Monday, July 3, 2017

Type 26: where does the money go?

The MOD has announced the signature of the Type 26 Manufacture Phase 1 contract, covering the first 3 of 8 planned Type 26 frigates. First steel will be cut in the next few weeks, and perhaps we'll hear about names too. 
The latest, and presumably final CGIs released show "fat cheeks" on the superstructure that give long passageways around the bridge, good for situational awareness and for the placement of small weapons for anti-swarm, anti-FIAC defence. The mast design has been further refined, and the Sea Ceptor cells arrangement has been finalized, with the launchers being the same "mushrooms" tubes used on the Type 23s refitted with the missile. The number of cells has not changed, while the export design targeted at Canada (and, with further modifications, at Australia) has been shown replacing the CAMM cells with an additional MK41 module (from 24 to 32 cells).

The latest images show what Type 26 will look like

This model of a Type 26 proposal for Canada shows an extra MK41 module instead of CAMM cells. 

The contract is described as a 3.7 billion pounds deal, but this figure urgently needs to be clarified. Government seems to be playing games by using it: on one side, it is giving the impression that it is committing more money than it actually is; on the other it makes it impossible to figure out how much each of the three vessels is costing. Unfortunately, whatever the exact amount, the answer is: a bloody lot.

The confusion is due to the MOD having already signed contracts worth more than 1.9 billion pounds to get to this point.
The first big Type 26 contract dates back to 2010 and was a 127 million, 4-years contract for designing the new vessel.
In February 2015 this was followed by an 859 million Demonstration Phase deal, which included selection of suppliers and long lead items orders, plus the construction of three shore-based test facilities to de-risk key parts of the vessel. David Brown built a test facility to demonstrate the new cross-connect gearbox developed for the Type 26; General Electric Power Conversion built the Electric Power Generation and Propulsion facility to de-risk the power segment of the ship; and the Combat System Land Based Integration and Test laboratory demonstrated the entire Combat System. This investment should pay dividends later on by ensuring that all works as intended, preventing many of the teething issues associated with new systems in new ships.
In march 2016, contracts for 472 million in long-lead items including side doors, helicopter handling system, bow sonar domes and other parts was announced.
In July, 183 million pounds were added to procure the MK45 gun systems (including automated ammunition handling, gun fire control system and ammunition) for the first three ships; plus another system to be installed ashore as integrated training facility.
In December 2016 another large contract followed, for 380 millions, covering chilled water plants, hangar cranes, hatches and watertight doors, membrane sewage treatment plants, steering gear and stabilizers.

The long list of suppliers and systems already under contract and at work due to earlier Demonstration Phase contracts 

Most, but not all, of these almost 2 billion pounds, which have been converted in a long list of parts already on order / delivered / being delivered for the first three vessels, have effectively been announced a second time, because they are included in the 3.7 billion deal.
A part of what was already expended is counted separately: probably the non-recurring cost of setting up the shore test facilities, the gun training system, and other voices of expenditure.

Whatever the exact division of costs, the pricetag of the Type 26s remains disconcerting, because most of its known systems and capabilities are non-developmental, funded by different budget lines, or straight out recycled.
The ship will have a newly designed gearbox but will use well known MT30 gas turbines already used all around the world; and it will have a CODLOG (Combined Diesel or Gas) which is arguably the simplest configuration involving a gas turbine. A well understood, definitely non innovative propulsion system and, arguably, in some ways a step back from the Type 23’s CODLAG (Combined Diesel and Gas) which allows the ship to exploit all of its installed power for obtaining max speed.

The ship’s main defensive weapon is the CAMM / Sea Ceptor missile, which is developed and acquired under the Complex Weapons budget line and which is already being procured for the Type 23 life extension and capability sustainment project, with three vessels already refitted.
Type 26 will have more Sea Ceptor cells (48 in two well separated silos, fore and aft, of 24 cells each; versus 32 all on the bow for Type 23), but will essentially inherit most of the arsenal from the retiring Type 23s.

