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Donald_of_Tokyo

Good that the design “re-uses” as much as possible from the existing Khareef design. Because they are already built, detailed blue-print is there, significantly reducing the (detailed) design cost.

12 CAMM with a 3inch gun (can be 57mm if needed), and a 8-cell VLS (presumably Mk.41 strike length) looks very attractive for export. But for RN use, I’m afraid it is too tightly armed, and lacks future growth margin at the first look.

On the other hand, mission bay carries 2 RHIB, 2 ORC and 2 (or 1) ISO containers, which is so-so large. Because there are so many “mission bays” coming all over the RN future fleets (River B2, T26, MHC and CVF itself), I do not think the mission bay on T31e is that much critically important for RN. Mission bay is also unpopular for export.

But, I regard it can be considered as a space for future growth margin, and feel OK. For export, maybe customers will ask to ban the bay and add more SSMs or VLS. Good thing, I think.

With the same CMS to T26 (I understand Arrowhead 120 uses TACTICOS, actually the same to Khareef), and with the detailed design existing already (=detailed design cost can be smaller than those needed for Arrowhead 120), I think this design is better suited for T31e.

Jack

12 CAMM is not enough, Mk41 VLS very welcome but illustration has SSM in canisters ? Increase size of CAMM and fit LRASM in canisters and Type 31 will attract a good few export orders.plus I suspect additional hulls for RN. These days you need to have the most bangs for your buck, UK vessels tend to be heavily underarmed when compared to US vessels.

Evan P

Just aft of the canisters and forward of the crane it looks like there are a few VLS, Jack.

Brutoni

Indeed. The current design AFAIK features a 4-6 cell CAMM VLS abaft the containerised AShMs, remember that CAMM can be quad packed in the current cold launch system. The front will be a VLS system around a similar length to the MICA VL system as that outfits the Khareef class. So you’re unlikely to get full strike length MK.41. I’d suggest another 12 cells.

Spear 3 looks like it will be compatible with a lot of MBDA systems so there is no reason the front VLS won’t have the option to take Spear 3, CAMM and CAMM(ER) bearing in mind quad packing of CAMM(ER) and Spear 3 may not be possible. That said a quad packed soft launch 6 cell VLS abaft the AShM canisters will give 24 CAAM. Leaving the remaining 12 fwd for either Spear 3, CAMM(ER) or more likely more CAMM.

The designs looks good and side davits for ORCs would be a big win when you consider she can also take a Wildcat helicopter. I think the key is making sure she gets a 127mm gun. Any smaller and you are increasing the logistics train and supply cost for the RN operating 2 instead of 1 MCG. At 4000 tonnes she is more than able to mount a 127mm and it would assist in her given role of anti-piracy, anti-terrorism and light expeditionary work.

Callum

Unfortunately, the quad packing is done in larger cells like the Mk41 or Sea Viper. The cold launch cells are specific to Sea Ceptor, and only hold a single missile per cell. Still, 18 Sea Ceptor total is definitely better than 12. My personal minimum for T31 was 24-32 missiles, but 18 and a Phalanx is probably enough for it to deploy on it’s own on combat patrol taskings, and to provide close in protection for the carrier group.

I definitely agree with you about the 5″ gun. Logistically, having 4.5″, 5″, and 57/76mm guns all in service simultaneously in small numbers is impractical. Standardising the 5″ across the fleet would be cheaper and easier, plus it would give the T31 access to Vulcano guided rounds, which would be a decent alternative to using its AShM in relative close quarters (when the RN eventually decide on a new AShM that is)

Mike

I am a fan of a cold launch Spear 3. The precision strike and anti-ship capabilities available to even a cheap warship would be impressive. But is it even happening? I hope so.

Callum

There’s no mention of a Mk41 system? For the T31, strike length VLS isn’t a neccessity. A 76mm or 5″ gun, a decent (24-32) stock of Sea Ceptors, and the cannister launched AShW missile is more than enough for a GP frigate. ASW would be nice, but thats what the Type 26 is for in fleet deployments, and submarines are less of an issue in the T31’s normal deployments away from the North Atlantic.

Evan P

I’ve just seen a video of T31 at DIMDEX and it shows an 8 cell VLS very clearly which looks like Mk41, but it is not talked about so I don’t think it is being offered in the RN design.

Callum

Are you certain that was BAE’s Leander concept? From what I’ve seen the Leander design doesn’t have the space for Mk41 currently. I have a feeling the video you’re on about is the Babcock Arrowhead.

If you’ve got a link to that video, that would help clear up any confusion

Evan P
Evan P

The render looks like Mk41 but it looks disproportionately small so I’m not sure.

Callum

Definitely Leander, unfortunately that’s not Mk41. All VLS cells are for Sea Ceptor based off of the information we’ve been given.

The part that’s confusing me though, is that for the forward VLS they’ve still got the widely spaced MICA VLS tubes in two sets of 6 like on the Khareef corvette. There’s a lot of empty space between each tube, which doesn’t line up with the tightly packed nature of the Sea Ceptor launchers we’ve already seen. You wouldn’t get a Mk41 in there, but I’d say you could at least get 4 Sea Ceptor per MICA cell based on the spacing and Sea Ceptors ease of installation.

Anyone fancy 48 Sea Ceptors forward?

Evan P

What’s confusing me is the fact that they are going with different types of cells for the same missile, and packing them individually in all of them. It doesn’t seem well thought out, and as you say, there is clearly room for more, even in the space that is currently not being used between the sets of 6 cells. We would be getting no more than a corvette with a medium sized mission bay and Artisan as it is. That should easily come in below £250 million per ship, considering the fact that 1 Khareef is £130 million ish, they are based off an existing design, and can inherit some equipment off the T23s like radar. I’m really hoping Babcock/BMT win now, they seem to be giving much more.

A. Smith

It will need a minimum of 24 CAMM, a 5″ gun, a quiet hull, stealthy design, 16 cell strike length Mark 41 VLS, Stingray, CAPTAS-4 towed sonar, a Wildcat and lots of decoys and countermeasures as a *minimum* for the Royal Navy in my opinion.

craig

Why on earth would we fit strike SSMs to a budget frigate with a £250m cost cap when we can’t afford to fit them to T45s and can’t afford to replace our obsolete Harpoon SSMs? A new canister-based SSM for T31 and across fleet, plus strike SSMs on T26s is already aspirational, add in on T45s too and that’s a bonus.
This design is about right. TBH I’d transfer the upgraded 4.5″ guns from the T23s too to further reduce costs. I’d def pick Leander based on proven tech that’s already been sold and in service over Babcock’s far less mature design.

