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Scott

Not quite so Lidl class after all then? Surprised at no Phalanx / CIWS though.

Brutoni

Scott I am as well. Although enlarges the Pool for Phalanx for the 26s, 45s, QEs and RFAs. With 1 x 57, 2x 40mm and 24 Seaceptor not sure she needs Phalanx, especially when you can then add another 2x30mm as further GFE (which I really hope MOD takes, ideally with the LMM pods).

In some ways she is a Lidl class. Though I say this should be used as a badge of honour. If they can deliver all of the above including flexible mission space for EMF, better small craft, unmanned vehciles and a hanger big enough for Merlin (does that mean it will fit an Apache) then the RN has definitely got 5 warships that will offer extremely credible flexibility for low end duties and serve a strong purpose for mid-high end duties… all at reasonable cost.

If they can make 5 by 2028 then maybe MOD needs to be ordering another 10 on similar time scales. RN could do far worse than 15 of these and, potentially, all delivered before the final Type 26. It certainly would key into the NSS.

Pacman27

I think this is sheer brilliance, If in a carrier group these ships can form a picket line that acts as a last line of defence and engage from far away with their guns (which should be considered long range CIWS in this role).

Would like to see them autoloaded with a huge volume of rounds (10-20k rounds selectable in autoloader) but this is wishful thinking at the price point

Rob N

I like the 40mm CIWS and the AESA radar. In some ways it would be good to see these mounts on QE and atop the hangers of T45/T26. These are very nice platforms. More please…

ATH

The RN would struggle to crew 10 more ships in that time frame. Plus the MOD budget is still very precarious. If we are lucky and if in 5 years it’s still the best thing to do we may get 2/3 more.

Craig

Reform the reserve squadron and increase RNR as well as RN? Though I was thinking more of 5-6 more units than 10. With the River B2s for West Indies, Indian and Pacific patrol we’d reverse cuts in hull numbers back to near the turn of the century, and with forward basing increase time on station

Brutoni

Craig, ATH,

Manning is always a contentious issue but on ships that are simple, reliable and work well Voluntary Outflow (VO) is frequently 0-5%. This serves as a stark reminder that people join a Navy to be on the front line of that Navy, to see the world, to be in foreign places, get runs ashore and yes chase pirates, drug runners and do a little defence against terrorism etc.

The RN has a VO problem. I’m convinced in part because drafts like WIGS, Signapore, Hong Kong are all gone. No doubt some of the “oldies” can inform me how much fun they were… I know I regret my lack of any such running.

Further more we have a reserve we don’t use to the full potential. Ships like this that are forward based are perfect to augment heavily.

I guess what I am saying is, yes it’s a chicken and egg scenario but if the RN doesnt invest in ships the NSS will fail, VO will continue to climb, manning will continue to be an issue… you get the picture.

Karl

Surprised they are going with the 57mm and 40mm bofors mix, The 40mm CTA guns would make more sense
commonality of ammo with the army and all that,

Simon m

Looks very capable still sad not to see a 5inch gun especially considering future commando I think would NB be good to give them fire support & also the capability of the 40 and 57mm kind of overlap and still concerned about lack of ASM but otherwise 👍

Simon m

Also on the CGI on the top image a boat bay seems to be missing?

Aaron

On images of the port side there is often only one boat bay? Seems to be inconsistency?

Trevor G

Looks like there will be port side engine room uptakes in way of where a second boat bay door would have to go?

Simon

Very happy that they’ve gone for the 57mm and the 40mm’s are an interesting fit.

I’d hope that these are forward based at HMS Jufair, leaving the T45 and T26 to operate from Portsmouth as semi-dedicated RFTG escorts.

ATH

1 or 2 may be based in the Gulf but there is no plan to open a full base with permanent crew and families accommodation so training and family time will be in the U.K. with ships doing short cruises.

Craig

As per the T23s expect they’ll pair T31 in home waters with T31 based at Jufair, whole crew swapped every 3mths.

BB85

Will there be any government furnished equipment on these ships? BAE where looking to recycle artisan, the 4.5 mod 1 Canon and the 30mm remote canons and any future ASM from the T23 and they still lost.
It’s crazy that a 250mm frigate will end up with a superior radar to a 1bn frigate. Shows how much BAE have milked the mod for over the years.

RichardIC

Recycling the 4.5 Mk8 would have been the worst possible solution. The future of naval artillery is guided and smart munitions and the Mk8 ain’t ever getting any.

ATH

It’s probably not to late for the MOD to insist on swapping the radars around but it would cost money to adapt both CMS to the other radar.

donald_of_tokyo

Good read (as ever) !

1: What will be transferred from T23? Floating radar-decoy, chaff/flare dispenser, and SeaSeptor (CAMM) data-link, mushroom-tube launchers and associated electronic boxes? As ripping off CAMM-related kits are not so cheap, I guess selling T23GP for export and introducing new systems might be a better solution. (In adittion, I hope SeaSentor torpedo-defense decoy system to be transferred.)

2: A 57mm gun is great, much better than 114mm for ship’s self defense. NGFS looks like not a priority for T31e (I think reasonable). But, if the 57mm gun is without the dedicated FC radar, guided rounds or even 3P rounds could be just “Fitted For But Not With (FFBNW)”, I’m afraid.

3: 40mm is also very interesting to see. I like it a lot, but I’m afraid it will compete with 30mm turret with LMM. 3P-rounds of the 40mm gun is very powerful, but as it lacks guided-rounds for a moment, not sure which will be better “40mm gun” vs “30 mm + LMM”. (40mm gun needs FCS, I guess. Where is it?).

By the way, I agree it is so-so well armed, but it is still as “armed as a corvette”, rightly reflecting their cost. Damen 10514’s (or Gowind-2500’s) weapon fits are typically
– 57/76 mm gun + 20-30mm guns
– 12 SeaMICA or more
– 8 SSM
– small hull sonar and CAPTAS-2 towed sonar
– with SMART-S Mk.2 radar.

Compared, Arrowhead 140’s armament is;
– gun armaments are the same
– SAM is slightly better (if it really is 24 CAMM) (I’m afraid only 6 CAMM is seen on the top figure…)
– but lacks ASW nor SSM, and in place has very capable hull.

Not bad, I agree. Reasonable cost-wise. Adding ASW with Damen 10514’s level will cost a lot (just small hull sonar will be cheap, though), but adding SSM (like NSM) is not that expensive.

Callum

The Damen 10514 is a frigate though…? You’re comparing two frigates and saying they’re armed as corvettes.

3: I confess I’m skeptical about the 40mms. For a budget ship, these things are apparently going to carry a whole lot of new kit. It seems bizarre to have deleted the 30mm, especially since we have confirmation that LMM is being tested for surface ships.

On the other hand, the article points out that the MK4 40mm is not deck penetrating. That makes it theoretically suitable to be used as a replacement for Phalanx on the other escorts. That would let us issue Phalanx mounts to RFA ships in danger zones more often.

donald_of_tokyo

Thanks Callum-san.

Good point. Yes, Damen 10514 is called a light frigate. But in that case, Al Khareef class corvette with the same-sized hull, and similar level of armaments (but no ASW) will also be. Gowind-2500, as well.

But, the point is, if Damen 10514 was adopted by RN, how shall we call it? Corvette, I will call it, not a frigate.

I share your concern about 40mm gun. With no guided ammo planned, capability with its 3P round only will be limited. I understand it is not suited for super-sonic missile defense, the same to Phalanx. Even though the 40mm gun is not deck penetrating, it needs good fire control to utilize its 3P rounds and thus not much “easy handling” as Phalanx.

I think 57mm gun with guided-rounds as MAD-FIRES (AAW), ALaMo or ORCA (anti-fast boats) will be the key. But, not sure about the 40mm guns. 40mm 3P guns are used in Swedish and Brazilian, and other navies, so RN may be able to see how it performs.

Overall, I am not surprised if 40mm gun is to be omitted.

Will O

Not sure they’ve been deleted, being as there’s a pair of them on each T23, and (as per the caption in the last picture) space for them both to be moved to each side of the Hangar on the T31e, as the T23s are decommissioned.

Rob N

I think the AESA radar will handle the F/C for the Sea Ceptor and the guns… it does not need a separate radar. In addition it appears to have E/O systems for gun control too.

Sim

A large general purpose frigate with lighter armament than most of the patrol boats it’ll come up against. If this does become the baseline, all it’ll be able to do is defend itself or another that’s really close, it has no offensive armament.

At what point do we realise that we need to recapitalise the Royal Navy and undo the damage of poor defence planning and poor procurement management? It’s a great baseline platform, but it needs to be scaleable to be general purpose. How will this be able to support amphibious operations as amphibiousity is back in fashion?

To make it truly general purpose rather than a massively oversized OPV it needs to have Mk41 VLS as a minimum. Capability could be added virtually overnight to react to any emerging threat simply from acquiring stocks of available missiles from allies, the software should be easily uploaded in TACTICOS and training delivered by exchange programs. It’s time to let go of multiple caliber gun systems and settle on one main gun and the Mk45 mod 4 is the obvious solution, re-gun the T45s too. Keep the 57 Mk3 as secondary guns, put them on the Batch II OPVs too whilst you’re at it. Keep ASCG it the hangar position and add Martlet, again, do this on the OPVs too.

And before the inevitable comments about it being for constabulary duties, we have OPVs and RFA ships more than capable of conducting those, T31 needs to be the next step up.

Let Team31 build them and then hand them the Mk41s, Mk45s and additional 57 Mk3s as GFE, any rebate from the equipment not required could go towards the integration costs.

Imagine a T31 with 32 Mk41 cells like on the Iver Huitfeldts, quad-packed Sea Ceptor would give you 128 shots, a great goalkeeper for the QECs. Alternatively, quad-pack just 6 cells and you have your 24 Sea Ceptors and whatever else you need.

We are told austerity is over, let’s see what that really means.

D J

Sim
Have to agree, for a ship of this size, 24 CAMM is not enough. Would have been happier with a minimum of 16 mk41 tactical length cells. That would have given 32 CAMM with 8 cells still available for more or other options. Not keen on the 57mm. Too much overlap with the 40mm & no genuine NGFS ability. I would have prefered 76mm if you want to do it on the cheap or 127mm if you can afford it. CAMM is replacing Sea Wolf, which is a point defence missile. Canadian T26 appears to be using CAMM as a point defence system. So can understand lack of CIWS (but you need more than 24 if that is your sole air defence missile). Would also point out that the Dardo CIWS is 2 x Bofors 40mm guns (but in one turret rather than two). NSM is a relatively easy add at any time as its canister launched.

The problem with regarding T31 as just doing constabulary duties, is it doen’t fit with what a ship of this size / type can find itself tasked with. At a minimum, whatever the GP T23 could or has been tasked with. This includes NGFS. If you are looking to use this ship as a globaly operating frigate, then you need the ability to join up with an allied task force as a valued member, or if you are closest responder, even going it alone. T45 & T26 are very expensive ships to risk in NGFS when you have a 6,000t class GP frigate that could be doing the job. In someways, switching the 57mm to the T26 might be preferable (& of course build 8 x A140 to use up all the 127mm guns).

John Clark

Sea Ceptor is far more than a point defence system, it has an admitted engagement zone of 15 miles and most experts think it’s closet to 20.

This gives a genuine local area air defence capability.

I know it’s expensive, but I would have gone for the 5″ main gun for NGFS, surely we’re not going to let expensive T26’s go in danger close to an enemy coast!?

No, you keep the T26’s out with the main task group and T31 goes in with an amphibious group, using its 5″ gun and seaceptor to defend and eliminate threats.

I say 5″ gun and 32 seaceptor…

That said, very happy with the Arrowhead 140, best of the bunch…

D J

John
I agree, CAMM is more than a point defence system. I was pointing out that it is replacing a point defence system & is still capable of handling that job (less reason for a CIWS). That apears to be what Canada is planning on using it for (SM2/6, then ESSM then CAMM) rather than the originally planned RAM. Your 32 CAMM would be a much better fitout if trying to do area defence for more than yourself. 127mm (5″) main gun would be ideal, but 76mm would be the “cheap” option. I just don’t see why the 57mm if you are going to have 2 x 40mm fitted. 76mm or 127mm would make much more sense.

John Clark

Absolutely DJ, that said, it will at least be a capable unit with the suggested weapons fit.

I suppose the likes of us will always push for a higher end fit…

I could live with the 24 Camm fit, it gives a genuine local area air defence capability, but it should have at least the same fit as the retiring T23.

Te small main gun is a more significant issue for me, it might well have a blistering rate of fire, but if it has to be used for NGFS it will mean the ship getting dangerously close to the shore

For the current Iranian escort type issue, it would be about perfect, especially with a Martlet equipped Wildcat.

Same as a shotgun riding C4 mothership for a mine hunting task group.

It’s the potential amphibious support area that it will come up short in my opinion, give it the same gun as T26 ( plus 32 Camm) and unlock it’s true capabilities to deliver effect in depth, add another 50 million per ship would add to its capabilities considerably…

D J

John

The 57mm is too light for NGFS even if you get within range, except for troops out in the open. It does have an indirect fire mode, but the weight of individual shell is not enough against targets like bunkers, reinforced concrete buildings, tanks, armoured SPG’s etc. The minimum really is 76mm for genuine NGFS. I think they are following USA for their FFGx frigate with the 57mm which is also I think is also a mistake.

The problem with CAMM is if you use the mushroom farm. It wastes too much deck space. 3 x 3 cell ExLS (9 cells) gives you 36 CAMM with plenty of space for more if you want (ignoring the much more expensive mk41 options).

Martlet equiped Wildcat works for the current Iran escort issue (even the 40mm will). The problem comes if it goes wrong. Strait of Hormuz is only 39km wide in parts. Even the army can get in on the act at that range. They go to all this trouble to pick a decent ship with massive potential & then stick a 57mm out front.

Its easier to add (& convince others), if you don’t have to take away first.

4thwatch

I like this a lot. I would certainly like to be able to retro fit the 16 Mk 41 tubes. The 57mm is an excellent hard hitting CIWS and standardization with USN. Most of all I like its 5700t size. We are a long way from most active trouble spots and even when you get there distances are huge. 9000 mile range and power plant should make this a really useful ocean patrol Frigate.
My own hobby horse is the marinization of the MRLS. This needs magazine protection but is a far better option and has a greater stand off potential than most medium caliber guns for shore support and something that would be without requiring through deck mount.

Meirion X

But I think CAMM launcher tubes Need a redesign to make them more space efficient and more compact by reducing their diameter to around 205mm, CAMM-ER missile is 196mm width.
Mk. 41 is more efficiently packed.
ExLS would be a better option for launching CAMM.

Gee

Every time I look at the CGIs of the new Brit ships, I am confused by the mushroom farm – mk41 VLS appears roughly the same footprint but, with CAMM as an example, hold 4x as much? My logic would be VLS all day long and a SeaCEPTOR quad/ASROC/some type of surface attack combo…can anyone with more knowledge (not scepticism) gen me up on why this wouldn’t be standard thinking?
But then I start playing fantasy Navy and slinging TUE towed array and MCM solutions in the mission bay too…
Also, thoughts on Martlet v SeaRAM?

Robert Lanzer

Introducing the 57mm gun also complicates supply requirements. We will have three main gun calibres across an escort force of just 19 units – 57mm, 4.5 inch and 5 inch.

Callum

I’m sorry, when was the last time you saw a patrol boat with this much firepower and a helicopter? Granted there’s a lack of SSMs, but given that these ships are clearly configured for fighting in the Gulf, there aren’t many targets that warrant a heavy antiship missile anyway.

We don’t have enough OPVs for constabulary duties as it is, and the RFA fleet is going to be much busier supporting carrier groups on top of its existing duties. In either case, OPVs and auxiliaries are poor choices for defence engagement and trade protection in hostile waters, which is part of what constabulary duties covers.

You’ve come up with a T31 that would be better armed and equipped than a T26, how do you think that would fit in the budget? Based on worst and best case scenarios, this equipment fit is middle of the road: we actually have Sea Ceptor (although less than T23, still a solid 24), with a very heavy and capable gun armament (although as you pointed out, lacking in the NGFS). They lack in traditional offensive power, but we can safely say the sailors on T31 aren’t being sent in with insufficient protection from likely threats.

The end of austerity means we can legitimately hope for an uptick in defence spending that will cover existing black holes and maybe get us a few more light frigates. It doesn’t mean fantasy fleets suddenly become feasible I’m afraid.

Sim

T26 is an ASW platform and as such has a capability fit to match. DJ has a good point about swapping the Mk45s from the T26 to the T31. Why would you want your super specialised, super quiet ASW platform conducting NGFS?

Currently, what does a helo bring to the party? Merlin could drop a Stingray on them, use its door mounted M3M, and Lynx (I know they call it Wildcat but it’s still a Lynx but with less speed and range) only has the M3M or a Royal Marine sniper as an offensive capability.

RFA Wave Knight was a very useful constabulary asset in the fight against piracy and is currently assisting to escort ships in the gulf as we speak, she too has defensive weapons and a helicopter.

As for the gun boats/OPVs/corvettes, look at this:

https://defencyclopedia.com/2016/11/17/analysis-are-missile-boats-still-relevant-in-modern-warfare/

If you want further proof the have a look at how the Italians are loading out their new PPA OPV:

https://www.fincantieri.com/globalassets/prodotti-servizi/navi-militari/scheda_ppa-multipurpose_offshore_patrol_vessels.pdf

My opinions on Mk41 and Mk45 are entirely pragmatic. Mk41 gives you adaptability, you know, allowing the ship to be general purpose. I’m not suggesting we put anything other than Sea Ceptor in them to begin with, but rather than rip them open at greater expense at a later date, realise they should be fitted now.

Mk45 streamlines the logistics chain. Why have 127mm, 114mm, 57mm, 40mm, 30mm and 20mm? Get rid of 114mm and 40mm and save a fortune from having all the additional support costs.

My fantasy would be to fit them with fore and aft Phalanx losing the 57mm from the logistics chain too and stick a modern anti-ship/land attack missile on them from build.

Callum

The T26 working name is Global Combat Ship for a reason. It’s job is to do pretty much everything as well as be a first rate ASW platform. After all, based on current plans the T26 is going to be the only surface ship in a QEC task group capable of throwing cruise missiles. For the size and cost of the platform, being able to do NGFS is a logical choice.

“What does a helo bring?” Other than airborne search capability, rapid response across a large area, and massive ASW (Merlin) or surface strike (Wildcat) capability? Wildcat can carry 20 LMM Martlet or heavy Sea Venom missiles. Literally the perfect weapons for fighting against assymetric threats like missile boats and corvettes.

Wave Knight has been very useful, primarily keeping the other escorts at sea where they’re doing most of the heavy lifting. If we just had auxiliaries out there instead of actual escorts, it would be a PR fiasco. “RN sends tanker to protect oil tankers instead of warship”.

Your opinions on Mk41 and Mk45 are logical, they’re just not economical feasible. Large upfront costs are the enemy of yearly budgets, especially for a programme that is VERY strict on budgets. That’s the reason T26 was purposefully delayed in the first place: to fit the payments into the available yearly budgets.

Streamlining the logistic chain is something I agree with in principle. I was definitely surprised when they announced such a unique equipment fit. However, the fit tells us the RN knows exactly what it wants these ships to do: junk busting. Aside from the 30mm, the RN doesn’t currently operate any gun really suited to that role. The 5″ is too expensive and not optimised, the 4.5″ is being phased out, the 30mm is perfect for small boats but lacks in size and range, and the effectiveness of Phalanx against modern supersonic and hypersonic weapons is constantly being debated. The 57mm offers us commonality with the US, which is developing a whole range of guided shells, and the 40mm effectively combines the roles of the 30mm and Phalanx into a single, harder hitting and longer range weapon.

Replacing all of the T31s low end weapons with Phalanx and Mk45 just makes it NGFS platform with a single role CIWS instead of what looks to be am excellent trade protection vessel.

Sim

“Trade protection vessel”. Use an OPV not a 5700t frigate. This is my point, at some time we have to grasp the nettle and fight for a proper fit, we want a GENERAL PURPOSE FRIGATE not just an escort ship.

The GCS is precisely what it is designed to be, we are using ours as specialist submarine hunters that can operate in isolation from the CSG. Australia and Canada, as in Global customers, want theirs to me more flexible so have selected different weapon systems in addition to the ASW capability.

T26 will be wasted if it is used to launch (“I’m over here”) TLAM, save that for the boats or the T31s. They have yet to announce what will go in the T26 Mk41 VLS anyhow..

Martlet is not in service yet as they have only just started flying trials with the launcher let alone airborne firings. Sea Venom is years away.

