The Navy Hunts for Its Next-Generation Nuclear Submarine

The Defense Department has given the U.S. Navy the green light to begin entertaining proposals for the service’s next ballistic missile submarine, an effort that could cost nearly $350 billion over its lifetime.

A Pentagon spokeswoman told Bloomberg on Tuesday that Frank Kendall, the agency’s top weapons buyer, told the Navy it could release a request for proposals for the development phase of 12 Ohio-class replacement subs.

The service wants to buy 12 boats to replace the current force of 14 Trident Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines, which entered into service in the early 1980s. Navy officials have pegged the cost of the Ohio replacement program, also known as the SSBN(X), at around $139 billion dollars. The effort’s lifetime cost will come in at roughly $347 billion.

The Navy budgeted $1.4 billion for research and design in fiscal year 2016, and the development phase, which will last for years, has an estimated cost of $15 billion. The Congressional Budget Office says first submarine could cost $13 billion.

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