UK Spends £2.7b On New Astute Class Subs
(Source: British Forces News; published Dec. 10, 2012)
Britain is spending £2.7 billion on new Astute Class nuclear submarines. The money will pay to finish HMS Audacious and fund early work on three sister ships. Billed as the most advanced the Royal Navy has ever had they are designed to lurk undetected and to protect the fleet, seek out enemy subs, launch missiles inland and even land special forces.

A series of setbacks have dogged the first in class HMS Astute, which arrived four years late and a billion pounds over budget before being launched. She is still not operational after five and a half years of sea trials. Now though, things are looking up: Astute is preparing for her first operational deployment and the MOD insists most of the problems are behind her, with the hard learned lessons from her sea trials being incorporated into the designs of her sister subs.

The MOD is spending £1.5 billion of the £2.7 billion pot to fund about half the work on fifth in class HMS Anson and for long lead items to be bought for the planned sixth and seventh subs.

The new contracts should protect skills needed to replace the ageing Trident missile submarines. Successor boats will have to be built in the same yard, which needs orders to stay in the sub building business. And with a political decision about Trident replacement put off until after the next election, keeping the workforce busy buys time.

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said: “This contract marks an important step forward in the progress of our Attack Submarine programme and moves the Royal Navy closer to adding more of these highly advanced and powerful attack submarines to its fleet.

“Our ability to commit an additional £1.5 billion for boats five, six and seven underlines the benefits of a balanced budget and fully funded equipment programme that gives our Armed Forces greater certainty. This funding demonstrates our commitment not only to a key Royal Navy capability, but also to the submarine industry in Barrow which will play a vital role in Britain's defence for decades to come.”

Rear Admiral Simon Lister, MoD’s Director of Submarines, said: “The Astute Class will become the jewel in the crown of the Royal Navy’s Submarine Service and boasts much greater firepower and more advanced sonar and communications than ever before.

“These submarines represent a huge leap forward in technology and will operate all over the world with the Royal Navy. These boats provide the optimum capability a submarine can offer in land strike, strategic intelligence gathering, anti-submarine and surface ship warfare, and protection of the strategic deterrent.”

Featuring the latest nuclear-powered technology, the Astute Class never need to be refuelled and can circumnavigate the world submerged, manufacturing the crew's oxygen from seawater as they go.

The 7,400 tonne Astute Class is quieter than older submarines, and can operate covertly and remain undetected despite being fifty per cent bigger than the Royal Navy’s current Trafalgar Class submarines. (ends)




£1.2bn Contract for Audacious Submarine
(Source: BAE Systems; issued December 10, 2012)

The UK Ministry of Defence has awarded us a contract worth £1.2bn for Audacious, the fourth submarine in the Astute class.

The full contract covers the design, build, test and commissioning programme. First steel was cut in 2007 and Audacious is at an advanced stage of construction at BAE Systems’ site in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria.

BAE Systems Maritime – Submarines Managing Director John Hudson said: “This is a very significant milestone for the company as it provides increased stability for the remainder of the programme.

“More than 5,000 people are employed at Submarines with over half of these directly involved in the Astute programme, many in highly skilled, specialist positions, so today’s announcement is hugely welcomed.

“The Astute class will deliver to the Royal Navy a fantastic attack submarine capability and both HMS Astute and Ambush are currently demonstrating this while on their sea trials. Audacious, and the rest of the submarines in the Astute class, will eventually complement those already at sea.”

The MoD also confirmed today that a further £1.5bn has been committed to the Astute programme for the remaining three submarines in the class, which includes early build work on boat 5, Anson, whose keel was laid in October, 2011.

Audacious will include a number of design changes to the first three submarines in the Astute class. Most relate to the submarine’s combat system – primarily its command, navigation and sonar systems. For the first time on a Royal Navy submarine this will use a shared computer environment for the different systems, common consoles and cabinets, and “commercial off-the-shelf” hard and software. They will make the system more cost effective and easier to maintain and update.

These changes are due to be implemented on the remaining submarines in the class, and have been back-fitted to Boat 3, Artful. The eventual aim is to back-fit the “Common Combat System” to HMS Astute and Ambush, and progressively to the rest of the Royal Navy submarine fleet.

Audacious, the fourth of a planned class of seven submarines, is nearly half way through its build programme with all of its pressure hull units now assembled in our main construction hall, awaiting full combination.

The 97m-long Astute class submarines boast a range of world class capabilities. Powered by a sophisticated nuclear propulsion system, the reactor never needs refuelling. The sonar system has the processing power of 2,000 laptops and can track ships 3,000 miles away. Armed with both Tomahawk land attack missiles and Spearfish torpedoes, its missiles have a target range of 1,200 miles with accuracy measured in metres.

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