The U.S. Navy has planned out physical dimensions and other key features for its fleet of next-generation, ballistic-missile submarines, USNI News reports.
A senior official indicated on Monday that each of the dozen future Ohio-class Replacement Program vessels would weigh in at over 20,000 tons, making them larger than any other U.S. Navy submarine to date, according to the publication by the nongovernmental U.S. Naval Institute.
The planned dimensions would make the Ohio-class replacement submersibles roughly half the size of the Typhoon-class, ballistic-missile submarines constructed by the Soviet Union, and about equal in weight to Moscow's newer Borei-class boats.
They are to hold eight fewer missile launchers, but retain a 560-foot length similar to the size of the nation's current nuclear-armed Ohio-class subs. Each of the future "SSBN(X)" submarines would contain 16 launch tubes with Trident D-5 ballistic missiles.
Holding the size of the submarines relatively constant while cutting back on the number of launch tubes reportedly would carry evasion and sustainability benefits while limiting expenses.
"We included the requisite stealth technologies to ensure the ship’s survivability for its 42-year service life," said Rear Adm. David Johnson, the Navy's head of submarine acquisitions.
The Pentagon has set a cost target of $4.9 billion for each of the forthcoming submarines, but the Navy has estimated that their cost could average out to nearly $5.4 billion per vessel.
"When do we actually have to be at $4.9 billion? To be determined," Johnson told journalists.
The first SSBN(X) submarine is slated to enter assembly in 2021 and go into service one decade later. The Obama administration's fiscal 2015 budget request calls for $1.2 billion in research-and-development funds for the planned vessels.
This article was published in Global Security Newswire, which is produced independently by National Journal Group under contract with the Nuclear Threat Initiative. NTI is a nonprofit, nonpartisan group working to reduce global threats from nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons.