Leading defence companies will join the UK Government and the Armed Forces in Scotland to thrash out a roadmap for maximising the defence sector’s economy-boosting impact. The meeting comes as it was confirmed that a defence contract worth £169 million has been awarded to Thales Glasgow to build the integrated optronic combat system mast, the above water ‘eyes’ for the Royal Navy future nuclear deterrent submarine class – Dreadnought. Every Royal Navy submarine in service since 1917 has been fitted with a Thales periscope or optronics mast manufactured at its site on the Clyde. The Dreadnought version continues this tradition, sustaining more than 150 jobs, while the whole Dreadnought programme – from design through to build – will support around 30,000 jobs across the UK, contributing to the growth of the economy. Roundtable partner ADS – the trade organisation for companies in the UK aerospace, defence, security and space sectors – will also unveil new figures at today’s meeting that show Scottish businesses in these fields produced £7.3 billion in turnover, delivering £3.2 billion in value add to the economy in 2022.
Minister for Defence Procurement James Cartlidge said:”This is a clear investment in maintaining the United Kingdom’s nuclear deterrent. By providing the ‘eyes’ of the new Dreadnought Class Submarine, this technology will play a key role in keeping the country safe. The Dreadnought programme will support tens of thousands of UK jobs, boosting the economy and defending our nation.”
CEO of Thales UK Alex Cresswell said:”We are proud to say that our combat system mast and sonar will be providing the eyes and ears capabilities of the new Dreadnought Class. The boat build, led by BAE Systems and partners, will be another milestone showcase of UK engineering skills and innovation. It is an incredibly exciting time for the Submarine Service and its contribution to global security with the build of the Dreadnought class and as we look to the development of the AUKUS submarine programme that will deliver a future capability for Australia and the UK.
Scottish Secretary Alister Jack said:” It’s clear that Scottish skills, expertise and innovation make an enormous contribution to the UK’s defence industry, with massive benefits for our national security and economy. I’m looking forward to hosting ADS, its members, the Armed Forces and UK Government departments at this new forum. The UK Government is committed to growing our economy, including by working with the defence industry to support its success in the UK and in exporting overseas.”
On the contract award from BAE Systems Submarines to Thales as part of the Royal Navy’s Dreadnought programme, the Scottish Secretary said:”With more than a century’s experience of building periscopes and optronic masts for our submarines, it’s great news that Thales’ Glasgow workforce will once again be at the forefront of producing the state-of-the-art combat system mast for our round the clock nuclear deterrent. Defence plays a crucial part in the security of the United Kingdom and also contributes significantly to delivering high-skilled jobs and investment in Scotland.”
Minister for Exports Lord Offord said:”Scotland has a thriving defence and security industry that employs tens of thousands of people and contributes billions to the local economy, and the UK Government is determined to do all we can to help these businesses continue to flourish. That’s why this roundtable is so important – it will not only allow us to hear directly from those in the sector, but help us to better support them in the future.”
ADS in Scotland Director Warrick Malcolm said:” Innovative Scottish businesses are major employers, and provide a significant contribution to the economy, our prosperity and national security. Scottish businesses are recognised internationally for their contribution to the global aerospace, defence, security and space sectors. It is essential Scotland’s growth continues, securing the UK’s world-leading position in rapidly advancing sectors. We are looking forward to the first roundtable, an important new platform to convene Scottish industry and political stakeholders.”
The research from the trade association representing more than 1,200 members across the UK also highlighted that the sectors employed 33,500 people in Scotland, including 1,500 apprentices. As well as ADS it will feature member companies from across the Scottish defence industry, from large companies to small and medium enterprises. These included Thales, BAE, Spirit Aerosystems, Leonardo, QinetiQ, Raytheon, Castle Precision, Glenalmond and Babcock. Armed Forces representatives from across the three services in Scotland and Ministry of Defence representatives will also attend. Mark Goldsack, Director Defence Security Exports, Department for Business and Trade, will present an agenda item on supporting Scottish exports. The UK remains the second largest global defence exporter after the USA. In 2021, the value of UK security export sales was £8.22 billion, and in that same year the UK won defence orders worth £6.64 billion.
Since 1962, the UK has declared its nuclear deterrent to the defence of NATO, meaning that all NATO Allies benefit from the protection of the UK’s Continuous at Sea Deterrent (CASD) under collective defence. Currently provided by the UK’s Vanguard Class submarines, while the new Dreadnought Class are in build at BAE Systems’ site in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, the deterrent will continue to operate for as long as the international situation requires it. Weighing more than 17,000 tonnes, Dreadnought will be 152.9 metres long – the length of three Olympic swimming pools – and carry 130 crew. The new optronics mast is an innovative evolution on the traditional periscope that provides improved electronic, stabilised, quality visuals for the crew. This makes it safer for the crew as it provides clearer images of activity and enables them to detect enemy movements more quickly. Beyond the UK’s nuclear deterrent, Scotland is also home to some of the UK’s most crucial defence capabilities, including our Quick Reaction Alert based at RAF Lossiemouth, and a thriving defence industry with both Type 26 and Type 31 frigates currently in build in Scottish shipyards.