Frank

That is a beautiful ship. I do not want to say “shame it is by BAES” but I will just put the sentiment out there, given their past track-record (granted, not helped by government dithering).

Jim Cunningham

It’s better that these ships have the mission bay and no weaponry beyond a 57mm gun. Without either a towed array sonar and/or an area air defence system it is not a fighting ship fit for contemporary naval warfare. Better to use it as global patrol sloop conducting maritime security tasks.

Alternatively make the hull as quiet as possible and add a towed array and we have a decent ASW platform. Type 26 as it currently exists could then have a chance to use its mission bay and strike length VLS rather than having all units tied to either carrier or UK duties.

Callum

Neither of those is what the RN wants. Whats required is a general purpose warship, capable of the full range of operations. What you’ve described is an OPV and the original concept for the T23, which was discarded after the Falklands proved that warships needed to be able to defend themselves, not just rely on other ships.

Jim Cunningham

What is the point of a general purpose warship which cannot fight? Can the “Leander” above contribute to either the ASW or AAW battle? Not meaningfully. Therefore we may as well save some money and build a helicopter capable OPV.

An original concept Type 23 would at least be of value in reducing the pinch point of decent ASW platforms. However what I will say it I think it is a real shame that Type 26 has added cost and complexity with its mission bay which it will seldom use, better to have an updated version of the 2087 equipped Type 23. A larger hull but otherwise a first class ASW frigate with a respectable self defence verging on local area air defence capability.

Broadly I think the RN has made a mistake by trying to turn Type 26 into Thunderbird 2, making it too expensive to be procured in large enough numbers to maintain numbers in the frigate fleet. 8 Type 26 will be too busy catering to the ASW requirement to ever do anything else. We can still provide global presence with an OPV but we shouldn’t expect it to fight, we especially shouldn’t blur the lines on what ships can and cannot fight by calling Type 31e a frigate when it would likely be a liability if facing even a non peer air or submarine threat. Alternatively we could free up the small number of Type 26s by adding a towed array ASW capability to Type 31e.

Callum

In what way can the above design not fight? Artisan, Sea Ceptor, and Phalanx give it a decent AAW capability, definitely enough to contribute to the defence of itself, the carrier, or a convoy of merchant vessels. For AShW it has the same capability as the far larger T45 or most other NATO warships, which is once again enough for a light escort. The only area it clearly lacks in is ASW, as it lacks a towed array, torpedoes, or facilities for a Merlin (I can’t recall if the Wildcat has any ASW utility at this time).

If the RN did go with your option of building far more OPVs, what could it do with them? Use them to patrol low risk areas. That’s it. It would mean our currently insufficient fleet of surface warships would then be spread even thinner, leaving the carriers with an insufficient escort and our nuclear deterrent with little or no frigate cover. In a best case scenario, the RN could expect to have 1-2 T45s and 3-4 T26s deployed at any given time. Preferably, you want two of each as the carrier escort, but at a bare minimum on a peace time deployment we’ll say one of each. That leaves the RN with MAYBE one destroyer and two frigates to meet all of its NATO and other standing deployments, plus the Fleet Ready Escort and Towed Array Patrol Ship here at home. It’s barely possible with 19 escorts, 14 just wouldn’t cut it. OPVs can cover things like counter piracy and humanitarian missions, but their own purpose in a battle group would be as floating collateral to shield more important vessels.

As for an original concept T23, they were designed to act in groups of four with a mothership carrying AAW missiles to cover them all. It was a bad idea back in the 80s, it’s even worse now when the RN has no spare manpower to sustain that sort of commitment. The T45 gets a lot of stick because it’s a billion pound ship that can only do one thing. It does it incredibly well, but with the current shortage of ships and manpower, the RN needs as many multi-purpose ships as possible.

The Type 26 was designed to be doing all of the RNs ASW tasks, so I can’t see why you seem to think it should be doing anything else? The mission bay is future proofing for ships that are going to see a lot of changing technologies. Lasers, drones, etc are all things expected to play a big role in the future of naval warfare, and a big frigate with excess power and space can accept those upgrades. A cheap single role ASW frigate cannot, meaning it’s outdated quickly and thus needs replacing with an entirely new ship.

Jim Cunningham

997 and Sea Ceptor give it a self defence to limited local area air defence capability but in essence the ship can’t really offer anything other than protecting itself to the limit of number of Sea Ceptors carried. Phalanx engagement would probably still end up as a mission kill for Type 31e (or any other platform).

Type 45 is the principal air defence asset of the fleet. Anything it provides beyond that is a bonus. Type 45s have often found themselves unable to conduct a wider range of missions because they were required to exercise the primary function as a higher priority.

Wildcat can act as an ASW weapon carrier only. No dipping sonar.

Patrolling low risk areas is exactly what I’d do with a larger fleet of OPVs (helicopter capable). First rate AAW and ASW platforms are in such short supply, they should provide only for CASD, the Carrier Task Group, where practical the Amphibious Task Group and where that level of capability is required NATO deployments.

APT North/South and Kipion etc. should no longer have FF/DDs deployed as a matter of routine. Ditto the intermittent deployments to the Mediterranean, East and West Africa and the Pacific. OPVs should maintain the grey hulled, white ensign toying presence in such places providing the “deputy sheriff” function. If actual fighting capability is required in a corner of the globe then the Carrier Task Group, or elements of it, should be deployed as “the Cavalry”.

FRE should also be an OPV as a matter of routine. It often is anyway these days.

With the high end escort fleet operating at a lower deployed tempo the RN should aim to have 3 Type 45s and 4 Type 26 at less than 7 days notice for contingent deployment or re-deployment. Perhaps of this 1 Type 45 and 1 or 2 Type 26 would be designated as “close escort” to the high readiness carrier giving the fleet commander some discretion in deploying the remainder of the high end escorts for other demanding warfare tasks.

My suggestion for towed array on Type 31e would see the “Leander” design retain is weapons fit in other respects. It would simply mean that there were more towed array platforms available meaning that the other warfare capabilities of Type 26, beyond ASW could be utilised.

The mission bay on Type 26 is some bright sparks idea of trying to cram elements of Strat RORO and light amphibious capability into a frigate. If we were worried about future proofing we could just leave empty space and growth margin.

