July 12, 2024
SSN-AUKUS submarines

BAE Systems secures a £3.95-billion contract to commence work on SSN-AUKUS submarines

BAE Systems, a multinational defense, security, and aerospace company, has been awarded a £3.95-billion (US$4.8 billion) contract by the UK Ministry of Defence to begin detailed design work and long-term procurement for the SSN-AUKUS-class submarines. The contract marks a significant milestone in the AUKUS agreement between the United States, Britain, and Australia, which aims to provide the Royal Australian Navy with a fleet of nuclear-powered attack submarines.

The AUKUS agreement was established in response to the evolving geopolitical landscape, particularly in the Indo-Pacific region. Under this unprecedented technology-sharing agreement, the United States and Britain have committed to providing Australia with technological expertise and even complete nuclear submarines. This initiative will replace Australia’s current Collins-class conventional fleet while the country develops its own infrastructure to build and support its attack submarines.

Implementing the AUKUS initiative is a complex task that will span several decades. Over the past two years, there has been speculation regarding the specifics of the agreement and the submarines themselves. This latest contract aligns the AUKUS program with the British initiative to replace the Astute-class submarines that are currently under construction. It also involves the development of common technologies that will be incorporated into the US, UK, and Australian submarines. Construction of the SSN-AUKUS-class submarines will commence once the final Astute submarines are completed. Some of these submarines may be temporarily assigned to Australia until its domestic shipyards are ready, replacing the American Virginia-class submarines that the Royal Australian Navy will acquire as a temporary measure.

In addition to the design and procurement work, the contract will facilitate the improvement of BAE Systems’ site in Barrow-in-Furness and the expansion of the Rolls-Royce Raynesway site in Derby for nuclear reactor construction. British and US obligations under international nuclear treaties will require them to provide Australia with fully operational nuclear reactors and fuel. The submarines will incorporate American propulsion plant systems, components, and a missile vertical launch system. Furthermore, the weaponry installed on these submarines will be standardized across all three navies involved.

Grant Shapps, the UK’s Defence Secretary, expressed the significance of this multi-billion-pound investment in the AUKUS submarine program. He highlighted that it would bolster the long-term capabilities of the UK’s hunter-killer submarines, ensuring the country’s strategic advantage and its position in an increasingly contested global order. Shapps emphasized the importance of supporting the defense industry, as partnerships with companies like BAE Systems enable the development of advanced equipment necessary for the Armed Forces to protect the British people in an increasingly dangerous world.

1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
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