An Ohio-class nuclear missile submarine (SSBN).

An Ohio-class nuclear missile submarine (SSBN).

NATIONAL HARBOR: This is rocket science. As the US Navy tries to keep its crucial 1990-vintage Trident D5 nuclear-capable missile viable for decades to come, it’s working with everyone from the Royal Navy to the US Air Force to NASA to keep costs down and technology up to date. Meanwhile, the design team for the new nuclear missile submarine that will carry those Tridents after 2031 is already down in such low-tech weeds as salvaging launch tube doors from the existing Ohio-class nuclear subs as they retire from service.

“The issue with NASA [is] it takes 10 Trident missiles to make up one Space Shuttle booster,” in terms of the rockets’ relative size, explained Vice Adm. Terry Benedict, Navy director of Strategic Systems Programs, when I asked him about it after his remarks this morning at the massive Sea-Air-Space conference. “So when NASA dropped the Space Shuttle program [in 2011], the industrial base took a significant impact,” the admiral said. There’s no way the Navy’s much smaller demand for nuclear missile boosters can make up for the loss of Space Shuttle booster business.

Because the industry builds fewer missiles, each booster the Navy buys carries more overhead costs and a heftier price tag (though Benedict didn’t say how much). For now, said the admiral, “through a lot of concerted effort with industry we’ve been able to maintain costs at what I’ll call an acceptable level.”

In the longer run, however, the viability of the rocket booster industrial base and the affordability of the Navy’s nuclear missiles depends in large part on the decision NASA must make circa 2016 about how (or whether) to replace the shuttle. Benedict and his staff are “working closely” with NASA, but ultimately it’s not the Navy’s decision to make.

Meanwhile, while NASA wrestles with going to the Moon or Mars, Benedict’s busy just getting back  from the UK. Just two weeks ago he was in London, consulting with the British on the Common Missile Compartment (CMC) that will hold the launch tubes for both the US Ohio replacement and the British Vanguard replacement. (The British also use the Trident). The Royal Navy’s nuclear submarine program is under heavy fiscal pressure and may be cut from four boats to three — not quite enough to keep one sub continuously at sea — but Benedict assured the audience at Sea-Air-Space that “there’d be no impact” on the US sub program if the UK buys one less missile compartment.

Then there’s the Air Force. Launching a missile from a silo in North Dakota is a lot easier than launching one from a submarine underwater, but once the missile is in the atmosphere, the technical challenges are the same. Benedict has personnel on all of the Air Force’s analysis-of-alternatives (AOA) teams for sustaining the ICBM force, and the two services have identified areas they can both buy the same components, from test range equipment to electronics hardened against the electromagnetic pulse (EMP) of a nuclear attack. (Obviously we never want to have to use that last one). The two services are already developing a common “fusing and firing circuit” for the updated Mark 5 warhead the Navy plans to build in 2019.

Meanwhile, Benedict’s counterpart for the sub itself, the Program Executive Officer (PEO) for submarines, is working on less apocalyptic issues like pumps and access doors. Last year, the service finalized general specifications such as length — 560 feet — and displacement — over 20,000 tons — but there are innumerable specifics yet to work out before production begins in 2021. That may seem like a lot of time, but every month counts in the marathon to replace the Ohios on sea patrol by 2031. That schedule will already require building the first Ohio Replacement in an unprecedented 84 months, less than historically required for submarines half the size, said Rear Adm. David Johnson, PEO-Submarines.

“We are looking at everything,” Johnson told reporters, “all the way down to trying to reuse the doors on the missile tube access covers from the Ohio” as those subs go out of service. “Those doors are dry” — i.e. they aren’t exposed to the ocean — “so they really see no wear,” he said.

It’s relatively easy to reuse missile tube parts because the tubes themselves are the same size on both the Ohios and the future missile sub, which will also carry the Trident for at least the first part of its service life. (An all-new nuclear missile is a notion for the distant future). But nobody’s building Ohios any more, so Johnson’s priority is taking advantage of the Navy’s ongoing Virginia­-class attack sub program.

