Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Donkeys Flipflop

so basiclly the government will hope nothing goes wrong until they are out of office. Worse, they can blame the omission on the civil servcie who are so opaque that people are not accountable for decisions taken for short term expediency

Something will give soon and it WILL cost lives!!….snatch land rover situation, UOR knee jerks incoming


The snatch land rover! My golly other nations send their troops to battle in IFVs with all the armour and hefty 20-30mm cannons. The british? Something a farmer uses to transport himself , his Jack russells and Colllie dogs around his fields.


That wasn’t for long, and they were armoured and were far upgraded from original land rovers, but it was the flat bottom that made IEDs deadly. We bought thousands of armoured Mraps over night from USA untill we built our own and we did that years ago. So shut up.


It took campaigns from the parents of soldiers and serving soldiers resigning before action was taken … it took years.


Not quite that simple, but the press would have you think that. MRAPS were planned and ordered quite quick, but you need logistics and training before you bring a new vehicle type into service. And I’m one of those who has sufferd in a shitty snatch both in Iraq and Afghan ( and NI).


No excuses, in WW2 a new tank was developed in 2 years.


I would like to see the grey suits sit in the ops room onboard a warship when confronted by a hostile force. The ability not to use a ship to ship weapon brings into question the very definition of the term ‘Warship.’


The country also had 4 million men in the army, went bankrupt and lost an empire in the economic turmoil that followed. It’s not a valid comparison.

Humpty Dumpty

I don’t know if it’s a valid comparison or not, but I do know it takes far too long to design and build tanks & other armoured vehicles, aircraft, ships and subs and it takes far too long to replace them if they’re destroyed, shot down or sunk.

Obviously all these assets are far more complex today than their WWII equivalents and that’s part of the reason they take so long to design and build, but another factor is that wartime is a great motivator and gets people to pull their fingers out. Peacetime makes people complacent and lazy. Vast numbers of Liberty ships and Sherman tanks were built in WWII. 2,710 and 49,234 respectively according to Wikipedia. In war quantity is a very important factor.

Imo we should start building lots more factories and shipyards so we can manufacture these assets far faster than is possible at present despite their complexity. We should also be looking at building less complex, cheaper versions of all these assets so we have back-ups for when we lose our top-end assets in a war.

As for the RN, apart from protecting our carriers, frigates and destroyers far better against anti-ship missiles and subs (which is something we aren’t doing and should be doing), it would make sense for us to develop contingency plans for when (not if) our ships start getting sunk in a war with a competent enemy. Not only do we need the ability to quickly replace lost frigates and destoyers, we also need plans in place so we can quickly convert commercial vessels into makeshift carriers, frigates and destroyers.

As for the RAF, I’d like us to upgrade all our Typhoons to the Tranche 4 standard and boost our fighter numbers with Gripen Es, which are relatively cheap to buy, fly and maintain. They’re also easy to maintain and can land on and take off from roads. And as a contingency we could even look into possibly upgrading Hawk trainer jets. Hawks are cheap to buy and so we could have large numbers of them without breaking the bank. If the enemy has lost their top-end fighters in a war (or most of them anyway), then Hawks would be perfectly good enough as back-ups for the air-to-air (especially if fitted with Meter) and ground attack roles.

As for the army, they definitely need vehicles to protect troops from IEDs, mines and other threats. That should go without saying.

Last edited 3 years ago by Humpty Dumpty
Donkeys Flip Flop

Oi ….tell me yo shut up and I’ll tell you I spent 6 months in a snatch Land Rover in Afghanistan so I’ll tell you it’s not that ‘ armoured ‘ and rounds did go through ! !!!

My point was that it was symptomatic of the MOD attitude of ‘until guys die it’s cool ‘


So what options for quick solutions do we have?
1. I-SSGW. Personally, I see getting an interim weapon for the T23s as ridiculous. Arming the T31 with the cheap interim weapon makes more sense. The ASW T23s and the T45s don’t particularly need a SSGW for their role as carrier escorts or CASD support, so they should be a lower priority.

2. Increased Poseidon MPA purchase and purchase and integration of the I-SSGW on the platform. MPAs are one of the quickest ways we can increase our maritime capability relative to ships and subs. Depending on what weapon is chosen for
I-SSGW, integration wouldn’t be challenging either

3. Perhaps the least likely option, develop a cannister launcher for Sea Venom. While not a proper heavyweight AShM, an escort carrying a couple of launchers (perhaps 6-8 per launcher for a normal fit of 12-16) would be reasonably well protected for operations in the Gulf


Flipin’ eck, since we spent all this money on the carriers, I’d go for a stand off weapon for the F35B’s and the Poseidon MPA and get on with it. RAF have 1/2 shares then.


The Lightning will eventually get Perseus, just comes down to if we want to get NSM until then or if we’re satisfied that
SPEAR-3 is a credible enough weapon to fill the gap until then


Not too sure if the Perseus will be air launched.


Perseus is meant as a replacement for Storm Shadow, Exocet, and Harpoon. An air launched version is guaranteed, as is a VLS version, and I believe a submarine version is also intended. The only thing that I haven’t seen reference to is a cannister launcher


There is such a large installed base of canister launched Exocets in would be very very surprised if MBDA didn’t produce a potential replacement.


The Aussies and Norwegians are already integrating JSM/NSM on their F35 and likely their P8’s too. We wont be able to carry it internally on ours but there are images out there showing F35B with four JSM mock ups under the wing. Clearly that would impact on stealth but its well within the capability of the RAF/RN to adapt TTP so that you have say a ‘scout’ pair of clean F35B up front and high carrying just an internal AAW load to find the target, and then have ‘strike’ pairs coming in fast and low below the horizon with four JSM under their wings. For my money its the way to go……

Andrew Wilde

Stealth is great, for the first 24 hours of combat, but after that, providing the correct weapons have been used in the first place then it is not relevant, certainly not essential. The enemy is on his back and you can stick whatever you want under your wings and finish the job.


It’s buying the carriers that has left nothing for a anything else. The reality is to fund the navy we would have to cut out the army’s armour.


It’s not the carrier programme that’s been the issue, it’s a combination of extremely poor management from the MoD, the 2009 financial crisis, and ludicrously inefficient Treasury spending rules. Throw in a couple of pointless wars in the desert that drain lives, stockpiles, and goodwill, and you’ve got a real mess


It’s both.


Re the carriers, didn’t it cost a £billion to change to catobar and then back again because of the minister of defence changed his mind twice. It seems that government ministers can get away it without anything being said.


So sad but true. Warships without missiles look like the compliment to air craft carriers without planes.


What armour? The Army is meant to have 224 MBT but according to a reply from the MoD only has 24 serviceable MBT .
There is nothing left to cut in any of the services, if anything the services have been reduced to the point of no return .
There is now no career path in any of the 3 services leading to manpower retainment problem .
There are 46 admirals , 280 Captains and just 19 surface ships .
There are 141 generals and brigadiers for a army of 82,000 men .
And the RAF has 2 Air Marshals and another 185 Wing Commander and above for a RAF of 36,000 personnel.

My point being that there is no career in any of the services you get given a stripe but no actual responsibility.

We either need to fund the services properly or stop playing in the sand pit .

I mean 40 billion for 4 subs to carry 8 missiles what a total waste of money .
1 billion per type 26 with no asm

Heads need banging together .


I do think this top heavy structure is a big part of the manpower retention problem. If you take those 19 warships, only a handful of them are currently operational, so it’s likely that a huge number of people in the Navy are sitting around with nothing to do as ships are now so rarely put to sea. Imagine it’s a similar problem in the army. Why would you want to stick around working with tanks if only 24 of them are operational? Large members of personnel are probably leaving prematurely due to boredom and disillusionment.

