MANCHESTER, England (Reuters) – Britain has awarded BAE Systems a four billion pound ($4.9 billion) contract under the AUKUS program with Australia and the United States to develop submarine-attack submarines, Defense and Crew Minister Grant Shabbs announced on Sunday.
In March, the US, Australia and Britain unveiled details of an AUKUS plan to provide Australia with nuclear-powered attack submarines from the early 2030s to counter China’s ambitions in the Indo-Pacific region.
Britain, which operates submarines, is shifting its foreign and defense policy towards the Indo-Pacific and is also seeking trade deals with fast-growing economies after leaving the European Union.
Calling AUKUS “vital” to the company, BAE Systems announced in a statement that the Ministry of Defense has provided the necessary funding to carry out development work until 2028, allowing it to begin detailed design work for the submarines.
“This multi-billion pound investment in the AUKUS submarine program will help provide the UK with the hunter-killer submarine capabilities it needs in the long term,” Shabbs wrote in the statement.
The deal will fund infrastructure work at BAE Systems’ Barrow-in-Furness site in the north-west of England and will help fund 5,000 jobs, the company said.
According to BAE Systems, production of the submarines will begin by the end of the decade, with the first SSN-AUKUS ship expected to be delivered in the late 2030s.
(Reporting by Andrew MacAskill and Alistair Smout, with Paul Sandle in London; French version by Elizabeth Pinault)
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