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U.S GAO says tech in Navy's Columbia class subs needs more testing

Dec 21 (Reuters) - Several of the U.S. Navy's Columbia class submarine technologies critical to performance needed more development and testing to avoid potential delays and increased costs, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) said on Thursday.

The U.S. Navy's Columbia class ballistic missile submarines are slated to begin patrols in 2031, and will replace the 14 Ohio class submarines that currently make up the sea-based leg of the U.S. nuclear triad.

"Starting to design and build vessels before technologies are proven can lead to increased costs and schedule delays," according to the report.

The GAO, a non-partisan body, works for Congress and investigates how the federal government spends taxpayer dollars.

The program has an expected cost of $267 billion over its life cycle, including $128 billion to research, develop, and to buy 12 submarines.

The GAO said the technologies, including those used in the submarines' integrated power system, nuclear reactor and common missile compartment, needed further testing.

"As a result, it is unknown at this point whether they will work as expected, be delayed, or cost more than planned," the GAO said.

General Dynamics in September was given a $5 billion contract to design the Columbia-class submarines. (Reporting by Sanjana Shivdas; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)