LONDON — Britain has taken its nuclear sub-related spending up to nearly 6.5 billion pounds ($10.2 billion) in the space of a month following confirmation June 18 that the Ministry of Defence is to build new submarine nuclear reactors and upgrade the Rolls-Royce-owned factory where they are produced.
The announcement June 18 of the 1.1 billion pound spend on nuclear reactors follows MoD deals with British industry to fund ongoing design work on the new Successor class of Trident missile-equipped subs and investment in the government’s Atomic Weapons Establishment.
The reactor cores involved in the latest announcement will power the seventh and final Astute-class attack submarine to be built by BAE Systems, as well as the first of a new generation of nuclear-deterrent boats to replace the Royal Navy’s four Vanguard-class vessels.
The final Astute submarine will use the existing PWR2 core, but the Successor will switch to the PWR3 reactor being designed with U.S. assistance.
The MoD said the latest round of spending involves about 500 million pounds to replace the existing manufacturing facilities at Rolls-Royce’s Raynesway plant in Derby and a further 600 million pounds for reactors for the nuclear submarines.
In May, the British revealed they plan to spend 5 billion pounds over five years on production, research and operations at the Atomic Weapons Establishment in southern England, where the nuclear warheads originate.
A few days later, the MoD awarded contracts to BAE, Babcock and Rolls-Royce, together worth about 350 million pounds, to continue design work on the Successor subs.
The MoD approved concept design of Successor in May 2011, and the program is now in the assessment phase ahead of a decision whether to go ahead with building the boats in 2016.
The first of the new boats are planned to be delivered to the Royal Navy in 2028. A decision on whether three or four submarines will be built is still pending.