Adding 7 more Virginia class submarines will add about $18 billion in spending over the next 13 years. The proponents argue that they will get 7 for the price of 6 as they will save about the price of one submarine in production efficiency.
The Navy has assigned only a “43% confidence interval” that it will keep costs at or below the $100.2 billion (2017 constant dollars) research acquisition cost for the Columbia SSBN submarines.
There have been a declining number of U.S. SSBN patrols and an the even more drastic decline in Russian patrols (only five in 2015, down from 102 Soviet patrols in 1984).
The Columbia (SSBN-826) class program, previously known as the Ohio replacement program (ORP) or SSBN(X) program, is a program to design and build a new class of 12 ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs) to replace the Navy’s current force of 14 Ohio-class SSBNs. The Navy has identified the Columbia-class program as the Navy’s top priority program. The Navy wants to procure the first Columbia-class boat in FY2021. The Navy’s proposed FY2018 budget requests $842.9 million in advance procurement (AP) funding and $1,041.7 million in research and development funding for the program.
The Navy as of January 2017 estimates the procurement cost of the lead ship in the class at $8.2 billion in constant 2017 dollars, not including several billion dollars in additional cost for plans for the class, and the average unit procurement cost of ships 2 through 12 in the program at $6.5 billion each in constant FY2017 dollars. A March 2017 GAO report assessing selected major Department of Defense (DOD) weapon acquisition programs stated that the estimated total acquisition cost of the Columbia-class program is $100,221.9 million (about $100.2 billion) in constant FY2017 dollars, including $12,648.1 million (about $12.6 billion) in research and development costs and $87,426.5 million (about $87.4 billion) in procurement costs.