Dreadnought Class Trident Nuclear Submarines To Get 'Fly-By-Wire' Technology

They are expected to enter service in the 2030s and will be the largest submarines ever operated by the Royal Navy.

'Fly-by-wire' technology, where computers replace the manual input from operators, will be introduced to the Navy's next-generation Dreadnought submarines, says the Royal Navy.

The same thinking behind digital cockpits in 21st Century aircraft and helicopters will control key aspects of the Dreadnought class of submarines such as heading, pitch, depth and buoyancy.

The cutting-edge work on the control system is one strand of a national effort supporting the £31bn Dreadnought programme.

They are expected to enter service in the 2030s and will be the largest submarines ever operated by the Royal Navy.

Two boats are already under construction – Dreadnought (since 2016) and Valiant (since 2019).

There are always up to four British nuclear submarines patrolling the world's waters, carrying an arsenal of Trident thermonuclear warheads as part of the UK's continuous-at-sea-deterrent (CASD) – 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

The Defence Command Paper stated that two new types of submarine will enter service, including Dreadnought-class ballistic missile vessels to replace the current four Vanguard-class submarines.

The Vanguard Submarines are from the 1980s. There are currently four of them (Picture: Royal Navy).

The Vanguard class are from the 1980s, their movements controlled manually by 'planesmen' operating an aircraft-like control stick, making it a demanding job to keep a 16,000-tonne submarine level.

Last month's surprise announcement on increasing nuclear warhead numbers suggests that the role of the Dreadnought nuclear submarines, the 'bombers', might be evolving even before they are launched.

The Active Vehicle Control Management system will oversee all major aspects of the Dreadnoughts' manoeuvring with added safety benefits.

More than 130 engineers, technicians and experts are already working on the system at BAE's Rochester site.

"With over 50 years of avionics experience, we already have a great understanding of how to develop complex, control systems for hi-tech platforms," said Jon Tucker, Director for Maritime Controls at BAE Systems Controls and Avionics.

"However, taking our technology underwater brings exciting new challenges and we are proud to support the Dreadnought programme and play an important part in our national security effort."

Cover image: Artist's impression of the Dreadnought-class submarine above water (Picture: Royal Navy).