The UK Ministry of Defence has awarded BAE Systems £3.95 billion ($4.79 billion) funding to build next-generation nuclear-powered attack submarines as the security pact between the US, UK and Australia moves ahead.
The three countries entered into the AUKUS agreement in 2021 aimed at providing the Royal Australian Navy with a home-built and supported fleet of advanced nuclear-powered attack submarines. In March this year, they announced details of the so-called AUKUS pact to provide Australia with nuclear-powered attack submarines by the late 2030s.
This will eventually see Australia and the UK operate SSN-AUKUS submarines, which will be based on the UK’s next-generation design, incorporating technology from all three nations, including cutting-edge US submarine technologies.
The SSN-AUKUS submarines are expected to be the most advanced, powerful, and largest attack submarines ever operated by the Royal Navy, and they will eventually replace the Astute class built by BAE Systems in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria.
The funding of £3.95bn will cover the development work until 2028, which will enable BAE Systems to move into the detailed design phase of the program and procure long-lead items. In addition, the funding will support significant infrastructure investment at BAE Systems‘ Barrow-in-Furness site, investment in its supply chain, and recruitment of more than 5,000 people.
“This multi-billion-pound investment in the AUKUS submarine program will help deliver the long-term hunter-killer submarine capabilities the UK needs to maintain our strategic advantage and secure our leading place in a contested global order,” said Grant Shapps, Britain’s Defence Secretary, in the press release. “I’m committed to backing our defense industry because it’s only with the mission-critical support of businesses like BAE Systems that the UK can develop the advanced equipment our Armed Forces need to defend the British people in a more dangerous world.”