Given the rate that T26s will be built another three would see some change in the 2040s..
As to getting the rest of Nato to step up to the plate, it isn't working. Even if it did do you think they'd prioritise frigates?
Germany is arguing it's defence budget at the moment, though despite promising 2% by 2024 at the Newport summit it's set to decrease to 1.23% from 1.3% in 2022. And this despite giving Angela an ear bashing recently.
The mandarins have been arguing that the North Atlantic is a Nato problem for well over a decade now, with their only proposed solution being to get the rest of Nato to up their spend. This is a bloody serious diplomatic failure as our own 'strategy' was based around it.
It will be interesting to see what action Trump takes. He's made a big thing of the 2% target domestically and won't back down or forget.
It certainly leaves us in a pickle and SSKs would be one of the few options if they belatedly chose to take the North Atlantic seriously. The 2015 SDSR didn't even mention it. Barrow is pretty much chocked out with nukes though it isn't impossible to build them elsewhere. We bought all the widgery doodahs for making pressure hulls for the Astutes and all the other kit is either in production or we have recent designs. In fact I suspect we make the hull sections for European subs currently.
The biggest advantage of SSKs would them not needing nuke engineers who are both in short supply and tempted by civvy street. Also giving submariners something other than 9 month deployments to look forward to. Reduced tasking for perisher and training, freeing up the nukes from some of the sneakier beaky stuff etc. Sub launched Storm Shadow too, which was experimented with on Syria might tempt the mandarins... Apparently Cameron insisted on controlling where the TLAM firers patrolled. An SSK with precision strike might get the vanity nod.
Arguments that nukes are so superior as to make SSKs pointless are irrational, particularly when production space is maxed out for the near future for the former. When you hear about contested waters think Baltics, an area which doesn't lend itself to nukes, or indeed the eastern Med. SSKs are highly superior in many locations or missions.
It won't happen under current budgets, and if there were more money Andrew would historically lube up for the RAF to take advantage of them. We are finally seeing some political action though, it seems the only way to unite Tories, Labour, SNP and DUP politicians is to put them in a Defence Select Committee and threaten the Royal Navy with more cuts.
Oops, MoD got to it first... Lube applied. https://t.co/XN5Yk5NozL