In the latest data from the Ministry of Defence (MOD), fresh insights into the state of the AURORA project have been disclosed.

The AURORA project is aimed at enhancing the manufacturing capability for the plutonium component of the UK’s nuclear warheads.

According to the MOD’s March 2023 Government Major Projects Portfolio data, the AURORA project’s Senior Responsible Owner’s Delivery Confidence Assessment rating is categorised as “Amber” for the fourth quarter of 2023.

This status indicates challenges in areas such as resource management but also suggests steady progress towards the set goals.

The data release provides a quote on the project’s financial standing: “The estimated total cost for the AURORA project is currently between £2 billion and £2.5 billion.” These estimates are preliminary and are likely to undergo revisions as the project moves forward.

While it doesn’t report “cashable benefits,” the AURORA project is central to the UK’s broader national security strategy.

Tom has spent the last 13 years working in the defence industry, specifically military and commercial shipbuilding. His work has taken him around Europe and the Far East, he is currently based in Scotland.
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Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
4 months ago

Posters keep asking where the money goes. This is just for a Plutonium facility. 2.5 Billion.

ABCRodney
ABCRodney
4 months ago

The level of engineering and safety in these facilities is quite rightly of the very highest calibre. Just remember Yep this country is still suffering the after effects of what happened in the early days of Plutonium production, when we cut corners or rush the production of Plutonium, 70 years later we are still cleaning it up.
The big £££$$$ ball that is being kicked down the road is production of HEU or LEU for Naval reactors and there has to be decision sooner rather than later.

FormerUSAF
FormerUSAF
4 months ago
Reply to  ABCRodney

?? HEU–AUKUS/SSN; LEU–French NR?

Jon
Jon
4 months ago
Reply to  FormerUSAF

Almost certainly. Moving AUKUS to LEU would probably mean they’d need a mid-life refuel. Given nuclear anti-proliferation issues and measures, that’d be a no no.

ABCRodney
ABCRodney
4 months ago
Reply to  Jon

Actually you are fundamentally wrong it is the complete opposite. Refuelling with HEU is the real hurdle for any non nuclear country given the NPT conditions. LEU is less so as it isn’t proliferating the ability to build Nuclear Weapons. HEU is weapons grade vs LEU which isn’t, and unless someone has the ability to enrich it to HEU you can’t make a bomb. Which is precisely why there is a the move towards using it instead. You are right about the need to refuel LEU reactors but with the right infrastructure, technology, procedures and trained staff it isn’t that… Read more »

Alastair
Alastair
4 months ago
Reply to  ABCRodney

I thought HALEU was about 20% enriched, vs 4%ish for LEU, whereas HEU for weapons is up to 90%. There’s a lot of work setting up a HALEU supply chain as most of the civil SMR designs use this fuel (to avoid the cost and downtime of refuelling), and I’d be very surprised if the AUKUS reactors aren’t using the same fuel and supply chain

ABCRodney
ABCRodney
4 months ago
Reply to  Alastair

Correct 4 to 20% is classified as LEU. Anything above that is HEU and there is a figure at which it is classed as Bomb grade (sorry but not going to say precisely). All U.K, US and the future AUKUS boats are fuelled with HEU and it is enriched to 93.5% U-235. And that is definitely Bomb Grade hence the thorny issues with NPT and the very high levels of security around sites such as Barrow and RR here in Derby. As for SMR using HALEU because it saves refuelling cost that is way off the mark. SMR are smaller… Read more »

ABCRodney
ABCRodney
4 months ago
Reply to  FormerUSAF

Yep but it is a bit complicated the US has roughly enough HEU for its Naval reactors till 2060 which given the life expectancy of Submarines and the Ford class carriers may be a problem.
We are in a similar position and it gets worse when you consider where a lot of the stuff originates. Yep Russia.
Someone needs to decide PDQ to either go for developing new generations of LEU reactors or build new enrichment facilities. It’s been kicking around in US congress since the last century.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
4 months ago
Reply to  ABCRodney

Morning mate. Absolutely. I was not criticising the cost, I support the deterrent.
I do criticise it being in core budget!

