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£100 billion cost of Trident replacement

A report by Malcolm Chalmers for the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) says that the lifetime costs of the Trident replacement would be between £70 billion and £80 billion. However, the total would be even higher. Chalmers assumes a 25 year life for the new system. However, the MOD have said that one advantage of incorporating the new PWR3 reactor design will be an increase in service life. A presentation by Babcocks says that the planned retirement date for the Successor submarine in 2067. This means that the new submarine would be in service for around 30 years. The extra 5 years in-service would increase the total cost to £78 - 96 billion.

Chalmers mentions the additional cost of the Nuclear Warhead Capability Sustainment Programme  (NWCSP) at Aldermaston/Burghfield, but doesn't include it in his figures. NWCSP is a major project to rebuild many of the facilities at Britain's nuclear bomb factories. The total cost of NWCSP is £12 billion. This raises the total Trident replacement cost to between £90 billion and £108 billion.  £100 billion is a reasonable estimate. These figures are at 2012 prices and don't include future inflation.

The amount which the UK government spends each year has doubled between 2002 and 2012. It is set to double again between 2012 and 2022, as the graph below illulstrates.


 The figures from 2002 to 2011 are based on answers to parliamentary questions. The figures for 2012 to 2022 are from the MOD Equipment plan 2012. This plan includes a graph of the total projected annual expenditure on nuclear weapons and nuclear submarines. The total spending on this over the next decade is £35.8 billion. A subsequent parliamentary answer revealed that £5.7 billion of this was for the Astute submarine programme. The graph above of nuclear weapons expenditure was created by extracting the amount allocated to Astute, on the assumption that this was evenly spread across the decade.

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