Dec. 3 (UPI) -- General Dynamics Electric Boat Corp. has been awarded a $22.2 billion contract modification to build nine Virginia-class submarines for the U.S. Navy.
The deal covers the nine vessels of Block 5, eight of which contain the Virginia Payload Module, to be designed and built over the next decade, the Department of Defense announced on Monday.
The contract also includes an option for spare materials and an additional submarine to include the VPM, which, if exercised, would push the total value of the deal over $24 billion.
Virginia-class submarines are built to conduct anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface-ship warfare, strike warfare and special operations support as well as intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.
To date, the Navy has 18 Virginia-class submarines, with James Geurts, assistant secretary of the Navy for research, development and acquisition, calling the VPM and other Block 5 design changes "a generational leap in submarine capability for the Navy."
"This team developed a Block V multi-year contract which provides significant increases in lethality and performance for the fleet to support the National Defense Strategy while also ensuring we are maximizing the use of taxpayer dollars," Geurts said in a press release. "The multi-year contract also provides the stability needed in this critical industrial base to ensure we can continue to maintain our competitive advantage in undersea warfare while also providing a solid foundation for the Columbia program to build upon."
This contract continues a teaming arrangement between Gorton, Conn.-based GDEB and Huntington Ingalls in Newport News. Under the modification, Block V submarines will incorporate improved acoustic design changes and increase Tomahawk strike capacity from 12 to 40 missiles per boat.
"Our submarine force is fundamental to the power and reach of our integrated naval force," said acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas B. Modly. "Today's announcement affirms our commitment to the future strength of our nation, undersea and around the world."
The first Block 5 Virginia-class submarine is expected for delivery to the Navy in fiscal year 2025.