To reiterate, my strong preference for Type 26 would have been an updated larger hull version of the Type 23 concept (as built, not as originally conceived), i.e. a well rounded frigate with excellent ASW capability. Ideally we’d have seen at least 12 of such a ship for roughly the same price as a FREMM. Sadly Type 26 has tried to be all things to all men and has added cost to the point of only getting 8 units. Had we been able to get say 12 “Type 23 concept” Type 26s with the added capability to have the towed arrays moved easily between individual ships I would have been exceptionally happy. However, we are getting the version of Type 26 that we are and that’s that, therefore with Type 31e I’m at pains to avoid anything that could end up as cannon fodder because it has been incorrectly labelled a frigate, giving the impression it can fight at the same level as Type 45/26. Two ideas are to make the vessel cheaper still and simply make them helicopter capable OPVs and/or add towed array ASW capability to “Leander” such that it can contribute to the ASW battle and free up Type 26 for a wider range of tasks. It is my opinion that either of these options would be an improvement on where RN plans are right now.

Brutoni

Jim, it’s good to see some considered answers however I’d like to highlight some points if that is okay?

“997 and Sea Ceptor give it a self defence to limited local area air defence capability but in essence the ship can’t really offer anything other than protecting itself to the limit of number of Sea Ceptors carried. ”

Okay, lets establish some commonality of statement here. Are you saying CAAM is Ship Point Defence or are you saying it is Local Area Defence? MBDA, the RN, the Italian Navy, the Chilean Navy and the New Zealand Navy all classify it as Local Area Defence and use it as such. Given the results of trials it seems more than capable of acting in that role. A Type 31 assigned goalkeeper to a QE could therefore more than happily cover and defend the QE with Sea Ceptor (assuming of course that CAP, Type 45 and Type 26 have all failed).

“Phalanx engagement would probably still end up as a mission kill for Type 31e (or any other platform).”

Depends against what missile and what target? Phalanx is capable of engaging small fast moving surface targets which makes it well worth including on most modern warships just to handle that asymmetric threat. Besides that the Chinese, Russians, Iranians, etcetc have in their inventory a high number of older missiles which Phalanx will also adequately defend against. Is it the best choice? No. But that is why it is part of the layered air defence option. Remember Phalanx starts working around the same time your ECM/EW/Decoy options start coming into play.

“Type 45 is the principal air defence asset of the fleet. Anything it provides beyond that is a bonus. Type 45s have often found themselves unable to conduct a wider range of missions because they were required to exercise the primary function as a higher priority.”

For another year or 2. Then it is the CAG on the QE. The Type 45 is indeed designed for area air defence but anything above is not a bonus. Otherwise she wouldn’t have the option to carry up to 2 Wildcats, Significant numbers of marines etcetc. Those “bonus” tasks you describe are part of her cost and Key User Requirements (KURs).

“APT North/South and Kipion etc. should no longer have FF/DDs deployed as a matter of routine. Ditto the intermittent deployments to the Mediterranean, East and West Africa and the Pacific. OPVs should maintain the grey hulled, white ensign toying presence in such places providing the “deputy sheriff” function. If actual fighting capability is required in a corner of the globe then the Carrier Task Group, or elements of it, should be deployed as “the Cavalry”.”

What about the GIUK gap? APT North regularly surges to add additional ASW TA capability on the scene until such time as further assets can be deployed. Without going into classified information we have a vested interest in the GIUK gaps as well as the equipment we operate in the gaps and/or Atlantic that needs to be protected. OPV ain’t gonna achieve that shipmate.

As for OPVs flag waving. Excuse the language but f***ing seriously? You want to try and flag wave and fufil the deputy sheriff function with something that cannot even risk a fight with 3-4 FACs never mind another corvette? That will go down well on the horn of Somalia, or in the Gulf, or off the coast of whatever Arabian nation has blown up into internal chaos. I think you are being a little ignorant here about the requirements of an “on station warship”

“FRE should also be an OPV as a matter of routine. It often is anyway these days.”

FRE probably could be an OPV tbh. FRE is not going to face the same threat that other warships deployed in places like Somalia, the Falkland Fishing territories, Gibraltar, Somalia and the Gulf do. That said moving to that would require the ability to stand up some sort of SAG at minimum even when the CBG is deployed. Not sure your ideas would allow us to do that.

“My suggestion for towed array on Type 31e would see the “Leander” design retain is weapons fit in other respects. It would simply mean that there were more towed array platforms available meaning that the other warfare capabilities of Type 26, beyond ASW could be utilised.”

So you want to make the Type 31 more expensive again? That said I recommend having a look at Steller systems Spartan Frigate. It happens to be the design I think should win. Mainly because the mission bay is in the stern and therefore you get the stability of stern launch for the ORCS/RIBS (which means people embark the craft while they are in the ship… much safer!) but also the option to replace those stern launches with a TA. Something you seem keen on.

” However, we are getting the version of Type 26 that we are and that’s that, therefore with Type 31e I’m at pains to avoid anything that could end up as cannon fodder because it has been incorrectly labelled a frigate, giving the impression it can fight at the same level as Type 45/26.”

So 24+ CAAM, MCG, Phalanx, AShMs, Organic Helictopter, 997 radar, capability to deploy ORCS doesn’t constitute a Frigate? It does to a lot of nations who have frigates with far less capability or similar capability to the Type 31.

“Two ideas are to make the vessel cheaper still and simply make them helicopter capable OPVs and/or add towed array ASW capability to “Leander” such that it can contribute to the ASW battle and free up Type 26 for a wider range of tasks. It is my opinion that either of these options would be an improvement on where RN plans are right now.”

The TIME to react to events from the UK means that RN warships on independent operations have to hold for significant periods of time alone with potentially limited support. It is for this very reason that OPVs with 30mm guns and a helicopter are unpopular with the admiralty. I agree with them personally but then I’m one of the guys possibly at sea on the things not sat debating it at home on the computer so I guess I have a separate opinion on the matter.

As to RN plans right now… I’m not quite sure why you think the Leander is an RN proposal? It is NOT. It is an industry proposal for the RNs requirement for a light frigate. Other industry proposals have included the ability to do exactly what you discuss. Like I said, have a look at the Spartan frigate. I personally think she is an excellent concept and the ability to carry a VDS and operate a NH-90 sized helo organically is very nice.

