Saturday, October 27, 2012

Type 26 changes again

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:

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 new model shows some significant differences:

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 inflatable radar decoy, known as IDS300, is also present on the Type 45, as visible in photos on this brochure. It is produced by Irvin-GQ, now Airborne Systems. The tube is extremely easily integrated on any ship and is said to have a very low RCS that does not impact the radar signature of the ship. Indeed, the tubes aren't exactly hidden away, not even on the Type 45. 

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 Centurion uses the same decoy rounds (MK251 SIREN, Chemring MK216 MK1 Mod 1 Chaff round and MK245 Infra Red Flare round), but instead of using multiple fixed batteries of 6 tubes each, the Centurion is a trainable turret with 12 launch tubes that can be turned in the best direction and set at the best elevation to obtain the best effect, regardless of the position of the ship.
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.

1) The funnel mast that is no longer a funnel. Underwent a split and redesign. 2) The relocated, smaller door. 3) The position of the second door on the earlier concept pictures. Actually, as i said, the side with the two doors was originally the opposite one, but you get the idea.

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!  


  1. Thank you for another enjoyable and informative post.

    I agree with you that the original fore-aft CIWS positions seemed to give more angular coverage. Perhaps the depression for really close targets is better with this arrangement (though if you need it, well...) and the opportunity for shooting your own aerials off is reduced.

    I hope the cylindrical (Irving IQ) decoy canisters on the B position don't affect radar signature too much. In fact the ship all seems a bit un-stealthed compared to the previous design iteration, or is that my imagination?
    Notes from browsing the navyrecognition site (thanks for the link):
    1) Nice picture of Asters, Scalp Naval and CAMM in launchers for scale next to each other at picture 52/56
    2) BAE brings out a lightweight 40mm naval gun
    see picture 27/56. A son of the original Bofors, but 40% lighter, smaller and cheaper, though I assume it still deck penetrates. No mention of CTAmmunition: shame.
    More info at :

    1. The depression advantage of such a sponsoned position for the Phalanx is, i think, again related to the use of the latest Phalanx models against suicide fast crafts, more than against missiles.
      But i still prefer the earlier configuration.

      As for the decoy tubes, i don't know. I hope they do not compromise the RCS much, and i guess at BAE they should be more than able to determine that.

      Nice picture on that missile comparison, indeed.

      As for the new, lighter Bofors, yes, i'm pretty sure it still penetrates the deck. I don't think it has any relevance to the Type 26, anyway.

      As for CTA ammunition, you can't fire it from a Bofors, you need to change the feeding system entirely and effectively turn it into a CTA gun.

      I must admit i lost sight of the plan to navalize the CTA gun, i've not heard about it for some time, but i think it will eventually re-emerge at some point.

  2. i think you might be reading to much into the naval model. the model crafter might of just taken some artistic discretion

    1. I think we can exclude this option. BAE showcased the model to show how the design is evolving, and i tend to exclude the option of a model crafter with loose fantasy.
      If BAE answers the questions it has received, in a few days i'll be able to add more detail, thanks to the help of Navy Recognition.

    2. Gaby

      Fascinating article.

      So, a lot of interesting detail on the positioning of weapon systems etc. but nothing really new so far on any major new weapons to be fitted? I was thinking of torpedoes, anti-ship weapons, etc.

    3. No details on that for now. I think they will have the same Stingray magazine launcher that now is operational on the Type 23s, while the RN is quite clearly hoping/planning for vertical launch main weapons for anti-ship and land attack duty, but i've not heard anything new about this for now.

  3. Nice article!

    To be honest when I saw their had been some changes I feared the worst, but thankfully it seems nothing major has been ditched or downgraded.

    It looks as if the 127mm gun and strike length missile silo's are becoming a reality rather then the over optimistic and fragile pipe dream I had feared.

    1. Shhh! Better to speak such words very quietly still, and wait to see the gun and cells in place before going for the champagne bottle...!

      But yes, jokes aside, for now things are going rather nicely. Let's hope it can continue to go in the right way.

  4. Looks like the main gun has changed to a 5inch/54 mark 45 from untied defence, would much rather see the 127/64 light weight on the ship


    1. In the model, it possibly has. But it is the one thing i wouldn't exactly trust the model for: BAE is offering the Mk45 because it owns the maker, but all i heard from the UK and Italy alike was about the RN being in talks for the Oto 127/64.

    2. I do hope we stick with the plans for the Italian 127/64. It is clearly a superior gun. Adding the possibility of volcano ammo makes it even better.
      The only danger is BAE wanting to fit their gun. Because of the BAE design influence this is still a possibility.

      On another note, I also prefer the previous bow/stern phalanx configuration. I would think that the oto main gun plus 30mm remote controlled turrets and the normal crew-served MPMGs and miniguns would have been more than enough to counter small boat swarm tactics. Sacrificing ideal AA phalanx positioning to enable the phalanx batteries to depress a few extra degrees seems madness.

      Even on the original position the phalanx would be able to engage small boats at all but extremely close range anyway.

      What I mean by ideal AA positioning:

      In the original config, all angles of attack were defended by at least one phalanx. With good maneuvering, there is also the bonus of a dual phalanx defense against missiles by turning to deliver a broadside.

      In the new config, we now have at the most one phalanx coverage. With the possibility of none in fact if the missile approaches from dead ahead or astern.

      Btw, first time comment long time reader. Love your blog.

    3. Thanks for the comment, Remi. I hope you continue to follow the blog, and i hope you continue finding it interesting and informative.

  5. Great! Could the 30mm sponsons change be due to need for smaller, potentially Scaneagle launcher, door on port side?

    1. No, i don't think so. The ScanEagle launcher would be kept in the hangar or mission bay and moved out on the flight deck when needed. No one would ever want to make it part of the ship's structure.

  6. Just Thought if were keeping to the RN type system should the 8 anti-sub variants be Type 26's and the 5 GP variants be Type 83's ?

    1. I think they'll all be known as Type 26, regardless of wheter they have the full ASW suite or not. It is the same currently with the Type 23, which has the same kind of separation, with only 8 vessels being true ASW hunters fitted with the sonar 2087.


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