Once you become an admiral you can walk into a job with an MoD supplier, which is ironically probably preferable if you have little actual command responsibility.

The effect of this on war fighting ability should not be underestimated. A highly skilled pilot in a poor plane is going to shoot down an unskilled pilot in a good plane more than 9 times out of 10. It is the same with the army and navy. Actual training and operational capability are far more important. Buying new expensive toys is one of the smallest factors in being an effective fighting force.


The admiral and wing commander responsible for the RAF and RN selecting the F35B now both work for Lockheed Martin as VP in its overseas sales division and both earned over $250,000/year plus bonus and are in receipt of there service pensions.
And the civil servant involved works for RR .


Are you sure that’s 24 operational tanks and not 24 operationally deployed tanks? It’s been a few years since I served with Armour but I seem to recall that was the number sent out to Estonia a while back.
BTW as a serving Pongo just want to add: Sitting around with nothing to do is litterally the exact opposite of what I’m doing. If anything the work tempo is a bit too high.


And I can certainly second that !

Humpty Dumpty

“A highly skilled pilot in a poor plane is going to shoot down an unskilled pilot in a good plane more than 9 times out of 10.”

Only if they have good missiles. I’d say the main reason the Harriers did so well in the Falklands is because of Sidewinder. By the same token I think British F-35s with Meteor will perform better in a war than US F-35s with AIM-120 because Meteor can accelerate in its terminal phase and has a 60km no-escape zone. The missiles are more important than the aircraft imo.


You do know we send admirals and generals all over the globe for other jobs yeah. And we have 77 ships in the Royal Navy that need captains not just 19. We have generals admirals that serve and lead Nato troops all the time.

Andrew Wilde

I think that you had better swat up on the difference between a Captain in the Royal Navy with four stripes on his arm and the Captain of a minesweeper with two and a half stripes on his.

Trevor Holcroft

Irrespective of what is servicable we have hundreds of tanks and support vehicles. On top of this the army have bought both tracked and wheeled vehicles for two different types of mobile warfare but we cannot afford both and which are contradictory.

But strategically… going back to Blair and Brown we have stumbled into a carrier led maritime strategy. Never mind if this is good or bad … we are stuck with it and something has to give. Even as it is, these strike brigades are neither fish nor fowl. If all here want dazzling ships and missiles then something has to give somewhere!!


Disagree about the one stripe no responsibility! Once you are a section 2ic you are responsible for men, real men, trained soldiers and as an infantryman the more rank equals a lot more real responsibilities for both men and expensive kit!

BV Buster

Greetings Airborne, I’m swatting up on Navy matters so have come across to see what the Andrews do for a living.

Its odd that we have a 20 year old lad in charge of more kit than most company directors but Admirals in charge of a small office writing policy.

Trevor, I think it should be the other way around, rod off anything that is not strike, CR2, AS90,Warrior and just concentrate on deployable forces, we literally bring nothing to the party in terms of armoured warfare.

I’m a little confused here, not just because I’m as thick as a whale omelette but what’s the point of a war ship that cant kill another war ship? its like a tank without a gun or an MP without an inflated sense of importance, is just pointless.



Hi BV, I’ve been reading STRN for a while now, well since the brainwashing wore off when I left the job, and find it quite interesting. Your right mate, the FFBNW is a bit weird in our eyes, as shit needs to be there, ready to go and ready to be used. But I have learnt so much chatting to the strange people who do, and used to live, on those floating targets, and understand a bit more. However, like the army, the RN, is also in shit state, but unlike the army, have decent recruitment adverts, and look like they want to, and are capable of, having a scrap. And no matter how fit, tough, nails, we are/were, the techno geek behind the computer will be able to kill us all from many miles away.

Andrew Wilde

Lots of swatting up for you to do yet before you understand the modern Royal navy’s attitude to combat. Once upon a time Horatio Nelson may have summoned the Captain of HMS Victory and told him to remove the two large cannons in his sleeping quarters so that it gave him more space, there were another 98 cannon[just guessing] scattered around the ship to do the business if required. In the 2022’s a Captain walks onto his 6000 ton new ship, notices that there is no surface to surface missile system of any kind, asks the question and is told that there aren’t any. Noticing that there doesn’t appear to be any form of gun he is told that the planned armament has been cancelled as the ammunition is too expensive. “Where are the crew” he inquires. “Oh they are here, not as many as you would have thought though, and we are storing ship Sir” “With what”? “Well we can’t chase submarines so we are off to do hurricane relief in the Caribbean”


I’m not sure there are many complex multi billion pound organisations that employ 82,000 men and women who would consider 141 senior leaders as excessive.

Remembering the armed forces can’t go out a head hunt a general or Captain if they have a bad retention year…they need to make their own senior leaders and ensure they have a good supply.

David Steeper

Trevor. The three services have to all intents and purposes separate budgets. Roughly 1/3 each after Nuclear deterrent is deducted.


The carriers are far from being a waste of money compared to £3.4bn for the MR4 which produced zero planes.

Or compared to £37 billion to buy and operate 140 Typhoons. We need some land based fighters but we could have bought the F18E for 60% of the unit cost of the Typhoon. The F18E is slightly less capable than Typhoon but the only threats to UK airspace are hijacked airliners or long range Russian bombers operating beyond their fighter escort range. We could even have preserved most if the jobs created by Typhoon by assembling the F18’s in the UK (the Aussies assembled the ones they bought in Australia).


Or the F15. Some may remember the debate about the F15 v ADV, which is where?

Alan Reid

Hi Sunmack,
Typhoon has allowed the UK to retain the technological capability to design and build advanced combat jet aircraft. Simply assembling aircraft does not provide the same strategic benefits.
Your £37B figure is probably from the National Audit Office report of March 2011: “On current plans, the Department is likely to spend £37 billion on the capability. Sixty per cent of this is likely to be incurred procuring and upgrading the aircraft with the remainder on support and enabling activities”.
So developing and building the aircraft was projected to cost about £22B. The rest of the costs were projected over the 40 years operational life of the Typhoon. On the subject of current unit-cost, I’ve read the export Typhoons supplied to Kuwait are coming in at about £90M each.
The programme produced a superlative fighter-bomber well able to prosecute UK defence interests.
Is Typhoon really only “slightly less capable” that an F18E? RAF pilots have told me the performance of the fighter makes an American teen-jet, with a design from the early 1970s, feel like a trainer!


Alan Reid

The wiki entry has Typhoon unit costs at £125m per plane (including R&D costs) and the F18E at £70m. If correct this means that the cost of buying 160 Typhoons was £8.8bn more than buying the F18E.

I’m sure the Typhoon is a better plane (although there have been serious questions raised about its airframe life). The question is though whether that £8.8bn could have been better spent.

As I said in my post, the only threats to UK airspace are from hijacked airliners or long range Russian bombers. RAF strike missions involve dropping LGB’s or short range ASM’s over territory where we have air dominance or firing long range Storm Shadow ASM’s where we don’t.

Can the F18E fo all of those missions: it can

Would Typhoon do them better: It would

Is the performance of Typhoon in those missions worth the extra £8.8 bn of procurement costs: I don’t believe it is.

For £8.8bn we could have for example had

3 SSK’s – £1.5bn
2 T26 – £1.6bn
3 T31 – £1.3bn
TBMD capability for the T45 £1.8bn
Uparmed T31 £1.2bn
SSM for T26 £0.8bn
Investment in additional helicopters £0.6bn

I’d think all of those things are a higher priority than the incremental improvement of Typhoon over an aircraft that is perfectly adequate for the roles we need it to do. We’re a nation surrounded by allies whose likely conflict zones are thousands of miles away. The Navy should be our first priority.