The service is steadily buying two Virginia submarines a year to add to the 10 already in service. By contrast, the entire Ohio Replacement Program (formerly known as SSN(X)) will be 12 subs,  so any way to piggyback off the higher-volume program will save money. Johnson wants to bundle procurement of at least some materials and components that will go on both submarines.

So how many components will the Virginia and the ORP have in common? There’s not even an estimate yet, Johnson said. “It’s not like ten percent, it’s not like 75%, it’s somewhere in the range there,” he said. But as the Navy and industry design the replacement for the Ohio-class, he said, with every component, “we see if we can make it fit using a Seawolf or Ohio or Virginia-class pump, valve,” etc.

But since the new nuclear missile submarine will be larger than anything now in service — the biggest submarine ever built in the US, said Johnson, roughly twice the size of the Virginia — a lot of its components will have to be bigger, too.  Even with those scaled-up parts, though, the admiral said, the same factory can often build a big version and a little version of a given component, a pump for example, at a lower cost than two companies building entirely different designs.

Johnson has to squeeze out every dollar he can, because the Ohio replacement is a potential budget-buster, so much so that the Navy can’t fit it in its current shipbuilding budget without sacrificing almost everything else. (The service wants extra funding from the Defense Department on the grounds that nuclear deterrence is a national priority, not just a Navy one).

Setting aside research, development, and design, just building the first Ohio replacement will cost an estimated $6.8 billion. Just as with any other manufactured product, though, the cost per sub will drop over time. The Navy has orders to get the average cost of SSBN(X) 2 through 12 down to at least $5.6 billion, with a target of $4.9 billon. (All these figures are in 2010 dollars, since that’s the year the program’s Acquisition Decision Memorandum, the ADM, was issued).

Johnson currently estimates the design team’s already cut the cost by almost four percent, to $5.36 billion — but that’s still comparable to an aircraft carrier. So the submarine, like the missile it will carry, still has a long way to go.

Comments

  • Gary Church

    Build the Virginia class carrying tridents in the proposed payload module version and accelerating the Space Launch System booster program is the solution.
    Stop building aircraft carrier and surface combatants and build a fleet of diesel submarines to complement the Virginia class. The SLS can also launch any imaginable (and yet to be imagined) satellite payloads.

    But considering such a plan would take money and votes away from so many shareholders and politicians and would kill so many defense industry programs it cannot and will not happen.

    There is also the option of putting the entire nuclear deterrent on manned spaceships based in deep space using the SLS. Sounds crazy but……we actually have the technology to do it and it might cost the same as the triad. And also defend the Earth against impacts from asteroids and comets.

    http://voices.yahoo.com/water-bombs-8121778.html?cat=15

    • Gary Church

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VCszu4zaqr0

      Probably the best documentary on nuclear pulse propulsion. Using the SLS to establish a Moon base from which to operate nuclear armed spaceships is actually a practical scheme.

    • estuartj

      Great image of Gary Church at home;

      • Gary Church

        Great image of estuartj at home (with wife);

    • jgelt

      Nuclear weapons in space are a truly frightening prospect. You would lose early warning. You could also lose the ability to to determine who launched at you. It’d be nice for the oligarchy of the country that had the sole system in space. It would be nightmarish to everyone else. If multiple parties put nuclear launch systems in space, that would be the scariest scenario I could imagine. I wholeheartedly support the idea of planetary defense. Nukes aren’t necessarily the best defense against Earth killing natural debris out there. I have always and still agree with you that our surface fleet makes about as much sense as maintaining horse cavalry in the age of machine guns.

      • Gary Church

        It is much less frightening than missiles cocked just minutes away from each other actually. Spaceships millions of miles away from each other are clearly visible yet out of range of immediate attack. It is no different than what we have on earth except the times and options for deception are lengthened and removed making it a much SAFER version of MAD.
        And nukes are by far the best defense against impacts; the people saying you don’t need them have an anti-nuclear agenda. I am not real fond of the nuclear industry on Earth, especially after Fukushima. But in space it is a completely different matter. Dee space away from the Earth’s magnetosphere was made for nukes.

