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Astute SSN Passes First Weapon Ejection Tests

BARROW, UK --- The UK’s next-generation nuclear-powered attack submarine has successfully carried out its first firing trials on schedule, meeting another important requirement on the programme.

The first of class Astute has discharged a total of 10 dummy torpedoes and Tomahawk missiles from its torpedo tubes in the dock at BAE Systems in Barrow-in-Furness, completing the first stage of weapons firing tests.

Astute, which was rolled out in June and is due to enter service in January 2009, will carry more weapons than any other Royal Navy submarine. A demonstration of her ability to deploy her weapons is a vital part of the test and commissioning programme. The heavyweight Spearfish torpedo is designed for use against ships and submarines, while the Tomahawk missiles can carry out pinpoint strikes on targets more than 1000km inland.

Further test firings will take place before Astute leaves Barrow next year and they will continue throughout an intensive sea trials and crew training programme, leading up to live test firings which will be carried out on special naval ranges.

Both weapon types are discharged through the six torpedo tubes in the bow of Astute, using a high pressure water system to eject them. The one-tonne weapons surface a few metres from the submarine and are recovered for careful checks to ensure they exited cleanly from the tubes.

When the Astute class vessel enters service she will be the most advanced submarine ever operated by the Royal Navy with state of the art Sonar 2076 capable of tracking ship movements across thousands of miles of ocean, a digital optical mast replacing the traditional periscope, and a nuclear reactor fuelled for life. In addition to the first of class Astute, three other submarines are currently in build at the BAE Systems shipyard in Barrow.

BAE Systems is the premier global defence and aerospace company delivering a full range of products and services for air, land and naval forces, as well as advanced electronics, information technology solutions and customer support services. With 96,000 employees worldwide, BAE Systems' sales exceeded £15 billion (US $27 billion) in 2006 on a pro forma basis, assuming BAE Systems had owned Armor Holdings Inc for the whole of 2006.

Astute Completes First Weapons Launch Test