The U.S. Government Has A Plan For A Predator Attack Submarine

( The next-generation U.S. Navy nuclear-attack submarine SSN(X) is a moneymaker. The FY23 National Defense Authorization Act funds the “apex predator” initiative. If the Senate adopts the House version of the national security policy package, the SSN(X) will get $144 million for R&D. SSN(X) will replace Virginia-class subs.

The Navy expects SSN(X) will defeat foes in underwater warfare by the mid-2030s. The Navy sought $237 million for SSN(X); thus, the NDAA earmark falls short, but it saves the program. “X” means the Navy hasn’t finalized the boat’s design.

According to a budget justification statement from the Navy, the SSN(X) is an exciting addition to the fleet.

SSN(X) will tackle the rising danger of near-peer adversary competition. It will have enhanced speed, cargo capacity, acoustic superiority, and operational availability. It will boost multi-mission capabilities and combat presence in forbidden seas.

The Congressional Research Service believes the SSN(X) will combine Seawolf-class speed and payload with Virginia-class quiet and Columbia-class service life.

This would allow the SSN(X) to carry a huge array of torpedoes and deploy airborne drones for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance. SSN(X) may carry hypersonic missiles.

The first SSN(X) will cost $6 billion in 2031 USD. In 2034, it’ll buy two per year. Congress will consider cost when the Navy implements the scheme. Lawmakers must also consider how the SSN(X) may affect other submarine projects and fleet upkeep.

After acquisition, construction, and sea trials, the Navy must select what type of reactor to put aboard the SSN(X) and how long it can remain in service. The military must also evaluate the SSN(Xmission )’s sets, which will differentiate it from the Virginia-class.

Will it operate close to shore and insert Navy SEALs, or will it focus on anti-submarine warfare? Both missions?

The Navy indicated earlier this year that it would analyze new submarine options to resolve specific problems. This year’s analysis will be complete. The next-generation sub is still developing, but speed and stealth will be critical.

SSN(X) may prioritize carrier-killing. China’s fourth carrier is under construction. The nuclear-powered warship would provide China’s navy blue-water capability. By 2031, China may have five aircraft carriers. This next-generation sub will be busy.