The UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) has awarded BAE Systems – the British defence, aerospace and security company – the funding needed to complete the design of a successor to the Royal Navy’s Vanguard class submarines.
|How the UK’s new nuclear submarine could appear (Image: BAE Systems)
The £257 million ($379 million) contract with MOD follows previous contracts awarded to BAE Systems in 2012 valued at £328 million ($484 million) and £315 million ($465 million) to commence the initial design.
The new class of submarines are designed to carry the UK’s independent nuclear deterrent. The program recently passed a major design review and is now more than halfway through its five-year assessment phase, BAE Systems said on 11 March.
Tony Johns, managing director at BAE Systems’ Submarines, said designing a new, nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine is one of the most challenging engineering projects in the world today.
“The Successor program is the largest and most complex project we have ever faced. This funding will now allow us to mature the design over the next 12 months to enable us to start construction in 2016,” Johns said.
British Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said in the same statement that the UK has been committed to a “continuous at-sea deterrent” for more than 45 years. It is “crucial”, Fallon said, that the country continues to invest in the Successor program to be ready for a final decision on renewal next year.
The new contract will sustain the jobs of more than 1400 employees working at BAE Systems on a program that has used more than 240 suppliers, the company said. Around 6500 people are employed at BAE Systems’ site in Barrow, in Cumbria, where it is also building the Astute class – seven nuclear-powered attack submarines for the Royal Navy.