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I like the MEKO a lot more after reading it’s specifications. I wonder how much cheaper than £380 million a UK version could be if we factor in all the kit transferred from the T23’s for the first 5?

I still think in terms of pure capability and future potential Arrowhead is the clear winner, but it looks to be the most expensive of the 3 which is obviously a big problem!

Leander is a crudely stretched River Class that looks to be significantly behind the others in a whole host of areas. Plus it hardly gets shipbuilding away from being a purely BAE monopoly (i mean if supporting Cammell Laird really matters to the government then making it the lead yard for FSS would be the logical move).

Unfortunately it may all be academic as i still don’t see how we can get anything more than a sparsely equipped corvette for £250 million.


Stretched Khareef class you mean surely?


It certainly has the credentials, but the price issue is concerning. Even accounting for GFE, the MEKO is the most expensive of the 3 contenders, which means it faces the most compromises of the 3 to get down to the price point.

Say what you will, but BAE may have the right idea. They’ve started with a smaller, cheaper design and added what they can within budget, as opposed to trying to cheapen a more capable platform. As much as we all love Arrowhead, or even the A-200, the Leander bid is the most economically sound: single yard build, least ambitious design, support from one of the biggest defence companies in the world. We can only hope Babcock put forward a convincing argument.


Our government needs a good kick up the backside and place these navy orders before any more British yards close like Appledore in north devon, were an island nation they don’t seem the lessons of history

Meirion X

I still think a warship less then 125 metres, is a Corvette! If the UK procures this vessel, there will be the risk factor of quality control issues.
I do agree this vessel is expensive, for what we are getting!


You’re falling into the trap of thinking size is the most important feature in warship classification. In the same way that the Zumwalts and Type 055s are destroyers despite being bigger than many past and current cruisers, the T31 is a frigate and not a corvette because its designed for global, blue-water operations instead of littoral combat in home waters.

In any case, most corvettes are under 110m, while most frigates seem to be between 120 and 150m.

Meirion X

I have been calling some of the contenders for the Type 31 frigate contact, a corvette, because I look at modern warships from a post cold war perspective. As you say, the classification yardstick has change over the last half Century. But surely, the proposed Leander dimensions are a step backwards to the old Type 12 Leander(113m) 2500tons.


In some ways, perhaps the T31 programme IS a step backwards, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, and it’s something many of our allies are doing too.

Modern first-rates are so expensive that they can’t be procured in the numbers necessary to meet every role, but since not every deployment NEEDS a billion pound destroyer,not every ship has to BE a billion pound destroyer. A relatively small GP frigate with nothing but a big gun, helicopter, and self defence capability (decoys, SAMs, CIWS, etc) is more than adequate for 90% of the operations a peacetime navy has to fulfill.


A simple question.

Why a Corvette must be defined as short-range brown water ship?

Modern corvette emerged as Flower-class in WW2. It was slow and short legged. It evolved into River-class Frigate, which is a bit faster and long legged.

Now corvette is as fast as a frigate, not “slow” anymore. Then, why we need to stick to “short legged” either, as a definition for a Corvette?

Modern Destroyer and Frigate have evolved so large and capable. In average cost, it is ~1B GBP ship. Classifying a ship costing 1/3-1/4 of them with the same name will invoke many misunderstandings. On the other hand, OPV costs 1/3-1/4 of a T31 or a modern corvette, so calling T31e an OPV is also pointless.

Sorry for a bit off-topic comment.


*greenwater, not brownwater. Green is coastal, brown is rivers and inshore bodies of water

Ultimately, class designations are up to the owning fleet. The French use the term frigate for their destroyers, for example. So there’s nothing to stop anyone building a small, ocean going combatant and calling it a corvette.

Going by global convention though, a corvette is a short ranged, small combatant anywhere between 60 to 110m in length. Seeing as the T31, regardless of design, will be ocean going and bigger than that (plus the RNs need to maintain frigate numbers), I see no need to call it a corvette

Meirion X

You right that modern corvettes are nearly as fast as frigates, but the issue of corvettes being called ‘short legged’ is to do with endurance and capacity.
A corvette will have limited space to store fuel, supplys and food. Which means more frequent stops at ports, to be resupplied, in comparison to a frigate, which may need to avoid some ports. Also smaller engines will need more maintenance.
Remember, Internal volume increases disproportionately to the length & width.
The same issue with aircraft carriers.

