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Harry Nelson

Doesn’t the T-23 look outdated compared with the Singapore vessels, let’s hope the T-26 and 31 can address this issue in the NOT TOO DISTANT future???


Those Singaporean Formidable class ships are exactly what the Type-31 should be.


Ive always loved how the Singapore Navy has used Royal Navy names-Formidable, Victory, Steadfast, Intrepid, Indomitable, Fearless, Endurance etc.


The combination of Sea Ceptor, Artisan, Type 2087 and a Merlin is still a world beating combination! Agree that the physical look of the class is dated though.

Flogging ships to death with 30+ years service was always something other navies did, whereas the RN used to benefit from a huge shipbuilding industry which replaced vessels before their systems became obsolete.

Rather than arsing around with the design for years there should have been the clarity and planning to commence with the building the first T26 once the last Type 45 was finished 2012-2013 which would see them entering the fleet around now and avoiding costly later life refits to Type 23’s.

A steady drumbeat of construction with assurances of numbers is essential and something the parallel T26/T31 programs need to provide.


Parallel and steady are not compatible.Type 31e programme will stretch resources and require investment in facilities as well as the problems with rushed construction, block obsolescence and just about every other procurement problem known to man.At the same time we are paying extra to build the type 26 slowly.

Gavin Gordon

Don’t underestimate a T23 with Sea Ceptor and towed array, though!


Sea Ceptor while not as capable as the Aster 15s or 30s is still very good 😊 you can quad pack them in a VLS cell and will greatly help the Type 45 as they are under armed (48 Sylver S50 VLS compared to the 90-96 Mark 41 VLS Cells the Arleigh Burke has) in the Missile Quantity department.


Fantastic article, thanks!


The Points are majestic vessels, nice to see them in action carrying the tonnage they can. Also glad to see the Block1B Phalanx are appearing; wasn’t sure if we were salvaging old sets and hoping for best or investing in new units. My understanding is the B1B is an entirely new mount in terms of radar, barrel and shell. Many patrons of this site wish to see SAMs on ships like the Bulwarks’. I agree an 8 bank of CAMM would be nice. But, for now I can be happy with the latest Phalanx.


Older Mounts are upgraded to current standards for the Phalanx mounts 😊 Also Raytheon do have SeaRAM mounts (basically a phalanx mount with an 11 cell launcher of RIM 116 Rolling Airframe Missiles) I would personally add these to high priority assets like the Carriers and Large Assault ships in addition of their current armaments.


I wonder how Brexit will affect the Royal Navys use of Aster 15 and Aster 30 SAMs? Will MBDA sell them to the UK anymore?…Will there be massive tarriffs involved? I wonder if there has been any research done on swapping to the Standard missile family in case of issues with buying Aster Missiles


The Royal Navy should had brought the Mk41 VLS system which is more flexible and cheaper than the S50 VLS for the type 45 .
But yet again our politicians obsession with European and French joint defence projects leads to use paying a lot for a inferior and over budget system.
And aster 30 missile costs 40% more than a standard missile yet has no discernible advantage for the money.
And yes I know France is in Europe but the French view the rest of Europe as vassal states and when in a partnership are only interested in getting what they want and not what is good for each partner.
The aster is a case in point no other country is interested where as the standard is widely used but the French wanted a so called European version and the UK paid for it.

Better to buy what works and save money than spend money we don’t have on vain glorious projects .


Mk41 also is strike length so Tomahawks like the upcoming new anti shipping missile can be carried. Fortunately the Type 26 is apparently going to have Mk41 😊 24 Mk 41 VLS cells and 48 SeaCeptor Cells either individual or quad packed. Also a 5inch 62 cailbre main gun (Pretty sure the same gun the US uses)


If Mk41 and the Standard family could’ve been integrated with Sea Viper without a potentially huge increase in costs, maybe. However that would’ve taken time and money that we didn’t want or need to spend on buying from the US. I confess I would’ve preferred the SYLVER A70 over the A50 as it would’ve allowed the use of SCALP/Storm Shadow cruise missiles, but the T45s were already too expensive as it was.

Why so much hate for the Aster? Its fundamentally more capable than an SM-2 in most regards: its Mach 4.5 vs the SM-2s M3.5, it uses a more advanced active seeker vs a semi-active seeker, and its all around a more modern weapon. It only loses in technical range and altitude (120km and 20km up vs 160km and 24km up).