Good analysis. It does show how the fixation with buying the most expensive possible version of everything is destroying quantity and meaning that totally useless numbers of everything are now available. You could even argue that a plane less sophisticated than a super hornet is more than adequate for the tasks needed eg. the original hornet or original F16, which would provide further cost savings.

Even something like an F86 sabre would be adequate for the purposes you describe. If it was still in production today, the price would be unlikely to be more than £10 million, meaning that the UK could afford an air force of more than 1000 planes for less than the price of it’s small number of operational Typhoons. 10 Sabres would absolutely be superior to 1 Typhoon and swamp it.

Alan Reid

Hi David, The UK is procuring 160 Typhoons – hardly a “totally useless number” of an outstanding combat jet. And it looks like the RAF might form an 8th front-line squadron before too long …………

I love your idea of a phantasy dogfight between a single Typhoon and ten F-86 Sabres.
But in air-combat, quality really does matter a lot – and dogfights are today relatively rare. There would be no chance for the inferior jet to swamp the Tiffie. Typhoon would kill them at a distance, and use its phenomenal raw power to engage and disengage at will – ten-nil to the good guy!

Humpty Dumpty

ROEs designed to avoid fratricide may well mean that a pilot has to visually identify an enemy aircraft before firing on it. So 10 inferior aircraft all firing short-range IR-guided missiles at a Typhoon would almost certainly overwhelm it and result in it getting shot down. The Typhoon might take out some of those 10 aircraft, but I’d say the chances of the Typhoon surviving WVR are pretty damn slim.

Also in a situation where a Typhoon is going up against a good aircraft like the Su-35 say, what if they both have their EW suites on? Would either aircraft be able to detect the other BVR using radar? If not, then the pilots will try to find the enemy aircraft using IRST.

And even if IRST works BVR, weather permitting, the ROEs may still require visual identification before firing a missile. So the more hi-tech aircraft become so they’re designed to take out other aircraft BVR, this could well result in the complete opposite situation where aircraft are engaging WVR and dogfights counterintuitively become more common, not less common.

Alan Reid

Hi Sunmack,
As an island – the navy and the air-force are both a priority.
And who knows what threats the UK will face in the remaining 20 years of the Typhoon’s career. Maybe a peer-on-peer conflict might unexpectedly emerge (God forbid).
Using your own figures, £8B to retain the strategic capability to build advanced combat jets doesn’t seem a bad bargain! And buying Boeing, and not BAE, just knocks out a serious rival to the American company. Although the shareholders, stateside, would no doubt be delighted – as would the US government.

Andrew Wilde

All these comments are valid but is the overriding question “Are we going to maintain a World-beating defence industry or reduce ourselves to buying off-the-shelf products from abroad in ever decreasing numbers for evermore and lose forever the superb skills that even now are producing most of our weaponry? Do we understand and value the burgeoning budgets of the NHS and the Welfare state, or are they just vote-catchers? Defence of the state and the protection of its citizens is supposedly the No1 priority of any Government. Tell that to any serviceman or ex-serviceman.

Humpty Dumpty

Interesting comment. Or else we could buy Gripen Es instead. They’re far superior to Super Hornets and relatively cheap to buy, fly and maintain. And easy to maintain. They also have the ability to land on and take off from roads.

That said, I’d definitley like to see us build diesel-electric AIP subs (something like the Type 212) and fit the Type 45s with Aster 30 Block 1NT to take out ballistic anti-ship missiles (and Aster 30 Block 2 BMD when it’s ready).

I don’t see the point of more Type 26s unless we heavily uparm and up-defend the ones we already have to make them more survivable against anti-ship missiles and subs.

Building more Type 31s and upgrading them makes sense so they can operate as part of a carrier group, but only if they’re built with diesel-electric propulsion (or ideally CODLOG propulsion), an acoustically quiet hull and sonars. I’d upgrade Batch 2 Rivers to escort commercial ships in the Persian Gulf.

We need ship-launched anti-ship missiles that are longer ranged than Kalibr, Oniks and Zircon, otherwise developing and building them would be a complete waste of time and money. We also need anti-ship missiles that Astutes can carry and that F-35Bs can carry internally. It would also make sense imo to fit Astutes with IDAS missiles to take out ASW helicopters and to make TLAM longer ranged and stealthy.

As for extra helicopters, I’d prefer we performed AEW with Ospreys which are faster, longer ranged and have a higher service ceiling than Merlins. This would also free up Merlins for ASW. We could also modify some Ospreys to provide in-air refuelling for the F-35Bs. Ospreys are pretty expensive, but what price do you put on good AEW? Plus we wouldn’t need that many of them anyway (about 6?). And refuelling is a vital capability that the QE and PoW don’t have (or US carriers for that matter), especially since they won’t be able to launch the MQ-25 refuelling drone when it’s ready.

I also think a dedicated EW version of the F-35B would be a very useful asset since our carriers can’t launch Growlers.

I’d say our priorities at present are buying at least another 40 F-35Bs, fitting Sea Ceptor to the carriers, designing and building longer ranged anti-sub missiles (with a range of 100+km), anti-ship missiles and anti-air missiles to keep sub, ships and aircraft at arm’s length so they can’t get in range to fire torpedoes and anti-ship missiles in the first place.

I’d also add Oerlikon Millennium Guns, Dragonfire and microwave weapons to all carriers, frigates, destroyers and support ships to make them more survivable against anti-ship missiles.

I’d also test SeaSpider, MU90 Hard Kill and SSTD CAT and fit the system that works best. If none of them do, it would make sense to invest heavily in R&D to develop an anti-torpedo torpedo system that does work. Also test Torbuster for use by subs.

Last edited 3 years ago by Humpty Dumpty
Humpty Dumpty

Actually just to deal with long-range Russian bombers or a hijacked commercial jet a Hawk 200 would probably be plenty good enough:

It can carry AIM-120, ASRAAM and Sidewinder.

I forgot to ask in my previous comment where you got your figures from:

3 SSK’s – £1.5bn
If talking about something like a Type 212 and taking inflation into account, I think 2 may be more realistic for that price, give or take.

2 T26 – £1.6bn
Surely more like £2 billion?

3 T31 – £1.3bn
Surely more like £750 million?
We could get 5 Type 31s for £1.3 billion at £250 million each.

TBMD capability for the T45 £1.8bn
I presume you’re talking about Aster 30 Block 1NT? If so, what’s your source for this figure? Is this to fit all 6 Type 45s with Block 1NT? And how many missiles per ship?

Uparmed T31 £1.2bn
What upgrades did you have in mind?
Sources for the cost of the upgrades?

SSM for T26 £0.8bn
Which specific SSM?
Source for the cost?

Investment in additional helicopters £0.6bn
Which specific helicopter(s)?
Source for the cost?

Rob N

To be fare the RN was not funded well before the carriers. You could argue that moving towards a carrier battle group could drive extra resources to make it work. If we did not have the carriers we would not have a credible Blue Water power projection. The RN will have to be grown to fit the new demands.


The army has no armour , officially they have 224 MBT operationally they only have 42 .
And you can’t keep saying lets cut funding for the army tanks or the RAF typhoons because that solves absolutely nothing.
We need to be campaigning for more money for the defence budget and items like pensions and the dreadnought program , MI5 and MI6 and GCHQ being removed from the defence budget.

Constantly cutting bits is self defeating.

