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This is good for the future of the Type 26 program, I am starting to wonder if it might be an idea or even if it is possible to base the Type 31 on the Type 26. Hull, guns, engines, standard radar outfit and operations room of the T26; weapons, electronic and sonar fit as and when needed or for export requirements, basically a Type 26 lite, where the build license is free for MoD use but specialisation to be carried out by BAE.
Does anyone know if the Type 26 can be put forward as a proposal for the US Navy’s frigate competition, or is it to late?

Anthony D

Hi Ron. With two advanced type 31 designs in place, another type of export market opening and the need to grow escort numbers…I’m not sure this would be the best path. For me type 26 specialising in CBGs, protecting the deterrent and SMG1; with a growing number of type 31s patrolling east of suez and Falklands, doing defence engagement, acting as mothership to deliver remote controlled mine countermeasure and hydrographic drones, as well as special forces in low threat environment, with limited land attack and asuw capability. As we phase out and sell mcms, hydrography and opvs we may be able to grow the light frigate fleet up to around 10 or more. 8 type 26, 6 type 45, 15 type 31 … Nearly thirty vessels that have leaner manning requirements and so helping with personnel shortages.


Sadly no. Some months ago, when Defense News ran an article on the FfX programme, the Type 26 was out of the running because its primary role is ASW, something the US navy apparently leaves to its destroyers; its also not a mature design.


This seems to suggest it could be considered for US Navy.


Surely that spot would have been much sweeter a few years ago?Would have financed another type 26 and maybe been in the running for the USN.




Great news! Surely New Zealand will eventually order 2 as well to dovetail onto the Australian program. That may well be it for the T26 but up-to 34 ships across 4 closely partnered nations is more than anyone until recently could have hoped for. A truly Commonwealth frigate!

For my money the shipbuilding strategy should take the T26 and use a derivative to replace the T45 to create a steady drumbeat of continually evolving combat ships rather than having separate anti-submarine frigates and anti-air destroyers.

There is still a space for the less complex, cheaper T31 so long as the final design resembles a credible warship and isn’t just a dressed up OPV. It’s for this reason the UK government should get real and accept that whilst the idea is worthy the price tag should be more like £350 million a pop.

I think a sweet spot could be a rolling build program of 16 high-end combat ships coming into service every 18 months and say 8 simpler ones every 2 years to ensure the RN operates a younger but sizable fleet and the retiring vessels have a good chance of being sold off with plenty of life left in them.

Anthony D

Challenger. Nz can’t afford £2b on two type 26, it may be interested in type 31 though so fingers crossed. Also there are 53 members of the commonwealth so I can’t really see the name catching on and it might not be very popular with non commonwealth members. Nice idea but perhaps unlikely. Great day though!


Our 8 Type 26 are £1 billion per vessel because the development costs are factored in and we are building them very slowly. If New Zealand want 2 to be produced towards the end of the Australian run when the production line is hot they will almost certainly be cheaper.

I am aware of the size of the Commonwealth and wasn’t suggesting the name should be officially adopted, only that it’s great to see some of the largest and closest of the members working together.


And the Australian ships are even more expensive than the UK ships, so where do you think cheaper versions could be made for NZ? If NZ is going for a UK design it will be Type 31E, probably not if Cammell Laird wins, more likely if Babcocks wins, I believe the Arrowhead 140 to be the vastly better design, with significantly greater growth potential.

Matt Green

New Zealand can afford two Type 26 frigates if it wants that level of capability.

Their government will be spending at least £10 billion (2016 figures) on new defence equipment over the next fifteen years.

They have recently purched P8 Poseidon aircraft from Boeing and their Crown accounts are in very good shape. It will simply come down to what international design best fits their needs.

Lord Curzon

The Kiwis will probably follow the crowd, but will take forever doing it – i.e. don’t expect something for some years and not with their Labour government!

Jock Patton

The Kiwis are great sailors with great experience in cruisers….so Two Type 26 or some 31’s is just another day thank you.


