The UK defense ministry has awarded BAE Systems and Rolls-Royce contracts worth more than £2 billion (US$2.4B) for work on the third phase of the future submarine nuclear deterrent program, dubbed the Dreadnought.
The investment is the latest financial commitment between the defense ministry, BAE Systems and Rolls-Royce, and is the initial investment within a planned overall total of nearly £10bn for the whole delivery phase.
Delivery phase 3 (DP3) represents the most significant stage of the Dreadnought program so far, and will see the first of four submarines, HMS Dreadnought, exit the Barrow-in-Furness shipyard to begin sea trials.
The next-generation Dreadnought submarines will be the Royal Navy’s most advanced submarines ever when they enter service from the early 2030s. HMS Dreadnought, Valiant, Warspite and King George VI, as the four new submarines will be named, will replace the Vanguard class of ballistic missile submarines currently serving as the UK’s nuclear deterrent.
Manufacture work on the new class of submarines started in October 2016. The boats will be 153.6 meters long and displace 17.200 tons as the largest submarines ever built for the Royal Navy.
The boats will also benefit from fly-by-wire technology already in use in aircraft, enabling submariners to better control key aspects of the submarines beneath the waves including heading, pitch, depth and buoyancy.
“The Dreadnought-class will be crucial to maintaining and safeguarding our national security, with the nuclear deterrent protecting every UK citizen from the most extreme threats, every minute of every day,” defense procurement minister, Jeremy Quin, said.
“Designed in the UK, built in the UK and supporting tens of thousands of jobs in the UK, the Dreadnought programme is a leading example of our commitment to defence manufacturing and will continue to boost British industry for decades to come.”
As the largest Class of submarine ever built for the Royal Navy, each will boast 26.4 miles of pipework and more than 20,000 cables stretching 215 miles.
“We welcome the faith shown in the Royal Navy and our people that submarines remain the optimum means of securely deploying the independent nuclear deterrent. This investment will enable the transition from the Vanguard to Dreadnought-class submarines – an enormous challenge, and one we in the Royal Navy willingly accept,” First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Ben Key, said.
The UK has also awarded a £160 million contract to Raytheon UK for the Dreadnought crew training at HM Naval Base Clyde.