The Defence Secretary has confirmed the UK is working on a programme to develop a new nuclear warhead for its Trident missile.
In a written ministerial statement in Parliament, Ben Wallace said the new warhead will replace the existing one and will be fitted on to missiles used as part of Trident - Britain's nuclear deterrent.
He also said the UK will "continue to work closely" with the US on the project to ensure the new warhead "remains compatible" with Trident.
It comes after Pentagon officials revealed the Government had committed to a multibillion-pound replacement of Trident warheads with new ones based on US technology.
Speaking to Forces News regarding the leak, Chairman of the Defence Select Committee, Tobias Ellwood MP, said the UK needs a "complete, independent nuclear deterrent".
"The important thing is that we are able to use that nuclear deterrent completely independently of any decision-making by the United States," the former Army officer said.
"I need to be assured that our independent nuclear deterrent remains exactly that, no matter how much reliant we are on the high-end capabilities that the United States provides."
In the statement published on Tuesday, Mr Wallace said the new warheads will "ensure the Government maintains an effective deterrent" during the commissioning of the new Dreadnought-class submarines.
He also said it will mean the UK is able to "respond to future threats and the security environment".
The Ministry of Defence’s Defence Nuclear Organisation is working with the Atomic Weapons Establishment to deliver the new nuclear replacement programme.
Last month, the National Audit Office warned the UK's nuclear weapons programme was £1.3 billion over budget due to delays caused by poor management.
The Conservatives pledged to maintain the Trident nuclear deterrent in their manifesto, published last November.
Cover image: HMS Vanguard's DASO Trident missile being launched in 2005 (Picture: MOD).