The UK's policy of operating a "continuously at sea" strategic deterrent is an essential component of the UK National Security Strategy. There should be no delay to the procurement of its Successor submarine fleet of four boats.
KOFAC welcomed Parliament's recent announcement on 18 May 2011 that the Initial; gate for the successor project had been approved. This followed the eaRrlier March 2007 decision to commit to replacing the fleet of existing Vanguard class submarines with a fleet of four "Successor submarines".
The December 2006 White Paper "The Future of the UK's Nuclear Deterrent" (Cmnd 6994) stated that 3 or 4 replacement submarines would be needed.
On 20 May 2009 (Hansard Col.1417W) the Secretary of State of for Defence stated "Over the next 20-50 years we can foresee nuclear risks in three areas:- re-emergence of a major nuclear threat; emerging nuclear states and state sponsored terrorism. China is building new missile carrying submarines as is Russia, which is increasing its Atlantic patrols."
On 13 July 2009 (Hansard Col.19W) the Government stated "The estimated procurement cost (was) £15-20bn at 2006-7 prices"....."This cost is currently around 5-6% of the annual defence budget".This cost is affordable and it builds onexperience being gained on Astute build.
Parliament was told on 12 January 2009 (Hansard Col.111W) that "Construction of the Successor will occur in parallel with construction of later Astute class submarines. The lessons learnt from the Astute programme are being applied to the design and build phase of the Successor programme."
Government expect to make important investment decisions soon about some of the key elements of the successor programme - issues such as
- The need for a new Successor submarine reactor.
- The size and shape of the Successor submarines.
- The timing of their detailed design and build.
Our current estimate is that the procurement costs of the new submarines and associated equipment and infrastructure will be in the region of £15-20 billion (at 2006/07 prices)
The investment required to maintain our deterrent will not come at the expense of the conventional capabilities our armed forces need