring options for mitigating the projected valley. Procuring additional Virginia-class boats in the near term is one of those options. In that connection, the Navy has expressed interest in procuring an additional Virginia-class boat in FY2021. Congress also has the option of funding the procurement of one or more additional Virginia-class boats in FY2018-FY2020.
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|Submarines and Submariners
Jim Jenkins, President