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I see torpedoes and particularly mines as the most likely threat in the near future and almost certainly a hybrid of the two.The mission bays are also likely to be empty leaving us unable to engage in this emerging type of combat.

Meirion X

Have You got a crystal ball!!
The public do not know the RN warpons plan for 8 years into the future!


I know that the RN has a negative quantity of cash.

Meirion X

Just think of the MoD deficit just like the National Debt. Never repaid, Just managed!
The UK finance World War 2 by running deficits!


The RN doesn’t know its weapons plan for 8 years into the future


Very true. Submarines (for laying mines and launching torpedos) and minesweepers are the most important capabilities to be investing in and unfortunately these are the two areas of the Navy that are likely to be run down the most over the next couple of decades. They are not vanity symbols like aircraft carriers although the way technology is evolving means that they are becoming more and more important.


Whose/whose, not who’s which is short for who is!


I wonder if the “for not with” is a ploy by the RN to pull a fast one on the Treasury. If a ship is fitted with weapons as standard then the cost comes from the defence budget.
In the event of armed conflict, isn’t money to fight it released from a separate emergency fund held by the Treasury. In which case the weapons to fill the “for not with” can be purchased during times of conflict from this separate source of money. If so this is a clever ruse by the RN, though it depends on weapons being available to buy in quantity and fit at very short notice.

Seems lots of VLS tubes for anti-ballistic -missile, anti-air, anti-ship, and anti-submarine missiles seem to be required for all future ships. Though how easy is it to refill these when away from port at sea?


In practical terms, 7 armed frigates are better than 8 unarmed ones, but I don’t see that option being taken. A stock of adapted VLA isn’t likely to cost as much as a billion pound frigate: Even if the missile unit cost is as high as £1m, and you wanted to fill all 24 cells on all 8 ships with VLA, that’s only £192m. Then again, maybe for once the MoD could actually buy a credible amount of weapons, so let’s double that and call it £384m for a full set of spares.


The Type 26s definitely need to have V.L.A.


I agree VLA is very important for T26. Even with the capable CAPTAS-4, there is high probability a T26 will be “surprised” by a torpedo launched from a SSK in ambush (especially in shallow water). In such a case, VLA will enable to “threat” the SSK to cut the wire (as the article says). This will enable the “soft kill” SSTD to be more efficient, and will save the T26.

VLA is not very expensive kit. But, it must be procured as a normal armaments, not urgent budget. RN crew need to practice and get used to it in both tactics and maintenance/handling.

Even though JMSDF escorts are reported to carry 12-16 VLAs, T26 do not need many of them to carry, because it will be a “counter ambush tool”. Even 4 may work. 4 on 8 hulls, with another 4 each for reload. 64 units will be a good startpoint. As such, it could be Mk.54, not stingray (sorry to say).


I have to disagree. The Japanese have a much bigger escort fleet and a much smaller operational area, supported by multiple ASW helicopter carriers and far more submarines. In comparison, the RN is more expeditionary-focused, with its striking power provided by the carrier, so we need to concentrate MORE ASW ability in the T26, not less.

I’d argue the T26 should be carrying at least 12 VLAs on solo deployments, and as a carrier escort that should increase to 16-20. The rest should be cruise missiles like Tomahawk or Perseus (important when alone, but in a CBG the carrier provides the striking power). If you only have 4, it restricts your ability to take risks. You can’t afford to take a shot at that ghost contact that popped up at firing range and then disappeared because if you’re wrong you’ve wasted 25% of your ammo on nothing.

Mark Wallace

Great article about ASW capability.
VLA torps are essential as Merlin’s or Wildcats never be able to give 100% coverage. The solution of the Type 23 to combine helihanger weapons area with the MTLS seems sensible so why didn’t it get considered for Type 26 and Type 31?
I suppose VLS is more flexible.
The article point about crowded littoral waters is very valid especially the flashpoints of Black Sea/Crimea, South China Seas and the Persian Gulf.
Also the time and effort to modify Still to fit and work in the VLA seems very shortsighted.

