The UK defense secretary has announced £79 million of investment in Successor, the next generation of Royal Navy submarines. (BAE Systems Concept)
LONDON — Procuring long-lead items for a new generation of Royal Navy nuclear missile-equipped submarines is underway with UK contractors following a deal between the Ministry of Defence and BAE Systems.
While US contractors are already working on long-lead equipment valued at £83 million (US $135.2 million) for nuclear propulsion and nuclear missile tubes, this is the first set of such contracts for British contractors under the deal.
The MoD said it had agreed to two deals totaling £79 million with BAE to begin work on long-lead items, including structural fittings, electrical equipment, secondary propulsion equipment, castings and forgings in order to meet the scheduled replacement of the first of four Vanguard-class ballistic missile boats by 2028.
The contract awards coincided with the government’s release to Parliament of an update on the nuclear submarine program Dec. 16.
The update said that long-lead procurement had begun through the US, including £52 million on elements of nuclear propulsion and £31 million on missile tubes.
The British are collaborating with the US in designing and building a common missile compartment for the British program, known as Successor, and the US Navy’s future Ohio-class submarines.
Both navies use the Trident nuclear missile.
The British will build missile compartments locally outfitted with missile tubes supplied pre-constructed by the Electric Boat division of General Dynamics.
Some £533 million is initially being put aside for procurement of long-lead items, said the report.
The £3 billion assessment phase currently underway remains on schedule and within budget to allow the government to make a final decision during 2016 on development and production of up to four submarines in the Successor program.
The British are expected to decide in 2016 whether to build three or four boats.
Assessment phase spending on the ballistic missile boat now tops £730 million with an additional £800 million contract to Rolls-Royce to update facilities to build a new nuclear propulsion system for the submarines.
BAE, Rolls-Royce and Babcock are working with the MoD in designing the new Trident missile equipped submarines.
The new boats are expected to remain in service until the 2060s.
Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said the new investment was an “important milestone in our preparations to build these world leading submarines ... the replacement for this capability is of national importance.”
The government declines to give up-to-date costs of the program and continues to give a price estimate of between “£11 billion and £14 billion at 2006 prices.”