The ship’s gun is new to the Royal Navy, but is the latest iteration of a system which is decades old and used in hundreds and hundreds of exemplars on US Navy and other nations’ vessels all around the world. The only developmental addition is the automated ammunition handling system and depot, but similar systems are already operational around the world and hardly break the bank.

The main radar is planned to be the Artisan 3D, already operational on Type 23, from which it will migrate to the new hulls.

The Type 26’s main offensive power will entirely depend from three 8-cell MK41 vertical missile launchers. Again, a new system in Royal Navy use, but well over a thousand such VLS modules are operational in the US Navy and elsewhere. Their cost is far from prohibitive, and they are non developmental and well understood.
What is not well understood is what, if anything, the Royal Navy will put into these VLS. It currently has no weapon, in service or planned, which is ready for MK41. The Tomahawk is an obvious candidate, but the small Royal Navy stock of the missile is all in the encapsulated variant for submerged launch from submarine’s torpedo tubes.
Harpoon is going out of service next year, leaving the Royal Navy bare of any heavy anti-surface missile, and the Type 26’s offensive power is entirely dependent on “Maritime Future Offensive Surface Warfare capability”, a programme which is funded under the Complex Weapons budget (so entirely additional to other Type 26 costs) and which only appeared in the Equipment Plan in the 2016 edition. We know absolutely nothing of its exact aims and of the timeframe associated with it.

Light guns for ship’s self defence will come from retiring Type 23s, as will a good part of the decoy outfit, including the S2170 anti-torpedo system.
The towed array sonar Type 2087 also comes straight from the Type 23s. We don’t yet know about the hull-mounted sonar on the bow. Maybe this, at least, will be new. Or maybe no.

The exact details of how equipment will migrate between Type 23s and Type 26 is not known. The MOD was asked about it in a few occasions, but offered very little in terms of answers. It is obvious that a Type 23 will have to leave service early to be dismantled and robbed of parts to enable the fitting out of a new Type 26 unless a few new sets of equipment are purchased.
According to admiral sir PhilipJones, three such “extra” sets have been procured, for the first three vessels, to ensure that there is no need to shrink the fleet early to fit out the first new Type 26s. After that, the equipment for the following vessels will come from the withdrawn 23s.

Admiral Sir Philip Jones: Yes, that is absolutely true. One of the things that we think will de-risk the Type 26’s entry into service is the fact that much of its equipment will have been tested and proved by operating on the Type 23 frigates, in particular the Sea Ceptor missile system, the Artisan Type 997 air surveillance radar and a number of other things.The Type 23 that we bring in to pay off has to be the donor platform to the next Type 26. We’ve bought new equipment for each of the three first Type 26s, to sort of get the class going, if you like; that is part of the long-lead items we have procured. So we will then have, as it were, a residue of decommissioned Type 23s’ equipment, which we can return and recycle, and deliver to the builder to fit into the Type 26. We won’t have to bring one in and stop it operating before we send it north; we’ve deliberately factored that in. I think that means that we will have much more resilience and already-tested equipment in that ship, which will bring it into service much faster than we’ve seen before.

Exactly what these “extra” sets include is not clear. It seems highly unlikely that there will be extra Type 2087 sonars, for example. Probably we are only looking at the essential pieces.
In theory, the extra sets could afterwards ease the fitting out of the Type 31e frigate if it will ever actually come together and if there will ever be more than 5 of them. In theory, purchasing three extra sets of parts gives the Royal Navy enough kit for 16 frigates instead of 13. Whether this benefit is ever realized is anyone’s guess.

