General Dynamics Electric Boat Corp is being awarded a $126,194,750 contract for the purchase of missile tube long-lead-time material in support of the Columbia class and Dreadnought class fleet ballistic missile submarines.
The contract is in aid of the joint US/UK Common Missile Compartment programme, and this modification combines purchases for the Navy (72 percent); and the government of the UK (28 percent) under the Foreign Military Sales program.
According to a contract notice:
“Work will be performed in Quonset Point, Rhode Island, and is expected to be completed by December 2023. Fiscal 2018 shipbuilding and conversion (Navy); and U.K. funding in the amount of $79,664,255 will be obligated at time of award and will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, District of Columbia, is the contracting activity.”
While details remain sketchy at best regarding the Dreadnought class, one of the key features the new boats will have is a Common Missile Compartment (CMC). CMC aims to define the missile tubes and accompanying systems that would be used to launch new ballistic missiles, successors to the current Trident II/ D5 missile fleet used by the USA and Britain.
Current US and UK plans call for the Columbia class and the Dreadnought class to use the missile compartment—the middle section of the boat with the SLBM launch tubes—of the same general design. The ‘Common Missile Compartment’ has been designed by the UK and US as a common system shared between both nations new missile submarine classes in order to cut costs.
The British government took the first steps in 2006 towards a joint US-UK missile compartment and the project was launched in 2008, initial gate approval for Britain’s ‘Successor’ project followed in 2011.