As ever we are in the crazy situation that we would be asking Babcock to design out a 32 cell Mk41 VLS that is already engineered and it use with the Iver Huitfeldts, and redesign it with a 24 cell mushroom farm (that can’t be reloaded at sea) and has no growth potential without cutting the ship up. You couldn’t make it up. Delay adds cost in the long run too.

I can’t say this enough, yes it costs more, but build it right first time.

Dern

No. OPV’s shouldn’t be going up against Iranian gunboats, they’re there for patrolling low risk areas like the Caribbean, Mediterranean etc. OPV’s are great for that. They are not good for going up against aggressive state armed fast attack craft.

This is precisely what a Type 31 should be for, and you can tell because this is what the RN is using Type 23’s for.

Sim it costs more, the moment you want something that costs more you have to give something up. So if you want that VLS on your Type 31’s to stroke your ego, what are you going to give up?

Trevor

I agree with you. Far too many are just stroking their ego, good phrase… and for sure they are not willing to stonk up 5p in the pound on their income tax

Callum

Trade protection is the main role of general purpose vessels like the T31. It’s also the most fundamental and routine role for the navy. Why do you think HMS Montrose is based out of Bahrain at the moment? Why do you think we have destroyers out there instead of sending Rivers or minesweepers? T31 is GETTING a proper fit for the role it’s meant to perform.

Not every opponent requires T26 to operate as an ASW platform. Take any of the Middle Eastern wars fought in the past decades: The T26s ASW capability is unnecessary, so firing cruise missiles would be its mission. Using one of our very few submarines for that role is unnecessary. Given that Perseus is still under development and it’s going to be both Mk41 and SYLVER capable, it’s fairly obvious T26 is going to be carrying them in future.

Type 31 isn’t going to be in service for another 4 years anyway, so why is it relevant that the helicopter’s weapons aren’t in service for another year?

You can say it as many times as you like, but for its role, they ARE building it right. Its armed appropriately for its role, and it’s hopefully going to meet its budget target: THAT is exactly what the Royal Navy needs after decades of cuts to numbers and capability.

Sim

Fern and Callum,

Can you name anyone else that has a 5700t ship for escort patrols? In 4 years time will we still need to be escorting ships through the Straits? The program was started 2 years ago, the nonsense in the gulf started 2 months ago! These ships will be around for decades so let’s not be so short sighted. I just wasn’t aware the general purpose frigates role was to be trade protection patrols exclusively in the Straits of Hormuz, how clever they predicted this 2 years ago, though it’s a shame it wasn’t 5. Are you both civil servants responsible for SDSR 2010?

What I am saying it’s now time to fight for more money and not sacrifice anything, a few years ago we were told it was the year of the Royal Navy and it was going to be growing, it’s barely staying the same size save for the additional OPVs. The current fit on the GP T23s is superior to that predicted for the T31 in this article; yes Harpoon is outdated, yes Mk8 mod 1 is out of date too, but it is a capability that is missing from T31, add to that the austere ASW capability and we are losing adaptability and the general purpose billing with it.

The Batch II Rivers are being forward deployed and Commander FPS has suggested they will be up-gunned and given a limited missile armament. Range isn’t an issue even with up-gunning as the Straits of Hormuz are narrow and not far away from friendly ports, they can also RAS.

As I understand it Sea Venom is years off and Martlet progress is slow too, I’ll be interested to see if these two glacially moving projects make it to frontline service before T31 gets wet.

Let’s not just accept a CIWS platform.

Dern

Let me ask you a question: When was the last time a British Warship launched a AShM against another ship? By your logic none of our ships should be equipped with them because we never use them. We had GP Frigates since the Type 23’s entered service, the only difference is we are optimizing them more for the roll now than before.

Unfortunately saying “We’ll fight for more money” is not a way to plan your capability. You plan with the money you have ask for more, and if you get more that’s when you decide how to spend it. Until then you need to make chioces, and if you want those capabilities on the Type 31 then the real question is: What do you give up for it? Would you rather have 7 Type 26?

Range isn’t an issue? Sorry but it is. The whole point of an OPV is it can spend long times at sea, for minimal cost, not just in terms of absalute range, but in terms of days out of the year at sea. A River can spend nearly 300 days of the year at sea, a Frigate only about half that. Adding a bigger gun means more time in maintenance and more crew on the ship and therefore less days at sea, so suddenly there is a shortfall that has to be filled. Adding more to Rivers is just a bad idea, especially in light of the above “What do you sacrifice to get it?”

Sim

Dern,

I think you’re kind of getting what I’m saying. I am absolutely saying despite not using any of the capabilities we have on any of our ships in recent years, even GPMG has only been used for warning shot, doesn’t mean we should accept no longer including that capability. I am not a fan of FFBNW, but sometimes you have to accept that’s the most acceptable option. By your logic we should rename them escort ships as with the suggested fit they are no way near a general purpose frigate other than the size metric.

As for affordability, the service needs to bid for and argue its case rather than roll over and gratefully accept the possibility of receiving an oversize OPV.

I’m sorry, much as you are entrenched with your opinion and logic, I am too with mine. We need a Royal Navy equipped to reflect the realities that we are still a maritime nation that relies on the sea for the vast majority of our trade. I will never accept any more cuts in capability and will always argue that we need, and should pay for more.

Dern

Sim, we need to plan a Royal Navy that fits within the budget. Anything else is fantasy fleets. Ask for more by all means, but until we *actually get more* we have to decide what we want. Type 31 with more stuff on it? Ok. But what do you get rid off to put more stuff onto it?

Until you can justify cutting something else from somewhere else in order to put a ASM on a Type31 that probably will never need it, then…. sorry but you’re just having a fantasy.

Kevin Dal

“Can you name anyone else that has a 5700t ship for escort patrols”

The Germans

Sim

Which class Kevin?

Russ

The Type 125 Baden-Wurttemberg class. Whilst they carry the Helo carrying, Guided Missile Frigate (FFGHM) nomenclature they are role-classed as ‘long endurance crisis management ships’.

Sim

Russ, it has a 5” gun and is fitted with harpoon, not a CIWS optimised 57mm gun and if this article is right, no AshW.

Kevin Dal

Sim
jup, The Type 125 Baden-Wurttemberg class.
It has only RAM for AAW, no ASW. The 5” gun is only useful for shore bombardment.

Max Jones

Baden-Wurttemberg class isn’t a patrol frigate. Despite how it seems with the missile armament and how low it is for a 7,200t vessel, it has 8 cruise missiles for land attack (RBS.15, or at least soon to be added) and a further 50+ Vulcano shells from the main gun. Despite how it sounds, these things have ranges of 120km or more with their own guidance systems. They are essentially short-range land-attack missiles.

Trevor

The other point is that in the future, size might be everything… in that it has the size to upgrade equipment and or add in future electrical generation.
Plus given it’s size it can either carry marines or equipment off it or bring on board refugees of one sort or another. Humanitarian work will be part of its remit.

Sim

It’s what I’m trying to say. Look how long it’s taking to sort the T45s and how long it’s taken to add capability, save time and effort and get it right now. As said elsewhere by someone else on here, divert Mk45 and Mk41 from the oh so slow T26 builds. Why use the super-engineered to be quiet specialised ASW platform to conduct NGFS and launch TLAM anyway?

It has the size, was designed and engineered to be fitted with these weapon systems anyway, we will be paying to design them out only to fit them at a later date at extra cost and expense. If we find ourselves needing the capability, this is not like welding a flight deck on the Canberra before she sailed south, it would be months and months of work.

Sintra

“Can you name anyone else that has a 5700t ship for escort patrols”

The Italians, their PPA Light and PPA Light+ are pretty much that.

Sim

And armed to the teeth in comparison.

Will O

No, the (current) nonsense in the Gulf started 40 years ago, it’s an issue that has never gone away. The JCPOA was always going to collapse, appeasement is/was never going to work, as with the Grace One the regime has never been trustworthy, but they are predictable, they did threaten the Straits months ago, to be frank, it’s virtually a habit of theirs over the years, & the IRGCs tactics have long been known.

The current escalation is entirely predictable, and should have been anticipated & planned for years ago. The UK’s intention should obviously not be to incite war with Iran, but it’s an inevitability that Iran under it’s present leadership will always push the envelope, it will almost always tend to do so asymmetrically and irregularly, and that should have been better planned for.

As I think we all (not just here on this page, but as a nation) can agree, SDSR2010 was a disaster, SDSR2015 was a failure to correct the disaster of SDSR2010. The weaknesses that rogue nations like Iran have planned, brazenly & overtly, to exploit, were weaknesses that our government(s) shamefully planned to have.

T31e thankfully begins to correct that, finally, and proves that the bank doesn’t have to be broken to do it, it just required a little common sense.

Sim

The current nonsense in the gulf is an escalation based on the correct assessment by the Iranians that we weren’t in the position to stop them. I’ve been there more than once and know what it’s like but it has ratcheted up significantly in light of recent actions since I was last there.

Tom

Sim
The “current nonsense” is nothing new and has been around for years. Before the 2 Gulf Wars, the RN were conducting Armilla patrols in the Gulf to safeguard shipping against the threat from Iran. I have been there on many Gulf deployments in the 80’s and 90’s and don’t agree with your comment that it has “ratcheted up significantly”. I agree with Will O that the IRGCS tactics are well known – a brief episode of antagonism followed by silence when they realise they’ve prodded the Tiger too much before waiting a suitable period of time to do the same thing again.

ATH

The MOD got crumbs in last weeks spending round. BJ has chosen to spend on his re-election. The short term fight for more money is lost. So any extra spend on the T31 fit out has to come from a cut to 4 hulls or cuts to other parts of the MOD plan.

Craig

well the increase wasn’t as significant as elsewhere but it was 2.6%. And don’t forget the government is committed to increasing by 0.5% above inflation through its term (if it lasts through to 2022) so raising the baseline now will see extra money year after year.
It’s nothing short of amazing in my opinion that the T31 has come in on £250m, I was convinced that they would breach that even with transferred T23 weapons and sensors.

Sim

I’m amazed too, heard the initial bids were closer to £350m.

Craig

We’ve been patrolling the Persian Gulf and Arabian Sea since the Armilla patrol began in the late 1970s.
I expect when the RN selects an SSM canisters will be fitted to T31.

Craig

The 5700t bit is not relevant, these ships were bigger than rival bids around 4000t. The French

Craig

I think the tonnage is irrelevant, the competitor designs were much lower tonnages and T31 from outset was described as a light frigate. It’s role has always been the same as the GP-tasked T23s and the weapons fit appropriate to that role. Whilst it loses effective NGS capability against sheltered/hardened targets (though could still shell open targets) its gun are more effective against naval and air targets.
24 CAMM is fine and the sensor fit comparable to other major warships. This will be able to operate in higher threat environments such as, but not limited to, the Persian Gulf.
The T31 loses torpedo tubes vs T23 but has a hull sonar (same as that fitted to Horizon and FREMM in French/Italian navies) and an ASW-capable helicopter.

ATH

Not sure about “ASW capable helicopter”. The Wildcat as not much more capable than the Wasp, it just moves torpedoes. The ships will be able to operate the Merlin, but with the airframes dedicated to the carriers and the T26 very few are left without an emergency use of the training fleet.

Scribes

Sim,

Where have you been the last 20+ years? The Gulf region has been hostile throughout recent history and just catching the latest news is far from ever being a peaceful region. The Old Armilla Patrol had 3 major warships and did a great job of protecting our life blood and that role is covered today by our forward deployed units in the region and that simply is not going to go away.

The size of ship is relevant in that it gives it the best chances of up-gunning if necessary and to be honest the T45 is not much better on the offensive side and the 57 can still throw lead out to 10+ miles which does cover a large footprint as the units conducting NGS are usually within sight of land anyway so at least giving 6 miles inland cover.

If we get them as detailed so far they will be as good if not better than the T23 they replace and I’m sure the interim fit of ASM the RN is getting now to replace Harpoon can be fitted easily to give them some added punch not forgetting it can also hit shore targets too.

The Service is far too small for what it is asked to do but we have been doing it regardless so if we get then 5 T31’s with maybe another 2- 3 units to follow then we once again get our escorts into the 20’s.

Dont forget the T23’s never had a ciws either as the weight was critical on them and relied on seawolf to do that job.

Role on the T31 and lets give them real war fighting names too

Sim

Scribes, the Gulf amongst other places and through the straights a few times, the current difference is a certain Mr Trump poking the hornets nest.

Derek

Sim, thanks for the reminder. The interim ASM specifies land attack option. Maybe there is joined up thinking here with Bofors CIWS and anti-swarm gunfire combined with ‘medium weight’ land attack missiles to support amphibious troops?

Jon

In service in four years? If I have read the ambiguous phrase “in the water” correctly, it’s due to be floated out in 2023. It won’t be fully operational for at least six or seven years. (Not that it alters your point. Just saying.)

Will O

Is there an alternative VLS that can be reloaded at sea?

If you already know you want CAMM, then fit it with the dedicated CAMM launchers.

Adding Mk41s does not come cheap, if it were that easy & cost effective the T45s would be fitted with another 16 cells each (at the expense of their gym?) – but 8 cells of Mk41 VLS is $10m? Without anything loaded in them. it would be $120m for each T45 to have just 16 extra Mk41 cells, and for the T31es at 32 cells each it would be (32/8) x 5 x $10m = $200m. With nothing loaded in them.
Better to fit it with CAMM, to later fit it with a canister launched ASM if it needed it, which, if the choice is between NSM & RBS15 mk4, can function like a short range mini TLAM anyway …if it were needed.

Meirion X

Your calculations are wrong, they should be: $10m÷8=$1.25m each cell,, so: $1.25×32=$40m for 32 cell Mk. 41 vls.

Will O

My calculations are actually the same as yours, just expressed in a different way; there are 5 ships planned, so 5 x $40m = $200m

Meirion X

My Apologies, my calcs. were just for one T31 with Mk. 41.
Yes, $200m for All 5 T31s.

Captain Nemo

He’s saying four blocks of eight at $10m each I think, the Finnish deal would be the brains and an eight cell block for $17.5m per ship I would presume, so it would be that plus another three at $10m each.
Strike length tubes and 10 years support on that deal too, not actually too bad… I guess?

Sim

So build 4 proper ships and wait until there’s more money for the 5th.

Dern

So cut the escort fleet, that is already stretched by one hull… and once that hull is gone good luck getting it back.

Will O

“That’s the reason T26 was purposefully delayed in the first place: to fit the payments into the available yearly budgets.”

That’s the issue, it’s entirely a political choice which is very wasteful. Small moderate increases in yearly budgets are pure PR, it’s so that oppositions can’t claim budgets are cut, and instead the party in power (of whichever colour rosette) can claim to be increasing budgets year on year.

It would be far more economical to bear one off costs in one go, rather than wastefully spread out production in the manner they have done. The other wasteful thing that happens is to cost for 12 things (T45s for example), then instead order 6 at twice the price – all to fit in with those yearly budgets. The public aren’t fooled either, the public just sees things being run less efficiently!

One has to say, in that regard, these T31es are a welcome change.

Pacman27

The other thing to say is we can purchase or develop Stanflex modules with Denmark and the T31 is supposedly able to deploy them, so in theory we could purchase 5 stanflex Mk41 modules and move them around the T31 as required, in addition to the SeaCeptor.

This doesn’t need to happen now, it can happen at any time in the future and I am sure the Danes would be happy to help us if needed.

Perhaps we buy 1 module per year for the next year or something, if budgets allow. The key is that the design accommodates stanflex and we have a partner who will help us integrate it when the time is right.

Draw your minds back, our expectations were low, at one point it was River 3 class, and we have ended up with a genuine platform that is configured for its primary tasking, which I suggest is MCM (using atlas system) and escortingin the gulf, something our MCM fleet cannot do.

It’s a big step up and frankly if T45 gets its Mk41 upgrade and we get 8 T26 that’s a pretty potent high end capability looking after our Carriers with 7 ships assigned per carrier group from an organisational level

Geo

Thats a good plan, “For But Not With” isn’t the bad idea people make it out to be, the trick is making sure the pool of “withs” is there to fit as and when needed.

Sintra

There´s no such thing has a “Stanflex MK41”

D J

I believe it’s a Stanflex mk57

ATH

Re the PPA you don’t get this member of the PPA family for £250m. The main and controlling feature of this procurement process was the Budget cap. Plus have you seen the crew needed for this PPA? 171!!!

Sim

It amuses me that they call it an OPV, but I concede it’s a bit more than that and double the price.

Jockcop

The Wildcat will have Martlet within the next year and Sea Venom year after that, which will give them an additional anti swarm and medium
Anti ship capability. Obviously an aerial capability is subject to some limitations (aircraft availability, weather conditions, pilot injury) but it gives the 31’s some A/S capability options till later budgets have room for upgrades.

Captain Nemo

As you observe they won’t lack protection, but I think offensive power is a tradition for a reason. If you’re a boxer who can only block then you’re not going to win many fights are you? You’re kind of a crap boxer in fact. The implication seems to be that they simply get punched in the face until the other guy gets tired and that’s just cruel.

Sim

Brilliant analogy Captain Nemo!

Callum

Apologies for any confusion, but by traditional offensive power I meant heavyweight anti ship missiles or torpedoes. “Traditional” in the sense that it’s not equipped to attack an equivalent ship.

Offensively, the 57mm, 40mm, and the helicopter provide massive capability against low end assymetric targets, which the RN is more likely to actually fight than an enemy battle group.

Trevor

Yes. Plus the other side of the coin for the RN, is that it had a huge aircraft carrier with massive offensive capability. Far too many people are sailing way over the rainbow.

D J

There are only 2 aircraft carriers. Only one expected to be operational at a time. If its in the Atlantic or Pacific when you want it to be in the Indian, you have to make do with what you have. If what you have isn’t much, best of luck. I’ll send flowers (will get there quicker). Sorry, no, would not be that insentive, but you know what I mean. The world only seems to have got smaller. Its still the same size it always has & ships have not got any faster than they were in 1945.

Jonathan

Depends what you mean by faster.Transits speeds are faster, as the cruising speeds, ranges, reliability and the seakeeping of modern ships are better that at of those from the first half of the 20c. That’s even before you step into the realms of nuclear subs who’s transit speeds are beyond the realms of the imaging of your early 20c sailor.

So a 1945 Warship may have had the same top speed as a modern warship of the same size, but it’s transit speed and strategic mobility is far less.

Look at a classic mid 20c warship…an old town class light cruiser ( 11k tons ) had a top speed to match a modern warship 32+knots, but it’s cruise ( transit )speed was only 13 knots.

An Arleigh Burke has a cruise speed of 20 knots. That’s a different of 200 miles per day.

When you start talking nuclear submarines that starts to get close to a difference of 500 miles per day.

Chances of breaking something during transit are also well down and sea keeping ( ability make way in realistic sea conditions ) is far better with modern hulls.

D J

Jonathan

I was referring specifically to aircraft carriers in response to Trevor’s claim that UK aircraft carriers could supply the missing offensive capability. SSN’s, though capable of significant offensive power, cannot always use that power in a meaningful way short of major war. To shift an aircraft carrier from the western Atlantic (where the only operational one is right now) or eastern Pacific to the Arabian Sea can’t be done in just a couple of days was my point, even at top speed. UK only has 2, only one of which is likely to be operational at short notice.

As to cruise speed during WW2, it varies. Modified Leander class light frigates (the last three built – commissioned 1935-36 & sold to Australia), cruised at 16 knots, whereas the 5 earlier ones (1933-35) only cruised at 13 knots. All had the same 32 knots top speed (although HMAS Sydney hit 37 knots at the battle of Spada). Cruise speed usually relates to an optimisation of a combination of distance, time & fuel. If you have plenty of time, you will usually save fuel & gain more potential distance if you go slower still (there are limits though). If you are short on time but plenty of fuel (or can be refueled), & don’t care about the expense, you can go faster. Plenty of WW2 warships did 20+ knots transits when required.

D J

Sorry – that should be light cruiser – not light frigate. There should be a law against reusing class names !

Bob

If you plan only for the fight you expect then you had better set aside funds for body bags.

Sim

Spot on Bob!

ATH

And where is the money coming to pay for all of this? The MOD has a Hugh black hole in its equipment budget. The MOD got crumbs in the spending statement last week. It’s clear the BJ’s priority is spending that will get him elected.

anthony

Join the discussion…Exactly right and well iterated. This vessel is just a LARGE sized hull with light, defensive, armaments. No SSM weapons. No surface torpedo launchers. Seaceptor is a good anti-air threat missle but no good against ships. The vessel will at best defend itself and perform that role undertaken by a beefed up River Class OPV (which could be far better armed). Iver Huitfelds this hull is based on can offer better capabilities and could have 32 cell VLS rather than 24 cell Seaceptiors and could have antiship capability at little cost with quad pack anti-ship missles. ,The use of StanFlex multiple mission modules would increased flexibuility. I’d be putting a Phalanx CIWS on and look at QE2 Carriers having their own RIM 116 rolling airframe missles for extra defence. The fleet needs more protection and more flexible ships with greater defence and offensive capabilities. Russian missle corvettes are better armed and that is the kind of ship this vessel could be up against.

