We're rounding up some of the biggest security cleared stories of the past few weeks. In September, a new defence pact boosted the UK's submarine industry, construction began on the Royal Navy's next generation of destroyer and the Ministry of Defence (MoD) spelled out its vision for the future 'fifth domain' of warfare.
Aukus defence pact to collaborate on new nuclear submarines
Britain's submarine sector stands to be among the big winners of a new security alliance between the UK, US and Australia that was announced in September by leaders Boris Johnson, Joe Biden and Scott Morrison.
Under the Aukus pact, the three nations will improve their joint capabilities and boost technology sharing, as well as "foster deeper integration of security and defence-related science, technology, industrial bases and supply chains," the MoD stated.
Among the first projects for the alliance will be collaboration on a new fleet of nuclear-powered submarines for the Royal Australian Navy. The MoD said the UK will bring its 60 years of expertise in this sector to the table, with work set to be carried out by Rolls Royce near Derby and at BAE Systems in Barrow.
First steel cut for Type 31 frigates
Construction of the UK's next generation of surface combat warships has officially begun after the first steel for the Type 31 frigates was cut in a ceremony at the Rosyth dockyard in Scotland.
A total of five ships will be built in the class, which will cost an average of £250 million per vessel and be built by Babcock on the Firth of Forth. The lead programme of the National Shipbuilding Strategy, the work will support around 1,250 highly-skilled jobs at Babcock, as well as see the creation of an additional 150 apprenticeships.
Attending the ceremony, defence secretary Ben Wallace said: "Equipped with the innovative technologies at the forefront of the Royal Navy’s future vision, the entire Type 31 fleet will be fitted with a range of capabilities allowing it to undertake a variety of operations at sea."
MoD sets out strategy for addition of cyber to war theatres
Cyber is rapidly becoming the fifth domain of warfare - along with land, sea, air and space - and the UK's armed forces will have to be able to adapt to cope with these new threats, military leaders have said.
This will require the MoD to prioritise digital communications, bolster offensive and defensive cyber security skills and develop a 'military Internet of Things' that incorporates artificial intelligence, robotics and other advanced capabilities, attendees at September's DSEI conference in London heard.
As a result, the defence sector will need to recruit more people with digital skills in order to ensure it can operate effectively across all five domains. General Sir Patrick Sanders, head of the UK’s Strategic Command, told the conference: "We're going to need to think radically about the career model, training, and education that accelerates the pace of this evolution because if we don't adapt, we will at best become exquisite but irrelevant - and at worst we will die."
Contracts awarded for development of new laser and radio frequency weaponry
Three contracts worth a total of £72.5 million have been awarded by the MoD for the development of new advanced laser and radio frequency demonstrators as part of its Novel Weapons Programme (NWP).
To be created by a consortium led by Thales and Raytheon UK, the four-year contracts will create at least 49 new jobs and sustain 249 more. The experiments will "provide invaluable knowledge, information and experience to assess whether this type of weaponry can be fully embedded on Defence assets in the future.
The first laser will undergo user testing on board a Royal Navy Type 23 frigate to detect, track and engage Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), whilst the British Army's Wolfhound armoured vehicle will also be equipped with a laser demonstrator to determine the technology's capability against UAVs and other air threats.
Finally, a radio frequency demonstrator will also be used by the British Army, hosted on a MAN SV truck to detect and track air, land and sea targets.