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voyager1

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Not really that surprising these days, increase in cost from $14.39 billion to $15.03 billion
Something to note here is that this submarine is much more expensive than the Ford Aircraft Carrier

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The first carrier in the class, the USS Gerald R. Ford, is now a $13.3 billion
So a new single (boomer) submarine is now $2 billion more expensive than an entire new and modern aircraft carrier

These cost overruns are hurting the US Navy
 

MarKoz81

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I found the 2021-2025 shipbuilding plan of the USN.
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View attachment 72971

For comparison here are some tables from "Report to Congress on the Annual Long-Range Plan for Construction of Naval Vessels" ( 9 December 2020)

Funding and orders for new construction:
USN-SHIPUILDING_22-26.jpg

Retired and delivered hulls by year:
Retirements & Deliveries 22-51.jpg

Small surface combatant includes Constellation-class.
Amphibious Warfare Ships include planned Light Amphibious Warship.

Total active hulls by year:
USN_22-51.jpg

I don't have data at hand on the radar upgrades for the Flight IIA Burkes. Without the upgrade they still have the AN/SPY-1D. After upgrade it's AN/SPY-6(V)4. The difference between the baseline (V)1 and (V)4 is the number of RMAs (Radar Module Assembly) per antenna face. The Flight IIIs will have 37 per face, while the upgraded Flight IIAs will have only 24 due to structural and systems limitations. That's 65% of the baseline so I wonder how that will affect capabilities of the radar.

Only Flight IIA can be upgraded with the new radar so 28 Flight I and II Burkes will remain in service with AN/SPY-1D. Those ships were commissioned from 1991 to 1999 so they won't be withdrawn before 2026 to 2034. As for Flight IIA upgrades I don't know how many can be performed and how many are funded annually. There are 40 ships waiting for modernization but it's a messy business considering all the rerouting of installations that most likely will have to be done on each ship since the Burkes are choking on their own systems as they are.

Many people point to the surface ships as evidence of problems but I think that the most important number from the above tables is "Attack Submarines".

The shipyards can deliver two Virginias per year and any increase in production rate would require additional funding and investment in production and delivery chains as well as some infrastructure. There were public statements to that effect before the Congress from the representatives of the shipbuilding industry. Obviously those plans are disrupted by any additional funds that will be needed for the Columbias.

If you look at the table the current plan has the number of SSNs stable at 53 average until 2030 and only then the number goes up. but slowly. The plan has 54 SSNs projected for 2030 and 64 in 2040. Only then does it pick up somewhat.

When you subtract from that figure the number of CVNs and ESGs that must be escorted by an SSN because of the value of the ships you get 32 "free" subs in 2030 and 42 in 2040. At the same time those subs will probably have to deal with all enemy SSNs and that includes Russia which has 27 SSNs and SSGNs and 12 SSBNs. This number is not likely to decrease significantly in the future as Russia treats its nuclear force as an undisputed priority. 10 Borei-class, 9 Yasen-class and 4 Khabarovsk-class subs are being built or have been ordered. All these subs will absolutely test American power projection at sea inluding disrupting the operations of the task force groups the moment USN will focus their submarine assets on PLAN. It is true that subs hunting subs is not the go-to solution but it is useful to not rely on surface and aerial ASW since those are too visible and too public and not very useful for putting invisible pressure when it's necessary.

I'm really interested how those new facilities at Huludao turn out. That shipyard alone has more capacity than both submarine shipyards in the US. Even if on a technical level Chinese subs are not as good as American ones, the ability to build just two SSNs per year - the equivalent of current American production rate - gives 20 new SSNs in a decade while still having space to build 1 SSBN per year/two years. For the US Navy it means just replacing 688i's with Virginias. For China it means new ships and new capability.

Interesting times full steam ahead.
 

voyager1

Captain
Registered Member
Many people point to the surface ships as evidence of problems but I think that the most important number from the above tables is "Attack Submarines".

The shipyards can deliver two Virginias per year and any increase in production rate would require additional funding and investment in production and delivery chains as well as some infrastructure. There were public statements to that effect before the Congress from the representatives of the shipbuilding industry. Obviously those plans are disrupted by any additional funds that will be needed for the Columbias.

If you look at the table the current plan has the number of SSNs stable at 53 average until 2030 and only then the number goes up. but slowly. The plan has 54 SSNs projected for 2030 and 64 in 2040. Only then does it pick up somewhat.