In summary;

The RN doesn’t want OPVs. The new River Batch 2 represent and update to our current OPVs making sure all can now embark a Helo for operations for example (if for a limited time!). What the Type 31e represents is the requirement to provide the fleet with a warship capable of conducting low-mid intensity tasks independently.

For that in the modern era you do need a mission bay as Anti-drugs running is vastly different from Anti-piracy in Somalia is vastly different from Anti-terrorism activities is vastly different from light expeditionary tasks like HMS York conducted off Libya.
You also require the MCG, the LAD capability.

All those things coincidently allow the 31 to contribute to a major surface task group. Be that in the ASuW sector, AAW sector or NGS sector. For all those stating 2 ORCS, 1 Wildcat and 40 embarked RMs have no place I’d suggest Libya, Sierra Leone and hell even the Falklands prove the utility of a warship that can provide that expeditionary capability.

The big key with the whole thing is to prevent 1) Mission creep. 2) Industry meddling from BAE/Babcock who are frankly outrageously expensive coupled with poor providers. 3) Avoid changing the design spec again and again. 4) Avoid using anything but mature technology.

We need 5 soon. I’d go so far as to echo the statements of 1SL and CDS and say we need more than 5, ideally up to double but that all depends if the 4 above statements can be achieved.

Callum

A very good analysis. I definitely agree with you about Spartan, not only does it look very capable but it also looks much more like a “proper” warship than several of the other early concepts.

If I may, on what ships have you served? I sign up for the RN in the summer, and any advice or words of wisdom from a serving sailor would be greatly appreciated.

donald_of_tokyo

Did anyone bid with Spartan? I have no idea.

Anything like Spartan will never meet the 250M GBP average cost. RN is only paying 40% of the cost French navy is paying for their FTI light frigate.

Yes, 40%, less than half.

Jim Cunnigham

Brutoni,

The limitations of this comment thread, lack of bold/italics etc. run the risk of making this reply unreadable but in the interest of considered, informed and polite debate, here goes (I’ve cut out my original quotes to save space and numbered each section so should you or anyone else wish to reply, it would not be necessary to quote the whole section, perhaps just cite the section number an lay out key points).

1. “Okay, lets establish some commonality of statement here. Are you saying CAAM is Ship Point Defence or are you saying it is Local Area Defence? MBDA, the RN, the Italian Navy, the Chilean Navy and the New Zealand Navy all classify it as Local Area Defence and use it as such. Given the results of trials it seems more than capable of acting in that role. A Type 31 assigned goalkeeper to a QE could therefore more than happily cover and defend the QE with Sea Ceptor (assuming of course that CAP, Type 45 and Type 26 have all failed).”

SeaCeptor/CAAM is a Local Area Air Defence missile, it is leaps and bounds ahead of point defence systems like Sea Wolf. Goalkeeping has largely gone out of favour, at least with a separate ship, given the multi-layer engagement capability of Type 45 (at present Aster 30 and Aster 15, shortly Aster 30 and SeaCeptor).

Nevertheless Type 31e would be out of place in a maritime task group centred on QE, in a hot war, peer or near peer enemy scenario. If Type 45, or even Type 26 have failed, what hope does the less capable platform have?

2. “Depends against what missile and what target? Phalanx is capable of engaging small fast moving surface targets which makes it well worth including on most modern warships just to handle that asymmetric threat. Besides that the Chinese, Russians, Iranians, etcetc have in their inventory a high number of older missiles which Phalanx will also adequately defend against. Is it the best choice? No. But that is why it is part of the layered air defence option. Remember Phalanx starts working around the same time your ECM/EW/Decoy options start coming into play.”

My strong preference for a main gun on Type 31e or an OPV would be the Bofors 57mm with programmable ammunition. It is a far better system to deal with asymmetric (FAC/FIAC) threat. Having Phalanx is better than not having it insofar as its better to be hit by the debris of a missile than a whole missile. Phalanx really cannot adequately defend anything – rather it offers partial mitigation for having failed to defend against a missile threat with other systems.

3. “For another year or 2. Then it is the CAG on the QE. The Type 45 is indeed designed for area air defence but anything above is not a bonus. Otherwise she wouldn’t have the option to carry up to 2 Wildcats, Significant numbers of marines etcetc. Those “bonus” tasks you describe are part of her cost and Key User Requirements (KURs).”

Type 45 will remain the principle air defence asset of the fleet even after QE gets her F35s. Type 45 in combination with ASAC Merlins will provide the air picture, the fighter control and two layers of ship launched hard kill. When QE’s F35s cannot fly or strike missions are prioritised Type 45 will still be there, carrying out its primary function of providing air defence.

Having a broader range of capability is a bonus. Type 45 is a big ship – her size being driven largely by the requirement to have her Sampson radar as high up as practicable. Having decided upon a large ship leaves room for growth in the future and the ability to have a 30 man EMF mess, a large hangar and a higher standard of accommodation. The additional space of the Type 45 was used to add a broader range of functionality to the platform, and of course Type 45 has a 4.5″ MCG, a bow sonar, and some now have Harpoon. I accept that having built a large, top tier warship with a primary function, some emphasis must be placed on other threats (i.e. by chance it might be a the sonar of a Type 45 which gets the first indication of an enemy submarine), however little money was wasted on adding expensive systems beyond those required for the efficient and effective discharge of the air defence function that in practice would be used very infrequently.

Type 45 is designed to be a an area air defence asset, that is her principal function. If a Type 45 is not required to do that for a period of time then by all means conduct boarding operations etc. however given there are so few Type 45s, when the call for an area air defence asset is made, that is what the Type 45 is going to do.

4. “What about the GIUK gap? APT North regularly surges to add additional ASW TA capability on the scene until such time as further assets can be deployed. Without going into classified information we have a vested interest in the GIUK gaps as well as the equipment we operate in the gaps and/or Atlantic that needs to be protected. OPV ain’t gonna achieve that shipmate.

As for OPVs flag waving. Excuse the language but f*****g seriously? You want to try and flag wave and fulfil the deputy sheriff function with something that cannot even risk a fight with 3-4 FACs never mind another corvette? That will go down well on the horn of Somalia, or in the Gulf, or off the coast of whatever Arabian nation has blown up into internal chaos. I think you are being a little ignorant here about the requirements of an “on station warship””

APT(N) is not responsible for the GIUK gap. At present APT(N) is mostly filled by either a Wave or Bay class RFA. Other assets look after the GIUK gap, I am not suggesting this changes – indeed if my suggestion of adding a towed array capability to Type 31e were taken up, matters might even improve.