Paul of the south

Yes, I agree with you Callum, but T31e, to be interesting for other medium-sized navies, must have growth potential, since for them they will be their first-line ships. A light frigate for the Royal Navy, a medium and balanced for the export, that can have versions AAW and ASW, Leander does not seem to be the best option in those cases.


Very good point, Paul. I wouldn’t be too concerned though, if you look back at the Type 21 this is a case of history repeating itself.

While the RN version itself achieved no export success and had insufficient margin for significant upgrades, Vosper built an upgraded version known as the Mk10 that did fairly well. The Brazilian Navy still operates 6 of them I believe, and their armament is fairly good (4.5″ gun, SAMs, SSGWs, torpedoes, etc). Same thing will probably happen with Leander: the RN gets a simple version to budget, but an upgraded version is available for export.


Warships, the clue is in the name.Designed to be used for warlike activities.

Meirion X

NATO Warships are to Deter War!


By being designed to conduct war.Even if you are only bluffing,it needs to be convincing.Our enemies are unlikely to be greatly troubled by the type 31e.


For me this is all about strategy, Aegir class for all RFA and large vessels (amphib) and only 2 sizes of combatants for the navy.

T26 is the right size for our high end ships and 14 is the right number, when replacing our T45’s in the future (it means they need a better radar from the start however.

Meko is a great ship, but I cant help wondering why we just dont take the current T23 hullform and improve its layout to modern standards, by all accounts the T23 is a great ship and I am sure we can tweak its hull form and propulsion, perhaps in the same way as the meko to create more room.

Once we have the 14 larger vessels, then a 100-120m is ideal for all other duties in my opinion, and something like a C-sword90 would get my vote.

I dont think we need the rivers or a large T31 if we get a right sized corvette that has a good load out. Then we build loads of them and benefit from efficiencies in scale. If we build 1 per year then the new rivers can be replaced in 20 years time onwards, so no real rush.

T31 is important in so many ways for the RN, but it is critical to get a crew that is less than 100 and a ship that can offer full spectrum in a compact form.

Meirion X

An All T26 ASW frigate fleet of 13, is unnecessary. The biggest threat to our frigates east of Suez, is from the Air, and from small surface crafts.
A proposed Type 31 would need to have better AAW capability, and defences to mainly deal with surface threats.

Anthony Gilroy

I’d say SSK proliferation poses a bigger risk to our frigates than surface craft.

Meirion X

Not east of Suez, main threats in the east are craft which range in size from speed boats to corvettes.

Bob Wagstaff

I think you might be underestimating the proliferation of subs recently.

Meirion X

I am not saying there are No subs east of Suez. Those subs to the East, are mainly subs of friendly nations, eg. India.
Of course, a Type 31 frigate will need some ASW capability.


I think your overlooking the fact that our main threat and the object of our attention is this side of the Suez


It depends how far east of Suez you are talking about. A certain eastern power has been obtaining bases in the Indian Ocean. The northern power you are worried about also exists east of Suez (in the Pacific). Submarines have been exploding in numbers in the Indo-Pacific region. Even Myanmar have been talking about obtaining some.

Captain Nemo

I wonder how long the various modules take to swap with these designs? Would the navy possibly look to purchase a reduced number of fighting modules to save costs and then move them around like it does with phalanx? If you have a look at the Danish Navy’s Stanflex inventory it would certainly be a very compelling proposition for a larger T31 fleet.
The quiet engine is a plus, but reading it I was wondering if they won’t one day just move the whole ASW issue outside of the hull by slaving something like the US Navy ACTUV remotely to a frigate?
The mission bay is a deal breaker for me with this one, I’d like to see them raiding other budgets to increase T31 numbers so I’d prefer it to be as large and as versatile as possible, I think I read somewhere that the Leander’s mission bay is an adaption of the one for the T26, don’t know if that’s true. Capability to operate an 11/12m boat must surely be a consideration for the navy to allow cross platform capability in the future.
Not sure we can read anything into a $500m price tag yet, they could have written things like through life service contracts into that.
Leander must trump MEKO in this weight category for the all British design but looking forward to your piece on the wildcard 6000 tonner.

