Navy nearing completion of SSN(X) initial capabilities document

By Nick Wilson / November 8, 2023 at 1:06 PM

The Navy is nearing completion of an initial capabilities document for the future SSN(X) submarine and expects to begin conducting an analysis of alternatives for the program in 2024, a senior service official said today.

“We are on plan and nearing completion of the initial capabilities document. It has cleared the Navy and is on its way to the joint staff, with the intent to commence the analysis of alternatives for this platform here in 2024,” Rear Adm. Mark Behning, director of the Undersea Warfare Division (N97), said today at the Naval Submarine League Symposium.

SSN(X) will succeed the Virginia-class submarine program as the next-generation attack boat, bringing improved speed, stealth and sensing capabilities. The Navy plans to begin procurement in the mid-2030s, budget documents indicate.

While the Navy will continue fielding and operating Virginia vessels well into the future, Behning said the service will soon reach the limit of the Virginia hulls’ ability to support “significant modernization and capability insertion.”

The Navy is looking to develop four key attributes in SSN(X), Behning said, “that’s speed, payload capacity, decision superiority and operational availability.”

“We are in the development stage with the next key milestone being research and development and the trade studies to ensure we get the right mix of warfighting capabilities at an affordable cost to ensure our continued dominance,” he added.

The Navy’s fiscal year 2024 budget request includes $362 million in R&D funding for SSN(X), following a $134 million investment in FY-23, according to budget documents.