        • Gary Church

          I am not saying putting nukes in Orbit; far from it. Putting the nuclear deterrent far beyond Earth and Lunar orbit in deep space would make them visible but days or even weeks away from delivering weapons.

          • jgelt

            Distance and time do not necessarily equal better ability to detect. A rocket launched from the surface of the Earth or from beneath the sea is a huge area to keep watch on, however, it is a finite area. The area of space you are talking about is beyond the scope of any “constant watch” technology we currently have. Missiles are easy to detect and identify, down to actual rocket motor, in under a minute. Potential targets get calculated and updated as the flight goes on. A nuclear projectile in space does not need a rocket, it could easily be directed and make course corrections with gas jets.

            A deep space nuke wouldn’t have to be much larger than a warhead. A few dozen could be parked in random distant orbit locations and it might be years before we even saw one. Even if we did see one there’s no reason to believe we might correctly identify it’s purpose.

            I like nukes that are 30 minutes away that can be detected less than a minute after launch.

            As far as anti-asteroid nukes go, Apollo astronaut Rusty Schweickart has been calling BS on nukes here. He’s with B612 trying to get an asteroid detector in a Venus-esque orbit for better view. I don’t know enough about his politics to know if he’s some sort of “pinko” when it comes to nukes. He’s stating that NASA recently did a 180 on nukes and asteroids because of immense pressure from contractors who want a piece of the action in militarizing space. That’s enough to make me cool to the idea.

            I like the non-nuclear options better because they are dual purpose. As asteroid that can be steered away from Earth can also be steered into a nice parking orbit for exploitation. Nukes in space will make a few contractors happy, but won’t net me any return unless they actually stop an inbound NEO.

            I’m all for the idea of the US and Russia doing a joint test. Set off a 10-50 megaton device and see if they can make one deep space asteroid run into another, just to see how good their physics calculations are.

          • Gary Church

            “NASA recently did a 180 on nukes and asteroids”

            The only 180 was the B612 when they started pushing their gravity tug several years ago. I had almost exactly the same conversation with them. Hiding nukes in orbit could be done right now every time we or Russia or any nuclear power launch a classified military satellite. Not a valid argument J.

  • Horn

    Word of warning to all, Gary Church loves to troll posts on Breaking Defense. Trying to have an intellectual conversation with him is a waste of energy. Although I sort of agree with him on one point, the USN should look into building a fleet of diesel submarines, just not for any reasons Church states.

    • Gary Church

      Well, this troll will not bother anyone here anymore. It’s all yours.

      • Gary Church

        On second thought, instead of just taking a break from these bullies like I usually do, I will give my own word of warning to all; “Horn” is a SpaceX fan that is outraged at my blasphemy of the private space god Elon Musk on another thread. These creatures have stalked me before and are what I call “malevolent space clown wannabe’s.” They wail and gnash their teeth and brand anyone who does not worship their deity a “troll.” If you doubt what I am saying is the truth just look at the comments for the last two articles that mention SpaceX. Uh-huh.

    • estuartj

      I saw Down Periscope so I’m an expert on diesel subs and say Frasier Crane should command a whole fleet of them.

  • Gary Church

    Hey Horn. You know what you can do with your warning to all?

    • Gary Church

      The last website I enjoyed posting on received so much hate mail when I criticized SpaceX that I was banned. That is how private space uses mob rules to dominate any discussion on open forums. I am sick of them and it has blown up their face in my case because I shout it on the mountain now.

  • bobbymike34

    I have posted before that the military should have a separate ‘Nuclear Deterrence Budget’ in a Nuclear Deterrence Agency (like MDA) to fund all things nuclear from the SSBN(X) to a new ICBM, the new LRSO to a new RRW type for all three platforms.

    • Gary Church

      That’s alot of acronyms to look up bobby. What’s LRSO and RRW?

      • estuartj

        Long Range Stand-Off Missile (LRSO) is the replacement program for the current fleet of Air Launched Cruise Missile (ALCM) used by SAC (Strategic Air Command).
        Reliable Replacement Warhead (RRW) was the program intended to replace the existing family of Nuclear weapons, the program was terminated in 2008 or 9.

