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UK awards design and concept contracts for next-generation SSN

HMS Artful: the UK Royal Navy's third Astute-class SSN. (BAE Systems)

The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has funded BAE Systems and Rolls-Royce to undertake early design and concept development work for a next-generation nuclear-powered submarine (SSN) class to replace the Royal Navy's (RN's) Astute-class boats from about 2040.

Contracts worth an aggregate GBP170 million have been placed through the MoD's Submarine Delivery Agency (SDA). The awards, announced on 17 September, follow approval of a three-year programme, definition, and design (PDD) phase for a capability solution for the MoD's Maritime Underwater Future Capability (MUFC) programme.

The Defence Command Paper, published in March following the UK government's Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy, committed to funding “the next generation of nuclear submarines to guarantee our security well into the second half of the century”. The MUFC's PDD phase will see the SDA work with BAE Systems, Babcock, and Rolls-Royce to consider a range of capability options and delivery arrangements.

BAE Systems and Rolls-Royce have received contracts valued at GBP85 million apiece. The contracts, lasting three years and involving the participation of Babcock, are intended to mature and deliver early design outputs to inform a future manned nuclear-powered boat known as SSN(R). The contract with BAE Systems in Barrow will sustain about 250 roles at the shipyard to develop the platform design and delivery arrangements. At Rolls Royce in Derby, approximately 100 jobs are expected to be sustained through the contract for the development of the Nuclear Steam Raising Plant and associated production arrangements.

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