Virginia Class Submarine
Virginia class, also known as the SSN-774 class, is a class of nuclear-powered cruise missile fast-attack submarines, currently in service in the United States Navy. Designed by General Dynamics’s Electric Boat (EB) and Huntington Ingalls Industries, the Virginia-class submarines are the United States Navy’s latest undersea warfare platform which incorporates the latest in stealth, intelligence gathering and weapons systems technology.
Virginia-class submarines are designed for a broad spectrum of open-ocean and littoral missions, including anti-submarine warfare and intelligence gathering operations. They are scheduled to replace older Los Angeles-class submarines, many of which have already been decommissioned. Virginia-class submarines will be acquired through 2043, and are expected to remain in service until at least 2060, with later submarines expected to remain into the 2070s.
The Virginia-class submarine was the first US Navy warship with its development coordinated using such 3D visualization technology as CATÍA, which comprises computer-aided engineering (CAE), design (CAD), manufacturing (CAM), and product lifecycle management (PLM). Design problems for Electric Boat – and maintenance problems for the Navy – ensued nonetheless.
The Virginia class incorporates several innovations not found in previous US submarine classes.
The Virginia class is the first to utilize photonic sensors instead of a traditional periscope. The class is equipped with high-resolution cameras, along with light-intensification and infrared sensors, an infrared laser rangefinder, and an integrated Electronic Support Measures (ESM) array. Two redundant sets of these sensors are mounted on two AN/BVS-1 photonics masts located outside the pressure hull. Signals from the masts’ sensors are transmitted through optical fiber data lines through signal processors to the control center. Visual feeds from the masts are displayed on liquid-crystal display interfaces in the command center.
In the future, a non-rotational Affordable Modular Panoramic Photonics Mast may be fitted, enabling the submarine to obtain a simultaneous 360° view of the sea surface.
According to open-source budget documents, Virginia-class submarines are planned to be equipped with a high-energy laser weapon likely to be incorporated into the photonics mast and have a power output of 300–500 kilowatts, based on the submarine’s 30 megawatts reactor capacity.
Nuclear attack submarine
Submerged: 7,900 metric tons (8,700 short tons)
377 ft (115 m)
34 ft (10 m)