Saturday, February 5, 2011

U.S. Navy Rejected Key Command's Specs for Next Nuclear-Armed Sub

WASHINGTON -- Adm. Gary Roughead, the U.S. Navy's top officer, last June nixed a key combatant command's recommendation for the missile-carrying capacity of the nation's next-generation, nuclear-armed submarine, according to military sources (see GSN, Dec. 21, 2010).

Whether his determination on the so-called "SSBN(X)" submarine -- which is to begin replacing today's ballistic-missile-carrying vessels in about two decades -- will ultimately carry the day is unclear.
The service in September told the Congressional Research Service that "as part of its effort to reduce" procurement costs, "the Navy is focusing on an SSBN(X) design with 16 [missile] tubes, rather than 20," according to a CRS report published last fall.
What has not surfaced publicly, until now, is that U.S. Strategic Command -- the military organization responsible for determining the nation's nuclear combat requirements -- had advocated that each of the future submarines be armed with the higher loading level of 20 ballistic missiles.
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