Andrew Wilde

Cobblers. Failure to include the necessary aircraft of all required capabilities to allow both aircraft carriers to operate as fully equipped warships is a disgrace. The Royal Navy is constantly being forced to operate with ships and systems that are years out of date or waiting for new-build ships to be slowly drip-fed into service some time in the next ten years. My sympathies to the British Army, you got AJAX we are getting the Type 31.

Humpty Dumpty

“I’d go for a stand off weapon for the F35B’s”
LRASM and SPEAR-3 provide F-35Bs with stand-off range to fire at enemy ships, especially if they fly low. That said, it would be far preferable if there was a stealthy anti-ship missile that F-35Bs could carry internally since carrying ordnance externally makes an F-35 easier to detect by AEW aircraft and carrier aircraft.

“RAF have 1/2 shares then.”
I don’t know what this means. What does it mean?

Bloke down the pub

The significant change since Exocet was fitted to RN vessels is that modern AShM have guidance systems and warheads that also make them suitable for attacking shore targets. While the UK has not fired a large AShM in anger, it has used cruise missiles to hit land targets on numerous occasions . A weapon such as NSM would almost certainly see use , even if it’s not against a ship, and would therefore be a worthwhile investment.

Humpty Dumpty

“I-SSGW. Personally, I see getting an interim weapon for the T23s as ridiculous.”
Whatever anti-ship missile we fit to T23s, T45s or T26s will be ridiculous if it doesn’t have superior range compared to Kalibr, Oniks and Zircon. Even LRASM lacks range as a ship-launched anti-ship missile compared to those missiles and so will Perseus it seems.

What we need is a ship-launched anti-ship missile that’s longer ranged than those missiles. It would need to be stealthy, resistant to ECM and ideally able to accelerate in its terminal phase to make a hit more likely. If it has effectors like Perseus all the better.

If we fitted such a missile to the T23s, then it would make T23s (and the entire carrier group) more survivable and as the T23s start going out of service, the missiles could be moved over to other ships, including support ships. Other equipment that could be moved from Type 23s to support ships would include Artisan radar, Sea Ceptor/Sea Wolf, UAF or UAT ESM and sonars. All that gear would make support ships much more survivable than they are at present.

“Arming the T31 with the cheap interim weapon makes more sense.”
Assuming that Harpoon hasn’t passed its use-by date when the T31s come into service, then I think they would be adequate in the Persian Gulf. Otherwise the RBS-15 Mk4 would be a good replacement and plenty good enough for the T31s imo. In the Persian Gulf an extremely long ranged ship-launched anti-ship missile wouldn’t be required as it would in the open ocean, especially considering that Wildcats with LMMs and Sea Venoms will be able to take out the main threats which would be fast attack craft and vessels up to 1,000 tonnes.

That said, I think the T31s would benefit from a ship-launched missile specifically designed to take out fast attack craft and other vessels before they can get in range to fire anti-ship missiles or torpedoes. Such a missile would be like an anti-ship missile, but smaller and much cheaper and would complement the LMMs and Sea Venoms on the Wildcats to provide another layer of defence. Maybe something like the Griffin missile, but longer ranged:

“The ASW T23s and the T45s don’t particularly need a SSGW for their role as carrier escorts”
Why on earth not? Surely long-ranged anti-ship missiles are vital, especially against Russia and China.

“Increased Poseidon MPA purchase and purchase and integration of the I-SSGW on the platform.”
Poseidons have good range, at least in aircraft terms, but can’t be guaranteed to always be available depending on where a carrier group is. That said, fitting them with long-ranged anti-ship missiles makes total sense.


Silly question but can the Harpoon missile of the RN be upgraded to Block 2 standard. If yes would that solve the intrim issue?


I’m not sure if the missiles themselves can, but they use the same launch system. That makes it a simple weapon purchase instead of having to integrate new systems.


Yes there is an upgrade kit available from Boeing which is significantly cheaper than a completely new missile……in fact a substantial part of Harpoon block IIs are upgraded block 1s.


I’m going to ask a really stupid question, but Boeing are still in the market for upgrading Harpoon so why not just upgrade in the short term?
I appreciate Harpoon is an old missile system but what makes it obsolete?
We found out in 82 that apparently obsolete weapons such as unguided iron bombs caused carnage to a surface fleet that was centred around a missile air defence doctrine.
It’s easy to say that state actors can defeat Harpoon, but the Russians and Chinese are the only real state actors with the punch to successfully defend against a determined ASM attack and a lot still depends on the people behind the weapon systems. We know from bitter experience that state of the art defensive weapons like sea wolf and sea dart don’t always work as they’re meant to for a whole host of unseen circumstances.
The Iranians or Syrians are highly unlikely to be able to defend against a multi threat ASM attack and the Russians have always been suspect even back in their Soviet heydays.
There’s little information easily available that explains the obsolescence issue for Harpoon so I’m keen to hear why it’s so bad.


A good question and yes it seems to be the case
“The Harpoon missile, despite its age, is having a small renaissance, as some of the more than two-dozen countries that already own the missile look to upgrade to a new Block II and Block II Plus version, and additional countries look to add the weapon to their inventory….”


A very interesting article thanks. As its only meant to be an interim programme upgrading Harpoon would make total sense for us, especially as we are likely to buy some for our P8’s. In the longer term however I still favour JSM/NSM as it would permit some commonality between the Lightning force and a canister launched solution for our surface fleet.


Given the amount of money Boeing is losing at the moment, you’d hope the MoD could get a good price on Harpoon upgrade kits…


They seem to be offering both newer versions, Block II and Plus along with refurbishment of the older Block IC. The USN is doing refurbs for its submarine launched Block 1C. A proposed Block III was was cancelled by USN for its surface ships and that consisted of upgrades of B I with data links.
The Army is quite happy to have rebuilds of its existing AH-64 Apaches from Boeing, but the Navy likely thinks showing interest in refurbs blows it chances of getting shiny new gear.

Trevor Holcroft

It’s shiny gear is going to arrive sometime after 2030, so it’s absurd not to upgrade the harpoon. Just fire 2 instead of 1 at Its target.


No anti-ship missile, for the short term at least. And as far as I’m aware, no anti-submarine weaponry either or even a way of detecting them.
Yes yes I know there is a helicopter, but it’s not exactly on station all the time.
Was watching Warship on channel 5 the other day where HMS Duncan detected something on its sonar and then sent the helo to investigate… And it identified a Russian sub. But the point is, without the initial sonar picking up the sub, the helo would have remained in the hangar not doing anything.
So for me it makes sense to only deploy the 31 where there is no submarine threat.

Back to the lack of Anti ship missiles… I wouldn’t want to deploy the 31 where there are any ‘credible’ surface vessel threats either, especially if they have anti ship missiles of their own.

So it’s fine for anti piracy, flag flying, diplomacy etc. But against anything else, it’s a big risk to the crew.

It kinda meets the initial spec… and as a platform it can be expanded quite considerably if it needs up-gunning later.

I would prefer each solo vessel to have a bare minimum of systems to offset any capability gaps it may have, but maybe this is where drones and containerised systems will come into play.
In a fleet it’s great to have dedicated platforms for the different roles required, but for vessels going solo, I’d rather a jack of all trades than a master of one with gaps.

But on the flip side, more systems means more crew, which means more cost to an already stretched fleet/budget.

My concern is that something will kick off and a politician will see this ship as the nearest asset. And it will get pulled into a theatre that it isn’t suited to, putting the crew at risk.

Just my opinion,

Paul Bestwick

VLS version of Sea Venom, able to fit in a SeaCeptor silo anyone? According to Wikipedia the sizes are close.


