The US Naval Sea Systems Command has awarded General Dynamics Electric Boat (GDEB) a $2.4 billion contract for the construction of a tenth Block V Virginia-class submarine with the Virginia Payload Module.
The Friday modification follows the original contract award from December 2019, when the navy awarded Electric Boat $22.2 billion to build 9 Block V attack submarines.
Eight of the nine boats ordered were to carry the Virginia Payload Module (VPM), an 84-foot mid-body section that will provide the boats with more than three times the missile strike capacity of the current Virginia-class submarines. Current boats in the class can carry 12 Tomahawk missiles and the VPM will bring this number to 40.
Electric Boat will build the VPM at a recently-constructed facility at Quonset Point, Rhode Island. The payload module will also enable enhanced use of special operating forces and allow the navy to bring aboard additional weapons, sensors and other special payloads.
With a displacement of around 10,200 tons, Virginia-class submarines with VPM will displace over 2,000 tons more than the current boats. In addition to Tomahawk land-attack missiles, the submarines also carry Mark 48 advanced capability torpedoes and unmanned underwater vehicles. The navy also plans to equip the boats with submarine-launched unmanned aerial systems.
The new submarines will also carry the Block Va variant of the Tomahawk. Dubbed the “Maritime Strike Tomahawk,” the missile will be able to hit moving targets at sea.
The first Block V boat, future USS Oklahoma (SSN-802), is already under construction and is expected to be delivered in 2025.
According to Pentagon’s contract announcement on March 19, the tenth boat should be delivered by February 2030.