"During the Cold War we created the first SSBN by enlarging the partially-constructed hull of the then-named Scorpion. In only two years the conversion was complete, the ship was renamed USS George Washington (SSBN-598), and the concept of strategic deterrence was changed forever. Clearly, there is a well-established precedent of converting existing platforms into new ones built on proven concepts and the latest technology.
Today’s “transformation” efforts include advanced sensors and surveillance systems, rapid precision strike, assured access to hostile or denied areas, and a high “tooth-to-tail ratio” (the ratio of combat power to required support). Responsive, forward-deployed units, survivable against anti-access threats, and capable of sustained high-volume strike with minimal logistic support, score high in these categories – SSGN is a prime example.
Now that the program has been established, it’s a good time to regroup and summarize the status of SSGN. Here is a quick summary of the capabilities the baseline SSGN brings to joint warfare:
- TRIDENT stealth and reliability, with more than 20 years of service life remaining for each SSGN;
- Large-volume precision strike, with up to 154 Tomahawk and Tactical Tomahawk
- Sustained Special Forces operations, to include insertion, extraction, and support of 66 Special Forces personnel, conditioned and ready, with onboard periods much longer than on SSNs;
- Command center for mission planning and execution;
- Capacity for conducting other SSN missions, such as intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, and targeting (ISRT); anti-submarine warfare; anti-surface warfare;
and mine warfare;
- High-data-rate connectivity and joint command/control capability with a “Virginia-class” advanced SSN radio room and ISR suite;
- 70 percent operational availability by using two crews – to achieve a continuous, 2.65-ship deployed presence in support of CINC mission requirements;
- 20 times the payload of an SSN, with large ocean interfaces (22 seven-foot diameter launching tubes, two for SOF lock-out); opportunity for payload experimentation and development.
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