The Obama administration may complete an order to revamp America’s nuclear submarine fleet before the president leaves office, Bloomberg News reported Wednesday.
A plan to buy 12 Columbia-class submarines armed with nuclear warheads has been in the works for years, and with an estimated program cost of $126 billion, it would be the third-costliest weapons program behind the $379 billion F-35 and the $153 billion ballistic-missile network.
Frank Kendall, undersecretary of defense for acquisition, signed a memo Wednesday officially approving the submarine program for “milestone B,” which means the Navy may begin contracting research and design for the new submarines, USNI News reported.
“I’m hoping to have it done before I leave,” Kendall told Bloomberg News in an interview.
The estimated $126 billion Columbia submarine program includes $13 billion for research and development, and $112.7 billion to contract the 12 submarines.
The Navy has “a compelling need for additional attack submarines,” Sean Stackley, assistant secretary of the Navy for research and development told Congress last February.
The Navy, as well as President-elect Donald Trump, are also looking to expand the size of America’s fleet to 350 vessels, which could cost $25 billion annually for 30 years, the Congressional Budget Office said in a report Wednesday. (RELATED: Trump’s 350-Ship Navy Could Cost $25 Billion Per Year)
The Columbia-class submarines will replace the Navy’s 13 Ohio-class vessels, which first entered service in the early 1980s and will be have to be decommissioned starting in 2027, according to the Navy’s August, 2016 report to Congress on the new submarine program.
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