The Virginia class submarines are arguably the best fast-attack, nuclear-powered submarines that currently incorporate cutting-edge stealth, intelligence gathering, and weapons system technology, especially for its upcoming Block V lines that will feature the sophisticated Virginia Payload Module (VPM). Future attack submarines will now have “four additional large-diameter payload tubes in a new hull section located amidships,” and because of this, “each of these VPM payload tubes will be capable of carrying seven Tomahawk cruise missiles,” increasing the submarine’s armament capacity to 28 shells per VPM. This new feature will also allow for the distribution of strike assets, giving theater commanders more flexibility in staging payloads and allowing them to cover more long ranges of targets.
Currently, the United States Navy maintains three classes of nuclear-powered submarines (classified as SSNs), including its backbone Los Angeles-class (SSN-688), USS Seawolf-class (SSN-21), and the Virginia-class (SSN-774)—all equipped with technological superiority that delivers speed, endurance, mobility, and stealth.
Nonetheless, as times change and technology advances, the USN focuses on upgrading its Virginia-class deterrence and combat capability in deep ocean warfare as well as coastal/littoral operations, all while progressively replacing its aging Los Angeles vessels.