A new generation of nuclear submarines will be developed to replace the Astute class in the 2040s.
The Defence Command Paper, titled ‘Defence in a Competitive Age’, describes the planned programme:
“We commit to funding for the next generation of nuclear submarines (SSNs) to guarantee our security well into the second half of the century.”
The Astute-class submarines are the largest, most advanced and most powerful attack submarines ever operated by the Royal Navy, combining world-leading sensors, design and weaponry in a versatile vessel. The Royal Navy also say that the class sets a new standard for the Royal Navy in terms of weapons load, communication facilities and stealth.
The boats are being constructed by BAE Systems Submarines at Barrow-in-Furness alongside the Dreadnought class nuclear missile submarines, the submarines that are pictured above will replace the Vanguard class and host Trident nuclear missiles.
Seven boats are be constructed: the first of class, Astute, was launched by Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, in 2007, commissioned in 2010, and declared fully operational in May 2014.
The Astute class is the replacement for the Trafalgar-class fleet submarines in Royal Navy service. We know very little about their replacements however.
There is a bit of information floating around, though. Pun intended. Respected naval commentator H. I. Sutton wrote in an article for Forbes that on November the 23rd 2019, BAE Systems advertised a job in Barrow-in-Furness.
“The advert is now closed, but the information contained is of great interest because of just one word: SSNR. The role description included ‘to work different stakeholders across the Astute, Dreadnought and SSNR programmes’. Defence watchers will recognize the first two projects. The Astute Class is the Royal Navy’s current attack submarine, and the Dreadnought is the new Trident missile boat.”