  • estuartj

    So the $6.8b for the first ORP boat is just for the ship, all the Research and Development is separate, so putting the first boat in the water is going to cost somewhere north of $10B BEFORE you get to overruns.
    Will congress really go along with building a Boomer that costs as much as a CVN? Either Congress is going to have to break (significantly) from the intra-service appropriations model or fund the SSBN(x) out of non-shipbuilding funds. Both are highly problematic in this budget environment.
    Ultimately Congress, the WH and the Navy are going to have to take a long hard look at what they are getting for their money.
    Can we live without the seaborne leg of the triad?
    It may not be “wise” but IMO the money (and will) just isn’t there. So if it comes to a real budget fight, who has more pull on Capital Hill?

    • Horn

      I agree. The question seems to be if we want to spend money on SSBNs that would last the next half-century, or reinvest into the other two legs.

    • Gary Church

      If we want a deterrent it should be the triad; we have already weakened it by taking the bombers off alert and not having some in the air 24/7. With just landbased missiles it becomes tempting to try a counter-force strike and knock out most of our land-based ICBMs. The reason for the triad in the first place. Or we could take all the nukes and put them in deep space on spacehsips and remove them from Earth all-together. It is the 21st century and we have the technology to do this actually and it might cost the same as fleets of bombers, boomers, and ICBMs. I know it sounds nuts but it’s true.

      • estuartj

        Nope, just nuts. The idea is to reduce the possibility of a nuclear exchange, not increase it. Nukes in space means no warning…you know what, I’ve made my case, take it or leave it – I’m not going to rehash the obvious over and over because you will never back down from an argument.

        • Gary Church

          Nukes in space mean no warning? That’s B.S. You can see much better in space than in the atmosphere and millions of miles away means longer warning times. You know what….you have made no case so don’t bother rehashing. Why would anyone back down if they were right? Unless someone was trying to bully them with insults like you are nuts or you don’t know what you are talking about?
          So I will leave it but I doubt you will be able to.

          • estuartj

            I see from another thread you were talking about extra lunar orbit, that’s fine I guess, but no one is close to that. If you are talking about near earth orbit then YES that means no effective warning before impact. That calls for the response I’ve listed earlier that is highly destabilizing.
            I think we’re done on this subject.

          • Gary Church

            I said deep space. Why don’t you read my essay “Water and Bombs” and stop insulting me all the time? It is getting old.

          • estuartj

            I didn’t insult you, I said you idea, that you yourself said sounded nuts, was in fact nuts.

          • Gary Church

            True. It does sound nuts.

  • estuartj

    I mentioned the idea of having a hybrid SSGN/SSBN to my
    brother, who used to drive boomers until he retired in 2003, the first issue is
    the size of the missile, a Virginia Class SSN, even with the VPM just isn’t big
    enough to hold a Trident Missile. Now if you wanted to go ahead with this idea
    I think it is doable to scale down the Trident, which would reduce the overall
    range, but if you have 50 SSG/BNs with maybe 2 missiles per boat forward
    deployed (at least compared to the cruising grounds of current SSBNs) you would
    have the same deterrence. There are all kids of other issues with putting both
    systems in the same hull, but I assume none of them are deal breakers, if the
    will is there they’ll work out the engineering problems.

    • estuartj

      I recently spoke with a co-worker at DoD about this idea
      and he surprisingly thought this was the most stupid and dangerous idea he’s ever heard of, the logic goes like this. The US has never (and would never?) risked sending SSBNs close to Russia/USSR or China. That is obviously not true of our SSNs (which in this scenario are now fully capable SSBNs). What would Russia/China do if they discovered a SSBN off Korea or Murmansk? Freak the hell out, that’s what.
      A SLBM on a low trajectory could hit Beijing or Moscow in less than 10
      minutes (and likely even less), that gives no chance for Command and Control,
      so the only way to counter is to have your Nukes on a hair trigger, which
      greatly increases the chance of a accidental launch – at which point the
      balloon goes up and we’re all cinders.