I am utterly serious, we have Clyde in the South Atlantic, and as previously mentioned RFAs routinely deployed on APT(N). Echo and Enterprise have been mainstays of recent efforts in the Mediterranean. The United States has lightly armed cutters operating in the Persian/Arabian Gulf. A 57mm Bofors armed OPV with a helicopter capability and a decent set of upper deck weapons would be better placed than any of the vessels listed if facing a FAC/FIAC or Corvette. That really is besides the point though, we should be using a maritime security tool for a maritime security job – if we’re going to fight, we bring in real fighting capability. The fleet is no longer of a size where the routine deployment of top tier warships can be justified – it hasn’t been of that size since at least 2006 (retirement of remaining Batch 1 Type 42s and sale of 3 Type 23s).

In any event how plausible do you think it is that an enemy would attack an “on station warship”? The consequences of doing so would bring the Cavalry would it not? The best protection any RN warship (or stretching a point RFA) has is its grey hull and its White Ensign – they are symbolic of being part of a larger organisation, the message is – attack me and brace yourself for the revenge of my family.

We’re tensions in a given region high, I have already mentioned in my previous post that Fleet Commander should have discretion to deploy a proper warship or group of warships.

5. “FRE probably could be an OPV tbh. FRE is not going to face the same threat that other warships deployed in places like Somalia, the Falkland Fishing territories, Gibraltar, Somalia and the Gulf do. That said moving to that would require the ability to stand up some sort of SAG at minimum even when the CBG is deployed. Not sure your ideas would allow us to do that.”

I think there would be enough left over to maintain a QE centred task group and leave something behind to mind the fort – not a lot of wiggle room however.

6. “So you want to make the Type 31 more expensive again? That said I recommend having a look at Steller systems Spartan Frigate. It happens to be the design I think should win. Mainly because the mission bay is in the stern and therefore you get the stability of stern launch for the ORCS/RIBS (which means people embark the craft while they are in the ship… much safer!) but also the option to replace those stern launches with a TA. Something you seem keen on.”

Its either or for me. Either cut the pseudo warship elements out of Type 31e and make it a helicopter capable OPV or add a towed array to the existing design so we can free up Type 26 to perform tasks in addition to its ASW function (given all of the additional capability we have placed in Type 26).

7. “So 24+ CAAM, MCG, Phalanx, AShMs, Organic Helicopter, 997 radar, capability to deploy ORCS doesn’t constitute a Frigate? It does to a lot of nations who have frigates with far less capability or similar capability to the Type 31.”

It constitutes a bit of a mess to be honest, I also question the pricing of this option. Were getting most of the systems of a Type 26 (excluding those of for ASW – the thing that defines it as a frigate in UK nomenclature) and yet the price tag for Type 31e is £250m per unit vice c.£1Bn for Type 26. Type 23 was and remains an advanced ASW platform with expensive things like machinery rafting and other sound dampening efforts yet St Albans – the last unit – cost £96m in 2002 prices – even accounting for (a) inflation and (b) the end of a 16 ship run thats a huge price difference to add the ASW capabilities to Type 26 when all of its other systems seem to be so cheap.

The reason I say it is a mess however is because its more expensive than the souped up OPV I think we need for global maritime security work and less capable than the Type 45/26 top tier warships which have a hope of fighting a peer, or near peer enemy.

I also personally have little time for ships which try to combine the attributes of a frigate with those of an amphibious ship. If you want to put a couple of boats in the water from a Type 45 and conducting boarding operations that is one thing but adding cost and complexity to a ship the primary role of which is AAW/ASW in order to put ORCs in the water seems particularly wasteful when we have Amphibious ships designed for that very purpose. If you want to conduct ASW use a frigate, if you want to conduct amphibious operations (including offshore raiding) then use an amphibious ship.

I’d state finally on this particular point that because other countries call something a frigate does not make all ships labelled frigates equal. I am for warships which have a realistic chance to fight and survive in a peer, or near peer conflict, contributing to the AAW or ASW battle which will allow RN an allied forces to fully exploit the capabilities of QE and other less well defended platforms.

8. The TIME to react to events from the UK means that RN warships on independent operations have to hold for significant periods of time alone with potentially limited support. It is for this very reason that OPVs with 30mm guns and a helicopter are unpopular with the admiralty. I agree with them personally but then I’m one of the guys possibly at sea on the things not sat debating it at home on the computer so I guess I have a separate opinion on the matter.

As to RN plans right now… I’m not quite sure why you think the Leander is an RN proposal? It is NOT. It is an industry proposal for the RNs requirement for a light frigate. Other industry proposals have included the ability to do exactly what you discuss. Like I said, have a look at the Spartan frigate. I personally think she is an excellent concept and the ability to carry a VDS and operate a NH-90 sized helo organically is very nice.”

Do you think that a Type 45 deployed independently would survive unaided in the face of a peer or near peer enemy for 2 weeks, or 4 weeks? If our cavalry or that of an ally isn’t going to arrive in time then we should run away bravely unless the sacrifice of the platform is necessary to achieve a higher strategic purpose.

I’ve stated in this and previous replies that my preference would be for a 57mm vice 30mm. MoD NCHQ seem keen enough to procure River Batch 2 and they will be imaginatively deployed as have the Batch 1s hitherto.

I am aware that Leander is not an RN proposal, I am very much of the opinion however that Type 31e is a flawed requirement stemming from the fact we threw everything and the kitchen sink at Type 26 making it more expensive than it should have been.

9. “In summary;

The RN doesn’t want OPVs. The new River Batch 2 represent and update to our current OPVs making sure all can now embark a Helo for operations for example (if for a limited time!). What the Type 31e represents is the requirement to provide the fleet with a warship capable of conducting low-mid intensity tasks independently.

For that in the modern era you do need a mission bay as Anti-drugs running is vastly different from Anti-piracy in Somalia is vastly different from Anti-terrorism activities is vastly different from light expeditionary tasks like HMS York conducted off Libya.
You also require the MCG, the LAD capability.

All those things coincidently allow the 31 to contribute to a major surface task group. Be that in the ASuW sector, AAW sector or NGS sector. For all those stating 2 ORCS, 1 Wildcat and 40 embarked RMs have no place I’d suggest Libya, Sierra Leone and hell even the Falklands prove the utility of a warship that can provide that expeditionary capability.

