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Contract Awarded for US Submarines’ Expanded Launch Capacity

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BAE Systems has been awarded a contract to build Virginia Payload Modules (VPM) that will more than triple the number of cruise missiles future Virginia-class attack submarines can carry, while providing them the flexibility to accommodate a range of future weapons still under development.

The Virginia-class is the U.S. Navy’s most modern nuclear-powered attack submarine, built to replace the aging Cold War-era Los Angeles­-class attack submarines. The first ten Virginias were built with twelve individual vertical launch tubes in their bow section for launching Tomahawk cruise missiles. Blocks III and IV of the class, which will eventually comprise eighteen boats, replace the twelve individual vertical launch tubes with two large-diameter tubes that accommodate round canisters that hold six Tomahawk missiles each, simplifying the reloading process.

The new modules will effectively turn future Virginia-class subs into mini guided-missile subs.

In the early 2000s, the U.S. Navy converted its four oldest Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines, designed to carry nuclear........

© The Diplomat