(Bloomberg) -- Britain’s Ministry of Defence has awarded almost £4 billion ($4.9 billion) in funding to BAE Systems Plc for the next phase of the UK’s nuclear-powered attack submarine program.
The award follows the leaders of Australia, the UK and the US in March committing to collaborate on the submarine fleet — an effort to stifle China’s growing assertiveness in the South China Sea and around Taiwan.
Read More: Aukus Nuclear-Powered Submarine Deal Aims to Counter China in Pacific
The program, known as SSN-AUKUS, will be the largest, most powerful and advanced attack submarines the Royal Navy has ever operated, BAE Systems said in a statement Sunday.
Secretary of Defence Grant Shapps announced the investment as he talked up Britain’s military credentials on the first day of the Conservative Party conference.
Having started design work in 2021, the sum will cover development work to 2028. Manufacturing will start toward the end of the decade with the first SSN-AUKUS boat due to be delivered in the late 2030s.
The award will also fund significant infrastructure investment at BAE Systems’ site in Barrow-in-Furness, investment in its supply chain and recruitment of more than 5,000 people.
“This funding reinforces the government’s support to our UK submarine enterprise and allows us to mature the design, and invest in critical skills and infrastructure to support our long-term national security,” BAE Systems Chief Executive Charles Woodburn said.
The UK’s submarine programs will employ 12,500 people, including around 900 apprentices and graduates, by the end of this year.
The business plans to recruit an additional 2,700 people next year, which will include a further 900 apprentices and graduates, providing a significant employment boost for the region.
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