New nuclear weapons carriers to double for Special Nuclear Materials transport

Further details of the Ministry of Defence’s proposals to replace the vehicles used to transport nuclear materials by road have recently been released in response to a Freedom of Information Act request made by Caroline Lucas MEP.

The documents released (the ‘Main Gate Business Case’ documents for the project) reveal that:

  • MoD intends to obtain new 8 vehicles plus one spare tractor to replace the current vehicles. The tractor components of the existing vehicles will be replaced and the secure trailers which are currently in use will be refurbished to extend their life.

  • The vehicles will be used to transport both nuclear warheads and special nuclear materials – a departure from current practice, whereby the different loads are carried in different types of vehicle. Special pallets will be used to allow SNM cargos to be carried in the new vehicles.

  • The contract to replace the vehicles will be anaged by AWE plc, with QinetiQ undertaking design work.

  • The first of the new vehicles is scheduled to enter service in July 2009, and the full fleet should be in service by 31st October 2010. It is anticipated that the vehicles will remain in service until the current Trident nuclear weapons system reaches the end of its life in 2025.


  • The Main Gate Business Case documents released by the MoD (released 22nd April 2008 in response to a Freedom of Information request from Caroline Lucas MEP). here.

  • NIS technical briefing ‘Ministry of Defence proposals to replace nuclear weapons transport vehicles’ (August 2007) which provides further background information.

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