The change in the geopolitical situation after the liquidation of the USSR led to the need to create a submarine with a lower cost than a submarine of the type "Sea Wolf". Initially, the task was to preserve the main tactical and technical characteristics, implement new technical solutions in the equipment of the undercarriage and the warhead and get a multi-purpose submarine to solve a wide range of combat tasks. In 1998, the US Navy ordered the first copy of the new series of submarines. Laid it in 1999, and floated in 2003. The first submarine "Virginia" from this project was put into service in 2004.
The hull of the submarine "Virginia" has a length of 113 m, a width of 10.2 m. It includes integrated blocks, the design of which provides the ability to quickly replace them for repair or upgrading. The outer coating has a "silencing" effect, which makes the noise level of the Virginia submarine lower than that of the fourth generation Russian Navy submarines.
The main innovation implemented in the Virginia nuclear submarine is the use of a "disposable" nuclear reactor. Its resource is designed for the entire life of the boat - 30-33 years. The reactor is not required to recharge and expose personnel and equipment to the risk of radioactive contamination. During the reloading of the reactor the boat can not carry combat duty and perform assigned tasks. The submarine "Virginia" and other of its series are deprived of this shortcoming.
The submarines of the US Los Angeles class fleet are equipped with Tomahawk cruise missiles that have proven themselves in the theater of military operations in many conflicts. These rockets are reliable, relatively cheap and well mastered. Later in construction, the Virginia-class submarines received the fourth-generation Tomahawk advanced submarines. These missiles have a more flexible control and guidance system: they are capable of changing the target in flight and locking in for waiting for the target to be received.
Equipped with a submarine "Virginia" four torpedo tubes, standard torpedo ammunition - 26 pcs. such as Gould Mark 48. They are capable of striking surface targets and high-speed submarines. The guidance system has passive and active components:
- when a target is captured, the torpedo produces guidance on a course with the calculation of the smallest trajectory;
- when a target is lost, its independent search, seizure and subsequent attack;
- the multiple attack system allows you to search and capture a target several times when it is lost.
The range of torpedoes Gould Mark 48 is 38 km at a speed of 55 knots or 50 km at a speed of 40 knots. The maximum immersion depth of the target is 800 m.
Also provided for the use of small missiles "Harpoon" with a high-explosive fragmentation warhead weighing 225 kg. The range of the "Harpoon" missiles ranges from 90 to 220 km, depending on their modifications.
It was originally planned to equip the submarine "Virginia" with the acoustic complex AN / BQQ-10, which was tested on the submarine "Sea Wolf". But the diameter of the bow of the "Virginia" is much smaller than that of the "Sea Wolf", because of this placement of the specified complex would lead to a strong constraint of the nasal space.
Later, an upgraded version of the acoustic complex was developed under the label AN / BQG-5A. Its acoustic antennas have a smaller diameter and are better suited for Virginia class submarines. The need for reliable positioning of mines at shallow depths led to the development and installation of a new antenna, due to which the submarine acquired in appearance a characteristic “chin” in the bow.
The high resolution of this antenna allows you to confidently maneuver at shallow depths and find anchored mines located above the ground in the water column.
From the towed antennas of the hydroacoustic system, the choice fell on TV-16 (located in a special hangar on the starboard side) and TV-29A. The second is a more modern version of the towed TV-29 antenna, which was rejected at the design stage due to its high cost.
In 2010, the command of the US Navy lifted the ban on the service of women on submarines. In this regard, the company Electric Boat began revision of the submarine "Virginia" and some of its other classes to adapt them to women's needs. The following ideas will be implemented:
- increasing the number of showers;
- separate latrines;
- separate sleeping cabins;
- easier control from the point of view of applied physical efforts by mechanisms and elements of equipment;
- the location of informative plates is somewhat lower
- installation of ladders near the multi-tiered beds.
It should be noted that at the moment about 80 women officers and about 50 women sailors serve in submarines in the US Navy. And every year their number increases. Adaptation of submarines for women's needs and characteristics of the female body is a necessary and necessary measure, although it is susceptible to criticism from male submariners.