Aaron The Humanist

It is my view that the Royal Navy is kitted out for standing patrols, counter pirate and terrorist roles and not much more. Is there a need? The major submarine threat is from Russia or China, and the moment any ship is sunk by submarine, conventional warfare is unlikely to be required. It will either be fought diplomatically to cool tension or ramp up to nuclear. No nation will be hurtling weapons between submarines and ships.
The fitted ‘for but not with’ is certainly a valid argument, where response ships would be deployed to theatre whilst the reactive force is retrofitted with tomahawks, harpoon (replacement) additional CIWS and other short comings.
“We” the UK or dependency would likely have to be at direct threat for that to happen.

Bloke down the pub

To counter the 24/7 threat from submarines, what better than the V-247?
While UK T26s may not be fitted with MTLS, they are designed to accommodate extra mission modules and a containerised version could give added power when needed. On the topic of containerisation, adapting suitable ships of opportunity to carry a towed array sonar could free up other vessels for more demanding tasks.


Fantastic article and food for thought.

I can’t help thinking that the Type 26 really needs its central VLS to be MK41- in reality it would be a far more capable platform with 48 Mk41 than it will be with 24 Mk41 and 48 Sea Ceptor VLS’.

Whether the bean counters like it or not Mk41 is the standard and all our future combat vessels should have this system and nothing else.

The ability to have a better load out from 48 Mk41 tubes saves money ultimately as the ships don’t need separate add on systems, everything can be delivered via Mk41.

A T26 with 48 Mk41 VLS can deliver 24 Strike Missile, 12 of these Torpedoes and still have room for 48 Sea Ceptor.

Add the other bank of 24 and it becomes truly world class with the ability to be a ballistic missile shield holding 24 Aster NT.

Maybe this is fantasy fleet stuff, but once again a well thought out article is detailing strategic failings in the UKS procurement and specification for its key military assets.

Mk41 provides choices, sea ceptor silos do not to the same degree.

Meirion X

Should be possible to convert some T26’s Into GP destroyers, and build more T26 hulls(12), and by lengthing the foredeck to get more VL41 cells?

Meirion X

I mean procure more destroyers also based On Type 26 hull, armed with MK41 VLS(strike).
Maybe leave out main gun to have more VLS cells on foredeck?

Glass Half Full

Cold launch Sea Ceptor silos are going to take far less space, with more flexibility on how and where they are located, and will be significantly less expensive than strike length, hot launch MK41 silos, so it doesn’t make much sense IMO to fit 12 MK41 cells and then populate with quad-pack Sea Ceptor.

Not sure we need to keep adding more VLS cells. Just populating them starts to get very expensive with higher end missiles. The standard 24 MK41 VLS cells might, based on mission, be a mix and match of VLA, ASM/Land Attack (Perseus class) and medium range SAM/ASM such as SM-2 (SAM-only might be Aster 30, there doesn’t seem to be plans for an ASM role for Aster 30). Short range ASM might be addressed with cold launch SPEAR 3 using some of the 48 Sea Ceptor cells if the VLS launch concept goes ahead.

IMO Aster NT ABM is best kept to a dedicated AAW destroyer such as T45 which has the radars to potentially support it best. Contrary to popular wishes to add more Sylver or MK41 cells to T45, I would favour adding support for dedicated cold launch Sea Ceptor to augment and perhaps even take over the Aster 15 role, freeing up existing cells for more Aster 30/Aster NT. There’s likely to be far more flexibility in placement of cold launch cells on T45.

I do wonder if there is scope to develop a longer range VLA, launchable from MK41 or Syvler VLS, and designed to support a range of currently available light weight torpedoes to broaden demand.


It’s simply unacceptable to rely solely on helicopters and a ship launched anti-submarine capability is a must.

VLA seems a bit of a no-brainer given that T26 will have the MK41 silo’s in place and it sounds like both integrating Stingray and having a decent stockpile in place won’t cost the earth.

I believe either LSRAM or the Anglo-French Perseus derivative will be dual mode anti-surface/land-attack so a wartime fit of 8 VLA and 16 of whatever cruise missile we go with sounds decent.

Following the increasing trend of seeing T26 as the blue-water carrier escort and T31 as the more littoral based, constabulary vessel it might make sense to fit the latter with the Stingray launchers coming off of the retiring T23’s (which would either mean updating more than 8 or waiting until the 2030’s to get the ones from the youngest examples). Coupled with a bow mounted sonar and the ability to field a Wildcat or Merlin would give it a pretty good anti-submarine capability in places like The Gulf.


