General Dynamics Electric Boat has contracted BAE Systems to start the production of Virginia Payload Module (VPM) tubes for Block V Virginia-class (SSN 774) submarines.
This initial award will fund work related to certification, special tooling, and other items related to production readiness, BAE said.
The VPM is an additional mid-body section being integrated into the U.S. Navy’s Virginia-class submarines, beginning with the second boat of Block V. It contains four large-diameter payload tubes, each capable of storing and launching up to seven Tomahawk cruise missiles.
Accessible while at sea, the VPM also offers a greater amount of flexibility in the potential integration of future payloads.
“The new Virginia Payload Module will bring an additional 28 missiles to each Virginia-class submarine, tripling their payload strike capacity,” said Joe Senftle, vice president and general manager of Weapon Systems at BAE Systems. “Increasing the firepower of the Virginia class is a cost-effective way for the Navy to maintain its strike capability after its four SSGN guided missile submarines retire.”
Earlier this year BAE Systems announced it was selected to provide propulsors, spare hardware, and tailcones for Block IV Virginia-class submarines.
Work on the initial award will be performed at BAE Systems’ facility in Louisville, Kentucky. Contracts for the launch tube production are expected in early 2017, with deliveries through 2019.