I think people really need to pause and take stock before declaring a T26 sale to New Zealand as an in the bag certainty!

Firstly as already noted T26 is rather beyond what RNZN needs or wants, T31 potentially is a better fit but we really need to consider a few other things before saying that is a done deal as well.

1) The ANZAC class in RNZN service are only just going through a mid life update and have many years ahead of them in service before they will need replacing, New Zealand hasn’t even published a potential requirement yet let alone a RFI or RFP

2) The only reason New Zealand operates the ANZAC is due to RAN and RNZN having a similar requirement at the same time during the 1980’s

3) The ANZAC class procurement after the cancelled F-16 purchase is one of the most controversial decisions in New Zealand political and procurement history. There was strong opposition to the idea with many arguing that an enlarged OPV would be a better purchase. That the ANZAC class even managed to get into New Zealand service was a minor miracle with many challenges and attempts to cancel them along the way. They are to this day a controversial procurement in New Zealand and there is little evidence that there is any desire within the New Zealand parliament to fight that battle any time soon!

4) This is going to rub a few here the wrong way but amongst normal New Zealanders there just isn’t the affinity to the UK that people here think there is these days. There is certainly isn’t enough to assume that New Zealand will go out and purchase T26 or T31 just because Australia has decided on the former or the latter is a good fit for their needs. Any program to replace the ANZAC will be controversial and politically the New Zealand Government will want to be seen to run an independent open tender

In the end T26 won out in Australia and Canada due to the merit of the design not some nostalgic harking back to the old days of the Empire or the Commonwealth. It is highly naive and frankly slightly offensive to the people of New Zealand to just assume that they will or even should buy T26 or T31.


They’ll order it because Australia did, and for no other reason than economies of scale making it affordable to them. Empire will not feature at all, simply because it doesn’t have to.


Did you read anything I actually wrote Frank?!

They won’t order it just because Australia did! The circumstances that led to the procurement of the ANZAC class was and still is highly controversial within New Zealand. Their current ANZAC have many years of service ahead of them and the economies of scale argument doesn’t really work when that is taken into consideration.

When New Zealand eventually gets around to replacing the ANZAC class expect a normal RFI followed by an RFP. Anything else will not go down well in Wellington.

Just chalking up T26 as done deal for New Zealand because ‘Australia’ is pretty offensive to the people of the former nation.


Why on earth is it “offensive” we are talking about economics and politics and forecasting and speculating into the future? On balance, with the evidence available right now, they are likelier to get the T26 than anything.

Why on earth bring in this emotional nonsense into the debate?


Why assume T26 or T31 is a done deal for New Zealand because Australia has decided on the former?

Knowing people who live in New Zealand I can tell you right now that would be seen as rather presumptive.

New Zealand is many years away from replacing their ANZAC class and it is not even certain hey will even go for a frigate.


I may well be presumptive, that I do not deny that, but we are speculating from an amateur perspective here. We cannot know, and at best we just doing somewhat informed prediction.


Timing would be good, NZ Anzac are intended to be replaced around about 2030.Interoperability good.NZ needs a good range and accommodation,etc. The Australians will be coming to the end of their production run and political pressure to keep the shipyards going will immense,a good deal will be on offer.The population of NZ is significantly higher than it was at the time of a massive recession and the cancelled third frigate,helping the cash and crewing situation. A lot could change but its a good fit for the NZ navy,in some ways better than the RN.

David Siegel

Large corvettes. Our navy has 4 custom corvettes on order from Germany. 100m boats. Robust. Nearly small frigates. How powerful is up to the buyer. Maybe NZ does not perceive a need for war-fighting. They can outfit for patrol, rescue and anti-smuggling and leave off the ASW and ship to air, and ship to ship missiles and radar systems.