      • Gary Church

        Our SSN’s have long carried cruise missiles which can be nuclear armed so that is not much of an argument other than the fact that a huge ohio class missile sub has no business being close in while an attack sub does. An attack sub carrying some missiles would be something new and does not fit your convenient nay-say.

        • estuartj

          You missed the point, a SLCM (Sub-Launched Cruise Missile) like a N-LAM (Nuclear – Land Attack Missile) launched from near Murmansk, flying to Moscow (about 1,000m) at 550mph would have a flight time off about 2 hours. Compare the threat of that to a SLBM hitting Moscow in less than 10 minutes. While the former is still a credible threat, you do do have some faith you’ll pick such the inbound up on radar and have a chance to prepare. In the later example you have zero notice to do anything. The response to the former is vigilance, the response to the later is to delegate lauch authority, which is, shall we say, a wee bit dangerous.

          • Gary Church

            Like the converted Ohio’s, they would not know if there were conventional cruise missiles in those Virginia VPM silos or nuclear cruise missiles- or tridents. What happens when they catch one of our converted Ohio’s carrying a seal team (part of their mission) where they are not supposed to be? Gotcha.

          • estuartj

            Except that we allow their inspectors to go aboard the converted Ohio to ensure that they are in compliance with START. Even then there is a HUGE difference between “well maybe they are lying and this is still a boomer” and EVERY SSN is now a SSBN and capable of hitting our command and control in minutes. Again, like the SLCM threat, their is some danger there, and it forces you to be vigilaint, but the response to the USS having 50+ subs all (potentially) equipped with SLBMs that are regularly opperating in close proximity to Russian/Chinese seas.
            Gotcha my ass.

          • Gary Church

            A sub is a sub and all are capable of carrying city killers. Even the Israeli navy has AIP diesels that everyone is fairly certain is carrying nuclear cruise missiles. I think I won this argument. Don’t get mad and insult me with picture again please.

          • Horn

            Now, now, Gary. Remember who started posting pictures on this thread to insult people.

          • Gary Church

            Shut up you malevolent space clown wannabe

          • Gary Church

            That was no insult- that was being kind considering your attempt to “warn all”; you are……an insult. Now smarmy and stalking me again just like I said. Malevolent space clown wannnabe outraged at my criticism of SpaceX. You need to leave me alone.

          • estuartj

            You again ignore my main point, sure lots of subs can carry nukes, but a SLBM at short range is a whole different danger because it can depacitate the entire command and control network of the enemy. If Russia and China have to address the constant threat of SLBM close to their borders their response will be to delegate launch authority and keep thier nukes on a constant high level of alert. Both of these are extremely dangerous and far outweight any potential monetary/budget gains from replacing 12-14 SSBNs will dozens of SLBM equipped SSNs (although technically I guess they would all be SSBNs, but all what we refer to SSNs now carry a dozen or more SLCM so they should all be called SSGNs, not just the converted Ohio class boats, but don’t get me started on the twisted logic that goes into how the US Navy names things).

          • Gary Church

            You watched hunt for red october too many times. Reality is different.

          • estuartj

            That’s just stupid. I hated Hunt for the Red October (the movie) specifically because they got sooooo many thing sooooo very wrong. As I’ve said, my own brother served on Boomers for close to 20 year, first as an enlisted nuke, then as an officer, finishing his last tour in 2003 as an O-4. I’m not an expert, but I DO know what I’m talking about and I’m not afraid to seek out contrary opinions.

          • Gary Church

            Why are you using your brother as credentials? That is stupid. Getting tired of being insulted all the time. We just disagree.

          • estuartj

            yea, my brother who spent his whole career on subs, primarily boomers, has shared a wealth of (unclassified) infomation with me on how subs work.
            I’ve asked you several times to post some research to back up your claims, not because I’m trying to show you up, but because if evidence exist to contradict my own theories and opinions then I want to see it.
            Fine we disagree, I disagree with people all the time, but if you are going to keep making the same claims and refuse to back them up then you aren’t adding anything to the quality of discussion here.

