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NEXT BIG SPENDING PROJECT for the US Military Columbia-class submarine the F-35 of the sea


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The Columbia-class submarine, formerly known as the Ohio Replacement Submarine and SSBN-X Future Follow-on Submarine, is a future United States Navy nuclear submarine class designed to replace the Trident missile-armed Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines.[3] The first submarine is scheduled to begin construction in 2021 and enter service in 2031 (some 50 years after its immediate predecessor, the Ohio class, entered service).[4][5] From there, the submarine class will serve through 2085.[6]

General characteristics[edit]

Graphic artist concept (2012)

Cutaway image
Although still evolving, the following are some of the ship characteristics for the SSBN(X) design:[4][25]

Expected 42-year service life (it is planned that each submarine will carry out 124 deterrent patrols during its service life)[26]
Life-of-the-ship nuclear fuel core that is sufficient to power the ship for its entire expected service life, unlike the Ohio-class submarines, which require a mid-life nuclear refueling[13]
Missile launch tubes that are the same size as those of the Ohio class, with a diameter of 87 inches (2,200 mm) and a length sufficient to accommodate a D-5 Trident II missile
Ship beam at least as great as the 42-foot (13 m) beam of the Ohio-class submarines
16 missile launch tubes[2] instead of 24 missile launch tubes on Ohio-class submarines. A recent report (as of November 2012) suggested that the boats will have 12 submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) silos/tubes.[27] However, other sources do not support this.[28][29]
Although the SSBN(X) is to have fewer launch tubes than the Ohio-class submarine, SSBN(X) is expected to have a submerged displacement about the same as that of Ohio-class submarines
Also, the US Navy has stated that "owing to the unique demands of strategic relevance, [SSBN(X)s] must be fitted with the most up-to-date capabilities and stealth to ensure they are survivable throughout their full 40-year life span."[30]

In November 2012, the U.S. Naval Institute revealed, citing Naval Sea Systems Command, additional design information:[29]

X-shaped stern control surfaces (hydroplanes)
Sail-mounted dive planes
Electric drive
Off-the-shelf equipment developed for previous submarine designs (Virginia-class SSNs), including a pump-jet propulsor, anechoic coating and a Large Aperture Bow (LAB) sonar system.
The boats may also be equipped with a Submarine Warfare Federated Tactical System (SWFTS), a cluster of systems that integrate sonar, optical imaging, weapons control etc.[31][32][33]

Electric drive[edit]
Main article: Integrated electric propulsion
Electric drive is a propulsion system that uses an electric motor that turns the propeller of a ship/submarine. It is part of a wider (Integrated electric power) concept whose aim is to create an "all electric ship".[34][35] Electric drive should reduce the life cycle cost of submarines while at the same time reducing acoustic signature.[36][37]

Turbo-electric drive had been used on US capital ships (battleships and aircraft carriers) in the first half of the twentieth century.[38] Later on, two nuclear-powered submarines, USS Tullibee and USS Glenard P. Lipscomb, were equipped with turboelectric drive but experienced reliability issues during their service life and deemed underpowered and maintenance heavy.[39][40][41] Currently (as of 2013), only the French Navy uses turboelectric drive on its nuclear-powered Triomphant-class submarines.[42]

Conceptually, electric drive is only a segment of the propulsion system (it does not replace the nuclear reactor or the steam turbines). Instead it replaces reduction gearing (mechanical drive) used on earlier nuclear-powered submarines.[34] In 1998, the Defence Science Board envisaged a nuclear-powered submarine that would utilise an advanced electric drive eliminating the need for both reduction gearing (mechanical drive) as well as steam turbines.[43]

In 2014, Northrop Grumman was chosen as the prime designer and manufacturer of the turbine generator units.[44] Turbine generators convert mechanical energy from the steam turbines into electrical energy.[45] The electrical energy is then used for powering onboard systems as well as for propulsion via electric motor.[44][46]

Various electric motors are being or have been developed for both military and non-military vessels.[47] Those being considered for application on future U.S. Navy submarines include: permanent magnet motors (being developed by General Dynamics and Newport News Shipbuilding) and a high-temperature superconducting (HTS) synchronous motors (being developed by American Superconductors as well as General Atomics).[47][48][49]

More recent data shows that the US Navy appears to be focusing on permanent-magnet, radial-gap electric propulsion motors (e.g. Zumwalt-class destroyers use an advanced induction motor).[50] Permanent magnet motors are being tested on the Large Scale

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