The defense ministry in London has unveiled plans to develop new warheads for the Trident ballistic missiles that will be carried by the upcoming Dreadnought-class atomic submarines. This domestic development and production project will cost an additional £9 billion over the next five years. The Ministry of Defense’s report, presented to Parliament and made public on Wednesday, describes the nuclear modernization effort as a “one-in-two-generations” endeavor that will support the construction of industrial infrastructure and the modernization of manufacturing and maintenance capabilities.
Since 1998, the British nuclear arsenal has been solely submarine-based, with four Vanguard-class missile boats carrying Trident II missiles. In 2016, Parliament approved the development and construction of the Dreadnought-class submarines, and according to the report, the first submarine of the class is on track to enter service in the early 2030s.
According to the report, both the new submarines and the new warheads for the Trident missiles are being designed and constructed in the UK and represent some of the most advanced systems ever built. The development of these systems is expected to directly support tens of thousands of jobs and invest billions of pounds into the UK economy. To make this happen, the Ministry of Defense will allocate an additional £3 billion to the nuclear program over the next two years, and another £6 billion over the subsequent three years, including improvements to shipyards at Faslane and Devonport.
The defense budget also includes other significant allocations, such as £2.5 billion over the next 10 years to replenish depleted stockpiles of ammunition and £400 million to repair crumbling barracks and other accommodations.
Defense Secretary Ben Wallace, who recently announced his resignation, has remained committed to bolstering the Royal Navy while reducing the size of ground forces to the smallest size since the Napoleonic wars, according to The Times. Some unnamed sources within the military have raised concerns that the new blueprint prioritizes the Navy over other branches of the armed forces.
The new submarines in the Dreadnought-class have already been named. Alongside Dreadnought, the sister boats will be called Valiant, Warspite, and King George VI. The name “Dreadnought” has a long history in the Royal Navy, dating back to the 1500s. The most famous Dreadnought was a battleship built in the early 20th century, renowned for its innovative design centered around large guns. The launch of HMS Dreadnought in 1906 triggered a naval arms race with Germany and France. Although the ship did not participate in major battles during World War I, it gained historical significance as the only battleship to sink a submarine, by ramming a German U-boat in March 1915.
These developments in the UK’s nuclear program signify the country’s commitment to maintaining a strong and modern defense capability. The investment in domestic production and development not only enhances the nation’s security but also contributes to the growth and stability of the UK economy.