A milestone in the Royal Navy’s aircraft carrier programme was reached on Wednesday when the first of class, HMS Queen Elizabeth, sailed into her home port for the first time. Extensive coverage of the occasion, which included the visit of the Prime Minister, aired across the media. For British manufacturing, this was a moment to be proud of; the largest ship ever built for the Royal Navy and a huge capability uplift when she enters service. She is expected to spend around six weeks in dock before continuing her commissioning programme ahead of hand over to the Royal Navy by the end of the year. Some 10,000 people have been involved in her design and construction at shipyards and other manufacturing facilities up and down the country, many of them employed by EEF and NDI member companies. Nor should we fail to recognise the enormous corresponding investment in Portsmouth Naval Base itself; over £100 million modernising infrastructure and facilities. Though questions remain about how MOD will fund the future force structure of the Royal Navy envisaged by the 2015 SDSR, there should can be no doubt that this was an important and historic moment in the recapitalisation of the Service.
Reported cost growth in the F-35 programme
Those questions about MOD budget were revisited by The Times on Thursday in an article alleging that the US is embarking on a £3Bn update for the aircraft in order to counter new threats. As a Tier-1 partner, the UK will be expected to bear a share of these additional development costs. The article conflated this with the drop in the value of the pound over the past 12 months, referencing official documents that show MOD spent an additional £80m in the year to March 2017 on the programme, 10% above forecast. An MOD spokesperson said that development cost increases had already been factored into the budget and the programme remained on time and within costs.
£48m contract for Royal Navy workboat fleet
On 9 August MOD announced a
£48 million contract
for next-generation workboats. Able to carry up to 36 passengers, the workboats can be stowed inside the parent vessel and winched to and from the water, allowing them to support the enormous ships either in port or on operations. Building and supporting the boats will also sustain 60 British jobs, including 15 at Atlas Elektronik UK near Dorchester in Dorset where the boats will be built. A further 45 jobs will be sustained across the supply chain, including at E P Barrus in Bicester, KPM-Marine in Birmingham and Mashfords in Plymouth. The first boat will enter service in 2018.
BAE Systems achieve 10% production milestone on F-35 (Ministry of Defence)
BAE Systems submits bid for Australian frigate programme (The Telegraph)