Simon m

I’d really wish people would stop citing the lack of SSMs as a failure of this design/vessel – the lack of SSMs is down to the government and the royal navy not the T31! the ships that they are replacing wouldn’t get the missile either. 5 lowley sets are being procured for the towed array T23 and that is all. Unless the ISSGW is vls launched it maybe the by the time the inevitable delayed future missile is eventually delivered some of the billion pound T26 won’t have them either.

The only way that these ships would get the ISSGW is if there is enough in the £250 million to integrate so if they managed it from that point of view they would then be superior.

Also the amazingly quiet and capable ASW T26 doesn’t have torpedoes either – why? because if a submarine is that close you’re sinking. The RN need to invest in ASROC or come up with another solution, if the weather is bad and you can’t fly your helicopters we’re just going to let a sub destroy the fleet!? If the RN had these and they weren’t fitted to T31 you could complain.

I may be stupid but I still think (maybe hope) the 76mm (super hope for 127mm really) will be fitted it does pretty much everything the 57mm does but has longer range with vulcano than even the 4.5 inch, allowing for ngfs, people seem to be put off it based on the old 76mm in days of yore – it has smart ammunition as well but greater range an more firepower per round. Yes the 57mm can put more weight of fire down. but if you have to move within atgm, mortar range etc then that’s not much use unless vulcano can be developed or the Alamo round gives significantly more range then I don’t know why you want less capability?

Whatever you think of the weapons fit this is not down to the design/vessel- otherwise you would say the iver huitfeldt is not good due to lack of weapons.

The T26 doesn’t actually have any other than a 5 inch gun? weapons, radars, towed array etc. As it’s all coming from the T23! So it must be a worse design!? I still can’t get over the price tag!

I can’t believe there are people on here saying well we need to cut our cloth to the budget etc. When we are scrounging around to provide basic capabilities! For the meagre “fleet” we have.

Combat wombat

The type 45 won’t be regunned with a 5 inch gun, not in it’s lifetime it’s not as simple as lift off the old gun put a new one on, the 4.5 is single piece ammunition the 5 inch is split, it also has a very sophisticated ammunition handling system on the 5 inch that would require multiple decks to be redesigned. The 5 inch gun is also very very expensive per mount, I have also heard on the grapevine that the 5 inch doesn’t have starshell capability either so if you swapped the 45s over to a 5 inch gun the commandos could not do night landings supported by naval gunfire

Meirion X

So why not develop a 100mm gun with a single piece ammo, and standardised?
I think 5″ is overkill and expensive!

D J

Meirion

Already exists. Made by GAIT of France. Common on French Naval ships. Versions have been in service since early 1960’s & is still manufactured.

Meirion X

Can this gun fire two shots a second, like 57mm?

D J

Doesn’t need to. In general, the bigger the gun, the slower it fires. The more recoil, the longer it takes for the gun to recover (same is true for bolt action rifles except it’s usually the shooter that needs to recover – try a dozen rounds of 338). Check out a 12.7mm (50 cal) HMG against a GP 7.62mm MG. The bigger gun though, the bigger the projectile, the more explosive & shrapnel it contains. Thats why a 76mm fires slower than a 57mm (btw I personally would rate a 76mm above the 100mm in AAW due to existing guided munitions capability). Larger guns also allow more possabilities due to there size. Guided munitions, sabots, base bleed, rocket assisted etc become more possible (basicallly electronics & other smarts also take up space, including things like sensors, smart fuses, guidence systems etc). Italian extra long range Volcano rounds exist for 127mm & under development for 76mm (Italy makes both 127mm & 76mm guns). Dart rounds for 76mm are very impressive (AAW guided round).

In general, it comes down to smarts, weight of fire (shell weight x rate of fire), CMS & aiming capability, magazine & design. The 127mm is 16 – 20 rpm. The 100mm, depending on model, goes from 60 to 90 rounds per minute. The 76 mm is 85 to 120 rounds per minute. 57mm is 200 to 220 rpm. 40mm L70 is 240-330 rpm. 4.5″ (113mm) mk 8 is around 25 rmp. In comparison a Uzi sub-machine gun can fire at 600 rpm. 600 hits from a Uzi & you are definately dead. 25 hits of a 113mm & it will be dificult to decide if you ever existed.

Max Jones

I can’t imagine many patrol boats having anti-ship missiles and SAMs. At best perhaps there might be the odd missile craft or patrol ship but you have to consider the navy isn’t built around ship-to-ship warfare anymore and there are other roles. If the Royal Navy wanted to build a long-range missile boat or fast attack craft, I’m sure they could, however they already have measures in place fulfilling that role and this is not used in such a capacity.

You mustn’t neglect that these ships will also have AShMs and ASW Torpedoes in the form of helicopter-deployed weapons. Of course, Sea Venom isn’t as capable as a harpoon or similar platform but it is still a viable system for the threats we expect to encounter and the missile type has proven to be effective in the past. Helicopter-launched torpedoes, on the other hand, are even more effective than any ship-launched ones, including ASW missiles like ASROC or Ikara. We don’t know what kind of storage will be available for these but I can’t see it being any less than 8-12 missiles and torpedoes, heavily increasing the warship’s capabilities.

Nicholas

You’ve hit the nail on the head. We have become overly accepting of limited money and now assessments of the Type 31 are based on that rather than what is needed and what we already have. These 31 will be less capable than the current 23s even given improvements in technology.12 Ceptor launchers is not very adequate for area protect whatever their range. As you have pointed out our RFA vessels and the Rivers can provide constabulary functions. Overall the fleet will be diminished. No anti-ship capabilities in the surface fleet. Anti-sub limited to observation and discovery with destruction left to helicopters and the Astutes (3 at sea at present?). Being good for the money is not relavent if the overall aim is to maintain the fleet.
Givernment spending on defence needs to increase significantly, much of which will loop back.

Mike O

If this equipment fit turns out to be true I will be chuffed. I was sceptical about this design as I thought it would just absorb future funds, that should be spent elsewhere, on tactical length VLS and the like. But this equipment fit is interesting. A real hub of CIWS. I like it. A great addition to a task force and a formidable escort for situations such as the gulf. If this is delivered on time to budget then this will be a real procurement success story. Lets wait and see.

Pacman27

This is great news if accurate and a big step up from the T23 GPF they are replacing.

The guns are a very intelligent piece of design and so is the Seaceptor fit out. What is not to like, especially with the ability to uplift (which wont happen unless we actually do have a serious conflict).

If the cost profile of these vessels is accurate, then we need to plan to replace our T45 fleet with an upgraded T26 creating a fleet of 13 C1 class vessels that are super high end (using the £1.2bn saved from ship 14 to do a full fit out of the 13) and then use the costs saved from the other 6 escorts to build a fleet of 13 T31 C2 class vessels and 25 C3 class corvettes (C-Sword 90 being the benchmark) that will allow us to upgrade the RN at a cost of updating the originally 19 Escorts with T26.

This then allows us to decommisison all T23, T45, Hunt, Sandown, Echo, River 1, River 2 classes (circa 45 hulls) and replace with 51 hulls at an affordable cost spread over 25 years (not tomorrow). Crucially it also makes what we have more capable and combative.

£600m per year for T26 (assuming a cost of £1.2bn per vessel) – Class of 13
£200m per year for T31 (assuming a cost of £400m per vessel) – Class of 13
£150m per year for a T82 type Corvette (assuming cost of £150m per vessel) – Class of 25

This would require less than £900m per year to achieve, surely we can afford this, as it is the same cost as replacing 19 escorts at £1.2bn each (stated cost of T26).

I have been conservative with the above costs, it could be far less, but shouldn’t be more in todays money.

So this is the right decision if we use it to modernise the rest of the RN and get the balance right. It should be noted that the above only works if the RN embrace unmanned systems and this will probably cost £100m per year on top of the above.

Dan

If these Frigates can be built for £250 million in the UK, then surely the T45 replacement would be an evolution fo this, rather than the T26? How much does it cost to add back in the MK41 VLS that these hulls originally had, and add a high end radar. You’d be looking at £350-£400 million per ship? Half the cost of a T45 or T26…

Meirion X

$40m for a 32 cell Mk.41 vls.

Pacman27

T45 was over £1bn each due to cuts in hull numbers.

My view is that we need to learn from this and ensure the T26 is the replacement for T45 and that their radars are upgraded accordingly, we can then have 14 really capable full spectrum escorts, and the cost of T26 will reduce as sunken costs are spread.

Having said that I am a massive advocate of this and the absalon class and be in no doubt this is a very capable ship in the Danish configuration and in many ways more capable that our own T45’s and certainly the T23 with the exception of ASW.

Either way we have options and that is really good.

Now for a really powerful corvette to fill the gap in capability and allow us to move away from those horrible OPV’s

ATH

People complain that the T45 is lacking in missile silos. Basing its replacement on the T26 will make this worse particularly if ABM’s are needed.

D J

ATH
If you based a T46 on a T26, you could fit a lot more missiles than the current T26. You would likely convert the multi mission bay into boat bays & fit 48 – 64 missile cells in there instead. Change the front silos to 32 mk41 (as per Australia & Canada) gives you 96 without really trying. The CAMM only areas are still there as extras. You would probably have to change the Sampson radar though.

Simon m

There’s space on the T45 both behind the current launcher and amidship the Aster 30 NBT will likely be ABM. There’s also space on T26 but Sampson was the main driver as is the sensor that separates it out from all other aaw vessels. What I couldn’t justify is using the T26 hull for AAW unless you’re wanting a Ticonderoga class which we would probably get 2 of

Simon m

Other than the hull and the 5inch gun, empty mk41, what justifies the cost of the T26? almost 1 billion? I am pretty sure that Aussies and Canadians will be paying less and end up with a fully armed ship.

Why would you want to pay so much for a vessel that will spend it’s time close to a noisy aircraft carrier or LPD? If you want an improved air defence destroyer start with T45 or arrowhead 140

Will O

“£150m per year for a T82 type Corvette (assuming cost of £150m per vessel) – Class of 25”

Why mess around building Corvettes, let’s just go for the win with 25x original spec. Type 82s.

Paul

How is this a ‘step up from Type 23 GFP?’ This is certainly a good hull, but 24 x Sea Ceptor as opposed to 32? Plus no Harpoon/ Anti ship capability? Time has moved on, but a GFP Type 23 could sink a Type31e with ease! One step forward and 3 steps back!! The Ivor Hundfelt class as built is a very capable vessel – Babcock are merely taking the hull and stripping out all the armament worth having.

Simon m

The 32 to 24 sea ceptor cells I can’t understand unless it is around a potential fit of mk41 later (part of me hopes it’s 24 exls cells that can be quad packed). For the SSM you can’t blame the vessel, when harpoon retires T23 GP won’t have them either. If we don’t get hull mounted sonar and either 76mm or hopefully 127mm I will be disappointed as the IH had very expensive radars & other expensive systems. Although this has to balanced against reusing of the weapons.

Captain Nemo

Real surprise to see not Phalanx, but the introduction of a 40mm. If that is the case I’d have preferred to see Thales RAPIDSeaGuardian rather than the Mk4 in a joint effort with the army to introduce RapidFire there, as they have their own SHORAD concerns. You get integrated Starstreak/Martlet into the deal and wider adoption of CTAS40 would help with innovation and costs.

Simon m

Unfortunately, ctas40 doesn’t have the range – almost half of the Bofors starstreak could make up for this but not included in the naval system.
I am unsure as to why the navy hasn’t adopted starstreak in the past but there must be a reason – potentially laser guidance and the sea don’t mix, granted its capability may now be better with some infrared but then LMM uses similar guidance? Maybe starstreak not suitable for intercept of agile anti ship missiles?

Captain Nemo

Hello. Effective range and maximum range can mess up the comparison I think.
The figures for the Dardo helpfully include a maximum range of 8700m with a Bofors L/70 and an effective range of 4000m; SeaGuardian simply claiming an effective range of 4000m.
Lasers don’t like sea air I think, it diffracts the beam if I recall correctly, I believe it’s something that’s affecting their attempts to put air defence lasers on ships.
I think the historical trend has been for the army and navy to do their own thing, but why they didn’t think to lash Starstreak to the Rivers is a puzzler, I think the focus now is on less numerous solutions.
Nemo

Sam

The thing that gets me is the point of the ships, why even have them if all they can do is defend themselves?

D J

With only 24 CAMM they don’t have much spare to defend anyone else either. Would not be surprised if NSM is the first addon to the ships to give it some form of offensive capability. Otherwise there are OPV’s out there (& most corvettes) which can outrange it just on guns alone.

Simon

I wouldn’t worry about the corvettes or opvs wildcat is more than capable of destroying these is larger ships T31 will struggle with. I just can’t understand the short sighted decision to procure only 5 sets of the interim missile! I know in theory it’s only interim, but actually the last T23 could bow out in 2036! Stop the nonsense and just buy enough for the fleet! If it is any good it can stay as a secondary weapon system.

ATH

And pray tell what you would cut to increase the interim anti ship missile budget?

Craig

This is 5 SSM launchers, not 5 aircraft carriers! How much can that really be? I’d have thought we’d buy at least enough for the T45s as well as the T23s GP hulls, then move the units from the T23s to the T31s on entry to service.

ATH

The MOD RFP specifically states the the purchase is solely for the ASW T23’s. These it states will fight as part of the U.K. carrier force. The rest of the RN will be without a heavy Anti Ship Missile until the “early 2030’s”.

Simon m

Which to me is really stupid. The the carrier T23 towed array ships will be next to a carrier armed with up to 36 f35bs. The T31s will be on their own and worse may need to protect rfa or amphibious ships to me these need the missiles more.

Meirion X

Deadnought!

Rusty

Even less when you consider that SAMs are fired in salvoes so only 12 engagements!

donald_of_tokyo

But many of French escorts have only 16 Aster-15, even FREMM = T26 equivalent. So, 24 CAMM is not that bad, I guess?

If a T31 faces multiple modern ASM saturation attack in singleton, it is very bad intelligence. Not much different from sending a T26 frigate on a theater multiple anti-ship ballistic missiles are expected.

If the enemy is Exocet/Harpoon generation ASMs (on its guidance), T31 stealthy hull and decoy systems will work well, and 24 CAMM will be good enough (history tells that, for those existing generations of ASM, soft-kill is the main tool kit for self-defense). Also, in future, if a guided AAW rounds like MAD-FIRES were added to the 57mm gun, its survivablity will be further improve.

D J

Donald

Personally I would not be surprised if Aster 15 is either converted to Aster 30 or reduced in numbers in favour of a quad packable missile at some time in the future. There are frigates & destroyers out there with 16 AshM onboard. Thats one each & then you are out.

While soft kill has been shown to work on older missiles, they work uncomfortably close. I doubt many would want to take the risk, especially as they are much less likely to work against high end missiles like NSM & JSM. Its a bit like someone taking a long range shot at you. It would be helpful to know if they are a sniper or oportunist & even then luck plays its part. Personaly I’d duck regardless.

BTW, do you have any information on CAMM-ER & ExLS compatability? It’s a meter longer. If you could quad pack it in ExLS in future, it adds to the A140 area defence debate.

Craig

Not long ago T23s were putting to sea with far less than the full number of Seawolf missiles, think I read it was something awful like 4 or 6. In which case 24 would be fine if fully loaded.
Even if a pair were launched in salvo, 12 engagements without returning to port is a lot in the modern era.

Geo

A 24 round magazine gives it more missiles than the Type 42 or Invincible had in 1982, and all ready use what’s more, no sending sailors out to jump on the blast doors to close them! Of course they could replenish at sea if they had to and the Type 31 will not be able to replenish it’s VLS, not sure if they did though, my point however is that the RN has always been willing to settle for smaller, than they would perhaps like, magazines IOT get hulls under the quite reasonable assumption that there is no point building a super ship if you can only get one. You’d have to dock it on the Themes and hope it scares the Russian/Iranian/Chinese/Assorted other baddy of the week ambassador and thats not a gamble that is going to pay off so you are better of having more ships.

D J

The problem is 8 SSM is standard for a major warship these days. 16 SSM is not uncommon. Plenty of Corvettes & OPV’s are also packing long range SSM. Even Brunei’s 80 meter OPV’s carry 4 Exocet Block 3 missiles & a 57mm gun. A RAN Anzac patrol frigate is 3,800t with CEAFAR2 radar, 8 Harpoon Block II SSM, 32 ESSM & a 127mm (5″) gun. UK A140 carries 24 CAMM & 57mm gun.

Anthony

This comment is in line with my concern that even other nations’ corvettes and large OPVs are sporting more offensive weapons like SSMs and deck cannon. The Arrowhead will be large in sized but equipped with less armaments than many possible adversaries’ missle corvettes. IMHO UK could make these frigates a bit more flexible with relatively low cost by scrapping the forward 40mm Bofor and replacing it with capable RIM 116 missle system which will augment and complement the seaceptor 24 cell VLS and rear mounted 40mm bofor. The 40mm are good for Iranian boats but have compromised as CIWS capacities and no deck piercing ability on large vessel. RIM 116 11 cell launchers can take out supersonic missles, air craft and surface targets. US uses them on carriers, LCS, amphibious assault vessels and destroyers. One million USD each. The addition of double quad pack Harpoon SSMs would not be excessively costly. RAN uses the latter on its ANZAC Patrol frigates based on Meko 200 as do many other countries on their corvettes and frigates. The 40mm Bofors intended in front of the bridge would be better placed on the Riverclass OPVs which IMO need more firepower. They’d also benefit from RIm116 launcher systems. I merely wish to see British sailors given fit for purpose hardware instead of large, poorly defended targets. Ships should be built that are functional and not just to bolster jobs in marginal seats in Scotland. It may be worth noting the Royal Danish Navy had steel for their Iver Huitfldt class ships made less expensively in Eastern Europe to get the cost down so they could fit their vessels out with the systems I am describing above.

D J

Anthony

The RIM-166 a.k.a. RAM, is a point defence missile. CAMM was designed as a point defence missile as well, but has 2.5 x the range of RAM (so some area defence capability). Both RAM & CAMM appear to have the same minimum engagement distance. CAMM is a Mach 3 missile against Mach 2 for RAM. Otherwise they are comparable in size. It appears Canada may be swapping out the original planned RAM for CAMM on their T26. ie just add more CAMM if you want more point defence.

For Bofors L70 40mm guns to work as a fully fledged CIWS, you need 2 (due to rate of fire). Either in seperate turrets as here or a twin barrel turret like Dardo CIWS. A single 40mm Is still good at AAW (way better than 30mm), just not quite at CIWS level. A good potential upgrade for the Rivers.

Simon m

Plus 2 40mm

donald_of_tokyo

1: If she can defend herself from modern threats, like ASM (by CAMM) and fast boats attack (by 57 and 40mm guns), she can escort a few ships.

2: Why do you need offensive weapons there? Having some is “good”, but if it is Persian Gulf, a squadron of Typhoon/F35 will do much better than any frigate will do it. As those fighter assets are very in-efficient at escorting, it is a very good job share.

I see little problem there.

Up-arming Arrowhead 140 with TLAM (or alike) is good. But, what if it means RN will only be able to operate 3 of the 5 hulls, because of lack of money? For me, 5 Arrowhead as is are much better than 3 Arrowhead 140 added with offensive weapons.

Sim

So you want an OPV with top cover?

donald_of_tokyo

I do not understand what you say.

Typical OPV is River B1 and River B2. No one will mix it with Arrowhead 140.

Frigate has higher war fighting capability, such as
– much comprehensive CMS than OPV has
– much higher damage control (frigate vs OPV standards)
– has AAW missiles, and many other maintenance heavy assets, including radars, ESM/ECMs and decoy launcher

On the other hand, OPV is much better than any frigate in its sea-going days. For example, River B1 and B2 at-sea days is >300 days a year. Frigate’s typical number is 100-160 days a year. Twice better, big difference. With its lean manning (thanks to low damage control standard and less maintenance required), more River OPVs can be stationed in UK EEZ than any frigate.

By the way, I do agree Arrowhead 140 is very lightly armed as a frigate. It is like “a corvette with frigate hull”.

But this is outcome of the program expected from the beginning, I think.

T31e cost is typical of a modern corvette. As Arrowhead 140 spent much of its cost on its hull (~6000t large, RN frigate-standard hull), its armament is even less than a modern corvette. If one is happy with its big hull, claiming for too light weapon-fit is contradictory. The total cost is fixed.

Sim

Don’t get me wrong, it’s great news about the Arrowhead being the Preffered Bidder, it was the only T31 worth considering, but not building in flexibility from the start is a huge mistake. It is the ultimate expression of FFBNW and would keep any potential adversaries guessing.

