The Navy’s undersea warfare resource sponsor is in discussion with the Office of the Secretary of Defense to include a funding line in the fiscal year 2019 budget request for inserting new technology in attack submarines to keep pace with the threat.
Brian Howes, acting undersea warfare director in the office of the chief of naval operations (N97), said today the service is running out of “design margin” in the Virginia-class attack submarine.
As the threat evolves the Navy continuously updates the platform. For instance, the Virginia-class Block III inserted payload tubes, while Block V will integrate the Virginia Payload Module, he said.
“We’ve started the discussion of how we are going to leverage our block improvement conveyor belt to wring out as much as we can in future blocks of Virginia,” Howes said. “This effort is what we call the Tactical Submarine Evolution Plan, TSEP, which is our approach for continued [improvements].”
Howes said the Navy should be able to insert a new capability to keep pace with threats once Block V begins in 2019, not wait five years for the next Virginia-class block to begin.
“We need to invest in that capability as soon as possible,” he said. “We need to have the opportunity for mid-block insertion.”