The Type 26 introduces very little in the way or truly new systems to the fleet. There is a hope that the Royal Navy will be able to improve the crucially important self-defence decoy fit by replacing current fixed-tube launchers with something like the CENTURION trainable decoy launcher, which can adjust to fire the decoy in the best possible direction for maximum effect, without the entire ship needing to change course first. This is extremely important in light of the development abroad of faster and faster anti-ship missiles which will not wait for the ship to manoeuvre into a new position. But even this very, very modest development is currently a mere hope: data about Type 26 so far makes no mention of this and earlier attempts by the RN to invest in this area were frustrated by lack of funding.

CENTURION trainable decoy launcher 

It even seems that the Type 26 will not carry ship-launched anti-submarine torpedoes. For years now there has been no mention of migrating the Type 23’s magazine torpedo launchers. In absence of a vertical launch anti-submarine weapon such as the American ASROC, the Type 26 will be entirely dependent on the embarked helicopter for prosecuting the submarines it picks up on the sonar.
While the limitations of the ship-launched light torpedo are well understood (being close enough to a submarine to employ it probably means the submarine has already fired its own much larger torpedoes), it seems rather disconcerting to do away with them entirely. And if they aren't fitted, this is another capability the Type 26’s budget is not funding.

How the ship can be quite so expensive despite all of the above is mysterious. We are light years away from the affordable pricetag that had been the target of the programme, yet many of the big-ticket items are not even contributing to the cost. 
We are left to wonder whether spreading the build on two shipyards (Scotstoun and Govan) is at least partially responsible. Earlier plans included spending serious money on finally building a single, capable “frigate factory” plant, but this would have meant closing one of the current two yards, and this was unpalatable. One look at the two-site Type 26 construction strategy, however, is enough to see how much more complication, risk and waste of time (and, inexorably, cost) it adds.

Above, the single-site shipyard proposal. 

BAE Systems two-shipyards Type 26 assembly strategy. 

The Type 26 is also now described as a 157 men ship. Earlier, the “Core Crew” had been given as 118. To be fair, however, 118 probably excluded elements such as the embarked helicopter flight, which are very much an integral part of what makes a warship work. Probably, 157 is not sign of a step away from automation, but merely a more complete and realistic indication of what it takes to make the warship operate. In 2012, the Royal Navy described the 118 core crew as needed for mere “Float, Move and Self Protect” activities, with ASW specialist “packets” coming separately, along with all other teams needed for the mission.  There is space for a further 51 souls (208 bunks in total) to be embarked to operate systems carried in the Mission Bay or as reinforced boarding teams or for other necessities.

The MOD is being very vague about timeframes for entry in service. What once was 2021 had already become 2023 and might now be closer to 2025, with the MOD talking of “around the middle 2020s”. It won’t be earlier than 2023, might be 2025. This is bad news as it means shrinking the fleet or delaying further the exit from service of the aging Type 23s. HMS Argyll was meant to bow out in 2023, followed by the others roughly with a yearly drumbeat. This will have to change unless the fleet is to dramatically shrink.

While we wait for the Shipbuilding Strategy and for a plan for the Type 31e frigate that is supposed to complement Type 26, it is hard to rejoice for Sunday’s announcement. It was a key, much delayed and long expected development, definitely overdue, but it brings forth unpleasant questions. How can this ship cost so much? How can british shipbuilding go on if this is the best price it can offer?


  1. When I read this announcement I was mortified. £3.7bn.... Obviously we will only know the cost per vessel, once all 8 have been ordered, but at the moment this is looking like being £1bn per vessel. This compares with 850 Euros for French Spec FREEM (including Dev costs) - which appears to deliver a more capable vessel now. The latest Italian variant again appears more capable and to be 760 Euros.
    Something is very seriously amiss here.....
    One question - why has the RN gone for 24 strike length and 48 CAAM special cells? Why not go for 36 strike length and quad pack CAAMs?

    1. Because MK41 is far more expensive and far more invasive than CAMM cells (7 meters deep versus 3-some, hot launch versus cold launch). If you know from the beginning that you are filling them with CAMM, it is much better to just fit the CAMM canisters directly.

  2. 183 million pounds for 4 x mk45s. Blimey !!