NZ has a lot of ocean, and sturdy corvette fleet makes sense. Our now-old Sa’ar 5 corvettes easily patrol hundreds of kilometers out, backed by smaller superfast craft inshore, and out to our gas/oil fields with Dolphin-class subs and land based aircraft. But as said configured as patrol vessels without war-fighting ability the corvette is very versatile.

An Israeli company Plasan has a big contract connected to the Type 26 frigates to design and build armour plating. The Royal Navy has become a regular visitor this year to IN’s Haifa Port base. So we watch UK frigate developments. And costs. We chose 4 large Meko/Sa’ar 6 corvettes from Thyssen-Krupps instead of 2 Inchon-Class Korean frigates.

Our corvettes all have helo decks and can take two choppers, but usually just one. Without the big loadout, perfect for NZ.


Fedaykin, the RNZN Anzacs are two of the earliest Anzacs built (numbers 2 and 3 I think). Unless they can to obtain two of the later RAN Anzacs, replacements will be required sooner rather than later.


The CNS RNZN has said that ideally he would like three ships and slightly used ones are okay. He also stated that Sea Ceptor would be pulled through from their two Anzac frigates. To me this puts the heat on the UK Government to offer three Type 26s in UK service to the RNZN at a bargain price (saves Australia from having to do it again)!


The Commonwealth has been overlooked for too long, which many have been saying for years now. Believe in Britain (and the Commonwealth)! Remainers do not.


And just to be naughty. Hopefully, when this design gets the go-ahead, will Canada have to buy this special flat thin steel from Sweden, as BAE did via Dent?

Anthony D

Remainders realise that being at the nexus of the security council, Nato, Eu and commonwealth make us more influential and powerful. Brexiters want to remove one of those levers of power because they think it undermines rather than enhances our national interest. Well we’ll certainly see.


I believe we are leaving the EU and nothing else.


Remainers do believe in Britain just differently from Brexiters! The Commonwealth collectively has a GDP half of the EU27 and cannot hope to replace the Single Market in worth.

Also most of the Commonwealth have moved on and have no interested in being in a situation with the UK at the top of the pile dictating to them in trade terms.


FYI Fedaykin:

The English speaking countries who have guaranteed the UK trade deals once the UK is out of the EU constitute a market:

– 55% larger (USD, World Bank, 2017), Roughly $23 tn, compared to $15 tn.
– 75% wealthier (GDP per capita, World Bank, 2017), Roughly 390 mn, compared to 450 mn.

…than the EU27. The links to the World Bank data portal is below. The UK was not included in the ‘English Speaking’ market.

This is ofcourse not including the other members of the commonwealth who may wish to trade with the UK, or Japan, the world’s third largest economy at roughly $5 tn, who has already said the UK would be welcome in the transpacific partnership.

Please be aware we have an exporting services sector, unbound by geography, and an importing manufacturing sector. The Office for National statistics brief on the balance of payments is below.

Believe it or not, leaving the EU may in fact benefit the UK trade balance.


Slightly off piest here, but we started to ignore the Commonwealth way before joined the EU and my understanding that the previous Foreign Secretary showed no interest in those carribean islands devastated by last year’s hurricanes.


I hate to puncture your illusions, but the British Commonwealth is of a little or no relevance to Australia’s defence or economy. China is our biggest trading partner and the US our major strategic partner. Individually, New Zealand is important as a small close neighbour with whom we share what are largely common borders for the movement of people and goods and services. But India is the most important Commonwealth country for us, not because it’s a member of the Commonwealth but because it’s huge and an increasingly important counterweight to China. The UK is also important, but mainly for cultural reasons and as a source of investment capital. As far defence is concerned, the UK is only important as a member of NATO and the European Union. When you pull out of the latter, your importance to us will fade.


Mark, could you please share how the UK’s membership of the EU helps Australia’s security. I am genuinely interested, and not trying to facetious.


The short version is that British membership of the EU helps Australian security in the same way British membership of NATO helps Australian security, the mechanics are different but the principle is the same – it really helps to have friends on the inside, at the table when decisions are made.

