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UK MoD awards UK contracts for next phase of SSN-AUKUS programme

A graphic depiction of SSN-AUKUS. (BAE Systems)

The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has awarded contracts totalling GBP4 billion (USD4.8 billion) to BAE Systems, Rolls-Royce, and Babcock for the detailed design and long leads phase of the UK's and Australia's next-generation nuclear-powered attack submarine programme.

As part of their trilateral AUKUS security partnership arrangement, Australia, the UK, and the US in March 2023 unveiled plans that will see the UK and eventually Australia equipped with a future nuclear-powered attack submarine, known as SSN-AUKUS, based on the UK's SSN replacement SSN(R) design and incorporating technologies from all three countries.

Construction of the new boats is set to begin towards the end of the decade, with the first SSN-AUKUS boat planned to enter service with the UK Royal Navy (RN) from the late 2030s to replace its Astute-class vessels, followed by the first Australian submarines in the early 2040s.

BAE Systems and Rolls-Royce have been carrying out early design and concept work under an GBP85 million contract awarded by the MoD in September 2021. According to BAE Systems, the latest round of funding, announced on 1 October, will cover development work through to 2028 and enable it to progress to the detailed design phase of the programme and begin to procure long-lead components for the first UK submarines.

At the same time, the award will fund infrastructure development at BAE Systems' shipyard in Barrow-in-Furness, investment in its supply chain and recruitment of more than 5,000 personnel. A BAE spokesperson told Janes

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