Continues Legacy of Supplying Royal Navy with Combat System Mast
Leading defence companies, the UK Government, and the Armed Forces are convening in Scotland today to discuss strategies for maximizing the defence sector’s contribution to the economy. The meeting coincides with the confirmation of a significant defence contract worth £169 million awarded to Thales Glasgow.
The contract is for the construction of the integrated optronic combat system mast, which serves as the “eyes” above water for the Royal Navy’s future nuclear deterrent submarine class, Dreadnought.
Thales’ Long-standing Contribution to Royal Navy Submarines
Thales has a rich history of supplying periscopes and optronics masts for Royal Navy submarines. Every submarine in service since 1917 has been equipped with a Thales-manufactured periscope or optronics mast from their facility on the Clyde.
The new version of the Dreadnought class will carry on this tradition, supporting over 150 jobs. The entire Dreadnought program, from design to construction, is expected to create approximately 30,000 jobs across the UK, making a substantial contribution to the country’s economic growth.
Scottish Defence and Aerospace Sectors’ Impressive Performance
During the meeting, ADS, the trade organization representing UK companies in the aerospace, defence, security, and space sectors, will unveil new figures highlighting the contributions of Scottish businesses.
In 2022, these businesses generated a turnover of £7.3 billion, providing a value add of £3.2 billion to the economy. The sectors employed 33,500 people in Scotland, including 1,500 apprentices, showcasing the significant impact of these industries on employment and economic prosperity.
Scottish Skills and Innovation Benefiting the Defence Industry
Scottish Secretary Alister Jack acknowledged the significant role played by Scottish skills, expertise, and innovation in the defence industry, emphasizing the benefits for national security and the economy.
The UK Government is committed to supporting the defence industry’s success both within the country and in international markets, fostering economic growth and high-skilled job opportunities in Scotland.
The Importance of the Dreadnought Contract
Minister for Defence Procurement James Cartlidge emphasized that the contract awarded to Thales is an investment in maintaining the UK’s nuclear deterrent. The combat system mast will provide crucial capabilities for the new Dreadnought Class Submarine, contributing to national security.
The Dreadnought program is expected to support tens of thousands of jobs, boosting the economy and ensuring the country’s defence readiness.
Thales’ Contribution to Global Security
CEO of Thales UK, Alex Cresswell, expressed pride in Thales’ role in providing the combat system mast and sonar for the new Dreadnought Class. Cresswell highlighted the showcase of UK engineering skills and innovation in the boat build, led by BAE Systems and partners.
He also mentioned the excitement surrounding the development of the AUKUS submarine program, which will deliver future capabilities for both Australia and the UK, further contributing to global security.
Defence Roundtable Aims to Maximize Economic Benefits
The defence roundtable, the first of its kind, aims to establish a biannual gathering to ensure the defence sector maximizes its economic contributions to the UK.
By establishing a direct relationship with Scottish industry, the UK Government and Armed Forces seek to address sector priorities, challenges, and upcoming milestones.
The roundtable will feature representatives from ADS, member companies across the Scottish defence industry, Armed Forces personnel, and Ministry of Defence representatives.
Supporting Scottish Exports
Minister for Exports, Lord Offord, highlighted the importance of supporting the thriving defence and security industry in Scotland, which employs tens of thousands of people and makes significant contributions to the local economy. The roundtable serves as a platform for direct engagement with sector stakeholders and facilitates better support for their future endeavours.
In addition to ADS, the roundtable includes a wide range of member companies from the Scottish defence industry, such as Thales, BAE, Spirit Aerosystems, Leonardo, QinetiQ, Raytheon, Castle Precision, Glenalmond, and Babcock.
The presence of Armed Forces representatives and Ministry of Defence officials further underscores the significance of the meeting.
The UK, as the second-largest global defence exporter after the USA, has a robust defence industry. In 2021, UK security export sales reached £8.22 billion, and defence orders were valued at £6.64 billion.
The UK has maintained its nuclear deterrent, known as Continuous at Sea Deterrent (CASD), since 1962 to protect NATO allies collectively. Currently, the Vanguard Class submarines fulfil this role, while the new Dreadnought Class submarines are under construction at BAE Systems’ site in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria.
The optronics mast for the Dreadnought Class represents an innovative evolution of the traditional periscope, providing enhanced visuals and improving the safety and effectiveness of the crew’s operations.
Scotland is also home to crucial defence capabilities, including the Quick Reaction Alert at RAF Lossiemouth and the ongoing construction of Type 26 and Type 31 frigates in Scottish shipyards.