The UK MoD is to invest a further £2.7 billion in the Astute submarine programme, of which £1.2 billion is to be allocated for the completion of Audacious. The fourth submarine of the planned class of seven is halfway through construction, with all of her pressure hull units now assembled in the main construction hall.
Audacious will incorporate a number of design changes to the first three submarines, mainly involving improvements to the command, navigation and sonar systems. For the first time, a shared computer environment for the different systems, with common consoles and cabinets using commercial hardware and software, will be used to create a ‘Common Combat System.’ Intended to make the system more cost-effective and easier to update, it will be progressively retro-fitted to the rest of the Royal Navy submarine fleet.
The MoD will also commit another £1.5 billion to the remaining three submarines in the pipeline, which includes £646 million for early build work on boat 5, £498 million on boat 6 and £328 million on boat 7, which has still yet to be formally ordered.