May 15 (UPI) -- Great Britain has awarded two contracts worth a combined $3.2 billion to BAE Systems for work on the country's submarine programs, U.K. Secretary for Defense Gavin Williamson said.
The country awarded BAE with a roughly $2 billion contract for the delivery of a submarine named Agincourt, the seventh and final vessel in the Astute class. The remaining $1.2 billion total is part of another contract for the development of the Navy's Dreadnought submarine program.
"This multi-billion-pound investment in our nuclear submarines shows our unwavering commitment to keeping the UK safe and secure from intensifying threats," Williamson said in a statement published in a BAE news release. "HMS Agincourt will complete the Royal Navy's seven-strong fleet of hunter-killer attack subs, the most powerful to ever enter British service, whilst our nuclear deterrent is the ultimate defense against the most extreme dangers we could possibly face."
Three nuclear-powered, Astute-class attack submarines are already active with the Royal Navy. Four Dreadnought submarines, on which construction began in 2016, will replace the military's four-submarine Vanguard program. A joint team created by the U.K. Ministry of Defense, BAE Systems and Rolls-Royce will deliver the subs, which will be about 504 feet long.
The Vanguard program, analogous to the U.S. Navy's Ohio-class submarines, consists of nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines. Dreadnought submarines are expected to replace the Vanguard vessels starting in the late 2020s and early 2030s.
The U.S. Navy is also working to replace Ohio-class submarines with future Columbia-class vessels.