The new USS Illinois submarine (SSN-786) was designed by the Virginia Block III and is the representative of the newest and most advanced family of American multipurpose submarines at the moment. She became the third submarine of the Block III version and the Virginia-class 13. The task of “Illinois” in the future will be to patrol these areas with the search for various underwater and surface targets and, upon receipt of the appropriate order, their destruction. There is also the possibility of attacking coastal targets of the enemy. One of the main goals of such combat work of the submarine will be the search for strategic submarine missile carriers of a potential enemy.
The decision to build the USS Illinois submarine (SSN-786) and several other submarines was made in the middle of the last decade. 22 December 2008, the decision to build led to the emergence of a contract between the military and the shipbuilding industry. The contract for the construction of boats of the new series was given to Huntington Ingalls Industries and General Dynamics Electric Boat Shipyard. They were ordered four and three submarines, respectively. The construction of the Illinois submarine was to be carried out at the enterprise General Dynamics Electric Boat in the city of Groton (Connecticut).
The multibillion-dollar contract for the Block III series of submarines meant the construction of several submarines of equal value. According to recent reports, the United States Department of State spent 786 billion dollars to build the USS Illinois (SSN-2,7).
The groundbreaking ceremony for the USS Illinois submarine (SSN-786) was held on 2 on June 2014. The trustee of the new ship was the first lady of the United States, Michelle Obama, a native of Illinois, after whom the submarine was named. Thanks to streamlined production, the construction of the submarine took only 14 months. Already 8 August 2015, the boat was taken out of the workshop and lowered into the water. After that, the crew and industry experts began to conduct tests and other necessary work prior to the transfer of the submarine to the customer.
Tests and refinement of the newest multi-purpose submarine took about a year, after which the representatives of the military department signed an acceptance certificate. Another Virginia Block III type submarine was handed over to the 27 customer in August. In the near future, the naval forces are planning to carry out some of the necessary work, after which the submarine will be officially included in the fleet's combat strength. The commissioning ceremony for the boat is scheduled for October 29. On this day, the submarine forces of the US Navy will officially be replenished with a new combat unit.
The USS Illinois submarine (SSN-786) was built on the newest existing version of the Virginia project and is a fourth-generation submarine. The project used is based on the basic developments of previous projects, however, it has a number of characteristic differences related to the need to increase certain parameters. First of all, Block III submarines differ from their predecessors by their hydro-acoustic complex and launch devices for rocket armament. The rest of the project is an improved version of previous developments. Design work on the Virginia Block III project began in 2009, after the signing of a contract for the construction of a series of new submarines.
According to the project, the Illinois submarine has a length of 114,9 m, a width of 10,3 m and a normal draft of 9,8 m. The full displacement reaches 7900 tons. On the upper surface of the hull a relatively small logging fence is provided. On the tapering stern there is a set of rudders and a propeller placed inside the annular channel.
In the central compartment of the robust hull of the boat is a water-cooled nuclear reactor type S9G, which provides power generation for all systems. As a propulsion system for moving the project provides an electric motor with power 30 ths. Hp Single shaft with single propeller is used.
Within the framework of the Block III project, the bow section of the light hull, which contains weapons and a hydroacoustic station, has undergone significant changes. The main tasks in reworking the compartment was to improve the characteristics of the boat, as well as reducing the cost of its production and operation. Due to the abandonment of some previously used solutions, as well as through the use of unified units borrowed from existing projects, we managed to solve both tasks.
It was decided to change the design of the main antenna of the sonar complex. Instead of the previously used system, consisting of a large number of individual elements, fixed on a common basis in the form of a compartment with air, it was decided to use a spherical device, completely surrounded by water. This version of the complex received the designation LAB (Large Aperture Bow). The absence of the need to create a sealed base filled with air, significantly reduced the cost of production of the bow of the boat. Alteration of the design has allowed to further reduce the cost of the case on 11 million dollars.
The LAB system has two main components. The first is a passive high-performance station, and the second is an active system operating in the middle frequency range. As part of the LAB complex, hydroacoustic sensors previously used on Seawolf-type submarines are used. The maximum possible resource of the complex, equal to the resource of the entire submarine, is provided.
The first versions of the Virginia project proposed the use of 12 vertical launchers placed in front of a sturdy hull in the bow of the boat. The Block III modernization project proposed a different option for transporting and launching missile weapons. In order to simplify the design and reduce the cost of production, new multi-purpose submarines must be equipped with launchers borrowed from a project to upgrade strategic Ohio-type submarines. With this solution, it was possible to improve the economic parameters of the project without any other problems.
The launcher borrowed from Ohio is a cylindrical unit that fits in size into the Trident II ballistic missile shaft. The installation accommodates six mines of relatively small diameter, each of which can transport one cruise missile. Also in the case of the installation there are various special equipment necessary for the use of rocket weapons.
In the case of the Virginia Block III project, the removal of old separate launchers takes place, instead of which a kind of mines of Ohio strategic submarines are being installed. On the body are placed two flip covers launchers, under which there are two vertical launchers. Thus, the upgraded submarines, like the boats of previous versions, are capable of transporting and launching cruise missiles up to 12.
Despite the replacement of launchers, the updated Virginia retains the same range of weapons. Main shock weapons These ships remain cruise missiles BGM-109 Tomahawk, capable of hitting targets, depending on the modification, at distances up to 2500 km.
