The Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) is due out on Feb 6 and it looks from initial press reports (here and here) the Pentagon has decided move more Navy assets to the western Pacific.
Jan. 25 (Bloomberg) -- The Pentagon has directed the Navy to assume a ``greater presence'' in the western Pacific by adding at least one aircraft carrier and five nuclear submarines over the next decade, according to a draft of the Pentagon's review of strategy and forces.
The increase will put half the Navy's aircraft carriers and 60 percent of its submarine fleet in the Pacific and is largely driven by the Pentagon's concern over China's increased military might, according to a congressional defense analyst.
But QDR recommendations also look to increase submarine production, also reported in (Bloomberg):
As part of the increased presence, the review recommends that the Pentagon in 2012 increase production of the General Dynamics Corp.-Northrop Grumman Corp. Virginia-class attack submarine to two annually from the current rate of one a year.
I read (here) that China's military buildup is hollow when it comes to submarine capabilities. However, if the QDR recommended submarine production increases are true then the Pentagon sees a challenge coming over the procurement horizon.
The Chinese in the meantime have started to take delivery on the approximately $3.4 Billion worth of Russian built Sovremenny-class missile destroyers and eight Kilo-class submarines ordered in 2002. Both a brand new Kilo diesel-electric submarine and a Sovremenny missile destroyer were delivered in December.
Of course the best anti-submarine platform is another submarine, but in the interim I guess one of these will fill the gap until 688i's and Virginia's can make their way to Pearl, Guam and points west.
Update 01/26/06 10:00 : DOD 1/25/06 press release - QDR Dominated by Uncertain, Unpredictable World