The Pentagon has begun work on a design for the U.S. Navy’s next-generation attack submarine, which will combine the three best features of the most advanced U.S. submarines and be called the “ultimate underwater predator,” according to a U.S. Navy official quoted in the U.S. news site Business Insider.
“We are looking for the ultimate apex predator (apex predator) in the maritime domain,” U.S. Navy Vice Admiral Bill Houston was quoted as saying. Houston is now the head of the Navy’s submarine force, the Atlantic Submarine Force and Allied Submarine Command. He spoke about the new program at a Navy League event in July.
The new submarine is called the “SSN(X),” indicating that the design has not yet been finalized, but Houston said the new submarine will incorporate the best features of three previous Navy submarine designs: the Seawolf and Virginia-class attack submarines, or SSNs, and the Columbia-class ballistic missile submarine, still under development, classified as SSBNs.
Houston said, “We’re putting together what we already know how to do.” He noted that the payload and speed of the Seawolf class, the electronics of the Virginia class, and the expected service life of the Columbia class will be combined in the new design.
The report emphasized that work on the SSN(X) began amid growing competition with China.
China’s military has grown considerably, especially its navy, which the Pentagon says is the largest in the world,” Houston was quoted as saying. Because of these trends, the SSN(X) really needs to be ready for large-scale combat operations.”
Houston added, “It will need to be able to go deep behind enemy lines and deliver a really, really significant blow that establishes our superiority.” “It needs to be able to strike across the adversary’s operational capabilities in its area of basing.”
The Navy said the SSN(X) design features a “reprioritization of anti-submarine warfare missions to counter complex threats in larger numbers, and the new submarine needs to be able to defend against unmanned underwater vehicles.”
Given those requirements, he said, it makes sense to combine the best of the three nuclear submarines, but Houston acknowledged that “it’s a daunting task.”