Britain is strengthening its nuclear deterrent. London has begun construction of the third Dreadnought class nuclear missile submarine. The submersible, dubbed Warspite, has been built by defense giant BAE Systems at a cost of around 35 million euros. UK Defense Procurement Minister Alex Chalk said in a statement that the development of this submarine fleet was “vital to maintaining our national security”. Additionally, the politician argued that the program was one of the most complex engineering projects undertaken in the UK.
When completed, Warspite will be 153 meters long. There will be 130 crew members on board to operate the ship. A separate study area will be constructed and gym facilities including exercise bikes, rowing machines and weight benches will also be available. The ship will be able to generate its own oxygen and its own fresh water. It will be equipped with innovative lighting, simulating day and night.
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The warship will use an “X-form” hull system for better controllability and a quieter propeller to reduce its acoustic signature. The craft would be powered by a new PWR3 pressurized water nuclear reactor, a vast improvement over previous designs used by other British submarines. This is because the system has a simpler and safer design, with longer life and lower maintenance requirements, at roughly the same life cycle cost. In addition, this simpler design required fewer cooling pumps, making future British submersibles quieter.
Warspite’s real strength is, of course, its armament. The submersible will have twelve tubes for the launch of Trident II D5 missiles which can carry nuclear warheads. Each of these missiles carries eight MIRV (Multiple Independently Targetable Re-entry Vehicle) thermonuclear warheads. Each warhead has an estimated power of 475 kilotons of TNT, which is enough firepower to potentially destroy a large city and most of its surroundings within an 11.2 kilometer radius, or to destroy the whole of Paris, for example. For defense against other submarines or surface ships, the Warspite could also fire Spearfish torpedoes with a range of 54 km.
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