The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has awarded BAE Systems a £10m contract for technical support on the first three Astute class submarines in service.

The contract includes an incentive to reduce the cost of ownership by sharing savings resulting from more effective management of the support programme.

The contract, which runs until December 2012, will see the business working in partnership with the MoD to extend its “design authority” role from submarine design and build into service. It incorporates the principles of “through life capability management” set out in the UK Defence Industrial Strategy.

Head of support at BAE Systems Submarine Solutions in Barrow, Nick Marshall said: “The order represents a significant extension in the scope of the Submarine Solutions business from submarine design and build towards through-life capability. It is complemented by proposals recently submitted to the MoD for systems and equipment support for parts of the Astute Submarine Combat System and Platform Management System, both aimed at reducing through life costs.”

Importantly, the contract includes an incentive to reduce the cost of ownership of Astute: any savings realised through BAE Systems’ pro-active management of the support and maintenance programme will be shared between the company and the MoD.

Mr Marshall explained that the contract will help to sustain key skills and capabilities in critical areas of design, and help the MoD to reduce submarine support costs by providing a feedback route to the designers of the follow-on submarines. It will also provide an important connection between in-service support and the design and build community, involving the recently created waterfront Astute support team based at the Clyde Naval Base at Faslane.

There is an option to extend the contract to 2016, and to provide support to assist with implementing design changes and crew training options.