Kevin Hastie

Am I missing something here?… of the motivating factors behind the Type 31e is not just to produce a low price General Purpose Frigate for the RN but also to produce an exportable ship. So we adopt a German ship notable for its` export success!… much for promoting British ship building!

Meirion X

I agree! It’s a contradiction!


It’s not quite as bad as it seems, TKMS haven’t built the majority of the ships themselves usually they design them, and the work is then done locally in the case of the Turkish and Australian ships or at other yards in Germany so you could market them as”Designed in Germany, built in Britain” comfortably and as long as the contracts are well written and TKMS are getting their cut it shouldn’t be a problem. Incidentally if the MOD’s lawyers did their job properly then both the Meko and IH designers have already signed contracts agreeing to let British yards compete (using the same/near the same designs), in the case of TKMS as they have been happy to let other yards build their designs in the past I can’t see an issue forming, there might be one with the IH but I’ve no idea what the capacity of the Danish yards are in the first place.

Saying that, I do have a strong suspicion the Meko consortium is just in the competition to keep the other bids honest (possibly just one of the other bids) and TKMS may well know that so if their consortium lose they won’t mind anywhere near as much as Harland & Wolff or Ferguson will.


But, in case of MEKO 200, even though the Australian Tennix shipyard was the first of a few ship yards building MEKO 200 other than German ship yards, non of Turkish nor Greece MEKO200 was built in Australia.

Similarly, Brazilian Tamandaré-class corvette (MEKO A100 based), if added with a few meters of extension amidship, can be a good T31e candidate. (It is with Artisan 3D, 12 CAMM, helo, even SSM and hull sonar). But, UK will never order T31e from Brazilian ship yards.

Then, how can a German MEKO A200 ship nor Danish I-H class based T31e design be built in UK shipyards to be exported for other nations? Are there any such example in the past?


South Korea are presently exporting their version of German type 209 submarine to Indoneasia. The ability to export anothers design (legally) depends on the terms of the contract. Royalties may apply, permission of the originating country may apply, there could be a pre-aproved export list or a designated area eg South America, etc. Older tech often has less restictive terms.

I see little problem in regard to A140. OMT are a member of the consortium & would remain so for any export orders. Denmark is likely to agree to any export request by UK (if that is part of the agreement) & OMT no longer have their own shipyard, so anything they build has to be built somewhere else anyway. MEKO A200 though is a problem in that TKMS still have shipyards in Germany & any potential buyer would be silly not to be asking both UK & Germany for a price.

Cam Hunter

The IPR intellectual property rights of the danish ship are fullyUK based now after licensing it I believe.

Phillip Johnson

The MEKO concept goes back nearly 25 years. It is in some respects all things to all people.
If the 250M per ship stands, you would be making a huge assumption that the MEKO 200 on offer to the RN has any relationship to the South African or Algerian ships in terms of CODOG WARP.
The MEKO 200 has had various propulsion systems installed to suit various customers and their budgets. The RN offer could easily be CODAD. It is about the only thing that would allow a striped down MEKO 200 into the race.
It is amazing how may people don’t want to pay attention to 250 mil per ship including new non T23 GFE. hat figure is simply not going to pay for a lot.


Some ideas for reducing costs on Meko while trying to meet the basic RN requested spec but still producing a flexible and adaptable ship that navies would want.

1. Fit 57mm gun (adaptable to 127mm).
2. Fit 16 cell CAMM launcher
(adaptable to 32)
3. Leave space for future fit of strike length VLS. (Adaptable)
4. Remove AShM midships and enclose space for mission bay.
5. Replace Gas Turbine with third Diesel engine rafted mounted for ASW noise reduction.
6. Remove rafting from other two diesel engines so no ASW noise reduction.
7. Remove Water Jet propulsion.
8. FFBNW phalanx.
9. FFBNW cannister AShM.
10. Transfer kit from T23.

When running at low speeds generally only one engine is required. Operating on the one rafted mounted engine gives you the noise reduction required for ASW operations. Generally higher speeds are used to quickly transit from one area of operations to another when noise reduction isn’t a priority and you are unlikely to be conducting high speed ASW operations anyway.


