The U.S. Navy’s nuclear-powered attack subs are a unique combination of stealth and versatility. Because enemies cannot detect or track them, they can go places and accomplish missions that other combat systems cannot. However, the Navy’s undersea fleet is due to fall far below the 48 attack subs the sea service says it must have to execute national strategy in the years ahead due to the need to replace aging ballistic missile subs. Recapitalization of ballistic missile subs can’t wait — they’re the most secure part of the nation’s nuclear deterrent — but the plan to cut attack sub production to only one every year a new “boomer” commences construction will leave the joint force vulnerable. Congress and the Navy need to plan for construction of two attack subs every year through the next decade, even as recapitalization of the nation’s sea-based nuclear deterrent proceeds. I have written a commentary for the National Interest here.
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