          • JoeOvercoat

            You are incorrect in that you have not won the argument.

    • Gary Church

      A Virginia with two full size tridents- perhaps in line behind the sail might be workable. As for scaling down the Trident; that is a worse idea than making a taller payload module IMO.

      • estuartj

        Why would a Trident with a 2,500 vs 4,000 mile range make much difference? If you are going to deploy them like normal SSNs then you can easily ensure you have an appropriate number of SSG/BNs within strike range.
        As for putting the Trident into a Virginia Class hull, I’m very dubious of being able to pull that off without 1. Blowing the cost advantage 2. seriously diminishing the capability in the SSN role. A Trident D4 Missile is 44 ft long, a Tomahawk is only 18 ft long, so it’s not like the launch tubes from the VPM and Trident are interchangable. The Beam of a Virginia Class SSN is only 34ft.

        • Gary Church

          They would stick up and continue behind the sail as part of it. The point is they have not built the VPM yet on production ships and since it is inserting a new section into the hull they can make anyway they want. Two or four tridents added directly behind the sail- continued as part of the sail structure like in the old soviet delta class, but maybe in a straight line instead of side by side. Whatever works.
          Far less expensive then the SSBNX and the Ohio’s are getting old.

          • estuartj

            The SSN community is already pissed as hell that they are doing a small “hump” on the Virginia’s to accomodate the VPM and that’s for a missile less than half the length. To do something like you propose (if it even was possible, which I think it is certainly not – the radius of the “plug” is just too large) it would seriously downgrade the stealth and performance of the boat.
            Perhaps taking design ideas from the 1960’s USSR Navy is NOT the way to go.

          • Gary Church

            Now you are arguing just to argue. The plug is of course the same radius as the hole- the silo will stick up out of the plug and trail behind the sail. And since the SSNBX would be bigger than the 18,000 ton Ohio your “serious downgrade” of stealth for the Virginia for stretching the hull for a couple silos is not valid IMO. It would just be a longer sail. C’mon…..Let’s agree it is the way to go. I will be nice to you. I will be your friend:)

          • Gary Church

            I meant hull, not hole. sorry.

          • estuartj

            The downgrade in stealth is the result of breaking the teadrop hull form, meaning more noise. A bigger hull is actually an advantage in sub stealth as you get more baffle of pumps and other onboard systems.
            Further, I’m betting the “hump” to accomodate a Trident D5 would be even higher than the current sail. Seriously we’re talking about 22ft just to get the missile inside, not including all the extra space you need on both ends to accomodate it.
            Let’s just put this to bed, SLBM on a Virginia Class sub are NOT doable. Better to just do what they are doing now and make the ORP into a duel SSBN/SSGN, if you’d ever imagine an Admiral being willing to risk a $9B sub with hundreds or Nukes in contested seaspace. So yea, nevermind, nice idea, but a BAD one.

          • Gary Church

            No, not all of them would carry tridents. Just all of them would be built with the silos which would NOT be taller than the sail I would bet (great, now I have to research that:(

            The sail already breaks the teardrop shape and would just be longer so your stealth downgrade objection is invalid IMO.

            SLBM on a Virginia class IS doable. And it is the right way to go. You just don’t like it because you want a brand new submarine. Sorry, but that the reason we are discussing this in the first place is that will cost too much. Making the ORP into a dual purpose sub is EXACTLY the same the solution as adding a plug into the Virginia. You just defeated most of what you were arguing against with that statement.
            You definitely shot yourself in the foot with that one.

          • estuartj

            No, it will not work unless you significantly decrease the size of the missle. And to clarify, I do NOT “want a brand new submarine” I think they should cut the SSBN completely. Unless we somehow find ourselves in a completely different budget environment the ORP is just too expensive. Removing the seaborne leg of the triad might not be wise, but difficult times call for difficult solutions, and while the SSBNs are the most secure they aren’t as flexible as the bomber fleet and much more expensive than ICBMs. If a cut needs to be made, this is the spot IMO.