I think the misunderstanding is similar to that of the great SDSR of 2010. The assumption appears to be now that any conflict we have will be against pirates and Boghammars. At least if you fit Mk41 you have the ability to quickly add capability under UOR type programs and respond to any future threats in days not years.

Let’s stop watching the news and think about what may be next.

Will O

I think it’s a fair assumption, that over the life of these ships, there will always be piracy somewhere to deal with in some form.

Trevor

Tiresome. You are just making it up

D J

Donald
The problem I see is 24 CAMM will protect yourself, but doesn’t go as far if say you are also protecting 2 other ships as well. Can these CAMM silos be rearmed at sea? If not, then as soon as you run low you are forced back to a suitable port.

By offensive weapons, the likes of NSM (both sea & land attack capable) & 76mm gun would be enough. If mk41 were to be fitted, then tactical length only. No need for TLAM or SCALP Naval on a GP frigate. The Straits of Hormuz is only 39km wide at its narrowest. Land based artilary can fire that far. Even if they are unlikely to hit you, as they found in Afganistan, having somone taking pot shots at you out of range is not fun (especially when you can actualy see the shooter). Being canister launched, NSM can be swapped around or reduced in quantity between whatever ships have the electronics fitted. Guided rounds exist for the 76mm & volcano rounds in developement (40km range). Iran, it appears have reverse engineered the Oto 76mm (Fajr-27) for use on its navy ships.

NSM can be fitted easily at a later date. But swap out the 57mm for a 76mm.

donald_of_tokyo

Thanks, DJ-san, Sim-san

I do not think Mk.41 launcher is so great. It will take a lot of time to add TLAM control electronics, its software, and crew training. If UOR and “renting” crews is OK, just asking US Navy to fire TLAM will be much easier?

I agree NSM is a good choice. In near future, SPEAR3 will add more.

76mm vs 57mm is a good comparison. But, as a close-in-defense weapon, 57mm gun is much better, with heavy investments on-going. The only merit of 76mm is NGFS with volcano. So, NGFS or modern-CIWS. Selecting the latter is NOT that bad choice.

And over all. T31 is T31. 1.5B GBP program (1.25B build + 0.25B “other”), which is twice that of a T26 unit-cost (cost for the 9th hull, expected to be 750M GBP. Adding weapon needs money, but if so, why not
– use the same money to improve T45 or T26
– or even buy more T26.

T31 is a budget frigate. As such, it is not intended to perform full-fat escort role. Incapable of protecting a dozen of vessels, strike, sub-hunting, these are not top priority issue. If such money exits, improving T45 and T26, increasing P-8 and P-7, will be much more a priority. This is my standpoint.

Sim

Then buy more OPVs and put the 57mm gun on them!

This will be a platform that can defend itself and do nothing else that an OPV can’t, you could put a handful of Sea Ceptors on them with a cheap 3D radar, a Giraffe of some sort.

I give you an alternative name:

HMS Black Knight

https://images.app.goo.gl/JGAbDVnSMPyNFwc88

donald_of_tokyo

OPV with 57mm gun has not enough damage control level. Its CMS level is very low.

The link you gave is giving a corvette or fast attack craft.

If you add a few Sea Ceptor and 3D radar, and associated so-so level CMS, then it is a Corvette. Then add a endurance and range, good accommodation, frigate-level damage control, 4 boats bays, and here comes an Arrowhead 140.

This is it, what are you claiming of?

Never forget the program cost of T31 is a typical of a corvette, not a frigate. As such, it can never be a “well-balanced” frigate. In place, it is a single role frigate, focused on constaburaly roles such as now in Horumz Strait, or even with less threats.

# Note, I myself was AGAINST T31. With the 1.5B GBP spent on this program, RN could have bought 2 more T26. With current 1400 shortage of man-power, surely this option gave RN better fighting power. But, T31 was their decision, a corvette-class cost ships.

Sim

Donald,

What I am saying is that for a little more you could have a lot more. Where’s the ambition to make the Royal Navy great again, this is the Save the Royal Navy website after all.

They need to be general purpose platforms not simply a CIWS carrier to answer one particular problem currently providing a few column inches. The utter madness of going to the expense of designing out Mk41 if baffling. I’m not in love with Mk41, but it’s there, it works and I believe MBDA are planning to make their entire range compatible, along with the fact we have ordered the first sets that will be fitted to T26s, thus ensuring compatibility within the fleet.

Other than patrolling the gulfs I’m not sure what else they’re good for? They could do the FRE job and fend off an attack if it went kinetic, but they are unable to stop that attack. They can’t do TAPs. HMS Forth is covering the South Atlantic. By the time the first one is in the water that particular game of brinkmanship will no doubt be over.

Leave the T26 as is, 8 is enough for one or maybe two in a CSG (we will never deploy 2 CSG simultaneously) and to support TAPs leaving 5 in refit or working up/down. I’d love 16 of them, however, what we need is a general purpose frigate that can do everything else, and I agree that having full warship level CBRND specification is preferable to the reduced level of an OPV, though you are advocating that this is their role. I am simply saying that if you want to simply patrol, buy patrol ships not a large frigate sized ship with less capability than a corvette.

The one saving grace is that whilst talking to the guys on the Babcock stand they said they were expecting some GFE to be fitted.

Craig

HMS Forth replaces HMS Clyde as Falklands OPV and represents an upgrade. A T31 would cover the APS commitment however

Meirion X

A main role of the general purpose frigate(GPF) is to conduct maritime security patrols across the oceans of the World, which means the ‘freedom of navigation’ in all Oceans, and contested seas like the South China Sea. So a GPF has not only able to defend itself, but undertake some offensive action if the frigate is attacked or prevented from conducting it’s patrol, which will send a message across the world that Britain is a major World power.
An OPV would be Below Bar for that role!

Simon m

Hopefully the sonar fingers crossed

Derek

Donald. So forget t31 and add 2 x t26 = 16 hulls (the 2 x t26 being 2 billion+ not the1.25 Billion of t31 programme). Net result fewer hulls for more money and still looking around for a GP frigate?

donald_of_tokyo

T26 average cost is 1B, but unit cost will be much lower, around 750M GBP. If you see FREMM wiki, French Senator report on the program cost is listed. Including detailed design and initial learning curve costs is 3-unit cost equivalent. Also, T31 is 1.5B GBP program, 1.25 for build, 0.25 for “other”. Official number.

But, anyway T31 is going on and this option is not existing anymore.

Dern

Fitting a 57mm on an OPV also reduces it’s range, increases it’s crew, reduces it’s days at sea, and increases it’s cost, all of which are things you do not want from an OPV. There’s plenty of work out there for the OPV’s in their current form to be doing anyway, and if you decrease their days at sea guess what will have to take up the slack from the shortfall?

Simon m

What’s the evidence of this? How can such a small mount significantly reduce range of a 2000 tonne vessel? Increase of crew maybe 2-3 surely not much more than – the requirement between the 30mm and 40/57mm cannot be much greater? People who have served on larger older vessels state little amount of weapons and maintain engineers were dedicated to even large gun systems – one of the guns inclusion in it’s armament is because it’s reliable and easy to maintain.

D J

Donald
As I said above, forget about TLAM (& SCALP). If any RN ship is likely to get either its the T26 (as they appear to be getting strike length mk41). If you were to put mk41 on the A140, for RN use – tactical length only. Tactical length gives you the greatest range of missile options (CAMM-ER, Asrock etc) as well as CAMM for the least cost. But even without mk41, the mushroom farm setup is very wasteful of space. ExLS 3 cell launchers would be much cheaper than mk41, but are still quadpackable. Two sets (as per Canadian T26) will give you the existing 24 CAMM with plenty of room to add a couple more sets later.

I would suggest adding the electronics for NSM to the ship. Canisters are easy to add or remove very quickly, provided you have the electronics fitted. RN are getting an intrim SSM for the ASW T23, but it’s not really that intrim as ASW T23 are going to be around for another 15 years or more. Fit the A140 for them but still just share the same number of canisters (& missiles) around between more ships. NSM is also land attack capable (though a very expensive way of doing NGFS unless you have a known high value target).

Given CAMM & 2 x 40mm with P3, any additional AA edge given by the 57mm (debateable), would be better substituted with the more useful 76mm. The idea of GP frigate is just that – General Purpose – somewhat capable of just about everything. You can add a Merlin with dipping sonar for some level of ASW. You could add NSM for ship or land attack. They are missing NGFS & longer range anti-ship gunfire (including warning shot).

Meirion X

CAMM canisters at 270mm wide, are much bigger then the diameter of Sea Ceptor missile at 166mm. I agree that the mushroom farm setup is very wasteful use of space.
Also where would you put the ExLS launchers?

D J

Meirion

You would put the ExLS where the existing mushroom farm is. If you can put 32 mk41 cells (4 x 8 cell sets) in the same area (with still room for 8 SSM), then you can put 8 ExLS 3 cell sets in much the same place. Start with 2 sets (6 cells) & add in sets of 2 as required. It appears to me that 2 x 3 cell ExLS takes up the similar surface area as a single 8 cell mk41 (it looks to me that the electronics module is where the 4th cell would be). This makes the system much more self contained (eg for use on OPV’s which lack space for the rest of a mk41 electronics fit).

Simon m

Yes but you have 40mm with 3p for ciws and the 76mm has missile kill capability with specialist rounds which will likely do this further out than 57mm you don’t want a missile to come close! which is the problem with phalanx as debris/remaining warhead can still do damage. The 76mm is designed for sustained fire as well which gives another advantage. Vulcano is a massive advantage and to me of the cheaper end gun systems is the only one realistically able to do NFS.

Meirion X

Mk. 41 can be reloaded at sea with own crane in one of the silo.

Sipowitz

Not true at present. There have been projects in the past (and I believe the US are currently running one) to enable RAS of VLS missiles but there is no working system available just now.

My 2 pence. Is it possible? Yes of course. Is it practicable without massive investment? No. The problem is much much bigger than simply installong a crane.

Gunbuster

Just because you have the “capability” to reload a Mk 41 doesnt mean you can. You could do it rafted up to a supply vessel at anchor. The RN reloaded Exocet that wayfrom a Fort Boat to T22 frigates in the Falklands when exocets where damaged in heavy seas.
I have worked with and spoken to USN staff on DDG51s and they can never ever see the reloading of Mk41 at sea ever taking place. Its far to technical and risky. Most of the cranes have now been removed from the silos as they where a maintenance burden.

Rusty

You can’t replenish VLS at sea, way to dangerous. We tried it with VLS Seawolf and binned the idea and a VLS Seawolf is considerably smaller than a TLAM or SM2, 3, 6 etc.

Dan

A squadron of aircraft cannot remain on station for more than a few hours at a time. Ships can. Warships present a very visible deterrent and when carrying one or more helo’s at alert 15, can respond very quickly. 4 seaboats add to the capability and 57mm and 40mm combination will be much more effective against the type of threat in the gulf than SeaCeptor. Although Arrowhead has the capability to be fitted with the mk41 VLS and therefore able to carry a range of missiles, the cost makes it unlikely in the first batch. I would hope to see a second batch of 3-5 with the Mk41 fitted.

Will O

Actually they could, depending on the aircraft. Why you’d want to form/send a whole squadron of the sort of aircraft that could is another matter lol.

Anthony

An OPV should be up to the escort duties of tankers in the Persian Gulf. You do t build £500m warships just for a single scenario when next year Iran could be selling oil.

ATH

As that region has a risk of Anti Ship Missiles being used a warship needs its own SAM or an escort. Most OPVs don’t have proper SAM systems.

david

a very capable vessel

Sim

How about the names then if this is the actual weapon fit?

HMS Nile
HMS Amazon
HMS Yangtze
HMS Mississippi
HMS Your Mother Was A Hamster (only if fitted with LRAD)

Pongoglo

My money’s on the Tribals, as configured above they are ideal for the role the original frigate class was intended for in the Gulf. With a single 4.5 fore and aft they could fire a ‘broadside’ too. I’m talking of course of the 1970’s – 80’s frigate class, not the famous Tribal class destroyers of WW2, the names however being the same…

HMS Gurkha
HMS Zulu
HMS Mohawk
HMS Tartar
HMS Ashanti

to name a few !

ATH

I think a few days of cultural sensitivity training is in your immediate future.

david

a large corvette

Stephen G.

These need to be built on 1 site, building blocks hundreds of miles apart, with the associated transport costs, will never make British shipbuilding efficient or cost effective. There is a reason no successful shipbuilding country does it this way (France, Germany, Korea, Japan, China). We can’t do it this way in Britain either.

I would like to see a 2nd batch of 3 for a total of 8. I also think there will be some export orders. Good news about the order allowing them to invest in new facilities too.

I have to say though, If Scotland is to get every single last R.N. ship, bar none, they can’t also have the R.F.A. ships on top of that, whilst England gets nothing. The government seems to think Scottish shipyards and their job losses are the ONLY ones that matter, and do anything to prevent it, yet whenever an English shipyard completely closes down (Swan Hunters, Portsmouth, Appledore, etc.) they do precisely nothing to help.

The next big order is the solid support ships, they must go to an English yard, with Cammell Lairds being the obvious choice. They too will be losing jobs as work on the R.R.S. Sir David Attenborough comes to an end, is it ONLY Scottish shipyard job losses that count? There are more than enough ships in the R.N./R.F.A. so that at least some can be built in England, and I don’t mean being palmed off with a poxy few blocks either, we pay, by far, the most money towards it, we are not surviving on left overs. If Scotland is going to be our centre for warship building then Cammell Lairds can be our centre for R.F.A. ship building, the relatively steady orders will allow them to invest in new facilities and avoid job losses.

Sim

Talking to the guys on the CL stand at DSEI they say they have enough work. The Tides don’t match the drawings, they have cut holes only to find nothing there and have had to cut several holes to find what they are looking for; apparently they are all a little more than slightly different too. They have plenty of work with the Tides.

They have also got the first T45 upgrade due soon too and the full class of 6 ships will provide them with plenty of work and challenges; apparently BAe are being less than forthcoming with the design drawings as they were the design authority and consider them their ships.

I agree though, the SSSs should be built in a UK yard and CL would now be the obvious choice unless a rescue package can be secured fo H&W.

I’ve talked elsewhere on the recapitalisation of the Royal Navy, we need to replace the MCMVs very soon, how about 20 BMT Venaris built in Appledore?

Mike O

The venari 85 seem like such versatile ships. In an increasingly unmanned world they could be so useful in more roles than just MCM. 20 of them would be an awesome capability but is maybe a tad optimistic. Still it has my vote. 👍

ATH

Appledore is gone, odds on the will be housing around a marina is 5 years. It’s still to soon for the MCMV. The RN is very sensibly spending more on prototypes and testing of new mine warfare concepts. It would be a bad idea and potentially financially disastrous to rush this important preparation work.

Ian

This contains ones of the most important snippets of intel which underpins the problems RN faces.

Politicians will claim the Tides were great value when they were budgeted, only for next lot to claim bad MoD decisions lead to poor workmanship requiring remedial budget contributions are a reason for not increasing budget further and so the spiral goes.

It implodes my head that we don’t have a long term national shipbuilding strategy, balanced across the UK, increasing the fleet all whilst driving costs down.

#veryverycross

Simon m

I’d still like a mix of an MCM venator 90 and venari 85s venator a bit more fighty & venari more specialised

ATH

As Poland has a large active commercial shipbuilding industry and has in the past built warships I would be surprised if they buy a light frigate constructed overseas. To my mind it’s far far more likely they will buy a design and equipment package.

Dan

Agreed, but we might hope for a split where the first one or two are built in the UK with integration of Polish workforce for training before the bulk of the order is built in Poland

David Barry

I was at the Riga Security Forum on Friday and one thing came up about air defence. A Polish built T31 AAW model would really enhance the security situation in the Baltic. A Baltic flotilla would be a game changer.

D J

OMT have been try to sell the IH for years to no avail. Problem has been Stanflex (you really need to be all in to make it work), OMT don’t have a yard & only 3 were built by what is a minor (but modern) naval power. Now with the backing of one of the majors (UK RN), with globaly recognised names like Babcock, BMT & Thales, everything changes. A140 was to me the most exportable of the three put forward. No-one anywhere in the world was going to dimiss it out of hand. You may not pick it, but you had to look at it & be prepared to tell your government why not (including the UK). I would really like to know what HII was going to put forward for the FFG(x) competition or if T31 was going to make a direct bid. For a change, serious thought has gone into the mix & match configuration scenario.

Mike Chaffin

If they can integrate the new off board minesweeping projects onto these then I guess I’m largely happy. Replacing the expensive and single purpose fleet of minehunters with these would offer some form of general purpose utility.

Though if they don’t then I can’t see these being much use bar port visits and showing the flag. Clearly aimed at the Gulf, and defeating swarms of light boats or UAVs.

If they can build them for the stated price then I’ll be amazed. Especially as Rosyth hasn’t built warships before, though it was used to stitch together the QE blocks produced elsewhere.

Very odd kit fit, seems they’re sourcing the radar and C2 system from the French, which is extraordinary when we could have commonality across the fleet and produce competitors in the UK. Also two new ammunition natures into service, along with the recently adopted 5″.

Which is deeply odd, especially when you consider there is an MoD shed with plenty of Goalkeeper 30mm systems rotting away in it somewhere. Makes me wonder whether these are already dicked for export as per the original shipbuilding strategy document.

No medium calibre gun is the achilles heel here. Amazed that the RN will want something light cruiser sized without one.

So… If they build lots and replace the Sandowns etc with them then it’s a very real uplift in capability. More likely they’ll only build 2 or 3 at £500m a copy and be more trouble than they are worth.

Kevin Dal

“seems they’re sourcing the radar and C2 system from the French”

You mean the Dutch 😉
These systems are from Thales Netherlands and licensed by the Dutch government

Mike Chaffin

Thales has divisions in various countries but is still 25% owned by the French state.

Kevin Dal

True, but for export it need to be cleared by the Dutch government. The intellectual property of TACTICOS and the SN100 is held by the Dutch state.

DaveyB

The Thales NS series of radars are a development of the SMART-L(M)/(S8150) radar. It uses the same transmitter/receiver modules as the SMART AESA radar, just not as many. I’m not surprised that Artisan is out of the picture, as its an older PESA design and hasn’t the development scope unless its redesigned to be an AESA radar. The AESA will have a significantly better capability for tracking multiple fast moving targets. I am a bit confused on the the radars elevation limitation of 70 degrees though. A standard AESA module has a horizontal field of regard of 120 degrees and a vertical of 90 degrees, so why the limitation?
The radar according to the company will provide search and track for SeaCeptor and the ship’s guns i.e. the 57mm and 40mm.

MikeKiloPapa

As always, a superb article 🙂 …..save for one grave error : “Its high rate of fire means the 57mm actually delivers a greater weight of explosive onto the target than the latest Oto Melara 76mm gun” …….Ehhh..??…No….Not by a long shot it doesn’t …….the 57mm bofors fires a 2,4kg shell at 220 rpm which equals a throw weight/ payload of 528kg per minute…….the corresponding figures for the 76mm Oto is 6,3 kg shell at 120(+130 IRL actually) giving the italian mount a heavier punch of 750-800 kg delivered in a minute.

Sam

Dont forget the 57mm has magazines to reload which takes 30 seconds while Leonardo 76mm SR/Strales shoots until it runs out of ammo.

MikeKiloPapa

Im not forgetting anything…..the 76mm has a magazine too, a 70 round twin row rotating magazine which is every bit as quick and easy to reload as the Bofors gun……plus the ten rounds in the ammo hoist and loading drum, giving it a ready ammo capacity of 80 rounds…….compared to the 24 round magazines on the Bofors.
And i think YOU are forgetting one thing ……with the much bigger shell the 76mm doesnt NEED to fire as many rounds to defeat the target.

DaveyB

The 76 also has the advantage of being very capable as a CIWS but also providing NGFS. The two guided rounds it uses, the Dart and Volcano, gives it an enormous capability. The Dart is designed to take out high speed manoeuvring targets whilst the Volcano gives it a range of 40km. There is even a development of a Volcano with a laser seeker to further increase its accuracy.
To my mind, they have chosen the wrong main gun. It should be the Leonardo Oto 76mm. One reason is that the guided dart round carries three times the explosive content as the BAe 57 OKRA round. This means it has a significantly better chance of destroying or damaging a high speed inbound threat.
I’m a bit perplexed why they have decided on only a single 40mm rather than the twin 40s like the Dardo, unless its down to cost. Especially when the 40 is supposed to be taking over the role of a Phalanx. The Dardo can fire at a rate of 450 rounds a minute or 7.5 shells per second, the single mount is half this.
The image shows the 40 in a stealthy style turret, so would that mean the Martletts couldn’t be fitted and would need a dedicated mount?

donald_of_tokyo

OTO 76mm vs BAE/Bofors 57mm gun comparison has a long history. I think RN really considered every pro and con, and at least for the task T31 frigate is planned to engage, they concluded 57mm gun is better, I think (if this article is correct).

