The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has revealed that boats 4-7 of the Astute Class submarine are now £838 million over budget. The news came in their annual Finance and Economics Bulletin.
The Astute class are the largest and most advanced attack submarines ever operated by the Royal Navy, combining world leading sensors, design, and weaponry in a versatile vessel. It is the replacement for the Trafalgar-class that entered service in the 1980s.
The class has frequently been cited as one of the most advanced submarines ever made. Indeed during HMS Astute’s sea trials in 2012, Commander Iain Breckenridge said he had “never before experienced holding a submarine at the range we were holding USS New Mexico. The Americans were utterly taken aback, blown away with what they were seeing”
According to the MoD UK Maritime Power doctrine, the Astute class:
‘provide the principal sea denial capability due to having both anti-submarine and anti-ship systems. When combined with an appropriate land attack missile, such as the Tomahawk, SSNs have a power projection capability of considerable range and penetrability, with important uses for deterrence and coercion’
In the MoD annual Finance & Economics Bulletin (found here), it was evident that boats 4-7 were well over-budget.
The @DefenceHQ Annual Finance Bulletin was published today. Note the extent to which Astute Boats 4-7 and QE Class Carriers are over-budget.
Note also that Lightning II is under-budget: forecast cost has decreased by £210m since 2016. pic.twitter.com/02FDe5GBZ5
— Henry Jones (@hthjones) September 6, 2018
An MoD communications officer quoted the current costs for boats 4-7 to me as:
‘At approval, expected forecast cost to completion: £5,859M
Current forecast cost to completion: £6,697M’
That’s a 14% increase. For the purpose of perspective, the £838m over-budget sum could pay for 3 Type 31e frigates at the £250m per ship requirement price.
Astute boat 7, HMS Agincourt will cost an eye watering £1.5Bn
The Astute class are fantastic submarine but at least 10 yrs late & price subject to rampant defence inflation. The cost/efficiency benefits of a consistent production drumbeat have been lost .
Who is accountable? pic.twitter.com/jQJ4Snespd
— NavyLookout (@NavyLookout) May 14, 2018
It should be noted that whilst the Astute class is over budget, it remains cheap in comparison to other similar classes:
- US Virginia class: £2.0B
- French Shortfin Barracuda class: £2.4B