  3. 'How can British shipbuilding go on if this is the best price it can offer?' Good question, i think it's far from certain that it can.

    The enormous costs of the T26 are actually down to pretty simple reasons. In short anything and everything continues to be done to accommodate BAE and the Clyde yards. As you have already mentions this means building frigates across 2 sites when concentrating at 1 would have been far more efficient.

    It's also a case of having a production process and timetable that wholly benefits the maker instead of the buyer. BAE want enough work to keep it's yards busy (or relatively busy) well into the 2030's and really aren't bothered whether this means building 8 ships slowly or 20 quickly. In the real world the customer pays per unit and have at least some say in the rate of delivery, but a government policy of buying British coupled with BAE being the only complex shipbuilder left in the UK means the latter really do have the former over a barrel!

    Of course it's also not helped by Westminster knowing that more ships produced probably means a need for more sailors to crew them and is quite happy to pay over the odds for a smaller amount of ships in the short-term if it avoids having to pay the running costs and provide the manpower a larger fleet demands in the long-term, or suffer the embarrassment of having to sell/scrap superfluous units prematurely.

    We desperately need politicians with a bit of courage and long-term thinking to be able to actually implement the shipbuilding strategy by 1. block building the T31 across various commercial yards and assembling them at Rosyth to try and break the BAE monopoly, and 2. find a synergy between the industries need for steady work and time-tables with the RN's need for a big enough surface fleet and an optimum for example an agreement that 24 frigates and destroyers are required with 1 delivered per year in a rolling/evolving batch by batch drumbeat.

    Only if we see some progress in these areas might we see costs coming down (albeit probably slowly and modestly), the prospect of exports becoming viable and a sense of stability and cohesion permeating the industry.

  4. If we take at face value the quote "We’ve bought new equipment for each of the three first Type 26s, to sort of get the class going, if you like; that is part of the long-lead items we have procured. So we will then have, as it were, a residue of decommissioned Type 23s’ equipment, which we can return and recycle, and deliver to the builder to fit into the Type 26. We won’t have to bring one in and stop it operating before we send it north; we’ve deliberately factored that in." this is great news.

    Perhaps we are being a little too pessimistic. I am not a fan of T31. I believe the T26 should be more cost effective that creating and tooling for a new class. I still wouldn't put money on it happening.

    So x8 T26s were expected.... but if we have a further x3 kits perhaps that makes x11 T26s entirely sensible. Maybe not the 13 originally indicated but surely if the difference is made up of T31s it won't be a class of 2.

    Very much agree with Challenger and Gabriele

  5. Supporting domestic industry is important in the context of defence, because it allows us to maintain a level of independence in defence procurement. I get that.

    But, when we're supporting a private monopoly with what seems to be a complete contempt for it's country of origin, it's questionable as to whether the loss in capability is worth it, as in the case of the economic inefficiencies of BAE Systems.

    Of course, there always remains the possibility of nationalising BAE. Maybe then they'll start working for the taxpayer, rather than taking us for a ride.

  6. Daniele MandelliJuly 4, 2017 at 1:31 AM

    The Mod budget seems to be primarily there to support British industry, not the armed forces. BAE especially.
    If all our kit was purchased off the shelf how much bigger could the forces be? Examples:
    Blackhawks instead of Wildcat.
    FA18 instead of F35.
    Burkes instead of Type 4.
    Astute SSN's, QE Carriers costing the earth, all home made.
    Hundreds of millions for OPV's!
    The Astutes are probably worth it as SSN capability is a real feather in the Uk's cap.
    700 millions allocated for Challenger 2 upgrade, which is pretty minor.
    The list is endless. In short, the armed forces are getting utterly decimated by the obsession with producing home made kit at mouth watering prices, with little or no export potential.
    I can see T26 becoming 6 vessels, just like the T45's, with 2 extra T31's ordered to make up the numbers!
    I'm slightly relieved at Gabs explanation that much of that 3.7 billion is on expenditure already made, but even so, sad, sad state of affairs. Just when will somebody pull up Fallon and take him to task over the costs and shame him and the Mod to the nation?

