Babcock has been awarded a contract for the system definition (SD) of the tactical weapons handling and launch system (WHLS) and submerged signal ejector (SSE) for the UK’s future strategic nuclear deterrent, the Vanguard replacement submarine.
Babcock has been working on the WHLS and SSE system concepts for some four years. In delivering the SD contract the company will be providing a solution to the technical requirement that combines proven technologies with a number of innovative features, and will build on previous experience including the Astute programme and feedback from its in-service support role, to deliver this programme to cost, quality and schedule.
While building on its previous WHLS and SSE products for aspects such as weapon alignment and shock mounting and the air turbine pump (ATP) and firing air system, Babcock will be incorporating new features such as vertical embarkation, modular torpedo launch tubes and stowages (to provide a pre-assembled solution that can accelerate installation times during build and reduce overall assembly costs), and a weapon loading mechanism that allows weapons to be loaded from both tiers using the same mechanism. Further developments include an improved launch control system which will provide a flexible, future-proof system, for example. Where new designs and technologies are being introduced, Babcock plans to reduce risk through prototype testing, additional modelling and analysis.
Babcock Defence Systems Technology Director Jeff Lewis commented: “We will be delivering this contract based on a realistic, achievable schedule (aligned to the Successor integrated master schedule and validated against Babcock’s experience in previous similar projects); a design solution that has been through a thorough concept design and review process and is fully integrated into the submarine design; and a good understanding of the risks, which have been minimised by the concept design phase. We will be looking throughout to apply our experience to reduce risk and provide greater confidence in schedule adherence, as well as driving out cost of development and minimising through-life cost of the WHLS and SSE, and hence of the overall platform.”
Babcock has a strong track record as the UK supplier and Technical Authority and system designer for submarine WHLS and SSE systems, having provided design, initial acquisition and through-life support to the MoD submarine programmes for the Upholder, Trafalgar, Vanguard and Astute classes. Internationally, Babcock has provided systems for the Australian Collins class and is responsible for the design and supply of the WHLS equipment for the new Spanish S80 class.
Babcock has been involved in the Vanguard replacement programme from the outset, and is one of the MoD’s Tier 1 contractors working on the engineering design of the new submarine, under a collaborative agreement with BAE Systems and Rolls-Royce. Babcock is providing through-life support expertise to ensure that the emerging design adequately considers and addresses in-service constraints and experience, for a smooth transition into service and efficient and effective through-life support. This latest contract is awarded by BAE Systems under MoD contract FSM/032.