The sizes are close, but the missile would require a lot of potentially expensive modifications to be suitable for a VLS. A simple cannister launcher could work though


Better still, the Spear3


There really is little point in waiting 10 YEARs for Perseus, what will it actually bring that’s worth waiting that long for? We need an effective Missile here and now and the Defence budget needs to provide for that, the most effective solution is LRASM. Failing that just re-commission HMS Victory!!


Perseus will hopefully be an incredibly advanced hypersonic missile, a la the Russian hypersonics but done properly. Sea skimming and final manoeuvre capability to boot.


Hypersonic and manoeuvrable are mutually exclusive terms.


In atmosphere very true…..only in the hard vacuum of space is that possible ?


Indeed it is either fast or it is manoeuvrable in missile terms you can’t have both .
And I can see Perseus never entering service.


And, incredibly expensive, as well. High performance is expensive.

For example, “high-speed”, “range” and “warhead size” strongly conflicts one another. Yes you can get all, but only if you pay a lot.

Meirion X

The Canister to launch LRASM is 3 times heavier then Harpoon’s! And also A very Expensive solution.

Simon m

That’s true but potentially cheaper than spending 10 yrs development with the French and not getting anything. The French want supersonic and RN long range sub sonic – the LRASM pretty much ticks all the boxes for the RN already.

Basically the future weapon is a political endeavour, its bad enough the navy don’t get enough funding but then being told to go a certain way for political means is a double whammy

The other problem is the RN & its overestimate of what a few astute can do & the treasury.

If the service itself cannot prioritise the weapons & has been making do with an obsolete missile & then no missiles the Treasury is going to ask in 2030 why do you need the weapons now?


Regarding the RN first arming its Destroyers and Frigates with Exocet
“This policy was moderated slightly in 1969 when the RN decided to purchase the French Exocet MM38 anti-ship missile, (HMS Norfolk was the first ship to be fitted with a SSGW in 1972) ”

Its forgotten now , but the first use for Harpoon and later Exocet was to attack soviet submarines on the surface. The
aerial torpedoes of the day (and probably still dont) work near the surface, to avoid sinking your own ships.
The Soviet cruise missile submarines had to be surfaced for a period before firing their large missiles at naval surface targets. While they were acquiring their target via electronic means they exposed themselves to Nato surface and a/s aircraft
It wasnt till the Oscar class that the below surface launch could occur.


Charlie class could underwater launch Siren missiles


Thanks, yes the Charlies preceded the Oscars. Could be related to why the RN moved from the faster rocket engined Exocet to the US turbofan Harpoon as the subs on the surface for a short time were no longer the main target.
Never knew why the Ikara launchers were never adapted to fire the Exocet as well, both were rocket motor. Obviously the magazine would need changes as well


I agree modern SSGW shall be very important for RN. But, by NAO report, it is very clear there is no money. MOD is in severe shortage of 3-13B GBP money, even if there is NOT CUT IN DEFENSE BUDGET.

Then, the issue will be, what to buy and what to sacrifice.

1: I think NSM is the best choice, the second will be Harpoon BII+.
LRASM shall be very expensive. It also has a potential to “kill” FC/ASW.
RBS15E is good, but I’m afraid it is basically very old, has no compatibility with F35 and P-8. It is larger than NSM so could be expensive.
Harpoon BII+ will be an alternative solution. Maybe not upgrade, but new buy.

2: To buy it, what to sacrifice? I (again) propose to cancel one hull of T31.
With GFE included, T31’s average cost is 400M GBP. But, there are initial cost so cancelling 1 hull will bring ~300M GBP back, I guess. This will be enough to buy 6-7 sets of NSM. Explain to Treasury that, it is just a re-roll of budget, as MOD did in the past with StarStreak –> Martlet purchase.

But, contract to Babcock will not allow this. Sad.


3: Significantly disarm 2 of the 5 T31s.
2 sets of the whole SeaCeptor system (12 CAMM, 2 data-link antenna, software in CMS (the most expensive part) and ~2 consoles in the CIC) will amount similar to ~4 sets of NSM system, I guess. I even think these 2 hulls can omit the 40 mm guns = ships very similar to those proposed for Irish MRV. Of course, these two hulls will NOT be called frigates, but a Patrol Ships.

The point of items-2 and 3 is, to insist on arming the warships “as needed” and at the same time, make a “clear sacrifice” so even a politician (and other people not much interested in military) can easily identify “lack of money”.

MOD lacks money. 2% GDP commitment is not enough. If RN keep saying “2 brand-new CV with 19 escorts”, the audiences will never take care of “but we lack SSGW!”

What if RN say “2 brand-new CV with 14 escorts, with 3 2nd-tier escort and 2 Patrol ship sadly cannot be built to be even a 2nd-tier escort because of lack of money.” I think asking for more money will become more appealing.

Meirion X

I do agree with you that the MoD equipment budget Needs reforming to keep the budget to about 2% of GDP, which is the present Commitment. I would prefer more, If political will was to be there.
But I Disagree with Your viewpoint on the T31 frigate, even though the T31 has it shortcomings.
The size of the T31 means, it will have better sea keeping abilities than a Smaller vessel would have, especially in rough seas.
Which is what A Blue Water Navy needs.
The low basic cost of £250m will allow the
MoD to expand the Fleet in A future SDSR, and also to up-arm.

I do agree that RN should procure NSM as a



On Type-31.

1: If you think Type-31 can be up-armed in future (which I doubt), then 3 (a better armed) T31 light frigates and 2 Patrol Ships is OK because the latter 2 ships can also be up-armed later

2: But I’m afraid future MOD budget will not be relaxed. In this standpoint, saying “frigates without SSGW is OK” will mean future frigate will never have SSGW added.

Having a “clearly handicapped ships within the fleet, because of lack of money”, while “keeping the quality of other tier-1/tier-2 escorts to some level” is my opinion. It will clarify “what is needed in escorts” and “how much the money is lacking”.

On the other hand, a T31-Patrol ship with 57mm gun (sometimes reinforced by a 20mm CIWS), is as good as French Floreal-class Patrol Frigate, and surely it has its own place to use. With lacking any missiles and named “Patrol Ship” not “Frigate”, EVEN politician will not send these ships to war in singleton. Overall, it may save the life of the crew, as well?


Hi Donald,

Would a better comparison of roles be that the La Fayette class are the french version of the t31, while the Rivers carry out the same role as the Froreal class (EEZ patrol around home and overseas territories).

It is interesting to note that the French intend to upgrade 3 of the La Fayettes as they do not think they are fighty enough for even low level conflicts.



Thanks. I agree La Fayette is exactly the T31 counterpart.

On the other hand, Floreal is much higher-grade ship than River B2. It has Helicopter hanger, very very long range, SSM, soft-kill kit, and a 100mm gun. Much more capable than River B2 in war-fighting. (River B2 is specialist EEZ patrol vessel, and its sea-going days are top-ranked, much much better than any escorts, including Floreal-class). Floreal and River B2 just differ = has different tasks.

Note on La Fayette upgrade. They are replacing their Crotale-NG SAM with SADRAL system (6 MANPADS with remote-control launcher, 2 of them). Not improved. They are adding a small hull sonar and AS torpedo, but that’s all. Modernized 3 La Faytette is much less than a T31 (No problem, as FTI will soon replace them).


Hi Donald,

Thanks for the reply.

I agree that having a 100mm gun and helicopter make the Floreal a better armed ship than a river b2. The size of the french eez reflects the need for the helicopter and the huge range of these vessels. I am not sure how suited they are for war though as they were built to commercial standards to make them cheap. I believe they lost the ssm a few years back when that version of the Exocet was replaced.

Thanks for the details on the La Fayette upgrade. I knew about the hms but did not know how good it was. My understanding was that the french would be keeping the 3 upgraded vessels as well as the 5 FTI (I find the FTI an interesting GP frigate, and probably demonstrates what t31 could/should have been).


