U.K.’s Future SSBN Program
Gains Initial Gate Approval
By AMI INTERNATIONAL INC.
U.K. Defense Secretary Liam Fox has announced Initial
Gate Approval for the Successor
Nuclear Deterrent Submarine
Program (also known as Future
Ballistic Missile Submarine–SSBN).
The approval included up to $4.9
billion in authorized spending for
further design development work
for the future submarine.
Although additional design work
has been approved, the final construction decision — Main Gate
Approval — is not scheduled until
2016. The United Kingdom and
United States currently are collaborating on the design of a Common
Missile Compartment for their
respective Future SSBN Replacement
Programs. Main Gate Approval
would authorize a more detailed
design and procurement of long-lead
construction items to enable the first
hull to enter service by 2028.
Currently, the United Kingdom
is planning for at least three new
SSBNs to provide a Continuous-At-Sea Deterrence (CASD). An option
for a fourth hull will be reviewed at
the Main Gate decision.
A CASD will require at least one
unit to be on continuous patrol with
the others in varying stages of overhaul and training. If the hull count
is reduced to three, it may be difficult over the long term for the
United Kingdom to maintain a
CASD, suggesting a near continuous
capability may be an acceptable posture for the U.K. SSBN force, especially in light of continued pressure
to cut defense spending.
Regardless of the hull count, each
of the successor SSBNs will have
fewer missile tubes, probably 12,
compared with the 16 on the current
Vanguard class. The smaller missile
bays envisioned for the future SSBN
also is consistent with anticipated
reduction of the total at-sea warhead
count from 200 to 160 — a reduction
already is under way. The United
Kingdom will continue using the
Lockheed Trident II (D5) slated to
remain in service until around 2042.
Brazil Sets Lofty
Submarine Force Goal
The Brazilian Navy has established
a long-term submarine force structure goal of 20 total units in service
by 2040, an ambitious goal for a
service that currently operates a
sub force of only five units.
Within the 20-unit force, the
Brazilian Navy has indicated a
requirement for six nuclear-powered attack submarines (SSNs)
and 14 conventionally powered
submarines. These force levels are
based on the Brazilian Navy’s
vision of becoming the largest,
most sophisticated and capable
submarine force in South America
The Brazilian Navy’s current in-service inventory, plus new subs
that are in the pipeline through its
National Submarine Construction
Program (PROSUB) in collabora-
The Brazilian Navy submarine Tikuna enters Mayport Basin, Fla., during its
first visit to a U.S. Navy base in July 2007. Brazil has announced a force struc-
ture goal that by 2040 would quadruple the size of its submarine force, which
now consists of five Tikuna/Tupi-class boats.