The Defense Department has given the U.S. Navy the green light to begin entertaining proposals for the service’s next ballistic missile submarine, an effort that could cost nearly $350 billion over its lifetime.
A Pentagon spokeswoman told Bloomberg on Tuesday that Frank Kendall, the agency’s top weapons buyer, told the Navy it could release a request for proposals for the development phase of 12 Ohio-class replacement subs.
The service wants to buy 12 boats to replace the current force of 14 Trident Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines, which entered into service in the early 1980s. Navy officials have pegged the cost of the Ohio replacement program, also known as the SSBN(X), at around $139 billion dollars. The effort’s lifetime cost will come in at roughly $347 billion.
The Navy budgeted $1.4 billion for research and design in fiscal year 2016, and the development phase, which will last for years, has an estimated cost of $15 billion. The Congressional Budget Office says first submarine could cost $13 billion.