Yes, for me the fact that NSM can be fitted to F-35, P-8A and either cannister launched or put in Mk41 VLS makes it the first choice for the RN/FAA/RAF. I can’t remember who, but someone also pointed out to me that it’s in a different weight class to FCASW, so could feasibly be used beyond the 2030s, thus making it more cost effective long term. I hadn’t really considered the Harpoon Block II, but with the available budget it is probably the next best option.
I personally wouldn’t consider cutting the T31 fleet, at least until it’s clarified how much of the £200M budget is available for the interim missile. It only says “not fully funded”, rather than not at all funded. I understand your reasoning for the T31 cut though, the government needs to be confronted with the state of affairs regarding funding in the military. But I honestly do think that the MOD wastes a horrific amount of money, whatever the reason for that may be. Israel and Australia both get far better value out of their military programmes, and it’s not all OTS stuff- their industries definitely get a look in. If we spent our money better, I do think that we’d not need much of an increase beyond 2%, if any. The MOD has one of the worst transparency ratings for any of the government departments, and I reckon they’re hiding a lot of waste behind that. They should not be allowed to do that any longer.
It’s interesting to see the US Navy and Air Force submitting budgets that include the axing of major capabilities to keep within the numbers, knowing full well that congress won’t allow the loss of them and thus assign them more budget. Would be interesting to see that play out in the UK…


Agree on the NSM point. SPEAR 3 – NSM – Perseus would be a credible anti-surface capability in 3 distinct warhead size classes and are not mutually exclusive.


A small but important point. NSM is canister launch or helicopter launch & is available now. JSM is fast air launchable & will physically fit in mk41 vls as well as torpedo tube. The last two options are still being worked on & were accidental (ie they redesigned the missile for internal F35A/C & suddenly realised it was now small enough). They are two different but related missiles (JSM was developed from NSM).

This differs from systems such as Harpoon.


Donald s really got it in for the T31 ! Funny how every serving member of the RN I’ve discussed it with is really enthused about the Arrowhead design. Heresy I know but cant say the same about T26….


I think most people are enthused by the Arrowhead 140, not so much the T31. An export spec A140 frigate is a world class (on paper) frigate. If IH put it forward for the US competition, I would not be surprised (much better than their CG based designs).


Fundamentally the 2% of GDP target needs to be refined along standard financial planning lined.
X% needs to be ring-fenced each year as the OPEX budget covering all operational costs: ie salaries, fuel, consumables, etc, etc. This of course should be based on peacetime costs.
Then a CAPEX budget established based on the cost that year for each approved equipment budget. This would grow or shrink depending on what equipment purchases are in progress; the the Dreadnought programme.
This would also while the spotlight more on CAPEX projects overrunning their budgets.

Personally I’d say the 2% NATO requirement should be set as the OPEX budget, this increasing the total amount spent as needed.

Meirion X

I really like this Idea Sean! I assume that a repair to a warship would be OPEX?
While upgraded diesel Gens fot T23, and T26 would be CAPEX, and be outside the 2% GDP target?

Harry Bulpit

Since no politicians want to be seen potting money in to defence. The only credible way to fix all of the militarys issues is to remove pensions and the nuclear deterrent from the defence budget and place it with the treasury. In all honesty the nuclear deterrent is a political weapon not a military one and has no real role in actual military operations. Its the politicians who want it and need it, so they should pay for it.


It was that way before 2010. George Osbourne moved both into the defence budget to maintain the aura of 2%.


Urban myth. Zero evidence to support that contention.

You have to go through Hansard for the 1987 debate on the defence estimates, but it’s crystal clear that funding for the V-boats, Trident missiles and warheads was part of the defence budget back then. Brings back some memories, some of the names in that debate.


The RN must know something that every other major navy in the world doesn’t. No other navy has their entire escort force devoid of long range SSM’s.

It’s ridiculous to argue that the submarine fleet can undertake the mission. For the foreseeable future we have only 6 SSN’s, three of which have poor availability because of their age. Even 7 Astutes will only mean two boats on operations and the lack of a land attack missile on surface warships means we waste our SSN’s as expensive cruise missile carriers rather than focusing them on ASW and ASuW missions.

And if I understand right, Spear 3 carried by the F35 isn’t the answer either as it’s range would require it be be lanched from within the engagement envelope of a modern area defence SAM putting the launch platform at risk.

Steve Taylor

Across the pond in naval watching circles and indeed with the DoN and the USN itself there is a school of thought that the USN should be bolting missiles on to everything that floats.

The cost of one F35b would buy enough AShM to equip every T26 we will buy and T45 with 8 AShM.

These things are cheap. We can’t leave it to the aeroplanes or submarines. We need multiple layers, options, and depth.


The full AShM landscape of Perseus, LRSM, NSM, RB15…makes it hard to make a decision. Money is tight and the need is urgent. The RN rules of engagement have always been the driver for their high spec for an over the horizon AShM. As I understand it Harpoon Block II has much improved GPS targeting and can be updated in flight. All things considered I think the RN should relax the land strike part of its requirement and make a tactical hopefully cheap buy of Harpoon Block II s for T31 so it can defend itself and control the sea area assigned to it.


I suspect that there simply isn’t going to be any money for a stopgap anti-ship missile before we get (if we get) Perseus. Consequently the RN are going to have to make do. For fleet operations they will depend on the SSNs & F35 delivered munitions (Spear). However Spear is a relatively light short range missile so I would suggest a limited investment in a larger, greater range missile for the F35 would be a great idea. As for the T31; well the truth is they aren’t designed to face a fleet action in the North Atlantic. They have Wildcat which will have Sea Venom from next year. It isn’t ideal but I would favour more under armed ships than less ships with worst case scenario missiles. Should that worse case scenario happen, it wouldn’t take long to ‘bolt on’ containerised anti-ship missiles. The key to T31 is we need as many hulls in service as we can get and that those hulls have plenty of growth potential should we need it.


Not sure I agree that things will be fitted if a worst case scenario comes up. They’ll just send the under armed ships and have a nice memorial service in St Paul’s for the guys who don’t get to come back.

Just last year we sent HNS Defender to the Gulf in a confrontation with Iran. Defender isn’t fitted with Harpoon so has no SSM’s and like all T45’s has next to no ASW capability. Iran has submarines and SSM equipped warships so Defender would have been at uncomfortably high risk if things had escalated.


Not defending having no anti-ship missile as standard. Thing is we aren’t going to get it so how do we mitigate this situation? HMS Defender in the Gulf; I get your point but if they had done that then the full might of allied air forces would have descended upon them. Actually the real threat was from fast boats / drones conducting a swarming attacks – something that a T31 is more adapted to repulse than a T45 (as long as they get a proper number of Sea Ceptor).

Supportive Bloke

I’d be surprised if you had much sub activity where Defender was given how shallow the waters are there.

Subs often transit that area surfaced as it is so shallow and crowded.

I don’t think a hulking great missile like Harpoon would be very useful in those confined spaces. Distance to arm could be greater than distance to target etc.

The 4.5″ would be good for taking out most likley threats and the 30mm and miniguns are there to deal with swarming along with an GPMG’s.

I would never say no to giving those who are at the sharp a bigger stick to defend themselves with. And when you are dealing with unpredictable people a bigger stick can de-escalate things.

I personally think it is far far more relevant to think about potential retasking of ships when they are in theatre and a new need/threat comes into focus. We are in a fast changing world where assumptions go out of date very very quickly and we need our surface fleet to be able to deal with the reality that they come up against.