Ikara was actually designed in the early 60s, it didn’t get into RN service until the 70s because it was substantially redesigned, however the RN version kept the original rocket. I’m given to understand that one of the main reasons Ikara died in the 80s was because the 25ish year old rocket motor wasn’t powerful enough to lift the (then) new generation of 324mm torpedoes including Stingray/MU90/Mk50, and that no one was willing to invest in the development of a new rocket for it so in turn no one was willing to build it into the next generation of ASW ships (this would have been T23)… This does lead to the question of what comes after Stingray/MU90/Mk54 – and can VLA and/or Type 07 (and don’t the South Koreans have one as well?) lift it?


Isn’t this RUM-139 VL-ASROC in service with the usn which uses mk54? Or potentially stingray?


The various models of the T26 and even B2 River all seem to have some sort of USV pictured. This is an example of where the thinking may be. You could of course just “chuck” a Stingray off the side of a RIB!

David Broome

The conclusion over Hull numbers for the Type-26 is illogical. The argument to purchase a full suite of weapons only holds if all ships were at sea, all of the time. That simply does not occur. When all 8 Type-26 frigates are all in commission, two or three will be alongside at any one time (maintainance or drydocking). That suggests a full complement of missiles for the Mk41 needs to be aquired for five vessels, perhaps six to ensure a surge capability. Absolutely no need to talk about sacrificing Hull numbers!


Are the type 26 and 31 going to be fitted with exls? If so could this be adapted to fire asroc or an indigenous system using soft cell launch and the stingray? I think it is important to have something else than a helicopter, but as TLAM gives a serious influence/threat I see 18-20 being required for a major modern vessel, TLAM is 6.25m long so would only fit in mk41. I believe exls is about 5m long I think asroc is 4.5m so if it can quad pack sea ceptor surely it could have the space for a single asroc?

Gavin Gordon

In my opinion, a MTLS could be useful if Sting Ray was capable to being upgraded to an active point-defence system i.e. an ‘anti-torpedo torpedo’. Towards the end of it’s attack profile, no doubt the incoming toepedo will exchange any subtle approach characteristics for a faster, and therfore more easily detectable, final run.


“OK. Ready? Take the strain. On Three:

One…… Two……. Three……..!”


Above is Type 26 Torpedo Launch System unless we sort this out soon.


Great article by the way..


Problem with this technology (and also radar/”stealth” with aeroplanes), is that looking at a sonar screen, there is no completely reliable secure way to know that a blip on the screen is an enemy versus a potentially friendly or neutral submarine. It therefore becomes necessary to visually identify. Submarine has massive advantage here, since it can visually identify a ship but much easier than a ship can visually identify a submarine.

A submarine is far more valuable than a surface warship. A large fleet of diesel electric submarines would be far more valuable to the Royal Navy than carriers, F35s, or expensive large surface warships.


For those following this petition
It now has over 10,000 signatures and a Governement response is due. Follow the link

Meirion X

The RN should consider an alternative VLS setup for Type 26 frigates.
It would be, Sylver A-70 cells for SCALP and FC/ASW, A30 NT. And have ExLS units for RUM-139 VL-ASROC.
I cannot see Mk. 41 ever be compatible with FC/ASW


I wonder how much it would cost to integrate Stingray into the VLA system and buy a stock of them vs just purchasing a stock of the standard type fitted with the mk.54? (adjusted for purchasing power parity favouring domestic products, and taking account of any export potential)

And if it was more expensive, would the extra performance be worth the cost?


I wonder what the feasibility is of purchasing a very limited stock of missiles, not 16 per ship (or whatever a full complement would be), but a minimal amount just to get it integrated, trained on & tested with the Type 26 & their crews, and enough for a few to be switched out between ships when they go out on deployment.

That way they would be there to fill the gaps between the coverage from the Merlins during peacetime.

And then in the case of war, an emergency purchase of many more from the US could be implemented very quickly as everything to get it up and running would have already been done.

Instead of “fitted for, but not with”, “fitted with, but not stocked”.