Please note, Arrowhead 140 original design had a 76mm gun, and final design (if this article is correct) selects 57 mm. It tells something.

– Surely NGFS was not high priority.
– Countering fast boats swarm may be of high priority.
– Future development of full-set of guided rounds might be highly-valued. (Note, in spite of DARTS of 76mm is there, RN did not select it *1)

*1: Looking at the 76mm DARTS rounds youtube, I “felt” it is NOT so capable. Radar beam riding, flying slow, hopping within the radar-beam-cone.

# I admit I myself might be biased from the current RN decision (if true) = selecting 57mm against 76mm.

D J

Donald

As you say its a long running debate. Personally I go with DaveyB. No doubt the RN debate was also not onesided. To me they have gone the wrong (cheaper) way. The problem is, with the overhead of a whole new calibre, they are unlike to change, even if later they admit they got it wrong. The telling point will be if any exports pick the 57mm.

On the 40mm, two guns as listed, if the CMS is any good, should give you the equivalent of a twin barrelled Dardo CIWS (they are just a bit further apart).

DaveyB

I was at a fire power demo in Italy a couple of years ago at the Leonardo test range. They had full range of weapons which included the 76 and Dardo. I know fire demos can be a bit staged, but the 76 on full chat was awesome! They fired off a magazine of 50 standard rounds in about 30 seconds against a barge with some iso containers on it. What was impressive though was when they were using the dart ammo against target drones. Admittedly these were crossing the bay and not doing anything extravagant, but one round kills are still impressive. The Dardo twin 40 sounded like a sewing machine and was used against aerial target drones as well as radio controlled semi-inflatables.

I’m not sure the technology is ready yet to mount an active RF seeker in shell’s nose. This is why the shell’s guidance uses command line of sight guidance and with a dual contact/proximity fuse ensures damage or destruction is caused to the target. It does have the disadvantage of having your radar constantly track the target to provide an intercept solution. But it is a cheaper solution to mounting an active radar in the shells nose. Also being a sabot it will generate a higher muzzle velocity than a standard shell when fired.

Sim

Spoke to a mate who is in the know and he said the 76mm was on the original bid and is the RN’s first choice, however, final spec is now down to negotiation for the production contract. It seems 40mm will be the secondary weapon system no matter which main gun is selected.

D J

So still a chance. That’s good news. Hope it comes off. The 40mm for secondary is way better than 30mm, but still room for transferred 30mm with Martlet add on as well.

donald_of_tokyo

If my memory works, Leander team guy was pushing for 57mm gun over 76mm gun. But, which is cheap is NOT clear.

The simplest 76mm gun will be the cheapest, but can only carry simple rounds. The standard 57mm gun is already 3P-ammo capable, but may be a bit more expensive, but much more capable than the simple 76mm in all cases other than NGS.

And, I think in T31, we are all talking about simplest 76mm vs standard 57 mm turret.

Clearly, DARTS guided AAW rounds CANNOT be handled with simplest 76mm turret. If you want to introduce it, you need to replace the turret. Also clearly, all the development works ongoing on 57mm guided rounds are designed to use the standard turrets.

So I think 57mm gun is “scalable” in future, but 76mm needs initial investments. Considering T31 situation, I think “scalable” has a bit merit.

I might be incorrect in some parts, but this is my view and hence I push 57mm gun. In near future, it will completely “overcome” fast-boat swarm = just make it “a fleet of sitting ducks”. Worth taking.

DaveyB

How about getting rid of the two 40mm mounts and replace them with the 57, then put a 76 upfront?. There is a version of the 57 gun that doesn’t penetrate the deck. The gun either sits on top of a pedestal magazine or has one behind the gun. Mind you, we don’t know what’s directly below the B position, but it could work on the hangar.

ATH

What would you cut from either the T31 or other Naval expenditure to pay for the significantly increased cost of 76 + 2×57 over 57 + 2×40?

D J

I would be happy if they just swapped the 57mm for the 76mm. An Oto76mm Super Rapid gives you both CIWS performance & NGFS. Even a standard 76mm is better than a 57mm in this case. How many CIWS equivalents do you need ( CAMM & 2 x 40mm already). At some point you need to be able to be offensive, not just defensive. A frigate is supposed to be a warship.

Gavin Gordon

Did note at one point when Babcock being interviewed during DSEI an ‘off the cuff’ comment paraphrased as ‘although five is the current number, eight is the ambition’. Babcock were not drawn, but did not seem to me unduly phased, either.
Would not be surprised if the void for Mk41 silos at least remained in-situ on UK-spec, even if not fully utilised. This for the obvious long term reasoning, but also due to the difficulties that can ensue from trying to over-adapt a hull form from it’s inherent stress computations. As things stand, there is already the allowance for additional adjacent boatbays which may sufficiently challenge these calculations, all-be-it they’re within the stanflex design.
Certainly where exports are concerned, if costs can be maintained the indicated specification on this Type could well lead to it’s becoming a fine market contender. To which end and for what it’s worth, I favour use of the Leander class names to further evoke those halcyon days. As previously argued, when the prefix of ‘HMS’ is added to this traditional name, it ought remove any commercial claim that another Type 31 bidder may feel they have upon it.

Trevor

HMSs… Shannon, Lydia, Hotspur, Sophie, Surprise.

John Magee

Remember The Type 21 had many problems

BB85

Half these comments are gurning because anti ship missiles were not mentioned in the article so they are assuming they won’t be included. Whatever the replacement missiles are on the GP T23 Frigates will be moved across when they are decommissioned so chill out.
I do agree with one of the posters I would rather have 16mk 41 that could then be quad packed for Camm and Spear 3 when it’s in service

Dan

Not so clear, they are ordering 5 sets if the interim ASM’s – they might perhaps go into the T31’s eventually (or directly?)

BB85

The GP26 will be retired as soon as the T31 is commissioned so they will move directly or at least when they are on deployment. They seem to enjoy swapping them with the T45 knowing they can get away with bare bones and order additional units from the US if the shit hit the fan.

Simon

What’s a GP26? What does swapping them with T45 even mean? There won’t be anything to swap when harpoon leaves service

Simon m

They are not procuring the missiles for the GP T23s that is why people are concerned and without mk41 are unlikely to get a missile until 2030 at the earliest.16 mk41 is unaffordable

Don

Am thinking the reason for 24 camm is that this leaves space amidships for future weapon systems like cannister launched antiship missiles , Mk41/Slyver vls etc.
Expanding the Camm number as well increasing costs could encroach on this space and mean it is not possible to fit these future weapon systems later.

Simon

That would be my guess what I would like to see is as T26 is moving at a glacial pace the first 3 T31 fitted with an 8 cell mk41 each which could be spared from the 3rd T26 which won’t likely enter service closer to the end of the decade. This would give sometime to sort the finances out and hopefully procure 2 more 8 cells for the T31 and replace those for T26.

D J

If the ‘as designed’ version had room for 32 mk41 cells (4 sets – each set being 2 rows of 4) as well as 8 SSM, then there is plenty of room for more CAMM, provided you don’t go for the mushroom farm setup (single missile per cell). Quad packable systems include expensive systems like mk41 & Sylver, or cheaper systems like ExLS. If you started with 24 in ExLS, you could easily add more without ripping anything out.

Pacman27

Couple of questions

1. Does the move to 40mm guns show some strategic move to align to the Army’s new 40mm turrets
2. Can these then use the CTAS careless ammo?
3. Is there an autoloading magazine for either of these guns as from the info provided they will have fired all their ammunition in circa 30 secs.

Clearly it would be nice to have loads of stuff on them, but the fact is its not going to happen, but can in the future, that’s the beauty of this design and stanflex. If we get stuck buy the stanflex modules from Denmark and done…

BB85

30 seconds is a very long time for continuous fire. In reality they will only fire a burst for 2 or 3 seconds max. Same as phalanx if it fired for 30 seconds straight it would overheat and malfunction.
There is no cross over with the 40mm CTA ammo and the 40mm ammo used in the naval cannons. ofhttps://www.baesystems.com/en/product/40mk4-naval-gun#

Dern

For 1 no. The Type 31 would probably use 40×311 or 40x365mm ammunition for it’s Bofors 40mm. The Army’s CTA 40mm uses 40x255mm which wouldn’t be compatible.

Julian

I know there would have been work to certify the CTA 40mm for naval use but Thales is promoting its RapidFire land-based system based on the CTA 40mm and has talked about a naval version. The rumours I read where that the CTA ammo is “eyewateringly expensive” but there was presumably the option to try to at least partially address that by doubling down on the UK commitment to increase volumes. That clearly isn’t being done so what does the decision not to go that route tell us?

– Ammo prices so far out of wack that there’s no realistic fix?

– CTA 40mm no real benefit over Bofors 40mm in which case was it a wrong turn for the Army?

– Simply wanting to de-risk the T31 project so deciding not to risk trying to get synergies with the Army even if there were potential benefits to be had?

I don’t know any of those answers so just wondering what those answers might be.

DaveyB

No, the Army made the right decision. The Army required a gun that was capable of defeating the next spec of armoured fighting vehicles and out-ranging the current 30mm guns. The Bofors shell is huge and the feeder takes up significant turret space. This is a problem the CV90s have been facing as their turrets are very cramped. The CV90 with the 57mm conversion gives even less space. The cased telescopic rounds for the CTAS40 are tiny by comparison. They allow the Warrior’s turret for example to be much more roomer than when the Rarden 30mm was fitted.

Dern

Exactly. I feel like this is a case where people (much like with certain naval discussion) need to realise that one size does not fit all, and different users have different requirements.

Julian

Yep. Message received in my case. I was simply asking questions and wanting to learn from the answers. Thanks for the education on this point Davey.

Dern

That was meant more as a general “people,” not yourself specifically Julian 🙂

Julian

In the quest to continue my education…

I’m pretty sure (but correct me if I’m wrong) that the Bofors 40mm is new to the RN (in today’s configuration) so will involve establishing new RN maintenance and training procedures but is it already currently used elsewhere in the UK armed forces hence does have a logistics chain in place for ammo, spares etc? I did try to look it up in Wikipedia but couldn’t find any reference to current UK usage, only references to past use.

Sim

We haven’t had 40mm for decades, went down the 20mm and 30mm route. No 40mm in the other branches.

Julian

Thanks Sim.

andrej

Not on topic, per se…..but plaudits to this site for delivering a consistently high quality of writing and research articles. It really stands out on that score and is very much appreciated be my good self. This is an excellent ‘sauce’!!!

Paul

Surprised at no Phalanx??? Plus no mention of an anti-ship missile? Looks like these will be heavily underarmed vessels – very sad

Dan

Would have been surprising to see Phalanx costed into the project given the tight budget. If there’s space to recieve a Phalanx (?), is there anything stopping the RN allocating Phalanx from the pool to a T31 as and when required? Same as they do with the RFA’s now

Simon m

For me not having a 4.5 or 5 inch is a negative especially as 40mm will do most things 57mm will. However, i can completely understand it on cost grounds. Hopefully someone will be able to extend the range of the 57mm round.

The big problem is not the T31s fault but the RN’s and that is the lack of an Anti-ship missile and general lack of offensive firepower.

1. The RN should have updated harpoon years ago
2. They should have realised it’s ineffectiveness earlier
3. It should have begun procurement earlier
4. it should realise this is not really an interim missile OSD probably 2036
5. There also should have been recognition that other than shipborne harpoon, there isn’t a single other specialist anti-ship missile in the entire UK arsenal!

This has led to the shocking position we are now in. Although there has been little in the way of ship to ship engagement, when it is your only option then it needs to be invested in. There seems to be an arrogance that as we have SSNs this is a capability we can gap, this is despite the fact that the RN suffered heavy losses from Exocet in the Falklands reinforcing the effectiveness/threat of such weapons.

Without fixed winged aircraft being equipped to me the Merlin should have received a proper stand off anti ship missile, which in all likelihood would be more likely used than a ship based system. Most other nations have maritime helicopters with weapons such as Exocet or Penguin as well as torpedoes So I don’t subscribe that Merlin has too much to do if others make it work. Some say Wildcat should concentrate on this, however, Wildcats target set is corvettes and small boats it’s weapons fit will likely put it inside the range of frigates or above SAM systems plus it’s been without it’s surface attack capability for years!

Also what is the point of Merlin diligently defending against submarines if frigates are firing missiles at you but you can’t remove them from the battle? Other than closing with your main gun or trying to damage it with SAMs or hoping your SSN is in the right place.

OK so what now?
1. Is the cost of the “interim” anti ship missile really that expensive? That we couldn’t at least procure 4 cannisters for each escort?
2. Could the 3×8 cell mk41 not be diverted from the 3rd T26? Whilst we sort costs out?
3. Why is so little effort being made to obtain an air launched system for F35, Typhoon or even Merlin?

The problem for T31 is the missile hasn’t been selected yet so it’s hard to include the system at this point. So unless the missile is known soon and there is money in the budget it just won’t get the missiles at build or likely ever.

It just seems that the service that has suffered most at the hands of these deadly weapons doesn’t seem to value their worth!? Why this is I don’t know but for me the current state of affairs is lamentable.

ATH

All of this is fine but you make know mention of where the money to pay for this would come from. There is no sign of a significant uplift in the MOD budget ( unlike that for police, schools and hospitals) so spending more on the T31 means spending less on something else,

Paul

It’s just been announced that the UK is going to spend 2 Billion on 500 x 8×8 Wheeled APCs for the Army on top of the new Ajax tracked APC. With Army numbers at a very low ebb, halve the order to 250 and spend a Billion on building a fully upgraded and capable Type 31 with Mk41, 76mm, a decent sonar with ASROC, and a decent Anti-ship Missile!! Just because we have yet to fire one against an enemy vessel, it doesn’t mean we never will!
The USN is seriously concerned that a new frigate design won’t have enough anti-ship missiles and here we are proposing to build a frigate without any!!

DaveyB

An air launched ASM is being looked into. The weapons fit and integration on the F35 program is part of a multi-national deal, with Nations targeting specific weapons. The Australians and the Japanese are paying for the integration of the NSM/JSM on their F35s. The current version is slightly too large for the F35B internal bays due its control surfaces, but Japan have asked for a version for their F35Bs. If Japan are paying for the integration, then we don’t have to, so just pay for the missile. In contrast we are paying for the integration of Meteor, ASRAAM and Spear3. Japan are looking to purchase the Meteor for their F35s, as the Aussies will use ASRAAM with theirs.
Also Spear3 can be used against shipping, even though it has a relatively small warhead. It can be programmed to attack specific parts of a ship to achieve a mission kill – for example, knock out a ships radar.

donald_of_tokyo

Assuming 1 year drumbeat of T31 delivery from 2024 <– from this article
and 1.5 year drumbeat of T26 delivery from 2025 (*1) <– assumption.

*1: From man-power point of view, deliver = hand over is important, not commissioning.

Guessing the schedule.
out = decommission, in = hand over to RN, total = frigate hull number
=============================================
– 2023 T23_GP-1 out, _________________ :::: total = 12
– 2024 T23_GP-2 out, T31-1 in, ________ :::: total = 12
– 2025 T23_GP-3 out, T31-2 in, T26-1 in :::: total = 13
– 2026 T23_GP-4 out, T31-3 in, ________ :::: total = 13
– 2027 T23_GP-5 out, T31-4 in, T26-2 in :::: total = 14
– 2028 T23ASW-1 out, T31-5 in, T26-3 in :::: total = 15
– 2029 T23ASW-2 out, _________________ :::: total = 14
– 2030 T23ASW-3 out, _________ T26-4 in :::: total = 14
– 2031 T23ASW-4 out, _________ T26-5 in :::: total = 14
– 2032 T23ASW-5 out, _________________ :::: total = 13
– 2033 T23ASW-6 out, _________ T26-6 in :::: total = 13
– 2034 T23ASW-7 out, _________ T26-7 in :::: total = 13
– 2035 T23ASW-8 out, _________________ :::: total = 12
– 2036 ________________________ T26-8 in :::: total = 13
=============================================

Not bad, I guess?

Phillip Johnson

All very nice but the original plan to reuse equipment seems to have gone by the way side. The question is how has this been squeezed into a budget of 250M per ship.
There is a little more money around, for now, but it cannot be used twice. If the T31 budget has got a boost what is the impact elsewhere?
The industrial plan seems to be up in the air. We are presumably dealing with a fixed price contract so saying they a going to tender for blocks means involving companies which were likely not part of the project up to this point. Both Belfast and Ferguson seem doubtful at best and they were probably the basis of block construction cost estimates.
Metal bashing is an undervalued skill but it the blocks do not turn up to schedule, to cost and to quality the project will be in trouble very quickly.
The 57mm is a curious choice, if these things are going to be forward deployed you would have though cheap Naval Gunfire support would have been an issue, the 57 does not provide any.
The 3 or 4 RHIP alcoves. They don’t extend vary far into the ship so how much working space do they provide? Both the off the shelf MCM drone boats (Atlas and Thales) are 12 m or better. RHIP’s are 7 or 8m. So, what can the alcoves hold?
Finally, how do you access the mission bay under the flight deck?

Simon m

The RHIPs are for 9.5m sea boats not 7 or 8m. BAE are working on the 950 for various UAV roles. The ships are not suited to MCM. Babcock and the government are clear this is in 250million 57mm is approx £6m (the main reason for choosing it), 40mm will be cheaper, sea captor GFE. So you can start to see how it fits in the budget.

ATH

I read that you can access the missions bay at sea but if you want you change anything of offload containers you need a crane to lift parts of the flight deck. The mission bay/boat handling on A140 is a bit hokey kooky, in contrast it was one of the strongest parts of the Leander bid.

Simon m

Unless you plan missions very badly, you shouldn’t be needing to rerole at sea most change of roles are likely to include extra specialists who would normally deploy by air and therefore this is best done in port. So I don’t think it is a huge loss.

T.S

I think this is a really positive baseline vessel and better than I was expecting. Interesting gun mix that should be quite versatile for the small stuff and defence. I would expect to see a couple of 30mm with martlet mounts added in the near future.
24 seaceptor limited but at least useful to start off, but I am quietly hopeful the recent uplift in defence budget may allow some more wiggle room to upgrade to 16-24 mk41 tactical tubes to allow camm-er and quad packing to raise the numbers.
Fully expect the medium asm to be donored over from the t23’s so don’t need to be costed in the initial build and t31 will get the capability to fight.
The other thing to remember is that in a few years Spear 3 will be ready and I expect this to be a huge uplift in capability for many platforms. Whilst small, they have a good range and have a swarming maritime and land attack capability and be able to disable even large ships with multiple pin point hits. On top of this, MBDA are developing an EW version without a warhead which will protect the swarm from many defences. A T31 with Spear 3 (land and sea attack) a medium asm, camm, 57mm, 2x 40mm, 2x 30mm with martlet, and a helicopter with sea venom and martlet capability will offer quite a serious punch for a variety of roles.
I would also point out, that Spear 3 may alleviate the lack of NGFS with the smaller caliber main gun. Mini cruise missiles raining down against shore defences for amphibious support and with much greater range too.

D J

Missiles can be used for NGFS, but its an expensive way to do it, especially if you don’t have a specific defined target. Sometimes, just as with land based artilary, you are doing area bombardment.

Too give some idea of more recent NGFS actions, some 155 rounds were fired by Australian & British ships in southern Iraq in 2003 (4 ships in total on the gunline). It is said that more than 500 rounds were fired by British & French ships during the Libya campain.

For something short & sharp, you can get away with it. Sustaining it is something else.

Captain Nemo

I seem to recall that forward observers are taught that a navy gun is equivalent to an army battery, there’s really no substitute for it; you add modern long range precision rounds and ISTAR to that and it’s a completely different game.
The lack of a large calibre gun is unfortunate in my humble opinion.

T.S

Ok I’m happy to bow to superior knowledge on the issue of NGFS but we were never going to get a £50-60 million pound gun on a £250 mill ship, and I believe we should move away from the 4.5” unless we could mount a 57mm in the B position.
That said, NGFS may still be useful against non peer adversaries but the next war(s) are likely to be fought against those with long range asm and put us out of reach unless we give the ship a suicide mission.
For me, the smaller calibre is not much of an issue but there could be something in what others have suggested in swapping the 5” from the T26 to the T31 down the line. If we are going to risk a ship, it should be the T31, not a billion pound asw ship.

Sim

The Mk45 mod 4 is in the region of 20mUSD not £50-60m.