I’m afraid that you’re defining an up-gunned OPV there. The T31 still has to be a true blue water frigate as they have to operate as part of a 19-strong escort fleet. Any regression on T23 standards will damage the RN’s standing as a capable, blue water navy.


As T31e program cost is 1.25B GBP for 5 hulls, I suspect Don-san’s armament list is the best we can wish.

Brazilian Tamandaré-class corvette, based on modified TKMS MEKO A100 design is ~1.2B GBP program for 4 hulls. It’s armaments are, a 76mm gun, 12 CAMM, 40mm CIWS, hull-sonar, SH60 helo, 4 Exocet SSM, and AS torpedo tubes, packed within 3400t hull. (Good news they selected Artisan 3D).

So, 1.25B GBP T31e as 5 hulls with longer range larger hull (3700-6000t, depending on the design), with similar armament to Tamandaré-class, is already “a bit optimistic”. Of course, direct comparison of building budget is not easy, because there are big difference in “what is included in those contracts”. But, anyhow, expecting “a true blue water frigate” from T31e is, sorry to say, impossible.

It was clear from the begining, when the “1.25B GBP for 5 hull” budget was released. Clear. So, yes, 5 T31e will be “less than” 5 T23GP, for sure. As 8 T26 is “more than” 8 T23ASW, is could be partly balanced.

I think calling T31e a “frigate” is misleading. T31e cost is “right in the middle” of a large Corvette.

Meirion X

It will depend of which contender is chosen for the Type 31e frigate contact, for it to be know if it is a real frigate.
The answer is Yes if it is the Arrowhead!



I am not sure “Arrowhead” can be a real frigate.

It has larger hull, has four 8MW diesel engines surely expensive than two 9.2MW engines on Leander. Also, UK has no STANFLEX container to re-use (*1). I see zero possibility Arrowhead 140 is “more armed” than as listed by Don-san. If we have another 1B GBP added (*2) to the total program budget (2.25B GBP in total), I agree Arrowhead 140 will give a “real frigate”. But, with 1.25B GBP, it will just be a big vacant ship, wasting fuel to deploy.

*1: Any equipment (GFE) will anyway be costed and be included in the 1.25B GBP, as clearly stated many times. So transfer from T23GP, if ever happens, does not solve the problem.

*2: But if I have this 1B GBP, I shall buy a few more P8, P7, add data-link to Wildcat, add modest ASW capability to T31 (even Leandner can do) etc etc…, and not use to make T31e “a real frigate”. Also note MOD is “short of” 4.8-10B GBP in 10 years equipment budget…


You seem to be a tad confused. The GFE being included in the contract means that things like the Artisan radar AREN’T part of the £250mn cost per ship. It’s part of what makes the entire competition actually viable.



1: The actual sentence is: “Type 31e is to cost not to exceed £1.25 billion, inclusive of Government Furnished Equipment (GFE)”.

I think “inclusive” is on £1.25 billion, which means it will be costed. I do not understand why people think GFE is free, from this sentence.

2: In twitter answer to Engaging-srategies-san’s inquiry “will those cost constraints be mitigated by recycling some equipment from Type 23s as they decommission?”, 2nd Sea Load says, “some bit not significant systems”.

So regardless of the GFE cost, only a little equipments will be transferred from T23 to T31e.

3: Even if some GFEs can be re-used, Arrowhead 140 benefits from it much less than Leander, because they use TACTICOS CMS, while Leander uses BAE-CMS1 (now with new name), which is the same to the modified T23. I do not think significant reuse will happen, but, even so, Leander could benefit the most. Therefore, I think Leander “could” be the most heavily armed option among the 3 candidates.


I may well be wrong, but my take on it is that any GFE is free, but fitting etc is not. This contrasts say to the original IH frigate, where most of the GFE was removed from previous ships & fitted to the IH post delivery to the Danish Navy. ie OMT delivered without – the GFE was mostly installed by the navy at government expense later. With the T31e, I take it the 250 million is it. Any GFE must be removed from T23, refurbished if required & then fitted to the T31. No extra money will be forthcoming for this. The ship is to be delivered ready to go for the stated amount.

