Investment plan

UK to boost naval fleet with £38.1bn investment plan

The UK Ministry of Defense has released a new update to the “Defence Equipment Plan” which includes a significant increase in budget spending to strengthen its future naval fleet.

The Ministry of Defense (the Department) has published its Equipment Plan annually since 2013, outlining its equipment investment and support plans for the next ten years. As part of its overall defense policy, the UK has also focused on establishing a balanced equipment programme.

Over the next ten years, the government plans to invest £238billion in purchasing and supporting equipment, which is an increase of £48billion on last year’s report.

With regard to the Navy plans, the investment will amount to £38.1 billion, which is a significant increase from the £30.6 billion at the end of the previous planning period. .

The Navy’s new investment is focused on improving the durability, lethality and availability of the
fleet and provide a more modern, high-tech and automated navy.

Surface fleet lethality will be increased by upgrading the air defense capability, Sea Viper, on Type 45 destroyers.

Defense company MBDA UK has won an 11-year contract to integrate the Common Anti-Air Modular Missile (CAMM) program, often referred to as Sea Ceptor, into the Sea Viper weapon systems of Type 45 destroyers. 45 should be overhauled by summer 2026.

The navy is also investing in a new lightweight torpedo for ships and aircraft to replace the current Stingray weapon. The plan includes the purchase of a high-performance ship-to-ship missile to replace the current Harpoon missile system which will be decommissioned in 2023.

In conjunction with France, the UK is working on the future cruise/anti-ship (FC/ASW) weapons program which aims to replace the Storm Shadow/SCALP air-launched cruise missile in operational service in the UK United and France as well as the Exocet anti-ship missile in France and the Harpoon anti-ship missile in the UK.

Additional investments have extended the service of Merlin helicopters from 2029 to 2040, officials noted.

The “we’re going to need a bigger navy” plan

The largest investment in the navy comes in the form of the shipbuilding pipeline. A
strategic and long-term investment will increase the capability and size of the Royal Navy
surface fleet and allow the development of new classes of ships.

Last October, the UK Defense Committee published the report “We are going to need a bigger navy”. The report reveals that in 2027 and 2028, the navy plans to simultaneously introduce three new classes of ships (Type 26 frigates, Type 31 frigates and strong fleet support ships). These projects must all be delivered on schedule in order to emerge from the period of risk in which budgetary restrictions have placed the navy.

Other changes to planned spending this year include increases to the cost of the existing program, such as the re-profiling of the Type 26 and Type 23 refits. The latter reflects adjustments to the construction program due to COVID-19 related delays.

However, the Navy expects the future availability of frigates to be improved in the next period, extending the life of three refitted ships, with two of the oldest Type 23 frigates being retired from
service.

Other significant changes included an increase in Queen Elizabeth Carrier support costs due to a better understanding of the labor required to support and maintain these platforms, officials said.

The construction of a new National Flagship, announced by the Prime Minister on May 30, 2021, will also be delivered by Defence, but was not included in previous costs.

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