British defence companies Rolls-Royce Submarines and BAE Systems have been selected for key roles in completing the newly announced AUKUS defence agreement.
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Australia has the option for a total of five Virginia Class nuclear submarines and the construction of its own nuclear submarines after the $368 billion announcement in San Diego, California on 14 March.
All submarines will have nuclear propulsion, be conventionally armed under a new SSN AUKUS classification, and have new vessels entering service with Australia in the early 2040s.
Rolls-Royce will provide pressurised water reactors for Australia’s nuclear-powered submarines using its workforce of 4,000 staff and operations centre in Derby, UK as part of the AUKUS trilateral agreement.
Rolls-Royce Submarines president Steve Carlier said the company already supports existing Astute and Dreadnought boat build programs through the delivery of reactor plant and associated components.
“We are delighted to be asked to play our part in delivering this element of the AUKUS agreement and are well prepared to support through our nuclear expertise and engineering excellence.
“For over 60 years we have provided the power to the Royal Navy’s nuclear submarines and we are proud to be playing a critical role in helping Australia acquire their own nuclear propulsion submarine capability.
“This is great news for Rolls-Royce and for the country as a whole with the creation of more UK jobs and an opportunity to showcase British innovation and expertise on the world stage.”
BAE Systems will play a key role in helping Australia to acquire its first nuclear-powered submarines from its Barrow-in-Furness shipyard.
The shipyard already employs around 10,000 people to deliver the Astute and Dreadnought submarine programs for the UK’s Royal Navy, and has been selected to build the UK’s new SSN-AUKUS submarines with Rolls-Royce.
BAE Systems chief executive Charles Woodburn said BAE Systems has delivered five Astute Class submarines to the UK Royal Navy, with the final two boats at advanced stages of construction alongside the first three of four Dreadnought submarines at its shipyard in Barrow-in-Furness.
“The selection of the UK’s next-generation submarine design is a significant development in that partnership and is a testament to the skills, commitment, and ingenuity of everyone involved in both our submarines business and the wider UK submarine enterprise,” he said.
“We employ more than 10,000 people in our Barrow-in-Furness shipyard delivering the Astute and Dreadnought submarine programs for the UK’s Royal Navy and we’re extremely proud to be selected as a major partner in this historic endeavour which will ultimately enable Australia to acquire its own sovereign nuclear powered submarine fleet.
“As a key player in the Australian maritime enterprise, we also look forward to working with the Australian government to explore how we could potentially provide additional support to this important tri-national program through our business in Australia.”
A new fleet of submarines built by the UK and Australia are expected to be based on the UK’s nuclear-powered submarine design with construction of the UK’s submarines taking place principally in Barrow-in-Furness.
“The AUKUS partnership, and the submarines we are building in British shipyards, are a tangible demonstration of our commitment to global security,” said UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.
“This partnership was founded on the bedrock of our shared values and resolute focus on upholding stability in the Indo-Pacific and beyond.
“And I am hugely pleased that the plans we have announced today will see pioneering British design expertise protect our people and our allies for generations to come.”
The UK has announced an additional £5 billion will be provided to their Minister of Defence over the next two years to modernise the UK’s nuclear enterprise and fund the next phase of the AUKUS submarine program.