          • Gary Church

            “I think they should cut the SSBN completely”

            “just too expensive”

            “might not be wise, but difficult times call for difficult solution”

            Now we know.

          • estuartj

            Now we know what? You act like you’ve proven some point, but you have done nothing but show your own ignorance.

          • Gary Church

            Now we know why you do not like the VPM idea. I am really tired of being insulted by you.

          • estuartj

            Technically the VPM is for Tomahawk’s not Trident’s, so I actually DO like the VPM idea. As for insulting you, I didn’t, unless you mean by saying you are ignorant. Which though true, was unkind, so I sincerely apologize.

          • Gary Church

            I am glad we are friends now. Thank you. Sincerely.

            The combo ORP might be a better idea than a trident VPM. I admit it. Maybe. But since neither of us are submarine designers……

          • JoeOvercoat

            The implication for the pressure vessel, for the configuration you propose, is that it would not be expected to go deep. But, that tactic is key to boomer stealth.

          • Gary Church

            How does it sticking up imply that? The plug would be built with hemi-heads just like other similar designs and this would not restrict depth.

          • JoeOvercoat

            It is not the sticking up that is the problem, per se; if that was a hump *outside* the main pressure vessel then it would be a relatively minor thing. But ginormous through-hull penetrations capped by smaller pressure hulls is another thing entirely. The net result would be restricted depth, even using the most advanced welding techniques available (which might include renting out a Russian shipyard).

      • Horn

        A Trident missile is 1.8 meters across. The sail of a Virginia-class submarine can barely fit two people side-by-side. The diameter of the missile, not forgetting the supporting structure to house and launch the missile would be wider than the sail. That means that you’d have to re-engineer the structure of the sail, which would mean a re-engineer of the structure of the hull itself. This added structure would reduce the maximum dive depth, increase mass for which the submarine was not originally designed to carry, decrease speed, and increase the chances of being detected.

        • Gary Church

          Would you like some cheese with that whine? See picture of Delta class below.

          • estuartj

            Beam on a Delta Class Soviet SSBN was 39.4ft, that’s a full 15 ft bigger than the Virginia Class and you have that HUGE hump on the Delta’s. Now imagine that hump having to be 15ft bigger on a Virginia.
            It. Is. Just. Not. Doable.

          • Horn

            The beam on a Virginia-class submarine is actually 34ft. Still, a Delta is 170ft longer than a Virginia and close to 10.5 kilotons higher displacement than a Virginia.

          • Gary Church

            I did imagine it. It works perfectly. Do I have to draw you a picture?

          • Horn

            Whether it is possible or not isn’t the problem. Whether it is practical
            or desirable is. In this case, what you are suggesting, is neither
            practical or desirable. It causes too many problems.

          • Horn

            If the Delta-class was so successful then why haven’t the Russians designed a new submarine similar to that design?

          • Gary Church

            I want you to stop stalking me Horn. Now.

          • Horn

            If you start making rational arguments with some measure of civility, maybe I will. Just because someone calls you out on your BS doesn’t mean you should get angry about it.

          • Gary Church

            What you should do is stop stalking me.

          • Michael Rich

            And you should stop being a complete idiot.

    • ycplum

      You may reduce the capital cost, but you will greatly increase the operational cost. Also, the functions of a boomer and attack sub are different. A boomer quietly lurks in the depths avoiding everyone. An attack sub can’t do that. Also, a smaller sub give a smaller return when pinged by active sonar.
      I think it would be better to keep the two seperate. At least until we have a smaller SLBM.
      Personally, I think we can reduce the SSBN to a fleet of 9. A single fully loaded SSBN can effectively destroy any country as a functional military and political entity.

  • estuartj

    A decent defense of the LCS program and the War Games reported on earlier this month. Also if you look through the comments you’ll see they level of debate their isn’t much better.

    http://www.informationdissemination.net/2014/04/giving-lcs-critics-what-they-want.html

    • Gary Church

      Did you make an ass out of yourself insulting other people by posting pictures of them at home there also? I want to know how you got in my house to take those. Now everyone knows about my secret hat. Damn you.