With the stroke of a pen, the Navy’s acquisition executive has increased the size of the Virginia class submarine program, expanding the official acquisition target from 30 to 48 boats, adding a $68 billion obligation to future Pentagon budgets and making the total cost of the nuclear-powered attack submarine project second only to the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
On Feb. 13, acting Navy acquisition executive Allison Stiller approved an update to the Virginia-class submarine acquisition baseline program, “extending the program of record from 30 to 48,” according to the Navy’s fiscal year 2018 budget request. The change, which hasn’t been previously reported, marks a 60 percent increase in the program’s formal acquisition objective.
That change lifts the total cost of the SSN-774 program to about $162 billion, up from $104 billion last year, according to Navy documents. Last year, the Navy was planning to buy 33 boats, operating under a provisional extension of the 30-boat program that tacked $11 billion on to the total program cost. The Navy’s March 2016 estimate before that change was $93.2 billion.
The service’s FY-18 budget request indicates a revised total procurement cost of $155.3 billion; the service has previously reported $6.6 billion in sunk research and development costs.
This addition of 18 Virginia-class submarines would fulfill a target the Navy set in 2012, but would only get the service halfway to a more ambitious goal recently advanced by the chief of naval operations.
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