The big key with the whole thing is to prevent 1) Mission creep. 2) Industry meddling from BAE/Babcock who are frankly outrageously expensive coupled with poor providers. 3) Avoid changing the design spec again and again. 4) Avoid using anything but mature technology.

We need 5 soon. I’d go so far as to echo the statements of 1SL and CDS and say we need more than 5, ideally up to double but that all depends if the 4 above statements can be achieved.”

The RN is getting OPVs, the RN wanted more Type 26 but isn’t getting them. A 57mm toting, hangar equipped OPV would be good enough for maritime security tasks. Counter narcotics, OPV actions Wildcat, Counter-piracy actions Wildcat puts boats in the water or mostly stooges around the IRTC and performs the occasional “accompanied sailing”.

Off Libya, theres was an air threat – therefore today use a Type 45.

Sierra Leone – use the Amphibious Task Group.

Falklands use an OPV (as we have for the past 35 years).

I completely agree with you on mission creep. Type 21 was designed for WIGS and Persian Gulf tasks (pre-Armilla) it ended up in a shooting war with inadequate capability and came off badly for it. We should not repeat the mistake Type 31e – at the very least (as my opinions and protestations will have no impact) call it something other than frigate – sloop maybe? Corvette if you have too.

I think Type 31e will overrun its budget (I have doubts about costings – see above) and given a choice I would rather have 2 more Type 26 and 10 hangar equipped OPVs (River Batch 3 or similar) than 5 (or 10) Type 31e.

That would give a force of 6 Type 45 and 10 Type 26 for fighting tasks and 5 River Batch 2 and 10 River Batch 3 for global presence/maritime security. Thats still a smaller navy than I (or I imagine you) would really like but I think its better than where we probably will be in 2030 or so.

That completes this edition of war and peace!

Baz

E

Baz

If it’s Baes it will be bad news for the taxpayers overpriced and not value for money. about time the work was shared about to other yards where the taxpayer might get value for money.

Callum

Other yards with little to no experience building modern warships? Its a nice idea that they’ll be able to magically produce a proper warship on such a tight budget, but realistically Cammel Laird and BAES are the safest option. Unlike the others, their offer is based on an existing, proven design using components that both the builders and the navy are already familiar with. In comparison, all of its competitors are paper designs with no real-world versions built, which increases the chance of unknown design flaws and build delays

NWYTA

Obviously has no ideal about the other shipyards as Babcock’s Appledore yard has been building modern ships, most recently 4 OPV for the Irish Navy. Not to mention the previous ships built for the Royal Navy HMS Enterprise and HMS Echo. All built on time and to budget.

Callum

Those Irish OPVs aren’t proper warships for one, and Arrowhead design is completely separate from the Samuel Beckett class and uses far more advanced and complex systems.
Building survey ships 15+ years ago isn’t relevant, once again because they’re completely different to a frigate, and also because any experience gained from that is outdated and doesn’t help the current work force.

As I said, the CL/BAE bid is the safest option. Cammel Laird has been resurgent recently, and with the benefit of BAE’s design team, build experience, and export contacts, is in a far better position to produce a cheap, exportable warship.

Brutoni

Gotta say I disagree with you Callum. Competition is a healthy thing and ultimately Steller Systems and some other industries have provided some really good designs coupled with partnership from some yards.

More importantly IMHO is that revitalisation of shipyards like Appledore etc is part of the National Shipbuilding Strategy.

The big take away is that BAE have been allowed (mostly by how the government forces the choice of them on RN) to become a Monopoly. They are therefore horrible value for money and quite frankly exceptionally corrupt. Babcock are a little better… but not by much. So while the above statement on revitalisation of shipyards and defence industry has risk it also offers the promise of competition. And competition holds private companies to account. I’ve no doubt not getting ANY involvement in the project would be a needed slap to BAEs face.

Callum

Oh no, I definitely agree with you about competition, and Spartan is still probably my favourite of all the proposed designs (although unfortunately SS’s lack of affiliation with an actual yard almost certainly means the design has been dropped).

Revitalising shipyards across the UK is a brilliant idea in concept, but in practice unless the defence budget gets a nice boost and the size of the fleet increases, the UK simply can’t sustain more than a couple of military shipyards. Between the Clyde producing our high-end warships, and Barrow producing our subs, we only really need one or two more yards for lower end warships, auxiliaries and the like. Cammel Laird’s recent resurgence makes them a very solid candidate.

Block building in multiple yards is certainly good when building a 70,000 tonne aircraft carrier, but with a 4-5000 tonne frigate it’s just not cost effective. Concentrating at a single yard allows you to build up an experienced workforce and sustain it through regular orders.

BAE aren’t to blame for most of the issues the fleet’s had with getting new ships the past few decades. Monumental dithering by the MoD, making constant pointless modifications to designs, have delayed and inflated the costs of programmes like the T26 and Astute, and budget cuts from the treasury are why we don’t currently have 12 or even 8 T45s.

Let’s be honest, not choosing BAE isn’t going to bother them one bit. Remember, BAE didn’t want to be involved with T31 in the first place, and they won’t be losing out. When the T26 build eventually ends in the 2030s, the RN will be ordering their new destroyers, so unless Scotland does get independence BAE and the Clyde yard are set for the future.

Murray Hutchison

Nice design and all for the price of 2 x f35s.

Rick

very nice, we’ll take a dozen.

Don

If you get everything in the picture for £250m then this seems very reasonable at the price point. Also it should be very low risk being a stretched Khareef design. However the strike VLS could easily disappear rendering it impotent. The VLS could carry quad pack camm, asroc , antiship and land attack missiles etc so would be extremely important to keep. You could go for fitted for but not with for the cannister AShM and add later when budgets allow or as an urgent operational requirement.

Depending on the perceived threat or role VLS loadout could range through AAW
eg -as a max AAW consort with quad VLS you could have 44 camm total.
to a general loadout with perhaps 2 asroc ,2 quad pack camm, 4 cruise missiles .

The VLS is key to making this a useful frigate. The more cells the better.

dam

Doubtful we will see the mk41 in the RN vessels for the £250m price tag. Best we can hope for is everything else, except for the CIWS and ASM canisters. They can be added later from the pool of CIWS and as canisters become available from donor T23s. Keep them out initially in order to keep sub £250m. Hopefully, it has a HMS and is fit to receive the mk41a and a towed array sonar so that these could be added further down the line if required.