The rest of the "Illinois" is almost no different from the boats of its project of the previous series. With the exception of a complex of weapons and hydroacoustic equipment, all the existing changes are minor and are aimed at correcting previously identified deficiencies, simplifying the operation of equipment, etc. This made it possible to improve the required parameters, and also to do without an unacceptable increase in the cost of construction and significantly save on the operation of unified technology.
In particular, the submarine’s additional armament in the form of torpedoes remained without significant changes. The USS Illinois (SSN-786) has four 533 caliber torpedo tubes. In the torpedo compartment can be transported up to 27 torpedoes of several types. Such weapons are primarily intended to protect against enemy submarines.
The previously used approach to gathering information about the environment has been retained. In particular, Block III still does not use the traditional periscope, instead of which the boat receives a mast with optical-electronic equipment connected to the screens at the central post. The use of other means of observation based on modern technologies and element base is also envisaged.
A curious feature of Virginia-type submarines was the ability to transport combat swimmers. The current project retains a special airlock compartment, allowing the submarine to transport and land in a given area up to nine fighters with weapons and special equipment. Also, the submarine can carry relatively large vehicles, necessary for divers.
The boat's own crew consists of 134 people, including 14 officers. If necessary, depending on the type of combat mission, the crew may change in one way or another. During autonomous navigation the maximum possible comfort of work and life is provided.
Virginia-type submarines, regardless of the series and specific equipment, are able to sink to the maximum depth of 488 m and reach speeds of at least 26 nodes. According to some reports, the maximum underwater speed of such submarines exceeds the 30-32 node. The range of navigation is limited only by the food supply and ammunition. Reactors of the latest models used on the boats of the new series, do not change the nuclear fuel during the entire service life.
The second submarine of the USS John Warner series (SSN-785) during the handover ceremony, 1 August 2015 g. One can see the open cover of one of the launchers. Photo by US Navy
To date, the US Navy has received and put into operation 12 multi-purpose nuclear submarines of the type "Virginia". In accordance with the first order from 1998, four submarines of the first series were built. Their service began in 2004-2008. In 2003, the Pentagon ordered the construction of ships of the second series (Block II), resulting in six more submarines in the 2008-13 years. The construction of Block III submarines has been under way since 2012. The year before last and last years, the submarines USS North Dakota (SSN-784) and USS John Warner (SSN-785) entered service, respectively. In October, the submarine forces of the United States will be replenished with another submarine, the USS Illinois (SSN-786).
After receiving the 13-th boat of the Navy series, the United States intends to acquire another half dozen similar submarines. Over the next few years, Huntington Ingalls Industries and General Dynamics Electric Boat Shipyard will have to complete and hand over five of the following Virginia Block III boats to the customer. Ten more submarines will be built later. They will have to relate to the new version of the project with the designation Block IV. The contract for their construction was signed in April 2014. Terms of delivery of equipment for these contracts should be specified later.
Multipurpose Virginia-type submarines of all series are considered as a replacement for the remaining submarines of a similar purpose, created and built over the past few decades. In addition to Virginia, the tasks of searching for underwater and surface targets are solved by boats of the types Los Angeles and Seawolf. At the moment, 39 submarines of the first type and 3 of the second one remain in service. It is noteworthy that it was originally planned to build a series of three dozen "Sivulf", but due to the high cost of the project has undergone a significant reduction. Over time, all available submarines will have to give way to newer Virginia-type ships of the three existing and one series planned for construction.
Like other multi-purpose nuclear submarines of various types, operated by several countries of the world, the newest USS Illinois (SSN-786) will have to solve a fairly wide range of combat tasks related to the search and destruction of various targets. Provides for the possibility of covert surveillance of surface, underwater and coastal targets, followed by their destruction using the most effective weapons in the existing situation. The main armament of the "Illinois" and its sisterships are cruise missiles BGM-109. If necessary, several types of torpedoes can be used.
In the context of tracking submarine targets, Virginia-type submarines are primarily “hunters” of strategic submarine-launched missile carriers. In such a role, American submarines pose a certain danger to Russian submarines on duty in the interests of strategic nuclear forces. Quantitative and qualitative features of the submarine forces of the United States, namely, their component, based on multi-purpose submarines, can be a serious cause for concern. With more than fifty such submarines in combat fleet, the United States can deploy a relatively powerful group tracking the various regions of the oceans. As a result, there is a certain probability of opening areas and patrol routes.
Appropriate measures are required to deal with such a threat. Protection of naval formations and submarine missile carriers can be carried out by a variety of means. This task can be assigned to both anti-submarine ships and Aviation. In addition, existing and promising multi-purpose nuclear submarines, primarily new projects, should become a very effective means for tracking down submarines that threaten our ships.
Against the background of the total number of multipurpose nuclear submarines in the submarine forces of the United States, the transfer of a new USS Illinois submarine (SSN-786) does not look too threatening. Nevertheless, even one boat, equipped with the latest equipment and weapons, can significantly increase the potential of all submarine forces in general. In addition, it must be remembered that the Pentagon’s plans include the construction of another half dozen Virginia-type boats, most of which will relate to the new version of the project with the symbol Block IV.
Recent achievements and plans of the US military shipbuilding are of some interest from a technical point of view, and for the United States are also a real cause for pride. For other countries, in turn, they can be a cause for concern and material for analysis and forecasting. The existing and planned development of the submarine forces of the United States may impede the modernization of fleets of other countries, or even pose a serious threat to them. Therefore, joyful for foreign military news should receive the required assessment, as well as take into account other countries, including ours, when planning their actions in the foreseeable future.
On the materials of the sites: