Written by Jonny Williamson
An anonymous British official, speaking at the NATO summit in Chicago, has declined to specifically state exactly which companies the contracts would be awarded to, but has said that the money would be used to preserve or generate almost 2,000 jobs within the UK.
Due to their existing facilities, wealth of knowledge and previous tenders, BAE Systems and Rolls-Royce look likely to benefit from the investment, but it is expected that smaller companies within the supply chain will also be reaping the rewards.
How to spend the money has caused some tension between the coalition government, however, with the Conservatives wanting to upgrade Britain’s four existing Vanguard class submarines to Bravo class, while the Liberal Democrats would prefer to downgrade and consider cheaper alternatives.
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Currently the four submarines are armed with inter-continental Trident missiles, which the Lib Dems would rather see placed on existing Astute submarines, rather than the cost of manufacturing a new class of craft to carry them, at an estimated total cost of £25 billion.
The Vanguards were planned to be retired in ten years time, 2022, but this has since been extend to 2028 following the Strategic Defence and Security Review in 2010. This means that the final decision to either go ahead with the Brave class submarines or follow an alternative route doesn’t have to be made until 2016, a date after the next general election.
Further complicating the issue is the expected referendum on Scottish Independence planned for 2014, as the Vanguards are presently based at HM Navel Base Clyde, Glasgow, when not patrolling the seas. The Scottish National Party has said that, should Scotland win its independence, it would no longer be a base for nuclear weapons.