Some good points here and IMHO another interesting thing about the Duncan documentary was how much the .50 Cal features. Had a tad bit of experiencing using the .50 in the ground based role and its an awesome bit of kit, I never understood why historically the RN had seemed to be averse; at least one lesson now seems to have been learnt.


Stupid…..SeaViper/Sea Ceptor can only protect the ship from so many missiles due to ammunition consumption, a great way of stopping a missile attack is by killing the attacking ship. Having no ASHMs will embolden aggressors as at range they wont have to fear reprisals. The Type 45 will get blown out of the water – a WW2 destroyer would outgun them (As back then they had many more guns) and their dumb torpedoes will not be affected by any countermeasures used today (apart from Hard Kill Anti Torpedo systems which are rare)


I have never been able to understand the continuing reluctance of politicians to arm our forces sufficiently. It appears to be an embarrassment to them. I do hope we haven’t just elected another sea-blind government under who’s criteria Nelson would have sailed to Trafalgar armed only with muskets.


Muskets would be fitted for but not with like everything else lol….Depressing lol 🙁

Steve Taylor

It’s Anglo-Saxon thing. We don’t support or subsidise our industries blindly or without question. Look at French and Italian ships, stuffed to the gunwales with French and Italian kit. In Germany if there is competition to supply a something to the armed forces the winner will often give the lose some work on the project. Look at it another way. Why did the British car industry go under? Because it built poor cars or because the British public voted with their wallet. The vast majority of cars built in the 70s across Europe were leaky rust buckets with design faults; the products of BL were not exceptional in their poor quality. Same with union troubles, UK unions were no worse than the one on the Continent. The difference back then was Italians still bought Italian cars and the French still bought French cars. We also try to do too much. Compare us with Germany. During the Cold War did the Germans have a huge navy? No. But we had a huge navy, a big army, and a big airforce to support the other two. If after WW2 we had reverted to our natural 19th century defence position (and with draw down from Empire) the RN would have been kept large and the Army shrunk. We shoulder too much burden and we are too fair.

Kevin Hastie

MPs have just awarded themselves a 3.1% pay rise and their expenses are set to top £200m. Are we surprised there is no money left?


Indeed, difficult problem you encounter there. We should speed up the decision making process. I can help you with that:

Now that your ships no longer have weapons to sink hostiles, it would be appropriate for our (French) navy to play Mers-el-Kebir or Copenhagen backwards.

That’s a joke. The French navy does not sink ships except its own.
And we are friends.
[I hope this mumble won’t tarnish the high standard of this site.]

Simon m

Launch of a surface to surface missile is rare as you have to put the launch platform in danger.

I’d rather see air launched missiles such as JSM for the Typhoon, F35b (even underwing) & possibly Merlin it’s more likely to be used & more effective as you can launch from multiple directions.

If we we’re lucky some could be kept post introduction of the new weapon.

We could also do with a replacement for sub harpoon as well!

SPEAR 3 will help when it comes online but I’m unsure that the range & warhead size make it suitable for the main dedicated missile.

On the plus side sea venom is looking like it will enter service soon and the P8 will have access to harpoon.

But saying all that for a “Tier 1” ally of the US & supposedly a powerful RN the 16 yr “interim” SSGW should still be procured as a minimum & more than 5 sets. Any future ship missile needs to have long legs.

Considering we are supposedly cash strapped how wise is the stipulation for the land attack requirement?

Simon m

Also seeing as the future weapon is an MBDA weapon being developed in conjunction with the French why can we not come to some sort of lease arrangement with either party for something like Exocet or Marte ER?

Simon m

I don’t see why this is a bad idea we have no money to be snooty about the missiles we have? Exocet is good one enough for most Navies. Surely if the French want to keep us on board with the future project then this could be a cheap option


When a warship deploys it must be ready to fight a war at a moments notice if it were to get re-tasked as situations develop, But is 8 ASMs really going to sink an enemy combatant considering they have triple that in AWW missiles to shoot them down?

Steve Taylor

It’s not just missiles, EW has to be considered too. Decoys, active jamming, or whatever before a missile is launched or a CIWS starts to fire to counter an incoming AShM.

The chances of a large scale industrial era war breaking out are quite remote. But a ‘less than war’ situation that escalates rapidly could happen as we progress towards a multipolar world. China is reaching further out. India is becoming more confident. And then we have states like Turkey. You need to deploy units that can stand their ground as it were. Even if something does happen any exchange of fire quick and over practicality before it has begun as diplomats and politicians acting for the parties involved de-escalate. Our armed forces in Western Europe are like the armies of the 18th century, small because they are expensive to equip and train, and so only reluctantly deployed and used. There won’t be a cosy three or four year lead up to war as there was in thirties.

So yes you do perhaps have a good point. No escort should go to sea without an air defence (minimum SeaCeptor), rafted propulsion and decent hull sonar, a medium gun, someway of delivering a torpedo into the sea (STWS, missile, or helicopter), and yes a clutch of AShM missiles. That’s what T31 should have and it should be a base load out for first rate escorts carrying area weapons (TAS and Merlin for T26, and SeaViper for T45).

The USS Stark survived two Exocet hits. A PLAN Type 055 is a tad bigger. If their damage control is up to snuff it might take more hits to achieve mission kill. Of course the PLAN are building a European navy per year in hull numbers and aren’t slowing down.


The only current weapon proven to sink a warship ship is the heavyweight torpeedo. These days only the subamrine carries such a weapon (frigates & destroyer’s no longer carry the heavyweight version). Everything else either takes multiple hits or takes considerable time (although civilan tankers & containerships seem to be able to inflict more damage than the average AsHM). Many of the lighter missiles concentrate on a mission kill rather than a sinking. Its actually quite hard to sink a military ship (in general). Multiple live fire sinking events from multiple modern navies usually end up with a heavyweight torpeedo. Guns such as the 57mm have proven to be especilly ineffective.

While I would much rather the NSM/JSM combo, when you are short of cash, look to what can be acheived for the minium cost. Upgrade kits are still availale to upgrade the Harpoon B1 to B2 spec. The canisters & firing mechanism is unchanged (as is the missile shell). While the UK may be 10-15 years behind the likes of USN & RAN in upgrading from B1 to B2, the option is still there & no integration or canister mods required. While B2 is not leading edge, its still viable in the modern era & has land attack capabilities. (Iwould rate NSM/JSM as way ahead, but if you want a cruise missile to hit a gps coordinate, Harpoon (B2) can still do it). Harpoon B2 & B2+ are stil being delivered to customers (new missiles) & world wide upgarades continue (RN is not then only one still with B1).

The other thing I would like to comment on, is the fact that canister based SSM are easily shifted from ship to ship within a few hours, provided its pre-wired. You can change from 2 x 4 to 2x 2 to 2x 1 relativly easily (provided your canister desigh is up to it). While a T31 with 8 SSM would be prefered, 4 is better than 2 and is 2 better than none. Any ship in maintanance should have its canister’s relocated. I doubt there is a CMS out there that does not have Harpoon pre-integrated (well maybe Russia or China & I stress the maybe).

Steve Taylor

I would say 8 is minimum to allow them to be fired in penny packets.

I pointed out on UK Defence Journal article about the new helicopter missile that it is very small and won’t do much damage. I cited the example of that Argentine tug that took several Sea Skua hits but happily carried floating on its way.

What guns do offer now is the chance to fire PGM. The Italians have a nice video on YouTube showing 76mm shells seeking out the uptake on their target. These can be delivered just about OTH.

In a confrontation with China in say the India Ocean we would regret having reduced the number of submarines to such a low level.