As others have said also, if the UK expects to resell the T23s in question rather than breaking or sinking them, then some equipment would need to stay to make them worth buying. There is always some sensitive gear of course that won’t stay & will likely move over.


Thanks, but sorry, from where your idea come? The official sentence says GFE is included in 1.25B GBP, as I read?

And, anyway, Second Sea Load clearly says, not many equipment will be transferred. And this is consistent with “T23 re-selling” hope, as you said.


My idea comes from standard practice amonst the 5 Eyes powers (I assume its the same everywhere but others better informed may wish to comment). GFE is just that – Government Furnished Equipment. ie the government is supplying the equipment, not the prime, therefore the prime does not pay for said equipment, as the government is paying or already owns the equipment (the government is also the end customer). However even such ‘free’ equipment must be installed & integrated. If it is already installed somewhere else, it must be deinstalled first. If it requires refurbishment, then it must be deinstalled & refurbished before being reinstalled. If it needs integration to the CMS or other systems, then that needs to be done. All of this costs money. Exactly where the line is drawn is unclear (primarily, who pays for deinstall & refurbishment), however it is fairly clear that install & integration costs are part of the 250 million. The UK Mod have no intention of paying extra.

Sometimes this GFE is sitting on the shelf (either removed earlier or part of its spare parts or training inventory), othertimes it isn’t. In the case of the IH frigate, a large proportion of GFE was fitted later at additional government expense by the Danish Navy, not by OMT. Australia will soon have 5 x 76mm naval guns on the shelf, all paid for years ago. If nobody buys the remaining 2 much newer Adelaide class frigates, this will rise to 7 guns. All these guns are still supported by Leonardo & upgrade kits are available. Australia has 2 spare self defence mk 41 VLS, which could soon rise to 4. New Zealand has 2 of the same. UK has ordered 3 new towed sonar arrays for the first of the T26. As all the ASW T23’s are retired, they may well end up with 3 spare sets on the shelf. None of this is unusual.

Please do not take offence Donald of Tokyo, but literal reading of UK documents designed for internal UK consumption (all of the primes putting up bids are UK companies or include UK companies or have UK branch companies), can cause misunderstandings. Sometimes things are not stated because they assume you already know what they mean. Documents intended for wider international consumption will often be written differently.


Thanks DJ-san

Sorry if you felt some “offensive”, its not my intention. I was just eager for information/documents I do not know.

Tracing back from T31e RFI. Among the “top 6 message”, they say
2: “Meet the price of £250m per ship, including your development costs, risk and profit, whilst minimising the GFX burden and cost of ownership to the MOD”

Section 8.1

“GFX will be minimised as far as possible”
“£250M is the maximum average price per ship for an initial order of 5 ships. This includes non-recurring engineering costs, contractor risk and profit, minimal GFX proposed by the contractor, initial training and spares. All costs are at outturn assuming an in service date with the Royal Navy for the first of class of 2023, and a drumbeat of a ship delivered every 12 months thereafter”

So I thought,
– GFE will be costed (may be the money MOD should have got by selling the equipments in store?).
– independently, GFE is minimum.

But, this is just for RFI, and current requirements in competitive design phase is not clear. They recently said “inclusive of GFE”, which makes me wonder it is still costed (as I said in the last comment). But, I agree this is not yet clear.

On the other hand, “GFE is minimum” is repeatedly confirmed by the 2nd-SeaLoad.

I’m afraid CAMM system will not be included in the “minimum”. I’m not sure, if the 4.5 inch gun is within the “minimum”. Hull sonar, MTLS, 30 mm gun, chaff/flare launcher, is also “grey”.

Also, I agree to your point; all the “deinstalled, refurbish, install, integration” cost is there, and this is in general, much higher than the equipment cost themselves.



It would appear that the GFE is not specified & may be different for each team, but UK MoD wants it as low as possible. BAE likely would like to reuse the T23 Artisan radar if it can, as it’s already integrated with their CMS & its a familiar product. If they can’t, well they make the radar so they can discount if they want to. Thales & Co may well have decided to go with a lower spec radar that is good enough, but is already integrated & familiar & new out of the box (it’s also made by them so they can discount if they want to). Is it better to be higher spec second hand or lower spec new? The difficulty with this competition is it’s to a set price with no room to move & a vague wish list.

