Construction on eight new anti-submarine Type 26 frigates will begin in summer 2017 when the first steel is cut.
The announcement locks in an investment worth billions of pounds for British shipbuilding on the Clyde and will support hundreds of skilled jobs until 2035.
Defence secretary Michael Fallon, who broke the steel-cutting date during a visit to Govan in Scotland, said: “Backed by Britain’s rising defence budget, the Type 26 programme will deliver a new generation of cutting-edge warships for our Royal Navy at best value for taxpayers.”
A £100 million contract with MBDA to deliver the Type 26 ships’ sea ceptor self-defence missile system was also announced by Mr Fallon in Govan.
The money will support design work, allow equipment to be manufactured to equip the entire Type 26 fleet, and install the system on three of the eight ships.
This latest injection of cash brings the government’s total investment in the Type 26 programme up to £1.9 billion, following a £183 million investment in the maritime indirect fire system, the Type 26’s 5-inch calibre gun, earlier in the summer.
David Mundell, Scotland’s secretary of state, said: “This is a momentous commitment for Scotland that will strengthen and secure our shipbuilding industry on the Clyde for the future.
“The UK government is backing jobs on the Clyde and in its shipyards and this investment is only possible because of the broad shoulders of our strong UK defence budget.”
The Ministry of Defence (MOD) will soon sign a contract to begin building two offshore patrol vessels for the Strategic Defence and Security Review to be delivered in 2019. This will protect shipbuilding jobs on the Clyde ahead of the Type 26 programme.
The MOD says it has been working with industry to ensure the programme is delivered on time, within budget and the necessary skills required to meet the challenge of delivering a world class anti-submarine warfare capability for the Royal Navy.