The main reason Standard is so much much more popular? Its American and produced in large quantities, which guarantees lower costs, in-service support, and future updates. The same reasons the 5.56mm NATO round was chosen despite far better alternatives being out there.


Don’t hate the aster, it is a question of cost .
The RN has over the last 35 years has fixated on quality over quantity and has paid the cost in having fewer platforms .
The type 45 was meant to be a class of 12 became a class of 6 due to cost overruns and extended build times.
Type 26 a class of 13 but now 8 due in main to the long build times to protect Scottish jobs .
Astute meant to be 12 now 7 due to the delay in ordering after the Trafalgar class and attempt to cut costs by shoehorning the vanguard reactor into to the hull.

The type 45 and astute may be world beating platforms but there is not enough of them .
The RN might have been better served with less capable vessels but more vessels along the lines of the Danish navies new frigates.

I don’t think the type 31 will be built and the type 26 is only funded for 4 ships and a Labour government would definitely not fund the next 4 and I have serious doubts that a Tory government would.

There are no votes in defence and that is the problem.


Correct on most counts. Basically the UK (like the US) has a military-industrial complex which is interested in having as many $$$ delivered its way and this is not necessarily consistent with the interests of people living in your country and paying taxes. It is in the interests of the military-industrial complex for the public to order weapons that are as complicated and expensive as possible. Not only does this increase the up-front cost of the weapons, but it means the military then needs to keep coming back to these companies to pay very high maintenance and sustainment costs.

The above system works really well for Admirals and Generals too, because in return for advocating these expensive weapons systems, they are rewarded at retirement with cushy directorships and consultancy jobs. Take a look at some of your recent former Admirals/Generals and where they ended up after retiring.

Under this system, every time you buy a new weapon the size of your overall force shrinks, due to the expensive purchase price and then the increased maintenance costs. Paradoxically, more capable and less expensive weapons actually make way for more expensive ones. I expect the Navy will do everything it can to protect its out-of-date, status-symbol aircraft carriers, which are irrelevant to modern war, by retiring more capable, cheaper and useful systems such as minehunters and attack submarines.

In about 10 to 20 years, the Royal Navy will basically just have two carriers, mostly empty, although containing a handful of expensive, barely maintainable F35s, that it can rarely afford to operate and a handful of other ships.

Similar storey with your air force – the Eurofighter is so complicated and expensive that it is barely maintainable, although the F35B version will take this to whole a new level. Expect the air force to have maybe a dozen or two active fighter aircraft in a decade or so time, down from hundreds not so long ago.

The Royal Navy is really a lost cause. There is plenty of money available and being spent, although the system is too corrupt to turn things around. Britain is not a powerful or significant country anymore, there’s no point trying to pretend otherwise. Perhaps this decline is actually a good thing for the British people though, instead of bombing other countries and creating enemies, perhaps new priorities can be created like peace and trade.


David we are not going out of our way to “bomb and create enemies”. The utopian garden that you seem to crave for is in heaven not on earth. Britain has the worlds 5th largest economy and is still a world power. We are not an insignificant country as you describe it.
Certain responsibilities must be maintained to keep the peace. To do this we must maintain our forces.


BAES owns the joint-largest share of MBDA and a fair share of its production happens here. The other two owning companies are Airbus and Leonardo, both of whom are already major suppliers for us. There won’t be any issue buying missiles from a company we partly own.


Type 26 wins in Canada.This can’t be anything other than good news but no one has been able to give a convincing explanation of the royalty payments. It looks a lot like the UK government pays for the design and BAE rakes in the cash. I would be delighted if someone could prove me wrong.
If only we could smash some heads together with all the parties cooperating with production there could be some huge gains in efficiency ,but I suspect that it will end up a bit like the Eurofighter with lots of duplicate efforts.


I believe the recent estimates are that the 9 Australian versions are worth approximately £1bn to UK industry. Depending on the exact configuration and numbers of the Canadian version, I’d say we’re looking at another ~£1.3bn? In combination with the ability to bulk order components and future spares and upgrades, we could see some decent savings in maintenance costs for the fleet over the next few decades.