In December it was to be “an announcement early in the new year” – but only days into January the “early” seems to have gotten lost when it comes to UK government decision making on the next-generation ballistic missile submarine.
Bob Ainsworth, the secretary of state for defense, told the British Parliament Dec. 16 2009, that although a so-called initial gate decision on the design for the replacement to the Vanguard-class was originally intended for the third quarter: “further time has been required to ensure that we take decisions based on robust information. We are aiming to be in a position to make an announcement early in the new year.”
If indeed that was the aim, then the government is going to miss, again.
Quentin Davies, the minister for defense equipment and support, told Parliament January 11, that the decision was now “a matter of a few months away.”
In the grand scheme of things a few months is neither here nor there: except that the timescale for getting the first of class of the new boat into service is already racy. The first of the Vanguard submarines will need to be replaced in 2024, and the UK’s recent performance on schedule delivery on nuclear submarines is less than sparkling.
The government also faces a general election no later than June of this year, and the future of the strategic nuclear deterrent – despite political protestations – could yet get ensnared in the planned strategic defense review
Picture Credit Royal Navy