    1. Cant have F18s instead of F35. QE2 carriers dont have steam turbines, they looked at the new electrical Emals but thats a shambles and hugely expensive to boot. As the RN has operated VTOSL for decades getting the F35B capability was well worth having

  7. There's a poster on Arsse called "Not a Boffin" who works (I think) as a Naval Architect. He puts the T26 price down to 2 issues:

    1) Over-extensive risk reduction measures. Basically the designs go through enormous pre-build paperwork and reviews. These take years to complete and the people doing them are expensive.

    2) Government delaying and slowing down the build during construction. We should all remember that the Government (including MoD) is basically broke. To ease their cashflow they constantly slow and delay build schedules until the money appears. Trouble is when you do this, you still need to keep the workforce (you need their expertise) so basically you're paying guys to work inefficiently, which raises the price.

    I should state that I'm not involved in this area myself, but what he say's makes sense to me!

    1. I don't agree at all. The problem is BAE, I've seen it first hand. They are overmanned, overpaid and inefficient. Many people there paid 40% more than they should be and many duplicated positions. A lot of insiderish scamming. Team leaders who are pushing 100k in a good year with overtime and Managers who are unsackable because they've a gold plated public sector style pension. They're doing the same thing to the Clyde that they did to Vospors, Alvis and Rover. Type 45 is the only ship they've ever designed and it's not a rip roaring success. I'd get rid of them now, there's only 5 years left on the TOBA, just bung them a break fee and tender t26 on the open market.

  8. Couple of observations after reading the posts set out here -
    Warship and submarine construction is the only area that the UK insists on "sovereignty". All other area are subject to competition and the UK certain buys more from abroad than France, Italy or Germany
    I have no problem with BAE bashing for shipbuilding and there is clearly something wrong with said supplier, however all other European countries also operate with monopoly suppliers in shipbuilding - far more successfully than the UK.
    In addition -
    1. The UK's armoured vehicle industry has been decimated and is pretty much reliant on non-UK contractors to fulfil needs. It is a total disaster area
    2. Complex weapons is pretty much beholden to a monopoly supplier (MBDA - I am leaving aside Thales Missiles and Raytheon for Paveway). It appears to be both innovative and to produce weapons that the UK needs

    The above suggests both that shipbuilding is not alone, but also that things CAN work. I would suggest that the underlying problem here is the customer, not the supplier. Where there is clarity on needs and they are willing to work together and to buy what is available / practical (complex weapons) then it works well. When there is no clarity on needs, political interference and a contractual / combative relationship (shipbuilding and armoured vehicles), then disaster appears to ensue.

    I would suggest that the issues here are as follows -
    1. A confused and badly organised customer who is unable to decide what they want, and totally unable to think rationally about what they can have for the money available
    2. Huge political interference with the need to build in Britain and protect British jobs (I am sure BAE would cut jobs - they are not allowed to)
    3. A combative rather than partnerial relationship with suppliers

  9. The high cost of surface combatant is sad thing, I agree, but it is not only the issue for UK.

    3 initial T26ASW for 3.7B GBP is exactly on the line of "8B GBP for 8 hulls". Design cost amounts to 2 or 3 unit cost (In FREMM, it was 3 unit cost). So, 8B/(8 hull + 2 or 3 design) = 730-800M GBP unit cost. Or 3.7B/(3 hull + 2 or 3 design) = 617-740M GBP unit cost.

    "Nothing new onboard" is exactly the same for FREMM, and it costs 583M GBP per hull excluding design cost, and 740M GBP including the design cost.

    Then, let's compare T26 with 740M GBP unit cost and French FREMM with 583M GBP unit cost, 740/583 = 1.27 times more.

