(CTN NEWS) – In a significant development for the UK’s defense capabilities and its role in the Indo-Pacific region, BAE Systems, Britain’s largest defense contractor, has secured a £3.95 billion contract to construct a new fleet of cutting-edge attack submarines.
This contract comes as part of the trilateral Aukus security pact, a partnership between the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom, which was unveiled in March with the aim of countering China’s growing influence in the Indo-Pacific.
The substantial funding secured by BAE Systems is earmarked for development work until 2028, enabling the company to embark on the detailed design phase of the submarine program and initiate the procurement of essential long-lead items.
Charles Woodburn, the Chief Executive of BAE Systems, emphasized that this funding underscores the government’s commitment to supporting the UK’s submarine enterprise, allowing for the refinement of design and investments in critical skills and infrastructure.
The focal point of this ambitious venture is the construction of a new generation of attack submarines, known as SSN-Aukus, based on a British design.
Strategic Significance of SSN-Aukus Submarines in UK’s Defense and Economy
These SSN-Aukus submarines are slated to replace the existing Astute-class submarines and will be operated by both the UK and Australia.
While the production of these submarines is scheduled to commence toward the end of the decade, the delivery of the first SSN-Aukus submarine is expected in the late 2030s.
Grant Shapps, the UK’s Defense Minister, expressed the strategic importance of these submarines, stating, “These hunter-killer Aukus submarines will empower the Royal Navy to maintain our strategic advantage under the sea, enabling us to compete with emerging navies anywhere in the world as our world becomes more unpredictable and dangerous.”
The Aukus pact is viewed by government officials as an integral component of the “levelling up” agenda, which aims to reduce regional economic disparities.
Michael Gove, a member of the UK Cabinet, highlighted the town of Barrow-in-Furness in Cumbria, where BAE Systems manufactures submarines for the Royal Navy, as a potential “powerhouse of the North.”
By supporting British businesses and investing in the development of these submarines, the government is making long-term decisions to strengthen the defense industry and boost economic growth.
The contract awarded to BAE Systems promises decades of work at its shipyard in Barrow. Moreover, it includes significant provisions for infrastructure investment in Barrow, bolstering the supply chain, and the recruitment of over 5,000 personnel.
This substantial investment will not only preserve the UK’s submarine shipbuilding capabilities, led by BAE Systems, but also support Rolls-Royce, which manufactures the nuclear reactors powering the Navy’s submarines.
Aukus Deal Spurs Growth in UK’s Defense Industry and Strategic Partnerships
In June, Rolls-Royce announced plans to double the size of its Raynesway site in Derby as a direct result of the Aukus deal.
Additionally, Babcock International, responsible for maintaining and supporting all of the UK’s submarines, has signed a five-year contract with the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to contribute to the detailed design phase of SSN-Aukus.
David Lockwood, CEO of Babcock, stressed the significance of their involvement, stating that it recognizes the importance of their extensive knowledge and longstanding experience in submarine development.
In conclusion, the awarding of the £3.95 billion contract to BAE Systems to build the next-generation SSN-Aukus submarines marks a pivotal moment for the UK’s defense industry and its strategic partnerships in the Indo-Pacific region.
This ambitious project promises to strengthen the UK’s maritime capabilities, support economic growth in key regions, and solidify its commitment to maintaining peace and stability in a rapidly evolving world.
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