Aviation Technology Takes The Plunge

| Aerospace Testing

The Dreadnought submarine will use aviation developed fly-by-wire control systems

BAE Systems is adapting its aviation flight control technology to dive underwater for marine mobility

BAE Systems is taking decades of flight controls expertise underwater on-board the UK’s next generation submarine, Dreadnought. This innovative approach involves adapting controls that are usually used in fly-by-wire aircraft and applying them in a marine environment.

The complete Active Vehicle Control Management (AVCM) system will oversee all major aspects of the submarines’ manoeuvring capability to the highest levels of safety and reliability, similar to existing systems on modern air transport platforms.

According to Jon Tucker, Director for Maritime Controls at BAE Systems Controls and Avionics, After half a century of avionics experience, BAE Systems already has a great understanding of how to develop complex, control systems for hi-tech platforms.

“However, taking our technology underwater brings exciting new challenges and we are proud to support the Dreadnought program and play an important part in our national security effort,” he says.

Similar to how fly-by-wire works for aircraft – whereby electronic systems are used to control the movement of aircraft – the Company’s engineers are developing electronics that control the heading, pitch, depth and buoyancy of the Dreadnought class among other critical elements with added safety benefits.

Work has already begun, supporting more than 130 highly skilled jobs in Rochester, U.K, with the number expected to grow. The program is one of the largest developmental projects taking place at the Rochester site and significant investments have been made at the site to create new labs and workspaces to support this work.

The fly-by-wire innovation was developed in Rochester by engineers in the company’s Electronic Systems business working closely with colleagues across the Maritime and Air sectors to develop a world-class system as part of the Active Vehicle Control One-Team.


The Dreadnought Alliance, comprising BAE Systems, Rolls-Royce and the Submarine Delivery Agency is working on this innovative submarine that will replace the existing Vanguard fleet and will be the Royal Navy’s biggest, most powerful and technically advanced submarine when it enters service during the next decade.

Dreadnought is the biggest defence project underway in the UK today, involving new levels of innovation, technology and collaboration, and is also one of the largest and most complex engineering projects in the world.

A fleet of four submarines is being build, each measuring 153.6 metres long. Under construction already since 2017, the four vessels have already been named Dreadnought, Valiant, Warspite and King George VI.

The submarines are earmarked by the Navy to provide Continuous At Sea Deterrent, the country’s ultimate guarantee of security.

Nearly half of the Dreadnought workforce of nearly 30,000 are in the North West of England, predominantly in Barrow-in-Furness. However, the project supports a supply chain worth around £7.5 billion across 1500 companies throughout the UK.

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