British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon announced the new investment Friday, although the Parliament has not yet voted whether to go ahead with the program, UPI reported. The vote is scheduled later this year.
According to Fallon, the additional funding will support construction of new facilities and the purchase of submarine parts, as well as the development of new submarines that are to replace the royal Navy's current Vanguard-class submarines.
A significant part of this funding — about $317 million — will be spent on new facilities at BAE Systems at Barrow-in-Furness, England, where the submarines will be assembled. There will also be a significant investment in the joint UK/US collaborative R&D called the ‘Common Missile Compartment', a unified launcher system for new ballistic missiles that will replace current Trident II/D5 missiles, used by both the United Kingdom and the United States.
This initiative, however, is not exactly backed by the Labour party. According to Labour representatives, nuclear submarines will soon become redundant, since underwater drones are becoming advanced enough easily track down and destroy them.
"Tell that to the Americans, the Russians, and the Chinese who are all modernizing their nuclear-armed submarines," Fallon said to The Guardian. "Perhaps these drones will be so sophisticated they can track down Nessie while they are at it," he added, implying that cost-effectiveness ratio of both technologies is a subject for discussion.
The Labour party's position on nuclear weapons is generally negative, since they view the whole concept as an extremely expensive political symbol that will never be used.
During 2015, Russia has launched two nuclear Project 877/636 submarines, armed with Kalibr cruise missiles (NATO designation "Sizzler"), capable of carrying nuclear warheads, while two more are scheduled for launch in 2016, which would make a total of six ships. Project 877/636 has been dubbed ‘Black hole' for its extremely low noise emission and radar visibility.
The People's Republic of China has also reportedly launched a new Jin-class nuclear submarine during 2015. According to different sources, the PRC Navy has from 4 to 8 active Jin-class submarines that are supposed to be capable of reaching any point on US territory, should the ship be located near the Hawaiian islands.