Captain Nemo

No, he’s right, it is way up there; the navy is paying $245 for three and a training system, but they come with a sophisticated auto loading system below decks and there’s who knows what else in that contract.
I wouldn’t discount a main gun against peer adversaries, they’re pushing at 100km with future shells and also looking at air defence options for big guns, as are the US army.
I personally don’t accept that hull cost needs to be married to fit out, £250m is a great deal, but shouldn’t be a starting point for what you want to do with it, the platform should.
We payed £100m for a River to move a 30mm around.

Sim

Strange that the Australians are paying 65.8m USD for 3? That must be some fancy ammunition handling system..

Captain Nemo
Sim

Seen. It’s so fancy it’s design limitations are that it won’t work over Sea State 5, the gun will keep going beyond State 6.

David Stephen

It is. It is also very expensive upfront but costs way less over the lifetime of the ship because it is fully automatic (just a guy in the Ops room) so reduces crew size, which is the main reason we went for it. With that in mind it may be that the crew requirements for the 4.5 inch or the 5 inch (without the auto loader) are the problem.

Dern

Technically we paid £100m for a River to keep the Clyde’s workforce employed and ready to take on the Type 26 project….

Pete

But the abilty to take out coastal radar and missile batteries at range using Sea Spear or even 40km+ Brimstone while providing a Saturation attack capability against capable adversaries at sea would be invaluable and low cost looking at recent arnoured vehicle based concepts.

P

Robert

The article states: “The NS200 is a 3D AESA multi-mission S Band radar with a range of up to 110nm and up to 70° elevation”, it actualy has a range of 400km (216 NM). This will give the type 31 a radar range comparable with the type 45, the RN should have equiped the type 26 with this radar as well.

Robert

If you look at the drawing, it has the NS200 on top of the mast, otherwise two STIR fire control radars should have been depicted as well and they are not mentioned in the drawing.

Robert

The NS100 family of radarsystems have a range of 151 NM or 280 km.

Ron

Good Choice, but this is a ship that I really would like to see fitted for but not with, I would like to see the T31s fitted for containerised Thales CAPTAS 4 compact dependent tow which needs 45sqm and weight of 20 tons, this should fit into the area below the flight deck that is for 6 TEU containers. I would also like to see that the ship is fitted for 16-24 Mk41 VLS, if I remeber correctly the original design has the ability for 32 Mk41s, 4 blocks of 8 so why not keep it, they do not need to have them now but if the need arises then they could be fitted quickly rather than having to do a major refit for all the plumbing and power systems to be installed. Possibly a NATO pool could be created for the Mk41s and CAPTAS 4 Compact. This becomes even more important if the numbers of T31s would increase as it gives flexibility in what ship, what task carries what. The bow mounted Thales UMS 4110 works well with CAPTAS 2 and 4 in both blue and brown water scenarios, combined with the Merlin would give the T31 the possibility to act as a powerful independent anti sub platform if the RN found itself in the situation where it needed to increase its anti sub capability quickly. It is the same arguement for the ability to just install the Mk41 VLS rather than an extended refit fitting all the pipe work first, If the RN needed for example long range strike missiles or land attack capability quickly in brown water operations then the T31 could supply it.
Much has been said about the lack of an Anti Ship missile, I am not overly concerned as I suspect that they will be equipped with the five sets of the new Anti Ship missile that is being ordered as the intrim replacement for Harpoon which will be either the NSM or RBS 15 Mk3/Mk4.
What I really would like to see is a future build plan for this type of ship, with five as the first batch which takes the build out to 2028 and then a further ship every 18 months until 2035. This should be fincially possible and it should also give the MoD the possibility to slowly increase the RN manning numbers. What it would also do is if the T31s was to increase from 5 to 10 ships and they have five sets of CAPTAS 4 compacts and Mk41s for five ships then the T26s could be left to act purly as the QE class escorts with the T31s taking on the GP or independent role.

Andy H

Great article as always. Looking at the information that is now out regarding the Type 31 frigates winning design the Arrowhead 140. I think on balance the Royal navy will be happy with the result.
The success of this design will ultimately depend on the Royal Navy’s fiscal ability to leverage maximum effect from the platform. Not by changing the weapon systems currently specified i personally believe the ship comes with a credible package of weapons and mission systems

1. The Mission bay and the enhanced capabilities that unmanned systems can bring
2. If the long term plan is to migrate the interim SSM solution over to the type 31 while development of the long term SSM solution progresses.
3. If the Royal navy decides to explore to operational capability the sea ceptors potential to deliver an effect onto surface targets
4. The costs associated with support and training for the new systems and weapons being brought into operational service with the fleet

But the current specification is a really solid foundation in a design that offers a lot of potential. And if they have managed to bring this in at £250 million per vessel then that’s impressive

Stan

I like the design a lot and hope, once we have started we can get at least 8 of these in total to increase our hulls in the water. These ships are going to be perfect for flag waving compared to T-45.

donald_of_tokyo

Interesting interview, from John Howie, Chief Executive of Babcock Marine. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f7UB0YuTNQA

He admits, Arrowhead 140 hull is much bigger than that the requirement needed. (03:00)

So, presumably Leander or MEKOA200 perfectly meets the T31 requirements, and many vacant place on Arrowhead 140 is to “handle the future change in requirement” (as he says). Note that similar interview to RN’s Type31 program director clearly states that, T31 as built completely meets the requirement, not relying on FFBNW equipment.

So, if the suggested armaments in this article is true, it meets the T31 requirement perfectly. If it is really a 57mm gun, T31 is NOT required to commence NGFS. If it do not have ASW equipment, T31 is NOT required to do it.

If we want capability added to T31, we are talking about additional money. So, we must start from fleet wide, not limited to T31.

For example,
– land attack: replacing 57mm gun with 127mm gun, or increasing NSM, or pushing SPEAR3 development to enable all RN frigates to carry its VLS, which will be better? (NSM and SPEAR3 looks more attractive for me. And if 127mm are to be added, first replace the 114mm gun on T45, because taking off a 57mm gun from T31 significantly reduces her self-defense capability).
– ASW: adding CAPTAS4-CI to T31, or adding ~4 more Merlin, or adding 2 more P-8, which will be better? (it might be CAPTAS-4 CI, I guess.)

All of these are worth discussing. Important thing is to SaveTheRoyalNavy, not only limited to making T31 great. Do not get me wrong, in some cases, improving T31 shall be the answer, and in some cases other assets shall be.

T.S

Good point, certainly with money being tight but as we have so few hulls they should all really have the ability to multi role some what in case the unexpected happens. That requires a good general fit across the board with any specialism added on top and being exceptional in capability.
I personally don’t see the relevance of the larger Calibre guns for much longer. They are all outranged by missiles so wouldn’t get near enough safely to use, and they are not suitable for providing defence. Warning shots and taking out pirates and small vessels is their likely use now, so 57-76mm is fine and you get the defensive capability added to remove phalanx.
The Spear 3 is going to be a game changer and funds should be put into getting them in decent numbers on many platforms. Launched from land sea or air platforms, we will get reduced costs in larger cross service purchases, intelligent swarming capabilities, and now plans for other variants such as EW to suppress defences.
So I would say any upgrades for the T31 or T45 should be mk41 launch cells to allow quad packing of camm and Spear. Even just 24 would give us 48 seaceptor and 48 Spear, a very potent upgrade for both ships for around £30 million per ship that gives both land and maritime attack capabilities.
It would also be good to see a spear box launcher for ships without the potential for cells, such as the Albion’s to support amphibious landings. In fact a side launching box system for camm, camm-er, brimstone and spear (choice of load out depending on mission) would be great. Put some on the QE’s for defence!

ATH

How would you pay for all of this? There is no more extra money for the MOD. BJ has blown the budget on things he hopes will help his re-election.

Meirion X

Cancel Deadnought!
Enlarge new Astute hulls instead.

Meirion X

Why not develop a 80mm or 100mm NGS wapon and standardised?
The 127mm(5″), is over sized for T31?

D J

We already have the Italian 76mm, the French 100mm & the US & Italian 127mm naval guns. Everything you asked for already exists. The IH frigate has two 76mm (‘A’ & ‘B’ position) & was designed to take 127mm in ‘A’ if desired (but they tranfered existing guns from other ships).

Julian

What messages does the adoption of the Thales radar give? Was there any push back from the MoD to put Artisan into the spec?

If taken together with the talk a while ago of the UK at least looking at CEAFAR for possible future RN use, which presumably if adopted would be for one or more capability levels that sit above the Thales radar selected for the RN T31e, does this sound the death knell not only for Artisan development but maybe also for any next-generation Sampson development?

Is BAE/UK retreating from high-end radar development? Given the strong current position of Sampson it would be a real shame if BAE, and the MoD as one of its key customers, aren’t going to continue to invest in this most critical of areas.

Geo

I think you can date the death of Sampson to the point in time that the artists impressions of HMS Queen Elizabeth stopped featuring it and started to feature Artisan instead.

DaveyB

No, there’s plenty of development work being done on the Sampson and its future iteration. The main reason Sampson is not fitted to the carriers is down to cost. The Sampson’s capability is significantly better than the Artisan. The Thales NS series although better than Artisan, are still a league behind Sampson. I can only imagine why CEAFAR was not chosen is also down to cost.
Perhaps we will see CEAFAR fitted to the Type 26s in a future update.

Julian

Thanks Davey. Very glad to hear that Sampson development continues but what do you think about the future of Artisan development now that Thales NS is going onto RN T31s rather then cross-decking Artisan from T23? Might BAE retreat from future developments in the 2nd tier (i.e. not as good as Sampson) sector of the market?

If we do see CEAFAR fitted to T26 in the future would that be another nudge towards BAE drawing back from the Artisan sector of the market and concentrating solely on the very high-end sector?

DaveyB

For a top of the line ship, the Artisan radar is near the end of its usefulness. I still think the radar is excellent but technology and events have moved on. There are a myriad of threats facing ships today or up and coming, with one of the much hyped about is the hypersonic missile. Until the SBS or MI6 can squirrel one away the performance of Brahmos/Zircon is mostly hyperbole. Put simply a mechanical radar rotating once every 2 seconds will have a significant dead zone as the missile travels over Mach 3 towards the ship. Sampson mitigates this by placing two AESA antennas back to back, Artisan only has the one antenna face.
I think we have talked about the merits of Sampson before, especially placing it up on a 30m mast compared to the lower fixed panels of an Arleigh Burke. Which gives it a broader radar horizon, so it can detect targets popping over the horizon earlier. The radar was a step change in capability compared to Artisan and has been steadily improved mostly through software updates. However, it also suffers from a rotating dead zone, so BAe have developed a version with flat panel arrays. To be competitive with the rest of the market, BAe need to make the system scalable and thus it can be used on different sized ships.
The best option against these types of threat, is detecting it at the earliest possibility via an airborne search radar, such as Crowsnest etc. However, for a lone ship the current Sampson method is best. To decrease the dead zone further you could increase the number of antenna faces from 2 to 3, but that would have a weight penalty, so would probably require a lower mast and thus a closer horizon. It would also be beneficial to have the Sampson backed up with a fixed flat panel AESA. Thus, if the missile crosses the horizon and is spotted by the Sampson, the flat panel radar is cued up and waiting for it to enter its window and then can provide constant coverage.

Pacman27

DaveyB

Artisan is circa £6m per radar (not excessive for such a critical piece of equipment)

What do you think Sampson (or its replacement will come in at?

Geo

Yes, I know cost is why it’s not on the carriers, the carriers are not the only ships, built by the only navy with an eye on the budget. Development work maybe, but where are the sales? Thales (and Saab, sort of) have somewhat cornered the market from what I can see.

Dern

Every navy in the world is build with an eye on the budget….

Mark

An excellent descriptive article on the Type 31. Although it is better than nothing I hope we don’t have a repeat of the the Type 21. They were fantastic peacetime warships but found to be sadly lacking in the Falklands War. They also needed expensive hull strengthening later in their careers.

Camero

It’s growing on me, I still don’t know why such a big ship will hav3 only 26 Sea Ceptor! Why not 5he 32 of the type 23?

Paul

Sadly the Type 31e lacks credibility. They could have transferred silos from type 23. Better still quad pack CAMMs in Mk41 Vls. We learnt a lot of hard lessons in the Falklands and sea Skimming Missiles have come a long way in the past 30 years. With No offensive ASM, only 24 Sea Ceptor, No CIWS and a 57mm which is useless for NGS we are reducing our capable escorts to just 14.
In the NGS role, you would normally use lower end assets if possible, you don’t really want a Type 45 or 26 performing that role? That’s providing, given operational commitments and availability due to maintenance that any were available. Babcock have blown a golden opportunity to create an effective fighting vessel, instead creating an oversized Corvette!

BB85

The ASM will be transferred from the 5 T23 when they are decommissioned. The 40mm boffers canons are as capable as the phalanx. Phalanx has a good record for intercepting shells and rpgs on land buts it’s naval record is not so good due to the risk of false positives its been switch off when it was needed most.

Dan

Is the 40mm really a better CWIS than the Phalanx?

D J

Not a single gun on on its own. It does have longer range & due to the P3 ammunition, does not have to actually hit the target like Phalanx does. However its ROF (rate of fire) is a bit low. The Dardo CIWS is a dual Bofors L70 40mm gun system in one turret. Here we have 2 Bofors L70 40mm guns but in seperate turrets controlled by the one CMS. So you can act like a Dardo CWIS if needed or seperate if not. (at least thats the theory). However, unlike Phalanx, it cannot act independantly (it does not have its own radar), but requires the CMS & the ships radars for targetting. So the real question is, is a Dardo CWIS better or equivalent to a Phalanx CIWS.

ATH

Or Babcock have done very well to get what they have out of a £250m budget. A 5” would have blown a massive hole in that £250m.

Meirion X

Around 80mm gun would make more sense!

D J

You mean Leonardo Oto 76mm.

ATH

What they think it needs to do it’s job of patrolling in difficult areas. Plus what’s the point of paying for Sea Ceptor cells you can’t afford to fill?

Sim

ATH, do you work in the Treasury?

Dern

He just looks at the reality of the situation unlike some people…

Sim

But isn’t this all about saving the Royal Navy? If there is nobody arguing for additional money and simply accepting a giant OPV then the Royal Navy is doomed. Cut after cut has left us in the parlous state it now finds itself in. It took a large number of emails to get them to remove HMS Bristol as part of the active fleet on the Royal Navy website, it took years. It’s time to take off the rose tinted spectacles that allow politicians to say the navy has more than 50 ships, half of them P2000s.

I know we’re all Armchair Admirals, or in some cases Chancellors, but let’s not roll over and accept baseline and campaign passionately for capability.

Dern

You can argue for a bigger budget all you like, snide remarks about people being chancellors aside however: That is a completely seperate argument from what the Type 31 should be equppied with. Even with a bigger budget there are arguably far more important things for the RN to focus that budget on than Type 31.

Also if you want to play fantasy fleets and wish for more money, go ahead, nobody is stopping you. But those of us who look at reality and realise that the Navy has to plan with the resources it has, not the resources it wishes it had don’t slag off the Type 31, it does what is the navy needs (yes even the P2000’s have a role to play btw).

D J

Shhh – if you don’t tell everyone, they won’t know. No navy anywhere advertises what the are actually carrying, only what they have the potential to carry. If you have no potential – its a dead givaway (pun intended).

Sim

Unfortunately the accountants on here don’t get it. I’m sure one of them is Philip Hammond, I’m more Gavin Williamson myself.

Dern

Well some of us don’t play Navy Dungeons and Dragons and live in the real world.

Sim

Well hopefully you have nothing to do with the negotiations. Did you negotiate the Withdrawal Agreement or the Political Declaration?

Dern

Lol scream and whine all you like you’re in the wrong here child.

Richard. H. Segel

She seems much. Beamier than. Amazon. Oliver Hazard. Perry. And. Knox. Classes..

the grumpy stoker

“None deck penetrating ” 40mm bofors would be ideal for the batch 2 OPV’s. would make them look more like a warship!

Don

Mk 41 VLS is a reoccurring theme in the comments.
Its a hot launch system and you pay a premium for a hot launch system over cold launch.

Intially I would have argued for its inclusion on T31 primarily for the potential to carry land attack cruise missiles. However with the interim requirement for 5 sets of a cannister launched missiles that are – ” ship-launched, over-the-horizon precision anti-ship capability and a terrain-following precision maritime land attack capability”. It appears that these could migrate to T31. This would negagate the need for MK 41 for land attack cruise missiles.

T31 is a General purpose frigate and not an ASW frigate so fitting MK 41 to carry an ASROC type missile/torpedo is not a priority and is more appropiate for the T26.

What other missiles would the T31 likely need to fulfil its mission set?

As we know Camm is cold launched so hot launch system not required.

Potential for SeaSpear will it be hot or cold launched? There was talk of it being launched from the camm mushroom farm.

The only Advantage MK 41 offers is quad packing. But only 1 missile can be launched from a quad cell at a time. The spacing on a mushroom farm could potentially give you a quicker rate of salvo fire to deal with a saturation attack.

Would a second mushroom farm be a better and cheaper option for T31 if it could launch Sea Spear.

T.S

Yes, but it’s the quad packing that would give the ship real defensive credibility. I would happily pay the money to get 96 missiles over 24, even if we weren’t using the cells to their full potential. We then also have the option of quickly introducing new missile types if needed.
Why are we unable to design a cost effective cold launch tube that is more densely packed than at present to negate the mk41 conversation? Is it really that hard? We can design an Astute submarine likened to a space ship, but we can’t design what is a tube with the launch elements inside?
The other option would be the holy grail – a cell that can be reloaded from below deck so that fewer cells are needed and less deck space is taken. Now that would get some exports! Surely doable if the great minds in BAE or the like put their minds to it.

Capn26

I’ve wondered all along if type 56 vls amidships somewhere would be a good fit. Raytheon get two 50km essms in each cell. It looks like it would give you at least some option for larger, newer missiles in the future.

I’m also wondering about the 40 mm gun. Is this the same/similar to the dardo? I saw the new stealthy cupola version of that gun and it’s impressive.

Finally, I hope there’s room for torpedos and at least slant ASuW weapons. Even a 2×2 launcher with Exocet or harpoon would add needed teeth. But for now it’s a blank slate, albeit one with a great foundation. I’m in the US and am watching your program with great interest. Congrats on wonderful platform at a great price!

Paul

The Danish vessels come with Mk41 – Hot launch, so as we know it can already be incorporated why not fit it from the start? If we are seriously talking about sending these vessels into the Gulf, they need a credible offensive capability. It also needs to be remembered the Iranians have ASM designed to sink carriers.

Dern

Because the ships needed to be built for 250m£. If you want Mk41 on a Type31, you need to answer the question of what you give up elsewhere in the fleet to get it.

Meirion X

Reloading CAMM from below should be possible with the high mounted midship silo.

donald_of_tokyo

Why not ExLS in stand alone mode?

Compact, quad pack CAMM ok, also SPEAR3 is in the scope, and recently adopted by Canada and Brazil. At least, Brazil is using it for CAMM.

Capn26

I’m assuming that is a stand alone quad pack? May be better without the need to penetrate the deck. CAMM looks solid. I’d just like to see Tom for a little growth. A mk41 as said, would offer most versatility. Still. I like the idea of plug and play systems.

Will O

Yes, have a look at the pdfs here;

https://www.lockheedmartin.com/en-us/products/naval-launchers-and-munitions.html

The standalone ExLS seems to come in blocks of 3, thus offering an extra 12 CAMMs in very little space, & plugs straight into SeaCeptor’s LMS.

ExLS also shoots quad packed Nulka (decoy), JAGM, & Rim116 Block2. Not entirely clear from the LM pdfs if those other things are intended for standalone use, or whether they need the Mk41s in addition to host them?
Interesting anyway.

To be honest, I actually think, beyond T31e, those standalone ExLS would be something that should really be seriously considered for the Carriers. They take up hardly any deck space, SeaCeptor is already integrated with the radars, & the ExLS plugs straight into SeaCeptor. Those Nulka decoys may be a prudent precaution too, our allies seem to rate them highly. Not sure if Nulka has ever been used with Carriers that large, but they are in use on LPDs/LHDs including the Canberra.

Julian

Yes, 3-cell stand-alone ExLS looks good and I wish it were used more widely.

What follows is not a demand for 128 CAMM on T31 but is merely a bit of arithmetic to put packing density into context. If that midships silo deck area is big enough to house a 32 cell Mk41 (which given the IH design I think we can assume it is) then packing-density wise that would give 128 CAMM if all 32 Mk41 tubes were quad-packed with CAMM. If a 24 CAMM mushroom farm is using anything like even half of that Mk41 deck area then that is a pitiful packing density vs what could be achieved with Mk41 hence I also assume with stand-alone ExLS modules.