ABCRodney
ABCRodney
4 months ago

I know and respect your opinion and mainly agree with you. I know the decision to move all CASD costs into defence by Cameloon and Oddborne essentially killed the U.K. defence budget but I wouldn’t just move it all back. If there was no CASD the RN would probably be able to build more SSN’s and the technical leverage between SSN and SSBN assists the build and development costs for both. So I’d split it between MOD and Treasury. Development and build of Submarine, Power plant, sensors, non nuclear weapons, provision of crews, training, decommissioning of same and submarine refit… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
4 months ago
Reply to  ABCRodney

Halfway house. I’d bite the hand off even for that so yes, seems very fair.
Love the Cam Odd refs 😆

ABCRodney
ABCRodney
4 months ago

Feel free to Plagiarise and I also use “Bliar” & “Frown” for their predecessors. IMHO these 4 are solely responsible for the Defence mess we are in today. Never bothered with Clegg as I felt a bit sorry for him, he just didn’t understand UK Politics. The only MP to get replaced by a convicted Fraudster because his voters hated him. He forgot the basic rules of U.K. Politics. Rule 1. Actually look at who lives in your constituency. Rule 2. Don’t promise to abolish University Fees and then renege on that to get into power the next day. Rule… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
4 months ago
Reply to  ABCRodney

When has talent, integrity, skill, accounted for anything? It is who you know and what circles you move in.

100% agree regards the big 4, most the damage took place on their watch, 97 onwards.

Last edited 4 months ago by Daniele Mandelli
FormerUSAF
FormerUSAF
4 months ago

Actually, a wide and expensive moat to cross in the production of nuclear weapons is oddly comforting. 🤔😉

ABCRodney
ABCRodney
4 months ago
Reply to  FormerUSAF

Unless you are Iranian 🫣

Gunbuster
Gunbuster
4 months ago

Watched Oppenheimer yesterday which was an outstanding movie. It will clear up at the awards.

Anyway, the Manhattan project cost what? 2 Billion ish in 1945.
Nowadays adjusting for 78 years of inflation you wouldn’t get much change out of 33 billion.

For once it would appear that the UK is doing OK on a complex project! 😀🎇💣

Jon
Jon
4 months ago
Reply to  Gunbuster

💣 Not really comparable, as I’m sure you are aware. Aurora money is just for Plutonium. There’s also the Uranium compnents at £1.75bn (project Pegasus, also at amber). The Manhattan project produced and delivered bombs, not just the fissile materials. Project Mensa, our warhead infrastructure delivery, costs another £2bn+. It has already taken over 12 years and although it’s “nearing finishing construction”, no end date is being published. In Manhattan terms it’s like saying during the Korean War, we know the bombs weren’t ready for WW2, they aren’t ready yet, and we won’t tell you what war they will be… Read more »

Jim
Jim
4 months ago
Reply to  Jon

The B29 to drop it cost $3 billion as well though.

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
4 months ago
Reply to  Gunbuster

Did it give even a nod to the British connection to the origins of that project or as suspect completely ignore it?

Gunbuster
Gunbuster
4 months ago
Reply to  Spyinthesky

Fuchs was in it!

ABCRodney
ABCRodney
4 months ago
Reply to  Gunbuster

So we’re the Rosenbergs, Gold etc.

Jim
Jim
4 months ago
Reply to  Spyinthesky

No, the only British acknowledgment was Klaus Fulks who is referred to as the British contingent and he is only acknowledged as he was a Soviet spy. Niels Bohr is the other “British scientist” contributed. No mention of the Canadians either, clearly no one but America was responsible for the success of the project.

In fairness to the US, it’s a British directed movie and most of the actors are British though. Not sure why Nolan keeps it all team America.

Thuận
Thuận
4 months ago

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