Callum

The T23s aren’t equipped with CIWS, and their cannisters are for Harpoon, which won’t be fitted to the new ships, or at least to the RN ships, as it will be long obsolete and hopefully out of service by 2023. The only things the T23s have to donate are Sea Ceptor, Artisan, and probably their light gun mounts.

XYZ

The Navy has no credible ASM on any of its ships. The version of the Harpoon the RN has is very old and along way behind the current production. They were due out of service about now but extended for a few years. This was a move that felt more political than military. It was a low cost way to keep the heat off the Navy brass and thier political masters.

John Cruickshank

Will the two side panels always be open? Every render I see they’re open.

XYZ

Big roller doors that can stand up to the sea are very expensive. You could add them but would need money to do it

Grubbie

Over armed OPV. If there really was export potential,why has Bae not marketed it before?

McZ

Because BAE wants to sell the big, billion pound vessels, only to be outbid by the French?!

william.testaert

Never easy to define the “ideal frigate”…cost is a driving factor that only spiraled and this never seems to stop.
So, government should try to get trough that spiral and this seems the general idea. If companies want to build ships then they should come up with new idea’s. On the other hand, a frigate size ship should be an all-rounder able to deploy by itself or in fleet order. Here is a role for the Admiralty to get out of it’s inherent class fights and push government to reasonable decisions.Building the fleet around two carrier battlegroups, an amphibious group and a patrol group should define the needs of the fleet about escorts and RFA support.This generation of politicians and officers have a tendency to make every single problem so complicated that straight and clear decisionmaking is impossible. In so doing, the RN loses public support and in the end it will be it’s end.

JME

Anyone else starting to think we’re just getting conned into paying for a really expensive OPV? The type 31E programme seems to be a dressed up version of dithering and ultimately the money spent on this would be better spent on more T26/astutes/helicopters/F35B or marines.
Annoyingly reading the pitch from CL/BAE Does make sense in that there’s very little in development costs on the Leander compared to arrowhead but then if CL/BAE wins then what’s the point in the 31 or the NSS?

David Stephen

Agreed. We should cancel the Type 31 and build 3 more Type 26. We have 11 TAS 2087 and there is no way 5 GP frigates will end up costing less than Type 26 hulls 9 through 11. Better to have 11 high end frigates than 8 high end and 5 very low end frigates. We could retain the River batch 1s to make up the numbers. Unless Type 31 is a credible warship its pointless. That means not built to commercial standards for a start, then a 5 inch gun, 24 Sea Ceptor, Artisan, deck launched ASMs, hanger for Wildcat and a hull mounted sonar. Anything less and it is not credible in a combat situation and therefore no more use than an OPV, in fact less use as the River batch 2s are built to military standards not commercial. So even if the budget will not cover 3 Type 26 we would still be better off building 2 more and an extra River batch 2. Current planning will leave us with 6 type 45, 8 type 26, 5 type 31 and 5 River 2s for a total of 24 hulls (14 high end 10 low end), surely 6 type 45, 10 type 26 and 6 River 2s for a total of 22 hulls (16 high end and 6 low end) would be better.

XYZ

The money for T31 gets you less than 2 T26. Plus the rush with the T31 is because some of theT23 are getting very expensive to keep going. I do share your concern over the capability of the T31. Even with all the “free” kit from the T23 £250m is very very tight.

Callum

£250mn is only tight compared to what the RN has had to pay for its latest vessels. If memory serves, back in the 90s a T23 cost the equivalent of about £300-350mn in today’s money? While a Khareef corvette costs around £170mn accounting for inflation.
So £250mn actually puts us exactly where we want to be on the price/capability scale. This might be one of the clearest indicators that the Leander concept can meet that price limit, given that it’s essentially going to be a stretched Khareef given a T23 life extension fit (Sea Ceptor, Artisan, etc)

donald_of_tokyo

In view of NSS, the fact that CL can build T31 will be the answer. BAE will integrate the CMS-1, but I see no problem there? For example, if it is Arrowhead, Thales will integrate the TACTICOS CMS, not Babcock.

Canceling T31 is one idea, I agree. The 1.25B GBP cost will amount to 1.67 times the unit-cost of T26 (~750M GBP). In other words, if T31e is canceled, RN/MOD can get 1 more T26 and 500M GBP extra money. With this 500M GBP, T45’s BMD, T26’s Mk.41 VLS, Harpoon replacements, etc etc. many possibility there is.

But, anyway the number of hull will significantly decrease, if you do not use the 500M GBP to buy more OPVs (River B2 or even Becket-class?).

T31e as it is can do many tasks OPVs cannot do. Red-sea will be one candidate. An OPV cannot survive Hoiti-rebels’ SSM attack, but T31e as “Leander” will. Most of the South American and South African war ships are also in the same level as T31e-Leander. Similar to the fact RN was sending T21 and T42 to APT-S, we can send T31e for APT-S.

Since we can find 2 standing tasks for T31e, it is more than enough for 5 hulls.

So, I think
– if you are happy to ban APT-S and leave Red sea as it is, and want 1 more T26 to inhale the CVTF, banning T31e is good.
– if you think APT-S and Red sea is important, T31 can do it.
It is just a matter of choice.

Callum

The point of the T31 is that 13 T26s would have taken far too long to build on the Clyde, and that it leave the RN in the same situation as its in now: not enough warships to do perform all its missions. Its the same as in the 30s when we built lots of cheaper light cruisers instead of fewer heavy cruisers, or in the 60s and 70s when we built T42s instead of T82s. The fleet needs the utility of a light surface combatant (not an OPV) more than it needs the capability of high end warships.

