UK awards £3.95bn for next phase development of AUKUS N-submarine


The UK Ministry of Defence has awarded £3.95 billion of funding to BAE Systems for the next phase of the UK’s next-generation nuclear-powered attack submarine programme, the SSN-AUKUS.

SSN-AUKUS will be the largest, most powerful and advanced attack submarines the Royal Navy has ever operated, and will eventually replace the Astute class, which BAE Systems builds at its site in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria.

Australia’s plan is to acquire US Virginia class submarines as we wait for the SSN-AUKUS engineering development programme to mature and the design becomes available for construction at the Osborne Naval shipyard in Adelaide.

This stage of the development is particularly important because critical decisions are being taken now as to who will supply what in the multi-national boat, potentially setting in stone the likely level of Australian content, and the potential level of genuine Australian industry involvement, in the programme.

The new funding follows the AUKUS announcement in March by the leaders of Australia, the UK and the United States.

Having started early design work in 2021, the £3.95bn funding will cover development work to 2028, enabling BAE Systems to move into the detailed design phase of the programme and begin to procure long-lead items.

Manufacture will start towards the end of the decade with the first SSN-AUKUS boat due to be delivered in the late 2030s.

The award will also fund significant infrastructure investment at BAE Systems’ site in Barrow-in-Furness, investment in its supply chain and recruitment of a more than 5,000 people.

BAE Systems Australia is also strategically located building Hunter class frigates at the Osborne yard, directly alongside ASC and the partially constructed site for the next generation submarine shipyard for the RAN.

BAE Systems’ Chief Executive Charles Woodburn said: “This funding reinforces the Government’s support to our UK submarine enterprise and allows us to mature the design, and invest in critical skills and infrastructure to support our long-term national security.”

BAE Systems has already delivered five of seven Astute class submarines to the Royal Navy with the remaining two boats at advanced stages of construction.

Further reading:
BAE Systems could be in the box seat to build Australian n-subs

Picture: BAE Systems/SSN-AUKUS

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