Britain commits £4 billion to next-generation attack submarine project

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2nd October 2023 – (London) The United Kingdom has finalised contracts worth £4 billion (US$4.8 billion) to fund the next phase of the SSN-AUKUS next-generation attack submarine project, government officials have announced. The agreements involve British companies BAE Systems, Rolls-Royce, and Babcock and are part of the AUKUS military alliance between the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom, aimed at countering China in the Asia-Pacific region.

Speaking at the Conservative Party’s annual conference in Manchester on Sunday, U.K. Defence Secretary Grant Shapps emphasized the strategic importance of the submarines for the Royal Navy. He stated, “(The) submarines will empower the Royal Navy to maintain our strategic advantage under the sea.”

The joint submarine project under AUKUS was revealed by leaders of the three nations in March of last year. The agreement entails Australia replacing its existing diesel-powered submarines with nuclear-powered ones that offer superior stealth and extended range. Australia plans to acquire U.S. nuclear-powered submarines and collaborate with the U.S. and the U.K. to develop a new model.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak hailed the project as “the most important multilateral defence agreement for generations.” BAE Systems, in a separate statement, highlighted that the future SSN-AUKUS submarine would be the largest, most powerful, and most advanced submarine supplied to the Royal Navy.

According to BAE Systems, the investment will cover development work until 2028 and result in the recruitment of over 5,000 individuals at its Barrow-in-Furness facility in northern England. The first submarines of this new model are expected to be delivered in the late 2030s.