Now with Brexit Australia is ramping up high level cooperation with? … France. Why? Because they are still thought leaders in the EU, the UK is not. Incidentally, although it is somewhat trivial, as English loses it’s importance as a language in the EU we now need to start finding more French and German speakers to staff European diplomatic positions.

The longer version is that Australian security is also enhanced by the British membership of the EU because in addition to making the UK more relevant in geopolitics, it also makes the UK stronger economically – and I realise that an unholy alliance of Russian troll farms; conservatives trying to pretend thats it’s still 1950; and elements of the British media who, well who are just making things up (any article Boris wrote from Brussels in his days there for, was it The Telegraph?), have been selling the opposite story but as with many things in politics/government , it’s actually counter intuitive, not intuitive – your economy is already (approximately) 2% smaller than it would have been without Brexit and you haven’t even left yet. That 2% isn’t coming back and you will lose a lot more by the time it’s all done (note please that it will not be overnight, it will be death of a 1000 cuts scenario; if you want to see what the future of British manufacturing looks like you should study the Australian car industry from around 1980 through to 2017).

So Australian security (which is not exactly the same thing as Australian defence) is enhanced by having a UK with a seat in decision making forums we do not have access to, and Australian security is enhanced by having an economically stronger UK. It is the latter that is going to come back and bite you here with people who care about the RN, I’m afraid. The stronger the UK’s economy, the more higher the tax revenue is, in turn the higher the tax revenue, the more money there is to spend on the RN (which incidentally is why the “extra 350 Pounds for the NHS is a fallacy – for that 350 m to exist the economy has to be producing the tax revenue). I have no idea what the day to day costs of the RN are but I’d be very surprised if, on the 29th March 2029 the UK still has both carriers; and it’s amphibious capability (equivalent to today); and a destroyer/frigate force of more than 20 hulls – it may have two of the three, but it certainly won’t have all three.

While on the subject of economics, btw, it’s the only area (other than passports and permeant residence for individuals) where British membership of the EU and British membership of the Commonwealth is actually zero sum game. That is to say the security (and defence) relationship between the UK and Australia, and the security (and defence relationship) between the UK and the EU are not a case of one or the other for the UK. The Commonwealth is not, never has been, (and never will be) a mutual defence treaty between it’s members (Indian and Pakistan make that an impossibility, nevermind the size of most Commonwealth member’s defence forces). It’s probably worth mentioning that there actually isn’t a mutual defence treaty between the UK and Australia, and never has been, even before the UK joined the EU. Australia declared for the empire in WW1 and WW2 because we hadn’t signed the Statute of Westminster and Britain was handling our external affairs for us. Remembering that the EU didn’t exist in 1942 (when we did enact the Statue of Westminster) there is some very uncomfortable reading, for anyone in Britain who is arguing that leaving the EU will somehow improve defence ties with Australia, we had to enact it.

aaran button

china is no way near our largest trading partner. the single largest country we trade with is the USA.


Has anyone got a definitive answer about the royalty payments question?Why is anyone going to buy a low end frigate from the UK when they can get it much cheaper from Korea?If the quality is good enough for the RN, then it’s good enough for them.Why hasn’t BAE sold any in 20 years,despite massive subsidies?Why didn’t we do this years ago if it’s viable. Instead we are competing mature foreign designs against a rush job using either a 20 year-old or foreign design.The last two export orders were rejected prior to delivery. I’ve already covered the mad industrial strategy………


Poisonous rubbish.


You make a splendid intellectual argument……..


Well talk sense then!


Stop making sense.
Deafening silence when it comes to counterpoints.Thoughtless patriotism and endless “we want 8and we won’t wait ” simplification along with rampant self interest from the unions and the military industrial complex is what destroyed the world’s mightiest ship building industry.
Obviously I forgot to mention that the type 31e is intended to be built by a deliberately inefficient system.


LOVE the WWI reference…heh…and how did the Exchequer fare after that!


The answer lies in the peace divided at the end of the Cold War.