    T26 is paying a lot for the automation, good example is the deadly expensive automated 127mm arsenal. 6900t FL with 157 crew T26 is "more" automated than 6000t FL with 147 crew French FREMM. Because we say automation is good, we shall pay for it. T26 has 24 VLS not 16. T26 has a mission bay while FREMM does not. T26 has a 127mm gun while French FREMM has a 76 mm. Not to mention the "super quiet hull" RN always claim.

    Can this difference explain "1.27 times cost?". Maybe or may not be. But it is clear French ship building industry is more well trained than those in UK. I guess 1GBP payed for UK ship build industry is similar to 1Euro for DCSN. Scaled with "15% in-efficiency of industry", 1.27 comes down to 1.27/1.15 = 1.10. Just 10% higher.

    I do not think T26 is too expensive for their price.


    1. Donald - I am sorry, but your logic doesn't hold -
      1. You say it is clear that French industry is more efficient than the UK and hence that 15% should be removed from the difference. That is illogical and it shouldn't be - the whole point here is that the UK industry is less efficient than the French or Italy (or German) industries
      2. As Gabriele notes, the French are buying the radar, the sonar and all the weapons as new for their FREEM ASWs. The UK is simply porting over the vast majority of the items - indeed the only major new elements it is buying are the Mk45 guns, the 2 CIWS per vessel (assuming they are fitted) and the Mk41 cells, the hull mounted sonar and the engines
      3. I am not following the point around automation. If the T-26 ships are so automated, how come the crewing is pretty much identical. Suggests either automation is the same or over / under manning
      4. You need to include the non-recurring costs for both cases

      When you take all of that into account (and REDUCE the French price for the items the Brits didn't need to buy to provide an apples with apples comparison) we are looking at something like -
      1. Total price for a T-26, including R&D and assuming 8 ships - £1,000m per ship
      2. Total price for a FREEM ASW, including R&D and assuming 6 ASW ships, but excluding items as noted above - max 700m Euro per ship....

      That is a huge gap and one which can only but put down to managerial and manufacturing incompetence.

    2. 1. UK did not "breed" the ship building industry as France did (Many export sales are debt from France). And yes, anyway UK ship building industry is less efficient than France, that is the problem. And "blaming" it cannot solve to issue. It is industry/technology, you need to invest on it and train it, like TOBA itself.
      2. The first 3 T26 is buying new radar and all the weapon fits (but maybe not the CAPTAS4?, which may amount to 30-50M GBP?)
      3. T26 has many addition to FREMM, the mission bay, 127mm gun vs 76mm, Merlin vs NH90, 24VLS vs 16. .... It is thus 15% larger than FREMM. But, T26 crew is "only 8%" larger than FREMM. This is why I said more automation.
      4. As noted above, I think I did included non-recurring costs for both cases, but yes I may missed something.

      I hope it is more clear now ...


  10. That is not quite true, Donald. The FREMM does use non-developmental items for the most part, but they are new. The french Navy did not have Aster missiles and launchers already on the previous class of frigates. Didn't have Herakles radars to transfer. Did not have 2087 sonars to transfer. All of this stuff was not developed for FREMM, but was purchased new with the new ships. With the Type 26 this is not the case. The comparison gets more uncomfortable still with the italian FREMM which can use Aster 30, uses EMPAR, has double helicopter hangar and so along.

  11. Thanks for response.
    So you mean the introduction cost, not the development cost?
    Then, yes, you are right.
    - Equipments for the first 3 T26s are newly bought. The same as FREMM.
    - Development cost is already payed elsewhere. The same as FREMM.
    - But, yes, the introduction cost of CAMM and Artisan is already payed for T26 (with T23s) but not for FREMM.

    Looking at the difference in cost of French FREMM, Italian FREMM and UK T26, maybe the automation cost is so expensive? I know automation IS expensive. That is what the Japanese MSDF says when the Murasame-class DD was turned out to be much expensive than Yugiri-class.

    But, not sure yet...

