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LONDON — The British government has firmed up promises it made in the 2015 strategic defense and security review (SDSR) and confirmed it is investing £642 million (US $908 million) to prepare for production of a new fleet of Trident missile-armed nuclear submarines.

The cash will be mainly spent on production facilities at BAE Systems' Barrow-in-Furness, England, nuclear submarine yard; essential long lead items for the submarines; and the nuclear propulsion program being led by Rolls-Royce.

Some further design work is also involved, said the Ministry of Defence in a statement released Thursday.

The Conservative government has committed to building four nuclear missile submarines with the first boat entering service in the early 2030s, several years later than originally planned.

The submarines will replace four Vanguard-class boats that first entered service in 1993.

The government announced in the SDSR that the estimated cost of the Successor nuclear submarine program is about £31 billion. It also said it was putting aside a contingency fund of £10 billion to cover possible risks on the program.

In the latest announcement, BAE gets £225 million for investment in new facilities at Barrow and around £200 million goes for long-lead items.

BAE is midway through a program to build seven Astute-class hunter killer nuclear submarines at the Barrow site.

The government announced a £300 million investment in facilities for the shipyard back in 2014. An MoD spokeswoman said that most of the money announced today was new money.

Included in the funding is a further £136 million investment in the common missile compartment being designed and built in a UK-US collaboration effort.

The compartment is planned to be fitted to the Successor submarines and the US Navy’s Ohio-class replacement.

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said the £642 million “will support further design work, new infrastructure and the purchase of key parts such as engines and gearboxes, as well as jobs across the UK.”

The government is expected to seek final parliamentary approval for the Successor program during the next few months.

A decision on a manufacturing contract was planned for this year but that approach has been dropped with the government announcing in the SDSR that due to the complexity and scale of the program it will instead adopt a staged approach rather than a single procurement decision.

The next phase of the program will focus on risk reduction and demonstration, the government said in the SDSR

Fallon said in a statement Thursday that the new investment will take assessment phase spending on the program to £3.9 billion.

Email: achuter@defensenews.com

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