The US Navy has received
into service its first new Block III Virginia-class attack submarine
, the future USS Colorado (SSN 788). Built by Huntington Ingalls Industries and General Dynamics Electric Boat, the vessel is expected to be commissioned into service next spring. Block III submarines feature a redesigned bow with enhanced payload capabilities, replacing 12 individual vertical launch tubes with two large-diameter Virginia Payload Tubes, each capable of launching six Tomahawk cruise missiles. This, among other design changes, reduced the submarines' acquisition cost while maintaining their outstanding warfighting capabilities.
A 5-year, $17 billion deal will build 10 Virginia Class Block IV fast attack submarines for the US Navy, bringing production to 2 boats per year at long last. The USA’s nuclear submarine fleet gives it unmatched flexibility, but it’s confronted with rising submarine numbers in China and around the Pacific, even as its Los Angeles Class submarines are beginning to exit the fleet. Aircraft carriers may dominate in peacetime, but as anti-ship missiles gain longer reach and greater lethality, and sensors improve, some analysts are coming to see submarines as the key to wartime naval power…