    Donald of Tokyo

  12. All,

    Open questions to you all -

    1. Why do we need 8 T-26s if their role is to escort the carriers. Would a reduction to 6 (the same as the T-45s) which is more than enough to provide 2 of each in support of a one carrier at a time deployment
    2. Could the above saving not then be re-cycled into an enlarged T-31 programme, which would replace all of the remaining T-23s + all of the minesweeping and survey vessels - perhaps 18 hulls with Mk45s + CAAM + Wildcat + a mission bay for mine-warfare
    3. Could not some of those hulls have 2087 fitted, to provide the SSBN coverage mission?

    On Type-45, although the current plan is for these to be run for 25 years, clearly this is going to be extended. Is there not then an opportunity to upgrade these 6 with -
    1. Removal of the 105mm gun asap (to reduce support costs) - is it ever going to be used = no
    2. A refitting of the entire front end with the removal of the 105mm to enable a larger foot print of Mk41 or strike length ASTER cells. Is anyone able to estimate just how many cells could be fit there with the gun removed
    3. Fitting of 24 CAAM cells in the space provisioned for Harpoon
    4. Fitting of type 2087 sonars (if possible)

    Just a thought - only 12 major hulls and crews to find, but do we really need more for the core Carrier Group mission. Type 31 picks up everything else.

    1. The number of ASW vessels should increase, if anything, certainly not decrease. Towed arrays are also needed in home waters for keeping track of intruding russian submarines and protect the SSBNs movements. It is also desirable to have an ASW frigate regularly in the Gulf since a submarine threat in the area exists.

      Type 31 is... ugh. I fear it will be an immense disappointment.

      Removing the gun from Type 45 isn't going to save much and actually gunfire support has been one of the things the RN has been doing more frequently, so is it going to be used? Probably yes.

    2. I agree - so lets make what T31 should be - focused - a simple hull with space for a Mk45, limited CAAM and a decent sonar and mine countermeasures capability.

    3. Gab, assuming they go for the Venator (which is surely the best UK design available?) will it be able to operate the 2087 sonar? I mean is it designed to be quiet enough to make for a useful ASW vessel?

      Also given that BMT has been touting Venator for years does this suggest that the design is mature and a lot of the pre-production work has already been done and paid for?

    4. In absence of a customer and its money, i don't think BMT will have gone quite that deep on detail in the designs.

      As for using 2087, i'm pretty sure they could operate it. How satisfactorily is the question.

    5. I am thinking Venator probably won't be great in the ASW role if the hull hasn't been designed to be acoustically quiet in the way previous frigates have.

      However the T31 actually turns out it'll no doubt cost the earth and provide little more in the way of capability than an up-gunned OPV! Just 6 ordered, perhaps block built to ostensibly provide investment for the wider commercial industry but in reality most of the blocks and all of the assembly done on the Clyde, a paltry sensor/weapons fit with lots of gaps and talk of 'fitted for but not with'.

      Really wish we had stuck to the C1/C2 frigate plan. At least that way the T26 unit price would gradually fall as we committed to larger numbers and the stripped down C2 variant would still provide decent capabilities and a designed size/configuration to quickly fit the more expensive stuff if necessary.

    6. Building just 6 is a recipe for disaster. You cant maintain a fleet on the assumption there aren't going to be losses, be they from enemy action or unscheduled major refits groundings etc.
      Besides there are other major assets to consider apart from the carriers.
      Happy days when we built 9 destroyers a year plus cruisers, sloops and all the other clobber including the odd carrier and battleship.

  13. So, can we at least say that the development costs aren't included in this 3,7 billions price?
    Also, will it be any investments in shipyards?