As for the point of the NSS, the intention is to revitalise our shipbuilding and export industry, by ending the trend of spiraling costs bought about by mismanagement. Thanks to the NSS, competition has finally returned to the industry. If the Leander bid wins, we get a second shipbuilding location, more frigates delivered far earlier than they would have otherwise been, the potential for a larger fleet and export orders, and we still get BAE involved which, despite what many people say, is great, because they’re the ones with all the recent experience of building warships, and like you said they’ll have lower development costs due to basing off of real vessels. Theres also the benefit that, as the third largest defence company in the world, their design will likely sell better abroad due to existing contracts with various other nations

JME

I agree with what your saying, keeping BAES in the loop is the most low risk solution and would keep weapons systems/parts commanililty. However I thought the point or a major point of the NSS was to break the monopoly of BAeS (also to get out of scotland just in case.) so selecting BAES/CL would be against SJP’s recommendation. My point is that I would gamble on saving the 1.25b on t31 and either buy an additional T26 or guarantee the 7th astute and marines. The T31 is a good idea but whats not to say that in 2 Years time there’s cost overruns/delays on T31 and to solve this the next Bright spark proposes a reduced buy of 3 T31’s and 5 new ‘light light frigates’ programme called T33. Or cancel it all together and the RN is left with even less hulls.

Brutoni

Totally disagree. Keeping BAE in the loop will result in the project going over budget. Unfortunately until now BAE have had to be utilised owing to the fact that using a new contractor for the Type 45 or 26 would have been an unacceptable risk!!

The fact is from a 40-50 year perspective view point we NEED to start delivering projects on time. Furthermore we NEED to break BAE monopoly. Finally the RN NEEDS more than 14 escorts.

The Type 31 therefore is IMHO the time to do this. We can still ensure common weapon systems. Ie CAMM, 127mm, Harpoon, Phalanx, Spear 3, 997 radar etc. However in my mind the key is to utilise some of the smaller ship yards, go with a fairly industry standard design (ie minimum changes) and start building in the next year or so.

Make batch 1 the first 5. Reserve them for the RN to show export customers we have confidence in them. Aim to build 2 simultaneously. By 2023 you’d hopefully have your 1st 2 commissioned into full service. With another 2 by end of 2024. The final one in 2025.

There will be problems with them. There will be issues with the design. But building like that will help secure orders from people like New Zealand for ANZAC replacement and other customers (up to 10 countries showing interest atm).

It would help with the manning crisis as well. More units means sea time potentially spread across those units. 31’s are small and cheap enough to be based in Jafar naval base and Gibralter without too much issue. Meaning crews can rotate like on the MCMVs. Great opportunity for young people and a great way to advertise the RN instead of constant Maintenance periods followed by OST followed by 10 months without a proper home port.

What you do beyond then? I’d be looking at another 5 Batch 2 versions myself but that depends on making the 31 a success.

Make no mistake. If we don’t the RN is in a bad place. Yes it contains risk… I think necessary risk. 1 more Astute or Type 26 will NOT solve the issues the RN has.

We have the core of a capable Task group (2 Type 45, 2 Type 26, QE, Tide class replenishment, 1 Astute). Now we need the smaller escorts that can do all the other tasks to ensure these units are available for such a deployment.

Callum

You’re right, a big part of the NSS was to break the monopoly and spread the work around the country. While the CL/BAE bid probably isn’t quite what Sir John had in mind, I imagine he’d have a hard time arguing against the benefits of it. The lead contractor would be Cammel Laird, an English yard with recent competitive success and facilities big enough to build both current and future designs, with BAE providing the design, and to be fair to BAE their designs are exceptionally good.

I’ve got to disagree with you about the last part though. Losing 5 escorts just for one more T26 or Astute would hurt the fleet far worse. Like it or not, we’ve put it all on black, and now its waiting to see where the ball lands. We’re either going to get a bigger fleet and a resurgent export business, or we’re going to end up with a bunch of floating targets and more logistic issues than ever before

Michael Barter

Let’s hope CL get the contracts to build these ships.
BAE seem unable to deliver anything on time and within budget.

David Stephen

Not sure that’s fair. Type 45 was on budget and on time, any issues are the fault of the MOD. They are part of the ACA and that has gone very well. They build Hawk on time and to budget. Typhoon has had a few issues but that’s not just a BAE product and its very good if costly. They build lots of Bradleys for the US army as well as APCs and 155mm guns. Astute is a world beating submarine at a fair price which would be lower if the build rate was not artificially constrained. The only real black marks against them are Nimrod and SA80. Nimrod was a retarded idea from the start and BAE have been made to look fully responsible which they where not. It seems to be fashionable to kick BAE at present but I am not sure why. The cost of type 26 has been held up as shocking but is it really? £3.9 billion was for the first 3 ships plus equipment support, spares and training packages, costs which are never included when people mouth off about Absalom or Fremm. After all is said and done type 26 will be about £850-900 million per unit which is pretty good for a ASW specialised cruiser with all the bells and whistles.

Frank

This is a very fair point, one which I think we should heed more often, us arm-chair generals.

4thwatch

Where I take issue with BAE is when they took the peace dividend and promptly closed Hatfield and the UK’s Civil aircraft industry. Then withdrew 100% from Airbus which finished the job. Not clever or good for UK IMHO. All a bigger issue.

Dern

How is the sa80 family a black mark against bae? The l85a1 and l86a1 where made by royal Enfield long before bae was on the scene. If anything bae should be credited with saving the weapons system since it was a bae owned company (h&k) that made the l85a2, l86a2 and l22…

Paul

I am about to utter heresay and say I think that the MOD/Navy has a plan here. The actual ship configuration is not the important thing here in the long term. It is can industry deliver on a fixed price, fixed term contract. From Sir John Parker’s report he recommends the selling of ships much sooner in their life cycle. Therefore expect to see the original T31e ships being sold off in the mid 2030s some 10 years or so after being commissioned. This should not be an issue if we are developing replacements during the building (production improvements) and initial operations. Barring huge problems with the imitial ships all 5 should be as near as possible identical. No nice to have improvements. These should be saved for the next batch/class.

4thwatch

There are so many gaps in the RN arsenal that account for the T31 being under armed including a lack of a meaningful SSM that leave the T31 vulnerable. If it had sufficient mk 41 VL tubes it could be a useful piece of kit. For A/S work its better to have Astutes #7 and #8 any day.

Iqbal Ahmed

Apparently 50,000 homes for military personnel maintained by Carillon have been affected by the company’s collapse.

How is this affecting military families, especially in the RN?

Jack

To be honest the key consideration here is what will Type 31 bring to the fight? You have to actively consider the idea that our ‘cheap general purpose Frigate might actually have to fight!
A good gun up front, quad packed CAMM and Mk41 VLS will enable it to carry Sea Ceptor, ASROC, LRASM and Tomahawk, with perhaps just Tomahawk and ASROC in Mk41 and LRASM in canisters. Not bad for a vessel of this size!