(4) As the SSN force gets smaller and as the importance of its unique forward access becomes clearer, additional payloads are likely to emerge. The strategic impact of each SSN being able to carry a family of different capabilities without any discernible external difference in the ship is daunting to an adversary planner and therefore not only valuable to military capability but to deterrence value as well. It is not necessary to field all of these payloads soon - but the ability of the module to support them in the future will give future force commanders much flexibility. Additionally, the insert may allow for incorporation of sensors and stealth advancements to maintain dominance over capable undersea adversaries. This determines the need for the large tube payload volume to be flexible for maximum strategic and deterrent value.
(5) The smaller SSN force structure will require each SSN to cover more physical territory and also cover more potential new types of undersea targets. Combined with the shortfall in torpedo inventory and the fact that there has not been a U.S. heavyweight torpedo produced since 1996, this creates a compelling need to restart torpedo production. Not only is there a shortfall in numbers, there is also no proven facility capable of producing weapons with a new capability. In the short term, this allows us to address the shortfall and capacity issues. More importantly, in the long term this provides a foundation for us to adapt our undersea weapons with new, expanded target set capabilities. This determines the need to restart torpedo production soon with emphasis on modularity.
Some important aspects of the
First, the sea-based strategic deterrence provided today by
Second, we have been conducting uninterrupted strategic deterrent patrols for more than 50 years and, as long as our adversaries retain nuclear weapons, we plan on continuing those patrols. The
Third, the effectiveness of the SSBN in its mission is determined by its survivability, and its survivability is driven by its stealth. Stealth is an attribute that is largely built into an SSBN in construction. Once the ship is built, you can make some small changes, but the stealth of the ship is largely determined. Because we are setting the specifications for a ship that will operate for 42 years after it enters service, and that service life counter doesn't start for another 20 years, we must accurately determine how much stealth is enough. We must find the most cost-efficient way of achieving adequate stealth.
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