Regarding ExLS, on another site I was told that for hot-launch missiles the adaptors are tri-packed with the fourth section then used for exhaust gas venting. I have no idea if what I was told is correct but if it is then that sounds like a really clever design to me.

One thing on ExLS stand-alone is that I share D J and Donald-san’s questions/concerns below about can they host CAMM-ER? I would certainly hope so. I would also hope that they could potentially host a VLS SPEAR 3 if that were ever to be developed. Since SPEAR 3 is only 1.8m long and CAMM is 3.2m long there should be plenty of length to accommodate the booster that would be required . Hopefully diameters wouldn’t be an issue although at 180mm diameter for SPEAR 3 vs 166mm for CAMM (non-ER) maybe it might be. I would also worry about weight because SPEAR 3 on its own is about the same weight as CAMM so strap a booster on the back and can the cold-launch gas eject throw that extra weight up to 30 m above deck level? I suppose maybe it can since I assume that CAMM-ER is still going to be cold launch and that is going to need to eject a 160 kg CAMM+booster package. I confess that I have trouble getting my head around the energy that these gas eject systems must release to throw even the basic 99 kg CAMM vertically 30 m into the air.

If VLS SPEAR 3 did ever see the light of day it could be a very useful asset for ground support to strike high value assets with all sorts of options for using GPS coordinates, having the target laser designated or using its own active seeker. Since VLS Spear 3 would need to share silo space with Sea Ceptor it would add more reason to try to get better packing density than the mushroom farm appears to offer if it were to become a reality.

donald_of_tokyo

> for hot-launch missiles the adaptors are tri-packed with the fourth section then used for exhaust gas venting.

If you see the LM’s webpage, for “Host Extensible Launching System Launcher”, you can see it. It depends on missiles they carry, very clever.

Also you can see JAGM 3-cell (+1 exhaust) configuration. JAGM has the same dimension as Brimstone, so hopefully SPEAR3 may use similar arrangements?

Also you can see ExLS itself is deep, and CAMM canisters are designed to carry CAMM. So, length is not a big issue. CAMM-ER has a diameter of 190 mm, while JAGM has 180mm. But looking at the image, JAGM has a wing. As CAMM-ER also has a wing, it is not clear yet.

But anyway, RN has CAMM, not CAMM-ER. Good.

Julian

>But anyway, RN has CAMM, not CAMM-ER. Good.

Yes, but it would be reassuring to know for sure that if RN were to ever want to add CAMM-ER it could potentially be hosted in whatever is about to be fitted for non-ER CAMM. Stand-alone ExLS maybe gives that option but mushroom farm possibly not?

I think a VLS SPEAR 3 might be able to be cold-launched so potentially also quad-packed. If CAMM-ER at 160kg can be cold launched (and I don’t know if that is the case) then, at 160kg, that would mean that at least in terms of weight a 60kg booster could go on the back of a 100kg SPEAR 3 and be the same weight hence the same cold-launch ejection challenge as CAMM-ER.

By the way, in case anyone hasn’t seen it here is a pretty good video from DSEI 2015 with an interview with a LM guy about stand-alone ExLS complete with some scale models…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EurneHA4wzs

Meirion X

I agree also!

Meirion X

I do not think it is possible to quad pack CAMM-ER in ExLS.
You are trying to get 4 circle objects of
19.6cm diameter, into a 53.5cm square box, there would need to be some spacing in the package. We do not know the spacing requirements for the wings etc.

Bob

MerionX,

The Exls was a joint venture between LM and Mbda. It therefore seems odd they did not consider quad packing cam-er in at least the stand alone Exls vls.

If you are correct, possibly this is due to lack of communication within mbda as camm is an Mbda-uk product while cam-er is being developed by mbda-Italy.

Bob

Julian

Another thing occurred to me after re-watching the DSEI video I posted. The LM guy mentions the benefits of it having proper ballistic hatches and I read elsewhere that a lot of the components for that are shared with the Mk41 ballistic hatch. What level of ballistic protection do the mushroom farm covers offer I wonder. I could be wrong but I somehow doubt that it’s as good as what is essentially a Mk41 ballistic hatch on the ExLS.

Sim

Not a ballistic hatch at all, the missile passes through the mushroom.

donald_of_tokyo

Sim-san

Np. The mushroom hat is removed before “ready”. You can see the CAMM launcher without mushroom hat on HMS Kent’s twitter image, when she passes through Suez. Even without the mushroom, it has a flat rubber-like looking top-plate.

Sim

My bad…

So some poor smuck has to manually lift them off if there’s a chance they need to use them?

donald_of_tokyo

Looks like. There remains small possibility, CAMM can penetrate the mushroom hat in emergency, but who knows. The fact now is that
– the mushroom hat can be taken off
– all images to date of CAMM launch has the hat taken off before the launch (if you look carefully)
Time will tell.

Sim

I’ll ask, back soon when I get an answer…

Meirion X

There is a ExLS host adapter available
for Mk. 41, 8 cell units.
The host to quad pack CAMM for cold launch.

Bob

Hi Donald,

Do you know what the costs are for Mk41+Exls, Exls stand alone and the CAMM specific launchers?

$10M price for the mk41 is often stated on here, but a comparison would be useful.

Thanks

Julian

I think the $10M Mk41 price might be too low. The best Mk41 price data that I could find is a Feb 2018 press release from the US State Department announcing approval for the foreign sale of 4 x 8 cell strike-length Mk41 units to Finland (1 each for its 4 new Pohjanmaa-class corvettes). The estimated cost quoted in that release is $70M for the 4 units so $17.5M each.

The release is here: https://www.dsca.mil/major-arms-sales/finland-mk-41-vertical-launching-systems

Also interesting to see that Finland is putting an 8-cell strike length Mk41 on its new corvettes. With that and the telescopic hangar they look quite an interesting design. Wikipedia has a fairly short article on them.

Meirion X

Maybe the $10m for 8 cells, figure is for the tactical version?

donald_of_tokyo

Bob-san

I do not know. Its cost is very controversy in the web.

Before everything, Mk.41 VLS itself has a few versions. Three types of length, but also the generation differs a lot (Mk.VII is the latest). On top of that, it has many options. Putting a square box with a door cannot handle a missile. You need appropriate wiring, front-end electronics boxes for each and every dedicated missiles (*1), dedicated consoles, and software integration into the CMS. Also, the contract sometimes include maintenance, sometimes not.

*1 TLAM needs its dedicated electronics, and CAMM needs also their own.

Clear goodness of ExLS against Mk.41 VLS is
– its compactness, which can be critically important for export corvettes
– already integrated with CAMM (Brazilian corvette order), some else has already certified it. Mk.41 quad-pack version is not yet certified. Who are paying for it?

Bob

Thanks Donald.

I had though NZs frigates would have quad packed sea captor in their mk41s, but it appears these are being stripped out by Lockheed in Canada and replaced by 20 stand alone launches for sea ceptor.

I’m a bit surprised that LM did not really push the Exls for the NZ ships. Cost must be the reason NZ choose individual cam launchers and two 3-cell exls must be quite a bit more expensive than 20 individual camm launchers.

Bob

Paul.P

I can see NZ buying 3 of these Arrowheads ….for less than the cost of 1 Type 26

craig

yeap, can see that very much happening, and RN buying a 2nd batch of 3

D J

My information is that it was a top weight issue. With the new radar etc, there was too much topweight & NZ went with the 20 stand alone launchers instead. Australia went the other way with their upgrade (both are Anzac class GP frigates of Meko 200 base design). They went with the more advanced CEAFAR2 radar & extra balast (& speed drop) & kept the 8 cell mk41 self defence length silo (32 ESSM) & no CIWS. The NZ frigates maintain their speed, kept their CIWS, ended up with lower spec radar & less missiles (CAMM.) Both pack more punch than proposed UK T31 while being 2,000t lighter.

You must remember that ExLS is relatively new (final CAMM tests only in December 2017). The NZ contracts relate to 2014-2016. ie the contracts were signed some time ago, long leadtime items ordered etc.

D J

The 3 cell ExLS is currently the only quad packable cold launch optimised system available as far as I know. It was designed by LM in colaboration with MBDA. It can fire a few similar sized hot launch missiles as well but the canisters need to handle the eflux themselves (usually by using one of the canister spots for an eflux tube). So where you can quad pack CAMM, you can only tri pack RAM, as the 4th position is needed for eflux. Because of its lightweight design, missile compatability is limited to relativly small missiles. Even ESSM is not listed. Not sure if CAMM-ER will fit length wise. So you end up with 6 ExLS cells in roughly the same space as 8 mk41 cells, but for considerably less money.

donald_of_tokyo

Thanks DJ-san

> … you end up with 6 ExLS cells in roughly the same space as 8 mk41 cells, but for considerably less money.

Why a 6-cell ExLS is as large as 8-cell Mk.41? I think it must be significantly smaller, not only light-weight ?

Also, the tube-size of ExLS is scalable (if my memory works…), so CAMM-ER may or may not be carryable.

D J

Donald

32 mk41 = 4 x 8 cell sets, each set being 2 rows of 4 cells. All quad packable by the likes of CAMM. ExLS 3 cell sets are single row of 3 quad packable with CAMM. If the cells are the same size, then if you fitted 3 sets straight accross, you would have 9 cells as against the mk41 8 cells. It depends if this is ok or not (I did say roughly). So 8 x ExLS 3 cell launchers should fit in the space of 4 x 8 cell mk41 launchers with some room to spare. 12 ExLS launchers would however require more deck space than 32 mk41. The problem is that 3 is an odd number.

donald_of_tokyo

ExLS has smaller cell size. ExLS does not have dedicated exhaust column. I’m not surprised even if 3-cell ExLS in 3×5 orientation (=9×5 cells = 45) can “almost” fit within 8-cell Mk.41 in 2×2 (=8×4 cells = 32) space.

D J

You may well be right. We would need actual fitted dimensions to know for sure. The other query is how much spare room there is if you did need a bit more for 9 cells across. The depth of the extra boat bays on the A140 narrows the missile space area available (obviously 32 mk41 does fit).

D J

Donald

Update – did some digging. According to LM, the 3 cell ExLS reuses mk41 hatch components. This tends to indicate that the cell hatches (doors) are the same size as mk41.

Don

Why not ExLS in stand alone mode?

Does the answer to this lie with the T26?
T26 features two 24 cell mushroom farms to host camm and ExLS was not choosen for this role. So I presume the RN/MOD must have a good reason for going down the mushroom farm route over the ExLS route.
Another factor that would now come into play would be that there would be a supply chain establishing to supply mushroom farms for T26 and now there could be a further reduction in cost with an increased order for mushroom farms to cover both T26 and T31.

donald_of_tokyo

Not sure.

I heard a romour that T26 was originally designed with ExLS in mind, but cut to mushroom farms because of cost. If this is true, it means T26 can in principle carry, 4-times the current 48 CAMM = 192 missiles. What we know is, when T26 build started, ExLS was there but not adopted by any Navy. It is only recently LM announced ExLS is selected by Canadian and Brazilian Navy.

How about 96 CAMM and 96 SPEAR3, added with 8 ASROC and 16 ASM/Land-attack missile, in Batch-2 ships ? (or just have 1/4 number of ExLS with 48 CAMM to clearly show vacant space, FFBNW)

Meirion X

The ExLS host adapter slots into Mk. 41 cells to quad pack CAMM for cold launch.
Maybe a mix of strike length and tactical length cells? So it would cost $35m just for 16 strike length cells! I am sure tactical length cells should cost less?

Wayne

The lack of offensive weapon systems on the T31 is disappointing but understood given the price tag. My hope is that before anymore of these ships are procured that the exisiting ships are significantly up gunned. The fact that these ships have been designed to allow this to happen is comforting.

Rather than placing on a larger gun perhaps a navalised version of GMLRS could be fitted? Such a system would give T31 a long range and high persion system that could support ground forces way beyond the beachhead. The potential for use as an ASM would not be difficult to design for such a mature missile system.

4thwatch

I agree with a navalised MLRS. It would very much fit with the RMs new role and could be a deck mounted plug in. I am also very much in favour of heavy weight Spearfish on surface ships. I can think of many instances when this would be a priceless asset. Not only in its AS role but also in a pre combat situation where it would compel your opponent to stand off say 40 miles blocking many choke points like the channel or other key straits. The fear of being struck with little warning by such a weapon would certainly create uncertainty!
It would also be useful as a highly effective ‘sinker’. There were many instances in WW2 when our own or enemy vessels were given the coup de grace by our own 21″ TTs. Imagine a convoy straggler say one of the escorts or a Very large container ship, critically damaged being abandoned and falling into enemy hands. HMS Edinburgh and HMS Manchester both had to be sunk by ourselves to avoid capture in this way and of course Bismark and Scharnhost were both finished off likewise, when gunnery largely failed.
We sometimes, I think forget the Navy is there to sink ships.

DaveyB

The USMC has fired MRLS from their flattops, seemed to work ok. The idea of using a guided ballistic rocket should be considered for our ships for NGFS, it would be ideal.

4thwatch

Agreed both Spearfish and MRLS are mature systems which we ignore at our loss.

Binocs

A batch 2 River class cost the taxpayer £127 million versus all this for an estimated £250 million per Arrowhead 140.
This looks like an extremely positive and important step for future naval procurement.

donald_of_tokyo

Cost for River B2 is because of TOBA in many sense, to keep the T26 workforce active. It does not mean River B2 itself costs £127 million.

TOBA itself was very good. If not, HMG’s ignorance would have triggered another “skill gap” disaster, as we see in SSN building.

Please note Babcock itself has TOBA, to secure T23 LIFEX program man-power. It is NOT only BAE.

Binocs

100% agreed re vital skills. Just hoping for this same continuation of build/skills and joined up thinking re procurement combined. I am an observer and no expert here fyi.
Does anyone have any info on the UK SSV proposal so far?

Meirion X

A major role of the general purpose frigate(GPF) like the T31, is to conduct maritime security patrols across the oceans of the World, which means the ‘freedom of navigation’ in all Oceans, and contested seas like the South China Sea. So a GPF has not only able to defend itself, but undertake some offensive action if the frigate is attacked or prevented from conducting it’s patrol, and operations.
This will send a message across the world that Britain is a major World power.

An OPV would be Below Bar for that role!

Rob

Actually really impressed by this ‘gun boat’ concept. It has clearly been designed to police shipping lanes in the middle and far east and provide presence in other areas while the expensive ships form the Carrier / Amphibious task groups. Overall it is probably the best we could hope for. The Bofors guns will be great against small and medium sized attackers and, with Sea Ceptor, provide a more than credible anti-missile / air defence. However the lack of meaningful shore bombardment ability will be felt. With a Wildcat carrying lightweight torpedoes and Sea Venom the Arrowhead will be a credible warship. Moreover it will have space for enhanced anti-submarine, anti-surface and land attack weapons if needed.

I worry about two thing however. Firstly the crew size. Now I know that the RN need to make the most of every sailor they have but this relatively complex warship will only have a crew of 100. Sounds OK but when you split that down into cooks, weapons etc.. it will put a hell of a workload on those boys & girls. Probably OK in peace time but enough to save and fight the ship at the same time? Secondly is the number to be built. If they really do come in at £250 million each, surely we must be looking at more than 5? Likely tasking of 1 in the Far East, 2 in the Gulf, 1 in the Caribbean, 1 doing Falklands / Atlantic patrol and 1 or 2 ready to shadow Russkies around = 7. Then build in training and maintenance looks more like 10 minimum. Actually 12 would be superb and get the escort fleet back to decent numbers (26).

It is a crying shame the Gov couldn’t have ordered these shipps this time last year. 2024 is going to put a hell of a strain on the all ready old T23s.

Joe16

Largely agree with you, I like the look of it.
I’d argue, though, that 5 of these would be enough; the Falklands and the Caribbean don’t need a frigate, they need River 2s, maybe upgunned to the same 57 mm on the T31. Argentina becomes less of a threat every year, so most of it down there will be fishery and oil reserve policing. In the Caribbean, the problems are drugs and natural disasters; a River and a Bay (or similar) would allow quicker RN responses to both while not stretching the budget anywhere near as much as permanently assigning a T31 to the region. You may even get a couple of Rivers each and still save money! Seeing as we have 2 escorts tied up semi-permanently as it is due to crew numbers, significantly adding to the escort fleet is going to be a multi-year (decade maybe?) process.
I’d say that the best bet would be to sell these 5 T31 on second hand in good condition in 5-10 years, and then buy another 5 (keeping the drumbeat of shipbuilding going) with a better weapons fit (development and integration of at least some of them hopefully paid by exports to foreign users). As long as they’re announced in good enough time, the price should be kept low because it’ll essentially be continuous construction of 10 vessels in 2 consecutive batches without a pause.

4thwatch

Shore bombardment= MLRS navalised. Why not?

Don

The magic number 5.

5 T31 GP all new equipment
5 T23 GP
8 ASW T23 (5 with the I-SSGW)
8 T26
3 New equipment sets for first 3 T26
5 T26 getting equipment from 5 ASW T23.

So with 5 T31 getting all new equipment it appears there will be 5 GP T23 available fully intact.

With 8 T26 only using equipment from 5 ASW T23 that leaves 3 ASW T23 fully intact.

So we have 5 ASW T23 that have been cut up and probably only fit for the scrapyard. But for the NGFS fans out there, there would be 5 4.5inch guns available for upcycling (from these scrapyard bound ASW T23) . So there is potential to swap out the forward 40mm bofors for a 4.5 inch gun on the T31 at a later date. (I would like to see the 57mm retained.)
Now throw into the mix 5 sets of I-SSGW also coming up for a bit of upcycling to the T31 and the T31 is suddenly and inexpensively becoming a lot more potent.

A further consideration is the reduced crewing requirements of both T31 and T26 coupled with the ongoing recruitment drive would hopefully leave additional sailors being available to crew an additional ship/s.

Now we have 5 GP and 3 ASW T23 available fully intact. I would pick the best ship (hopefully an ASW variant as ASW in the North Atlantic is a priority area) available from this pool and crew it from the additional sailors now available thus growing the escort fleet by one and sell the remaining T23 . The funds generated from selling the remaining T23 would be used to procure further T31 and when these come into sevice the crew from the retained T23 transfer to this and the last T23 is sold.
(The 5 scrapyard T23 would be stripped for spares to keep the retained T23 in service until it is sold)

Meirion X

I agree with you to keep stripped equipment from scraped T23s for spares.
But I do Not agree with MoD’s decision to fit the lightweight 57mm gun on T31.

A new standardize gun of about 80-100mm is needed.

Paul

To be honest I can’t see the Type 23s being scrapped. After being given Lifex refits with Sea Ceptor and in a number of cases new engines I suspect a number will be sold to Chile and Brazil – probably the first few withdrawn, as a number will soldier on with the RN until we eventually get all these wonderful ships in build.

D J

Don

I don’t think you can fit a 4.5 inch at B position It would need to go at A. You may be able to fit the 57mm at B. The IH has a stanflex mounted 76mm at B. The A position can take up to 5 inch (including below deck requirements).

Don

I agree with
” I don’t think you can fit a 4.5 inch at B position It would need to go at A. You may be able to fit the 57mm at B.”

So if 4.5 inch is fitted and the 57mm is to be retained, the 57mm would need moved from A position to B position.

If the T31 launched new with the 57mm at B position and the 40mm at A position this would be a real indicator that an upgrade to the main gun is planned in the future. Something to watch out for.
(But it wouldn’t be a good look and probably look quite odd )

I am still not convinced if fitting the 4.5 is a good idea but was trying to highlight how it might be done as there is a lot of fans for reusing 4.5 inch for NGFS.

D J

Personally I would forget the 113mm (& 57mm). Either go with 127mm (5″) or 76mm (3″) at A position.

Steve

I would be seriously surprised if this fit out turns out to be the UK version, i just can’t see the RN / MOD paying for a new radar/combat management system, over ripping out the old system and installing it.

The part i don’t get is why we haven’t invested in a cheap towed sonar, to give the t45/rivers etc a basic anti-sub capability.

You would think that one of the lessons would be that you can’t have enough ships in a anti-sub net, considering that the Argentinean sub got through ours because we didnt’ have it deep enough and that was with a significantly larger fleet.

Wiggle

50 million on a build hall? Sounds much like the English ship yard they have just shit down? Well done british government.

KiwiRob

I think the Appledor yard is far to small to build a vessel this size. It could build blocks but not assemble the complete frigate.

KiwiRob

Why do you say the Type 31 won’t fit inside the refit complex, the middle dock was lengthened for the Batch 2 Type 22’s, it shouldn’t be a length issue, Batch 2 type 22’s are longer than the Arrowhead 140 and the lock gates are 22m wide, Arrowhead is 19.7m wide.

Paul

Exactly, but not many people know that!

