On May 1, team-mates General Dynamics and Huntington Ingalls Industries began construction of the first vessel in a five-year, ten-boat contract to build Virginia-class fast attack submarines. The Virginia program has been the Navy’s only active submarine construction program for about ten years now, and looks likely to stay in production for three more decades — meaning the subs will remain in the fleet until around 2070. The reason this extended in-service life makes sense is that the Virginia class exhibits features certain to be valued by warfighters for the foreseeable future — stealth, endurance, versatility, adaptability, and even economy. It is a unique combat system delivering potentially decisive wartime leverage against even the most capable adversaries, and the range of tasks it can accomplish in support of the joint force is impressively diverse. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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