Michael Nicholson

The programme budget has to include the capital value of the GFE even though the builder will not be charged for it. However the capital value might be low because it will have depreciated. There are usually significant refurbishment, obsolescence and recommissioning costs though.


For £250m per ship it will be difficult to get a fully tooled up blue water frigate. I would argue that the £250m budget is used to acquire the best possible blue water hull to which systems, sensors and weapons which are over and above the £250m budget can readily and easily be added in a plug and play type fashion when finances allow or when there is an urgent operational need. The hull should be designed for this from the outset. So in theory a hull with a basic constabulary configuration could be reconfigured in a matter of hours or days to become a fully tooled up blue water frigate.
Remember the RN has requested a constabulary vessel that can be adapted to a more war fighting role. This is the thinking behind the FFBNW for AShM, Strike length VLS and Phalanx. (I would love a Phalanx / Strike Length VLS if the budget allows)

Moving to the 57mm gun.
Ideally the RN should use the 127mm gun as standard across the fleet but fitting this on T31 out of the £250m budget is unrealistic. Reusing the 4.5 inch gun from the T23 would incur costs for its removal and fitting. On top of this the MOD would be keen to sell on the old T23s to cash in. The would be purchaser would be looking for a main gun so purchasing a new main gun and fitting this on T23 to facilitate a sale would incur further costs. So I am dubious if the 4.5 inch gun will transfer from the T23. Also from a manpower issue the 4.5 inch gun requires more crew than a 57mm and the navy is keen to keep crew numbers down on the T31 to alleviate the manpower issues across the fleet. I am not a fan of the 76mm gun and using it would introduce another gun system that requires crew training, maintenance and logistic chains and ammo stocks. However the 57mm gun would most likely be used on any future mine warfare vessel. So this would standardise the RN on 127mm for larger escorts and 57mm for T31 and mine warfare vessels. But crucially it leaves the door open that the RN could transfer the 57mm gun from the T31 to future mine warfare vessels and have the 127mm gun fitted to the T31 at this time. Also a great range of ammo has been and is being developed for the 57mm and it makes a very good CIWS as well.
( Ideally the RN should try to provide additional funds for a couple of the T31s to get 127mm guns for Naval Gunfire Support. )

To operate a gas turbine, water jet,and diesel engines will require crew trained on these systems and will require spares for all three systems. This drives up crew numbers, costs and maintenance and logistical requirements to stay operational. By standardising on three diesel engines this will bring down crew numbers, costs and the maintenance and logistical requirements and will help keep the ship at sea longer for less cost.

The savings made in accepting three Diesel engines and a 57mm gun could release funds for something else for example a phalanx / VLS / sonar etc.


To my mind, NGS should be a major consideration. Ideally you would not want to risk a T45 for this unless you had to. So it’s either going to be T26 or T31 that will have to fill the roll. T26 is a very expensive ship in comparison to a T31. If you are going to put a ship within possible range of shore based missiles, rockets & artillary, then the T31 is the obvious choice. A 57mm however doesn’t cut it.


I agree with what you say and would prefer a larger main gun if feasible.


The historic irony of a design from Blohm and Voss is that brings with it the heritage of a number of the opposing warships from the Battle of Jutland as well as KMS Bismarck. Of course they proved worthy adversaries able to withstand heavy punishment which is probably a good sales pitch.


As with the others? Weapon fit has suddenly become an unknown. Despite it being accepted that each vessel will cost in excess of £250 million and now I understand a revised order for 6, we’re suddenly seeing our worst nightmares coming true – basically we’re going down the over-sized OPV route………..

Anthony Ellems

Good evening , reading the write up of the bidding for the Meko A200 frigate , i think the contract should be giving to a british ship builder as we are now should be looking to employ skilled workers from our shores , thyssen-krupp have lost favour with their own countries navy for producing shody work and not just once , i dont think we can afford to throw money down the drain. We’ve got very experienced ship builders here and the navy has got an order book to fill , keep the work at home ???


hello, what is the hull constructed from ?
i know its steel but what else or what is this steel type and thx .