The British government has awarded British gunmaker BAE Systems a £4 billion ($7.6 billion) contract under the AUKUS program to build attack submarines.
- The contract will see BAE Systems develop the SSN-AUKUS class submarines until 2028
- The British gunmaker will now begin detailed design work on the new vessel
- The submarines will replace Britain’s Astute-class nuclear submarines and Australia’s aging Collins-class fleet.
The British, Australian and US governments unveiled details of the program in March, which will see Australia supply nuclear-powered attack submarines from the early 2030s to help counter the ambitions of the China in the Indo-Pacific region.
Britain, which will also operate the submarines, is gearing its foreign and defense policy toward the region and also seeking trade deals with fast-growing economies since leaving the European Union.
BAE Systems, which previously said AUKUS would be “important” to the company, said in a statement that the Ministry of Defense had provided it with the necessary funding to cover development work until 2028, allowing it to to begin detailed design work on the submarines.
UK Defense Minister Grant Shapps said “the multi-billion pound investment in the AUKUS submarine program will help deliver the long-term hunter-killer submarine capabilities that the UK United needs.”
The contract will secure funding for infrastructure works at BAE Systems’ site in Barrow-in-Furness, northwest England, and the company says it will help fund 5,000 jobs.
BAE Systems said manufacturing of the submarines would begin towards the end of the decade, with the first SSN-AUKUS-class ship expected to be delivered in the late 2030s.
“This funding strengthens Government support for our UK submarine enterprise and allows us to refine the design and invest in critical skills and infrastructure to support our long-term national security,” said Charles Woodburn, CEO of BAE Systems.