When you subtract from that figure the number of CVNs and ESGs that must be escorted by an SSN because of the value of the ships you get 32 "free" subs in 2030 and 42 in 2040. At the same time those subs will probably have to deal with all enemy SSNs and that includes Russia which has 27 SSNs and SSGNs and 12 SSBNs. This number is not likely to decrease significantly in the future as Russia treats its nuclear force as an undisputed priority. 10 Borei-class, 9 Yasen-class and 4 Khabarovsk-class subs are being built or have been ordered. All these subs will absolutely test American power projection at sea inluding disrupting the operations of the task force groups the moment USN will focus their submarine assets on PLAN. It is true that subs hunting subs is not the go-to solution but it is useful to not rely on surface and aerial ASW since those are too visible and too public and not very useful for putting invisible pressure when it's necessary.
Great post but as shown in the table you posted above, dont forget the XLUUV program when having the submarine discussion. It seems that starting from FY26 they would be accelerating their construction to 4 XLUUVs per year. And who knows to how much they can further increase their construction rate

Obviously their capability wont be 1-to-1 relative to normal Attack submarines, but as time passes they will take more missions and close this capability gap with AI technology advances happening in the (near?) future
 

MarKoz81

New Member
Registered Member
XLUUV will not change the equation.

Their autonomy will be always at a disadvantage because no AI installed on a small underwater drone will ever beat a surface system which has access to every computing and information asset by the virtue of being able to communicate in real time while the drone is limited to whatever is in its library because it is isolated in the underwater environment.

Their size limits payload, endurance and flexibility. In low frequency acoustics size of array is everything so at best they will have a small towed array which will make them a mobile ADAR sonobuoy.

Numbers won't matter because China has all the capability to match the production.

What China can't do yet is match the size, technical level and experience of US nuclear submarine fleet. Here we are talking about not just the number and quality of ships, but the number and quality of crews, commanders and institutional knowledge which has been continuously developed since the introduction of USS Nautilus.

XLUUVs are just a desperation tactic much like the rest of the unmanned Wundermarine. Drones can only be supplementary systems. They can't replace a crewed ship - especially underwater - and won't be able to for decades to come because ships are not aircraft or tanks. Ships are entire land units. They do not perform a single role but multiple roles and that complicates things.

In 50 years perhaps. But not yet.
 

voyager1

Captain
Registered Member
XLUUV will not change the equation.

Their autonomy will be always at a disadvantage because no AI installed on a small underwater drone will ever beat a surface system which has access to every computing and information asset by the virtue of being able to communicate in real time while the drone is limited to whatever is in its library because it is isolated in the underwater environment.

Their size limits payload, endurance and flexibility. In low frequency acoustics size of array is everything so at best they will have a small towed array which will make them a mobile ADAR sonobuoy.

Numbers won't matter because China has all the capability to match the production.

What China can't do yet is match the size, technical level and experience of US nuclear submarine fleet. Here we are talking about not just the number and quality of ships, but the number and quality of crews, commanders and institutional knowledge which has been continuously developed since the introduction of USS Nautilus.

XLUUVs are just a desperation tactic much like the rest of the unmanned Wundermarine. Drones can only be supplementary systems. They can't replace a crewed ship - especially underwater - and won't be able to for decades to come because ships are not aircraft or tanks. Ships are entire land units. They do not perform a single role but multiple roles and that complicates things.

In 50 years perhaps. But not yet.
I think you are seriously understimating how fast AI advances and that it is actually accelerating now (and even more in the future). There have already been talks about how AI is now learning to dogfight in the air.

There also reports on how the PLA is planning (already in R&D, unknown how much they advanced) to use AI to help a commander on making tactical decisions.

AI is advancing so fast that we might actually see 6th gen systems coming out sooner than we thought they would.

For now all these are in heavy R&D with a lot of progress happening. The XLUUV is a good example on what the US Navy is planning to do. Ofc manned submarines will be more capable than AI-enabled drone subs in the near-to-medium future. But I fully expect that in max 12 (10?, <10?) years AI subs will be able to hunt enemy submarines

Anyways this is a bunch of theorycrafting. My point was that underwater drones shouldn't be underestimated. We are now moving from platform vs platform warfare to a system of systems warfare.
 
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siegecrossbow

Lieutenant General
Staff member
Super Moderator
I think the problem with USN surface fleet building is that the American domestic ship building industry has atrophied significantly since the 80s and 90s. Combat aircraft are relatively cost effective since the civilian aerospace industry is robust.
 

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