In the 60s and 70s we exported many top flight submarines and frigates. At the time they were expensive, quality, war fighting machines. Oberon submarines were world leading in their day, as were the Leander frigates.

From the late 80s onwards defence budgets worldwide were slashed. This had the consequence that all the navies except the RN and USN bought and operated 2nd tier equipment from Navantia, Fincantieri etc. Performance wise very few frigates can hold a candle to the specialist ASW type 23s, and the same will be true for the Type 26.

With the resurgence of the Russian threat, and the emergence of a Chinese threat a few countries are re-thinking, and now opting for top flight equipment.

Type 26 is selling because it is specialist, high end equipment. None of the other vessels offered to the Canadian government were real specialist ASW ships. One was even an AAW frigate modified for ASW with limited quietening.


The Type 23 is an ASW specialist but due to lessons from the Falklands has a good defensive AAW suite ? Maybe they should replace HMS Bristol with a type 23 for training?

Mark Anthony

I would suggest that neither the Anzac class nor the Halifax frigates in service from the 1990’s with the RAN and the RCN are second tier ships. In their day they were top notch. Even today they are still pretty good kit.


Sounds good ? Hopefully the Type 26 can be delivered easily…The only thing I would add to its weapons load out would be 325mm ASW Torpedo launchers


Stingray and other lightweight hull mounted torpedo systems are a bit dated now. Ideally, a Spearfish-based ASROC weapon will be procured for the VLS as a true replacement for the old Ikara system we used to operate. In combination with the Merlin, that would be hands down the most capable ASW platform on the planet.


If we were to put a British torpedoe on ASROC it would be Stingray. Spearfish is far to big and heavy to launch by rocket.


Not sure why Spearfish isn’t surface launched. Decisive way to sink ships damaged or otherwise. In many circumstances I can forsee it would be handy piece of kit.


Yeah…Having surface launched Spearfish even if only in single tube mounts would give this ship epic ship killing power….It would basically up this ship to a General Purpose Destroyer as it would outgun the Type 45. The 45 could shoot its missiles down but wouldnt stand a chance against a Spearfish. Adm Chris Perry did state that the 45 was too noisy and hindered ASW operations. I am very hopeful for the Type 26 as long as it isnt gutted later like Type 45 was (No strike VLS, No Harpoons to begin with, zero ASW ability of its own)

Iqbal Ahmed

Congratulations to British industry; although I would give up our subsidy ridden and uneconomical warship building industry in a trice in exchange for an automotive industry even half the size and quality of Germany.

I love the use of the word ‘irony’ in the article to argue for turning our backs on Europe and returning to a White ‘5 eyes’ themed Commonwealth through sale and production of warships!

I wish we had a time machine. Some people really belong in the 1950s. Their vision of reality and priorities are far too skewed from the daily concerns of the Everyman for them to be happy and productive citizens.

Thankfully money is king. The economy trumps nostalgia any day of the week. We are plugged into the European economy (as Brexiteers are finding out with the talk of extended transition period to forever, customs union and NI backstop), Australia is plugged into the East Asian economy and Canada into its NAFTA neighbours.


I have to say that I find the figure of £1billion for British industry extremely disappointing. Perhaps the number is low because there is so much foreign content in the first place?


They aren’t being built in UK yards is the reason why the number is so low. Build some in Glasgow for export and the number will go up.


I had noticed small detail!The point is that you should expect to see more domestic equipment,engines,radar,and weapons etc being sold. It should be much easier and cheaper to buy the stuff that was designed and qualified for the ships.There is an ever increasing foreign content and companies such as BAE are dressing up a great deal kit that is designed and built abroad, such as the gun. We should be much more concerned about this than metal bashing. Whenever you see a figure like that, it’s ALWAYS exaggerated and it would only be sensible if we bought some Canadian and Aussie kit where they can do a better job and avoid duplicating effort. Some of the money will probably be for royalties, they are being very coy about how much and whose pocket it will end up in.