Joe16

So far, so good in my opinion generally. Really glad they didn’t try to go too far into ASW with a towed array; leave that to T26 and support if necessary with helos or unmanned systems when they come along. I see no problem with technically having a better radar on the T31 than the T26, it means the T31 stays relevant longer and we can potentially put more money into development of T26 into T46 or some other platform.
Some interesting choices on weapons, as many have noted. If they’re going with 40 mm, and I can understand the argument, then it would have been cool to see the 40 mm CTS from Ajax and Warrior- at least it would have some commonality with UK armed forces as a whole. I guess it hasn’t been “marinized” yet? I’d hope that, seeing as they were able to integrate LMM with the 30 mm pretty easily, they will hopefully be able to do the same with the 40 mm mount?
I’ve seen some comments about the 4.5″ or 5″ being the main gun to go for, and that the 57 mm doesn’t have what it takes; my understanding is that this would be a Gulf escort or FONOP vessel, providing limited area air defence and protection from large numbers of smaller vessels. I’d consider the 57 mm sufficient for that, and it would seem to have the range to reach the shore in a littoral environment. My understanding of the threat there are mobile launchers of UAVs and ASMs, like the Houthis and Iranians have used to attack shipping. These are not hardened or armoured targets, and would be as susceptible to a volley of 57 mm airburst as a swarm of small boats. A smaller number of larger heavy hitting shells doesn’t seem to be needed. A T31 is never going to be sailing into gun range of a Chinese island in the SCS to engage their bunkers. Might they sail in close to provide support to special ops further in from the shoreline, out of the range of the 57 mm? Maybe, but I’d expect those missions to be so few and far between, and an alternative (see next paragraph for an example) would be likely available. Not worth the outlay.
The only thing I’d like to see in the weapons fit are cannister launched NSM, as I believe it’ll be the interim system until FCASW makes an appearance. That’ll give a cheap and effective ASM/land attack capability that is easily sufficient for hitting Corvettes and shore based missile systems at short notice in a littoral environment, and for providing some limited precision deeper strike capability for supporting SF. I don’t think the purpose of the vessel warrants Mk41, not on the first 5 anyway.
One question I do have: For whatever reason, the RN doesn’t really consider the precision deep strike land attack mission a part of their remit for surface vessels. This conclusion is born from the lack of strike length VLS (MK41 or Sylver) on any of their surface combatants other than the T26 (and I wonder how much of that is to assist with export and for making provision for ASW weaponry and/or ASMs rather than land attack). NSM is going to be the first long(ish) range missile on a RN surface vessel with a land attack capability until FCASW comes in, as far as I’m aware, and that’s primarily because of it’s anti-ship capabilities. It seems that land attack is going to remain the reserve of the RAF and the FAA fleet of Typhoon and F-35B. I’d be interested to know why people think this is, whether that’s a wise decision, whether it’s due to lack of budget or deliberate choice or whether it’s just something we’ve decided that the USN will cover whenever anything gets nasty?

Wayne

T31 is a strange one to get your head around. Its seems like all the navy were just interested in a ship that costs 250 million with whatever capability it could afford. No particular capability has been identified for these ships.
I am glad they went for ship protection first with an eye towards growth potential. As an amateur naval enthusiast I would be interested in knowing what the maximum we could get out of T31 from those of you who understand these things far better than I.

Joe16

I know what you mean, unless they were a bit clearer with the bidders than they’ve been with the public…! Not having a clear role for a ship can be problematic.
That’s generous of you to group me into the ones with understanding, I’d consider myself to be more of an enthusiast like you!
I think, as you rightly say, it depends a lot on mission specification. What is a frigate? The T26 maxes out somewhere just short of a T45 when it comes to tonnage, so it’s not really about size anymore. If it’s role, then maybe you could say that Destroyers handle air/BMD defence while frigates handle ASW and maybe a bit of light surface protection. And that’s just the RN, the USN expects their destroyers to do land attack too, and they don’t really currently have any dedicated ASW assets at all. The frigate they are expecting to get would seem to be specced to do ASW and land attack, and maybe a bit of limited area air defence. Australian and Canadian versions of the T26 retain the ASW focus, but the Canadian one adds a wider area air defence and land attack capability- because they replacing destroyer and frigate classes with a single type. The Australian version doesn’t have a specified land attack role. So, to a certain extent you could say that the Canadian version of the T26 or the USN FFG(X) is the best frigate.
But you’re asking about the T31, which is really a GP frigate. If we’re talking a top spec GP frigate, I think the current T31 would not be far off. I’d consider the bow sonar and use of on board helicopter and future unmanned vehicles to be sufficient ASW capability. I’d not worry about CIWS, but would definitely go for a navalised 40 mm CT gun (the one on the Ajax vehicle) with combined LMM (like they’ve done for the T23’s 30 mm guns) instead of the Bofors gun. That reduces the number of guns and ammunition types in service, while adding capability. I would also reverse my previous comment and go with a strike length VLS, and hopefully fit a Sea Ceptor silo in elsewhere. The VLS could be split in any combination of quad-packed Sea Ceptor, ASMs and land attack munitions. But I wouldn’t bother with longer range air defence than the Sea Ceptor (unless they work out CAMM-ER and can still quad pack it), because then it gets complicated. The RN uses the Aster family of missiles for wide area air defence, but these only go into Sylver tubes. The vast majority (as far as I’m aware) of land attack and anti-ship missiles are integrated to the MK41 system. This may change in the future, with future missiles that the UK and France are working on, but at the moment it means costly integration in one direction or the other- or buying the US Standard series of missiles just for our super GP frigate. Not worth it, hence me keeping wide area air defence in the realm of the destroyer. Again, money being no object (and assuming it’s not too heavy with the additional VLS), then I’d probably replace the 57 mm gun with the 5”, but I’m still in two minds about that per my previous comment.
As I said, I’m hardly the expert and certainly lack the experience of others on this site- would be really interested in their opinions. But the above is my tuppence.

Meirion X

A General Purpose frigate(GPF), will need to be able do a modest amount of every thing, air defence(AAW), anti submarine warfare(ASW) and anti-surface vessel warfare(AShW), and shore bombardment(NGFS).

A major role of the general purpose
frigate(GPF) like the T31, is to conduct maritime security patrols across the oceans of the World, which means to exercise the ‘freedom of navigation’ in all Oceans, and contested seas like the South China Sea. So a GPF has not only able to defend itself, but undertake some offensive action if the frigate is attacked or prevented from conducting it’s patrol, and operations.
This will send a message across the world that Britain is a major World power.

An OPV would be Below Bar for that role!

Joe16

I would agree with all of the above, which is why I “dream specced” the T31 as I did! What I kept out of the specification was specialist ASW (towed array and super-acoustically quiet hull) and wide area air defence (greater than the ~20 miles+ of Sea Ceptor). Everything else, my T31 spec would do, and a bit more with the inclusion of NSM/FCASW for deep land attack.
Even the T31 does this pretty well in my opinion, particularly if there’s a chance for cannister launched NSM in it’s near future. Given the budget, I think it is acceptable. You don’t need ASMs or 4.5” guns to fight Iranian gunboats, you need the fit that they have (especially if you can get LMM mounted on the 40 mm Bofors like you can with the 30 mm). A 4.5” or even 5” gun isn’t going to help you at all if your FONOP past one of those Chinese islands turns hot- you’re never going to get close enough to use it. A 57 mm is sufficient for hitting mobile land-based ASM systems (normally soft skinned lorries) on the shores of the Strait of Hormuz, as well as the boat swarms and air attacks that are considered the most likely form of engagement in the littorals. I’d rather take the money that would be used for a bigger gun and give them the aforementioned cannisters of a dual ASM/land attack munition like I’ve been saying that they should get when the money becomes available.
Given your comment re OPVs, am I to assume you feel the T31 is lacking in armament? What do you consider it’s lacking?

Meirion X

I think it should have a min of a 76mm NGFS.
Also it is still unclear will the T31 get NSM?

I think T31 should get a 16 cell Mk. 41 in addition to CAMM.

Joe16

Yes, no one has mentioned NSM for T31, apparently the interim missile system is slated for delivery between 2023/24 and to be fitted to the 5 towed array T23. To me, that means that they’ll be available for progressive fit on the T31s as the T23s go out of service later in the decade. There are apparently 3 choices, but NSM is the cheapest and can be fitted to F-35B and P-8A, so I don’t really see MOD going for another option.
I’d rather they did that than give them VLS to be honest, purely from the perspective of the available money hanging around (or lack thereof). The hardware cost for an 8-cell Mk41 is ~$2.75M, for the strike length Sylver it’s ~$3.3M for the same 8 cells, that’s without the installation through the deck and integration. For 16 cells, which I agree would be a reasonable number (no point in cutting up the ship if you’re only going to drop a single module in!), you’re looking at the ships going more than 10% over their budget immediately on hardware alone. Save the VLS for the ships that are likely to be getting into big engagements in blue water, or participating in an intervention against a state actor, as part of the carrier group.

Meirion X

@Joe16
Your costs of Mk. 41 are Not True!
The US did a FMS to Finland for $70m in 2017 to install Mk 41, on 4 corvettes, so 8 cells each corvette, about $17m each unit.
where do you get your figure from?

Captain Nemo

That’s the cost of adding Mk41 capability to a ship, the brain and in this case an eight cell strike length VLS, it also includes 10 years support. So it would be the $17.5 plus however many extra modules at what I suspect to be $10m for an 8 cell.
It would be nice to see some figures for that T26 order for the sake of comparison, there must be an FMS request for it buried somewhere in the internet.

Joe16

I got them from here, I frankly didn’t go looking around a whole lot more. Maybe what I posted was the “list” price?
https://www.nextbigfuture.com/2019/01/us-shift-to-missile-container-navy-would-be-six-times-more-cost-effective.html
This is where I got the Sylver price from
http://www.deagel.com/Cannons-and-Gear/Sylver-A-70_a001421002.aspx
So what you’re saying is that they’re more expensive than I said? Bear in mind, what I provided was a hardware only price, your cost was apparently “to install”. That could also account for the difference?

Meirion X

Looking at that site for Sylver info, is the total development cost of $300m for 93 units of the Sylver family, that is just development, it does not tell you of each unit equipment cost and cost to install etc, most likely $10m+.

Joe16

I take your point that the Sylver price would likely be the project price and include development, but I doubt it covers installation of 93 modules… Installation and integration is always the biggest cost, to the point where $333M for 93 systems would look like a bargain. I’d agree that manufacturing and installation of a single Sylver module would be $10M+, I was only ever making a hardware cost comparison with Mk41 though.
Either way, I think we can both agree that provision of any VLS on the T31 is way out of the RN’s budget at this time- whoever’s numbers we use. That’s why I went for canister systems as a nice to have / fit once retired from T23; not the best, but adds a decent capability. If money were no object, then of course I’d like to see VLS on these, same as you. But, then we wouldn’t be looking at T31 at all, but a GP T26!

Captain Nemo

Hello,

You see ‘$51-54 million per ship set (twelve modules)’ regurgitated around the web using that exact phrasing and I think it stems from the one forum (which I can no longer find) and their misinterpretation of the following document:

https://www.secnav.navy.mil/fmc/fmb/Documents/17pres/SCN_Book.pdf

If you scroll about halfway down to the DDG-51 (that’s the Arleigh Burke Class) page 7 of 23 you see reference to VLS Mk 41 with total costs of between $102m and $109m per year across three years.
I think they halved that for two ships, rather than taking that as the cost for each ship.
You can use the Phalanx cost as a reference point, with each system (of two on an Arleigh Burke at that time) costing about $8m.

So your price for an 8 cell module as of 2017 was about $8.7m

Regards Nemo

Captain Nemo

Actually… hate to correct myself but only one phalanx was fitted per ship from DDG-85 onwards, so…

Joe16

Thanks! For their utility, I don’t doubt their value for money, but still too expensive for the T31 at this point.
Out of interest, is that hardsare only?

Captain Nemo

No idea I’m afraid, but if those numbers are for two ships then they’re cheaper than I believed, though you’d have to take the figure as an average across various cell lengths and also take into consideration whatever deal the USN were able to work with LM for what is an enormous fleet wide production run.

Captain Nemo

Probably overlapping historical, technological and budgetary reasons; Royal Navy’s particular role within NATO not given to deep strike, loss of carriers also lending that job to RAF, Mk41 being relatively novel during T23’s conception and too late for Type 42’s and 22’s, expensive and unproven technology best left to a US budget.
Earliest realistic shot I guess would have been with SCALP but RN did not have strike length Sylver, French bought that in 2006 but RN had bought Tomahawk in 2004 for sub launch (I would guess because of the aforementioned lack of Mk41) so probably didn’t see the need.
I think some of our current problems would have been solved by Storm Shadow having an anti ship capability and being embraced by the navy, but that’s a lesson learned with FCASW… well, unless you’re still arguing against Mk41 that is 🙂

Joe16

That makes sense, on all levels! Thanks for your thoughts.
I’m not against MK41 on principle, VLS is great- it’s just a consideration of the price point of the ship. If we were talking a larger budget GP frigate, then I’d be all for them. But at that point I’d be advocating pulling out the T26 hull and setting Babcock to work modifying that, rather than choosing a smaller vessel. An extra 10-15 m in length gives more room for more stuff, VLS included! I’m frankly a little torn between the Mk41 and Sylver systems; I don’t like the US having such a monopoly, I like that the UK can have some industrial share in Sylver (sort of), but fully aware that most missiles go with Mk41 and integration is expensive. That said, we seem to be going with a lot of Euro weapons systems at the moment, FCASW not least among them as you say. Maybe Sylver has some life left. Either way, if we were building a super GP frigate (which the T31 could become), then sure, slap strike length VLS on. But, as it stands, cannister launched NSM would be sufficient in my book.

Meirion X

I would agree with fitting 16 Sylver vls cells on T31, if that was a cheaper option.

Captain Nemo

Edit: Tomahawk first purchased 1997; I was on lunch and did a quick fact check before posting but picked up an order to replenish stocks, my apologies.

D J

Joe

The problem for a 57mm is not just hardened targets. Even basic commercial reinforced concrete buildings is a problem for it. Generally accepted minimum for NGFS is 76mm. The 76mm also completes well with the 57mm in AAW. Leonardo is also developing Volcano rounds for it with something like 40km range. The 57mm also overlaps quite a bit with the 40mm.

Joe16

Ah, fair enough, I bow to your greater knowledge of the systems. Would you say that the 57 mm is too similar to the 40 mm then, and doesn’t offer enough of a performance increase to be worthwhile?
I’d still say that, against the lightly armoured components of a road mobile anti-ship missile system (the most likely land target for one of these in my opinion), the 57 mm would do the job. But appreciate that may not be enough.

D J

Its always a judgement call. To give a civilian equivalent. A 3t truck (lorry), 5t & 10t (ie 40mm,57mm76mm). All are usefull. The bigger trucks cost more to buy & uses more fuel. If you want to move 6t of goods, you need 2 trips of the 3t or 2 trips of the 5t or one trip of the 10t. Now if your average was 5t, you would be silly to buy a 5t truck – why? – because you would be always operating it at its limit & too often you would go over & have to make two trips. It woud be more cost effective to either use the 3t truck but always plan on 2 trips or go for the 10t & always 1 trip.

As to your example – Your 57mm lacks range against a 76mm (ie you are forced in closer). The closer you get, the more dangerous it gets (an Argentian corvette learnt this the hard way during the Falklands war & copped a Carl Gustaf anti-armour round in its side). Now if you know exactly where this road mobile battery is located, the 57mm may do the job for you. If however that position is under a car park or concrete bridge, maybe not. If you are not sure where the battery is, but are sure it’s there somewhere, the 76mm will be better for area bombardment.

Meirion X

I agree D J!

Pete

Do people think it would still be possible to load out the 8 pack Brimstone (or sea spear) package (conceptually shown atop an unmanned armour vehicle a couple of weeks back by MBDA) somewhere on the type 31…even if in the boat bay ?

Provide the vessel with ability to pick off smaller vessels at longer range and / or the ability to swamp a moderately sized adversary also at range.

Joe16

Interesting question, I’d assume yes? The question, I guess, is how much crossover there is between the LMM that is already navalised and can be fitted to the helos and 30 mm gun mounts (I’m assuming they can go on the 40 mm Bofors on the T31 too). Is it worth carrying 2 types of missile if they’re very close in capability?

DaveyB

There is a major capability difference between Brimestone and Martlet.

The Martlet was originally developed using the Starstreak chassis i.e. lightweight shoulder launched missile. The Brimestone is three times as heavy and quite a bit longer. The range of Martlet is about 8km, whilst Brimestone is over 60km. The explosive content of Brimestone is also about four times larger. Brimestone is also a true fire and forget weapon having a dual mode sensor containing an active radar and laser seeker.

If the Navy chooses to buy Brimestone/Sea Spear it would have gained a very capable multi-purpose weapon. However, it would need to be canister launched, as its too heavy to be mounted like the Martlet on a gun turret in any great numbers. But then it puts it up against Sea Venom, where the Brimestone would have been a better choice for arming the Wildcats. In fact an even better weapon choice would be a canister or VL launched Spear3 as this has all the capabilities of Brimestone, with an even greater (over 90km) range and the ability to loiter over a target area.

Joe16

Thanks for that, it’s difficult to keep track of it all sometimes.
I’d be open to cannister launched Brimstone available for RN escorts, particularly seeing as Sea Venom doesn’t have a surface launch facility I believe? I’m not sure I’d bother with VLS at the moment, seeing as not all the vessels will have them, and if we stick with cannisters then even RFA vessels could carry them if required.
The question then becomes why bother with Sea Venom at all? I assume that the development of the two different missiles started from very different places and then converged, thus creating this situation of having 2 similar missile types in service? Particularly with consideration to commonality and economies of scale etc. it would seem to encourage the dropping of Sea Venom, even at this late stage. I know that can sometimes be taken too far, but when military budgets are stretched so far in the UK it is worth considering.
As far as Spear3 goes, I see what you mean, but I was of the understanding they’re somewhat slower than Brimstone too? If we’re talking about having to kill boat swarms in the littorals, sometimes that speed can be a blessing over a greater range and loiter time…

Pete

Indeed DaveyB. For Type 31 then near term I would see cannister Brimstone as a quick and very effective relatively low cost but significant capability (procured from UK inc) and also which, by adopting it, shows faith in the technology and increases export potential for both it and the Type 31.

Ability to also take out shore based missile and radar sites at range would be invaluable.

Longer term a fully developed soft launch Spear 3 being integrated or migration of larger systems from the type 23 / type 26 once child of Perseus is developed would be a natural progression…and would fit in the Light Frigate scope.

Meirion X

Not worthwhile to arm RN Surface warships with Tomahawk cruise missiles to strike Land targets, because a lot of them would be needed to be fired for some of them to get through air defenses. Our adversaries would prepare their air defenses ready every time a RN surface ship appeared offshore, making it very costly to fire lots of them at a time.

The RN only has Tomahawks on submarines which can be launched Unexpectedly, to attack an adversary target in a very sneakily way.

Only the USN can afford to fire dozens of Tomahawks from warships at a time!

Joe16

Absolutely, I fully agree that it’s not really worth fitting Tomahawks of any kind onto RN vessels. For a start they’re too old.
My concern with the current reliance on the Astutes as our only delivery platform for long range strike (I know that we have Storm Shadow on Typhoon, but ships have a far better “loiter” capability) is that there are so few of them to go around, particularly once we have an operational carrier group. Fitting a more modern stealthy missile like the NSM, followed by the FCASW, gives us options when an Astute isn’t available; when the distance from target is too far for Typhoon+Storm Shadow; when a target of opportunity appears and we don’t have time to prepare and launch an air strike from Akritori or wherever. All things considered it is also not too expensive: NSM is very good value, and could be fitted in cannister form for T31, T45 and even for our RFA vessels (distributed lethality being one of the current buzz words) and VLS for T26; we’re fairly committed to FCASW, it’s supposed to be utilised across our fleet, giving us savings from commonality, and British industrial participation should be considered as an offset to price; I would also imagine that sub-launched TLAM is probably the most expensive way to deliver land strike going, when it comes down to the cost of munition alone and when considering the cost of getting the delivery platform in place too.
That’s why I’d like to see land attack become a capability for the RN’s escorts, although I appreciate it should be considered as secondary to their primary missions.

Paul

The block IV Tomahawk is effectively an anti – ship variant and can knock out an adversary at great range. The RN could use this capability!

Joe16

Also, does anyone know the latest on that GE decision to move fabrication of those advanced electric motors to France? Given the return to form for UK ship building, I feel that some kind of UK investment group/JV could be found or created to buy that up and keep it based here. I’m pretty sure the government should even be stepping in to put a sizable amount of pressure on GE to sell up to just such a group. Unfortunately, neither Conservative and Labour governments seem to be fans of protecting unique high tech and specialist British companies…