    1. As I understand it -
      1. All development costs are included in the £3.7bn
      2. It includes the investment in BAE's two shipyards necessary to build T-26 but no development of the single yard "frigate factory" concept which would have really cut costs, but was scrapped as politically unacceptable due to the job losses it would have entailed
      As an aside one has to question why BAE should be paying for any and all yard improvements - as we all know, they have the monopoly here so surely a negotiating line to them would be - you invest shareholder money in the yards or you loose your monopoly and the work goes elsewhere (either to what is left of other UK yards - Babcock or Cammell Laird or overseas). My concern on this is that BAE would probably say "ok we'll shut them then". I've not come across a national defence company quite so willing to piss off its home country (and yes I know they consider the US to be at least as important).

  14. BAE has long had an unpatriotic management culture, in fact ever since its creation; shortly after which it bought British Leyland in a joint venture with Honda ( who did most of the thinking and work); when the going gets tough it quits or threatens to quit.

  15. The plan seems to be that the T26 is to be a larger ship, with a wider range of systems and capabilities than the T31.
    Given this would it not be more sensible for the smaller T31 to focus on doing one thing well, ASW? The T31 would be used to protect the carriers as part of a task group, with other ships in the task group providing the capabilities which the T31 lacks. The T31 would also be able to pick up the other ASW tasking in home waters working with the RAF P8’s under a RAF Typhon CAP.
    We could then use the more capable and flexible T26 to be the ‘GP frigate’, making use of its flexible mission bay. The T26 would be much more capable and credible working on its own than the T31, and be a welcome addition to any task group.


  16. "Actually gunfire support is one of the things the navy has been doing more frequently"- where?Why bring in close a billion pound+ ship to be sunk by the enemies cheap weapons? It's obvious that the future of naval warfare is going to belong to unmanned systems, but no one can admit this, having committed themselves to the massive carrier folly.

    1. Falklands, Iraq, Libya... pretty much everywhere the Navy has been since the end of WWII.
      And no, it is not obvious at all. Unmanned systems will become more and more important, but we are far away from them becoming the one and all. If they ever will to start with.
      As for "carrier folly", i'm not even bothering with replying to such nonsense.

  17. Not sure what all the whingeing is about..

    Proper warships cost money. £1.2 billion a piece is fine by me provided it is a full fat design. Which it clearly is.

  18. Any chance for BAE to offer T26 hull for the upcoming US Navy's new FFG competition?

    1. They will respond to the RFI, i think (would be kind of crazy to not even try) but i don't believe a foreign design will be picked. I still think it'll end up being a modified LCS.

  19. Little effect in the Falklands 35 years ago,Iraq has almost no coast and I'm not aware of much effect in Libya.The carrier's are vulnerable and commit you to an inflexible and unaffordable strategy.They will never be properly equipped or escorted and will not get very far past IOC.The cost of the complete weapons system will be well in excess of 20 billion. I don't think Fareham reach is big enough, so they'll have to spend most of their time mothballed somewhere else while the government works up the courage to scrap them. Even the man who came up with this Royal Navy destroying plan (Admiral West) admits that it was a mistake and had he known how things would go (no great imagination required) he would never have gone down this route, thinking that the carriers would force a battle group to be formed.

  20. We do seem to have gone back full circle to the late 1970s/ early 1980s with a combination of high end air defence destroyers (Type 42/82 then, Type 45 now) and ASW frigates (Type 22 then, Type 23 now and Type 26 to come) padded out by a number of general purpose vessels (Type 12/ Leanders & Type 21 then, Type 31 to come).

  21. Will RN to consider both ASW and ASuW weapons for available VLS slots? Or maybe the 24 cells are reserved for TLAM-IV land attack role only? Tomahawk 2019 re-certification will most likely to incorporate a terminal seeker for ASuW mission. Maybe that's it. A dual role Tomahawk, but no VLA for ASW.

  22. Here is the latest image of the Australian Type 26 variant with anti-ship missile canisters and what looks like CEC antenna panels up the mast and Hawklink antenna dome on top of the antenna castle. BAE tender was submitted 2 days ago.

    Type 26 will be in competition with the Navantia frigate whose tender was just submitted – see following press release:


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