The U.S. Navy is pushing back the start of construction on its next-generation attack submarine by nearly a decade, citing tight budgets and a need to fund current and near-term operations.

A Navy spokesperson told Defense News construction on the lead ship of the SSN(X) program, which will follow the Virginia-class attack submarine, is now planned to start in the “early 2040s.” The Navy last year planned to begin the ship class in 2035, and it was previously set for a 2031 start.

In its fiscal 2025 budget, the Navy is seeking to delay spending on several modernization programs, including SSN(X), the DDG(X) next-generation destroyer, and the F/A-XX next-generation fighter.

Three years ago, in the spring of 2021, the Navy was readying for a FY28 start for DDG(X), an FY31 start to SSN(X), and a generic 2030s start to F/A-XX, the manned fighter that fits into a larger Next Generation Air Dominance family of systems.

The service has already delayed the DDG(X) program to a FY32 start, reflected in last year’s budget request. Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro previously told Defense News he didn’t want to rush the DDG(X) program and wanted to ensure the technology and workforce are ready for the transition from the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer to the follow-on program.

The Navy spokesperson said the DDG(X) is still planned to go into construction in FY32, despite delayed research and development dollars in the FY25 budget.

The spokesperson did not have an updated timeline for F/A-XX, though the Navy has historically been tight-lipped about the program.

Navy Undersecretary Erik Raven spoke about the budget request on March 8, noting “our guidance directs us to take risk in future modernization when there are hard choices to be made.”

“If you look at F/A-XX, or the other X [next-generation] programs, we knowingly took risk in the schedule for development of those programs in order to prioritize those key investments — whether that’s readiness, or investing in our people, or undersea, to make sure that we make those programs whole,” he added.

Raven on March 13 told Defense News that, for “any acquisition program, we are looking to move out in the most responsible way forward. And that includes the ability to develop the technologies to the right level of maturity, to make sure that they are inserted in programs at the right point.

“That does take investment, and again, we are taking risk in some of these areas. But fundamentally, no matter what our budget levels, we have to run good acquisition programs,” Raven continued.

The Navy is asking for $586.9 million for SSN(X) design and development efforts in FY25, up slightly from the $544.7 million it requested in FY24.

It seeks $102.7 million for DDG(X), down from FY24′s $187.4 million request. And for F/A-XX, the Navy wants $454 million in FY25, compared to $1.5 billion in FY24.

Megan Eckstein is the naval warfare reporter at Defense News. She has covered military news since 2009, with a focus on U.S. Navy and Marine Corps operations, acquisition programs and budgets. She has reported from four geographic fleets and is happiest when she’s filing stories from a ship. Megan is a University of Maryland alumna.

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