The US Department of Defense (DoD) selected two General Dynamics subsidiaries: Mission Systems (MS) and Electric Boat (EB) to provide integral work within the UK and US submarine ecosystem.
Firstly, MS was awarded $355m (£280m) to produce, maintain and modernise the Strategic Weapon System Fire Control Subsystem for the US Columbia and UK Dreadnought nuclear-powered, ballistic missile (SSBNs) and nuclear-powered, cruise missile submarines (SSGNs).
Under this contract, the US Government will use 2023 and 2024 Navy funds to finance the work, due to be completed on 30 September 2027.
Notably, prior to this contract, MS worked on the US/UK SSBN fire control subsystems in a contract worth $272.9m in June 2022. At the time, Carlo Zaffanella, vice president and general manager at MS, stated: “The US Columbia and UK Dreadnought class submarines are of strategic importance to our nation and our allies.”
MS’ work will ensure the continued deterrence of the sea leg of the US and UK nuclear deterrence as the West is increasingly pitted against near-terms threats such as Russia in Ukriane and Europe and longer-term adversaries such as China in the Indo-Pacific.
The US Navy’s 12 forthcoming Columbia boats will replace the legacy Ohio SSBN fleet while the UK Royal Navy’s Dreadnought vessels are due to replace its four existing Vanguard-class SSBNs.
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Secondly, under a contact modification, the department allocated $96.4m for EB to source long lead time material assoicated with the Virginia-class nuclear-powered, conventional attack submarines (SSNs) 812 and 813.
Virginia-class submarines are being built by a partnership between HII Newport News Shipbuilding division and EB.
Prior to this modification, the US Navy contracted EB for $1bn to pursue long lead items for the same SSNs in May 2023.
Under the trilateral AUKUS deal, the US intends to provide Australia with its own Virginia-class SSNs while also providing essential knowledge and training in naval nuclear power for its own nuclear-powered submarine development. The first cadre of Australian officers have just graduated from the US Nuclear Power Training Unit course this month.