We in the US are making the same mistakes, of course…we cannot for example build our own civilian nuclear reactors without either Japanese or French assistance (since our patriotic ‘job creators’ have ‘offshored’ the ability to forge steel rings for the containment, among other critical specialties) and our latest warships couldn’t function without computers made in Asia.

Hell of a way to run a railroad, but to paraphrase V.I. Lenin, the committed capitalist will sell you the rope you hang him with!


Great news for British shipbuilding. Hopefully the Type 31 will also be an export success, and I expect it will. With the Type 26 and the Type 31 at both ends of the price spectrum British shipbuilding will have a product in not 1, but 2 markets, and will be a success in both. These are some exciting times for British shipbuilding after decades in the doldrums.

Anthony D

Ship design rather than ship building.


On the 26 certainly as the locals will want to keep their yards busy but the 31e might well be bought whole as the locals may not have the capacity to build something that complicated to MILSPEC locally.

Also it isn’t worth trying to build low numbers of low value ships locally. The difference with the 26 is that both AUS and CAN want decent numbers so it is worth building a line.

If say NZ want 2 x 31e then it certainly won’t be worth doing that locally. And likewise other places that want 2-4 31e.

Anyway it is pure speculation.

And the good thing is that the RN has done the right thing with the spec of the 26.

Which I suspect has been enhanced by the glow of the QE doing so well. Stuff to be happy about for once.


I thought that STRN and the vast majority of posters would be in agreement that the type 26 was ordered about 5years too late.It seems I was wrong and now everyone agrees with the government “sweet spot “spin.Theres no point in me covering the numerous and very expensive downsides of the delays again,but I can’t see any upside at all. The design and systems will all be the same vintage and the customers for design licence would only have been more confident if the ships were more mature.

Anthony D

Fair point, if it had been in the water by now then it could have been a contender for the USN. Shame that. It would have also derisked the proposal for the Canadian and Australian procurements but fortunately the strength of the design won through.


I agree that this is at least 5 years too late and massively over budget, I am also sick of hearing the £1bn cost as this is not the build cost but build+ first 10 years support I believe and therefore not very export friendly.

As for T31 – I really would like to see us use the T23 hull design, reconfigure the internals, machinery and bring into the 21st century and eek out the final bit of value out of this platform. As has been said above, this ship is still better than most, let the Spartan Systems and BMT teams apply their designs to this Hull form.

As for NZ – I am sure they will choose what is best for them and that it will be smaller and better.

We need to sort out our drumbeat now starting with a great joint amphibious support ship (think Karel Doorman) to replace all of our solid stores and amphibious requirements.

We have to accept that the RN is the only guarantor of the maritime build industry in the UK and fund it accordingly. This gives our service personnel top kit and our industry a sound (but small) base from which to build and innovate from (as both CL and A&P have shown they can do).


I think I’ve been asking this question on a few sites, potentially of yourself: Why not base the T31 on the same hull as the T26- particularly as the £1B price tag is for 10 years’ support. Wouldn’t “despecialising” the hull make for a decently respectable GP frigate that UK Plc own the design of? Everyone liked the Babcock design because it was bigger and had greater room for upgrades etc. over its lifetime, but it was a Danish design- so not necessarily easy to export. We have no such problems with the T26 hull. So, potentially, another British shipbuilder has to licence the design from BAE, but at least they’re a (nominally) British company.
What’s so special about the T26 hull that it can’t be made cheap enough for general purpose, I thought the cost was primarily in systems and specialisation rather than hull steel?
I ask because I genuinely don’t know enough about the designs and costs.

Michael Barter

This is good news for the UK economy.
Living in Portsmouth it’s bitter sweet with the closeuer of the shipbuilding hall.


In June the Chinese launched the 30th 054A for the PLAN, Pakistan currently has 2 vessels, with 2 more under construction, that makes 34 ships in total. There’s also


Well, best not go to war with the PLAN then!