BAE has further refined the design of the Type 26 global combat ship, and the latest changes are visible in the model shown in the last few days at the Euronaval 2012 show. Thanks to Navy Recognition, even us unfortunate ones who couldn't be at the show can see the upgraded look of the frigate.
The gallery also contains countless other sweet images, including photos of the model of the next RFA Tankers to be built under MARS FT, so visit it right away: http://www.navyrecognition.com/index...aval-2012.html
As to the Type 26's latest changes, i am a bit puzzled by a couple of things.
This was the Type 26 as last shown when the MOD announced the end of the first phase of the program:
The general lines have not changed since my last big report, the main gun is still a 127 mm, and the light guns have not moved. If you didn't read the earlier article, i suggest you do it now. It'll help you a lot in understanding the ship.
The number of missile cells does not seem to have changed: there are 24 large cells, presumably and hopefully "strike lenght", arranged in two rows of 12 on the bow.
The CAMM mini-silos have changed, and from two clusters with 3x4 cells each, now we are four separate rows each with 6 cells, for a total of 24 missiles. No change in the number of cells, only in the disposition.
24 more cells are located, in two rows of 12 each, in the main funnel mast, again no change.
The propulsion approach seems also set, by now, with the Royal Navy aiming to a CODLOG architecture, probably with a single Rolls Royce MT30 gas turbine, as already reported a while ago.
You'll have already noticed that the Phalanx CIWS mounts have changed position, instead, as the arrangement has mutated from Bow-Stern to Port-Starboard, in an a Type 45-like arrangement. Two large sponsons have appeared to allow the Phalanx guns to have a better firing arc, clear of the superstructure.
As a consequence of this move, the missile cells on the bow are now accompanied by four launch tubes, containing decoys, that were originally mounted where the Phalanx now are (see the Top View concept picture, and you should be able to spot them). The Expendable Acoustic Device launchers, part of the S2170 "Sea Sentor" Ship Torpedo Defence System, have also been moved towards the bow.
|1) the EAD launchers have moved down the deck some, to make space for the Phalanx guns||2) the launch tubes of the Irvin GQ IDS300 Naval decoy have been moved all the way to the bow|
|Loading an EAD in the launcher. Look out for these 8-barrel mortars on Royal Navy ships, now that you know what they are, and you'll find them easily enough.|
The four tubes are the IDS300 Naval radar Decoy launchers. These launch a floating, inflatable decoy that is essentially an array of radar reflector panels capable to generate a Radar Cross Section that can trick enemy surveillance radars and radar homing anti-ship missiles.
|Irvin-GQ Naval Decoy deployed|
|Irvin-GQ Naval Decoy launch tube on HMS Westminster: it seems a second tube is missing, probably it was in maintenance when the photo was taken.|
This also indirectly gives us a good idea of what Countermeasures, currently in service, are expected to migrate onto the Type 26s.
There's a chance that the Type 26 will instead replace the current 130 mm SeaGnat fixed launcher barrels for countermeasure rounds with the Centurion trainable launch turret, which was demonstrated and offered to the Royal Navy in recent times, but arrived too late for Type 45, thus failing to gain (for now) an order.
|Sea Gnat fixed launchers|
The turret also offers advantages in terms of Radar Cross Section reduction.
|A graphic showing the Centurion turret. It might make it onto the Type 26s|
Back to Phalanx, I'm not entirely happy about the change, personally, because the new position of the guns offers arcs of fire much more constrained. The bow and stern are pretty much blind corners to this kind of installation, while a Bow-Stern solution offered much better coverage.
This new installation is potentially a bit more suited if we assume the Phalanx gun is fending off an assault by fast, suicide crafts, an asymmetric menace taken very seriously in these days, and one of the main reasons behind the upgrades of the Phalanx to 1B Baseline 2 standard.
BAE says that the relocation of the Phalanx guns was made on specific request of the Royal Navy, and i suspect small, fast crafts have much to do with this wish. However, personally my vote stays with the Bow-Stern arrangement, definitely better to offer 360° degrees coverage against missiles and air threats.
Another change is the downsizing and splitting of port side aft funnel mast. Indeed, it does not seem to be a funnel mast anymore, and this is possibly connected to improved use of internal spaces. The sponsons supporting the remotely-controlled light gun have also been redesigned, and they no longer sport the prominent reverse-pyramid shape they had before. Probably this change is due to RCS considerations and/or, even more likely, to management of the air flows connected to helicopter operations.
The doors in the superstructure, marking the boat spaces and the accesses to the Flexible Mission Space have also been changed. From 2 large doors on the Starboard side, both well ahead of the aft funnel, and a single large door on Port side we have moved to 2 doors on Port side and 1 on Starboard side.
More importantly, and somehow worrisome, the second door on the Port side is no longer full sized, and no longer located ahead of the aft funnels, but behind it. I hope it is only a redesign, not a shrinkage of the Mission Bay. However, the half-height door does not convince me: even if we assume that it is specifically meant to put to sea unmanned vehicles, we should be aware that, in the future, Unmanned Vehicles are likely to grow in size and complication, so we should try to have as few design limitations as possible. In partial compensation, it seems that the two doors left are higher and larger than before, at least.
A more optimistic interpretation of this change is that the Mission Bay might have actually expanded, as the door is now located in a position that before was almost certainly occupied by the now removed aft funnel. The relocation and changed design of the doors might be about better utilization of the space, and in place of the door now moved back towards the stern there might now be space and power connections for an additional container/module of equipment.
The main radar mast seems somewhat taller, but this might just be a feeling due to differences in the photos. The two white radomes on the mast's sides are huge, and much larger than those visible in the concept pictures, but they might be the SCOT 5 satcom X-band system, nothing particularly mysterious if that's the case.
Not dramatic changes, overall, sign that the design is frozen in its main aspects by now. Still, interesting to note and comment about. It is possible that in the next few days BAE will let us know some more things, and as always, i'll report about them as soon as possible.
For now, enjoy the novelties on show!