The latest Italian Frigate class (Paolo Thaon Di Revel Class) under construction has a pair of heavyweight 533mm torpedo launchers and the Russian Kirovs Guided Missile Battlecruisers have 2×5 533mm tubes. You are right though nearly all surface ships lack the heavies. Type 45 with Spearfish…*Drools* if that happened I wouldn’t be so critical of the 45….Spearfish could easily deal with ASuW and ASW ?


I stand corrected.


Worth noting that the PPA is in fact 3 seperate classes and only the 2 ships of the “heavy” version will be armed with ASuW missiles, the Light+ will be almost exactly the same as a Type 31 (just smaller) and the Light version is baisically a Type 31 without Sea Ceptor


Reference please?


I stand with you on heavies on surface ships for a number of reasons. Most obvious is their range and awesome kill power. They are in effect stealth as well. if programmable they have potential as first strike. Nelson would have loved them.


‘I doubt there is a CMS out there that does not have Harpoon pre-integrated (well maybe Russia or China & I stress the maybe).’ And THALES TACTICOS as fitted to T31 certainly does, Ive even had a play.

Phillip Johnson

The artist representation at the head of his article seems to suggest 12 !!! Seaceptors, I really hope this is wrong. 12 AA missiles would be reaching the ‘what is the point’ stage.
If the T31e is to be capable of independent operation, and they are to be forward deployed, 1x57mm, 2x40mm and 12 AA missiles borders on crazy.

Mike D

I do wish the government just fitted this ship with the Mk 41 and then they would have the flexibility to load what they liked. Plus it would keep the opposition guessing.


I do think 24 CAMM shall be there. Actually, I think RN shall arm FOUR T31 with 24 CAMM each, and its cost can be obtained by completely omitting ONE T31 of SeaCeptor system = omit, 12 CAMM launcher with front-end electronics and wiring, 2 data-link antenna, SeaCeptor software system (the most expensive part), and consoles in CIC).

On the other hand, 12 SAM is typical of a modern corvette (Gowind2500, Damen 10514, Al-Kareef etc). And the budget for T31 is also not much different from that of modern corvettes. This is fact. 6000t hull is 1.5 times larger than required (see T31RFI), and T31 was never intended to be a real frigate (at least judged from cost). So, “12 CAMM” is no surprise. No money = less weapon.

Claiming T31 “not well armed as a frigate” is pointless. T31 has never been budgeted as a frigate. Actually, with its budget, it shall not be called a frigate, I think. Just a long-range corvette.

By the way, what I am more worrying is the apparent lack/shortage of soft-kill systems. I hope it is just because of rendering just forgot it. Softkill system is MUST. Even Floreal-class has such system, not to say about all modern corvettes.

Simon m

Still think this can be achieved by lowering sea ceptor numbers of T26 to 40 rather than 48. I can’t see this amount being missed, especially if escorting carriers with T45 in tow as well


Sadly, very sadly, its right.


The Royal Navy….fitted for but not with teeth. All a potential enemy navy needs to do is to sail right up to a RN surface ship and gun it the death ( Using the Argentines as a hypothetical basis) The Almirante Brown class Destroyer can do this very well as they have extensive naval gun armaments with all the 40mm Bofors (8) and 4000 rounds of ammo. Even the Type 42 would be useful now as it would have Seadart and triple torpedo tubes in a close quarter gun fight. I would put odds on the MoD equipping the RN with AGM 148 Javelin ATGMs for use against ships >:(

Steve Taylor

Re T42, because despite being the RN’s primary (only!) AAW escort they had a ‘general purpose’ capability. T42 fitted with 2050, same sonar as contemporary frigates, STWS, and Lynx used to win ASW competitions. Compare T45 with Horizon, Hobarts, De Zeven Provinciën, etc.


I compare the Type 45 to her Italian sibling the Orrizante or Andrea Doria class as they were born from the same development program (PAAMS) Sadly apart from the Sampson radar (The Italian ships currently have a PESA but have plans for a AESA upgrade) the Type 45 gets its ass handed to it. The Andrea Doria has 3x 76mm SR/Strales for Surface and AAW threats including as a CIWS. Torp tubes for MU90 impact torps, comparable Aster 15/30 loadout and Teseo mk2a ASHM. The worst downside is the Italians only have 2 of them. Type 42 was also a mini cuttdown budget version of the type 82 and still as you say won ASW stuff. Type 45 was promoted as very high tier yet has been a disaster with engine troubles, it hampers ASW for the type 23s because its so noisy and it was allready underarmed with a smaller number of SAMs and elderly ASHMs from the 1980s.

Steve Taylor

You don’t have to limit comparison just to the Horizon’s. Why not compare them with country’s large AAW frigates / destroyers / escorts?

T45 noise problem is something I have always found interesting. One of the reasons put forward for going IEP is that it helps to reduce noise because the noise of the engines and gearbox(es) aren’t transmitted into the water by the props. Indeed there is no need for gearboxes. Engines / gen sets can be placed away from the bottom of the hull; have multiple ones spread through the hull for redundancy. Engines / gen sets can be rafted more easily. And so on. Yet so I am told T45 sounds like a cement mixer with a brick in it. If somebody has a verifiable source to say different I would love to see it. Lastly being quieter than T42 was one of the drivers for the design. Though I understand what you are saying working with T23 its own ‘noise’ would hamper any of its own ASW operations, if it had a decent sonar to conduct such, and also helps the enemy to find it (if we had enough of them for them to be used away from the carrier).


Additional – The Type 45s sound issue was confirmed by Admiral Chris Perry ? He pulled no punches about it, the 45 could be heard from 100 miles away (might be exaggeration)

Meirion X

T45 has the Type 2091 sonar, which has 360 degree coverage, and has Sub comms with voice transmits.

Steve Taylor

I don’t know any set that doesn’t have 360 degree coverage. You need to look up, ‘mine and obstacle avoidance sonar’.

Underwater telephones as they once were called are nothing special.

Submarine not sub.

Meirion X

Just google Type 2091 sonar, comes up with very interesting info of 29km range etc.

T45 sonar has Real ASW capability, and can detect mines and torpedoes.

The Submarine comms. use underwater acoustic radiation to transmit and receive.

Steve Taylor

I am glad a MOAS set can detect mines as that is what it was designed to do.

Meirion X

The same info is in Haynes Type 45 Destroyer book.

Darren Horne

For me as this is to be a Interim missile the MOD should go for Harpoon NG and have say 150 missiles upgraded. Boeing say they can upgrade missiles for around 600 000 dollars so 150 missile should cost around 90 to 100 million dollars and give the RN 16 sets of 8 plus 22 missiles in the pool


“16 sets of 8” – The Batch 3 Type 22s had them as well so at minimum is 160 (20 × 8 as the Type 22 Batch 3 was a batch of 4 ships). The problem is these Harpoons are so bloody old they might not be able to upgrade them – we are talking about Block 1c missiles from 1984/1985. I agree with your premise to upgrade existing weapons but only if the missiles are in good enough condition to do so ?

James Fennell

This might be heresy but i don’t see a surface ship SSGM as being particularly useful. An escort is not an offensive weapon, unlike a submarine or carrier based air. Its primary job is to defend surface assets from submarine and air attack and guided missiles, For the offensive role it is much more important to ensure the SSNs and F-35s have long range anti-shipping strike capability. I realise modern SSGMs also have a land attack capability, which would probably see more use, but the idea of escorts steaming into line of battle against one another as if its 1916 is a bit silly. They will have been sunk by aircraft or submarines long before they get into SSGM range. Credible defence against SSGMs is important however, as they are carried by aircraft and subs and can be fired from shore or fast attack craft in littoral environments. So more Sea Ceptor and ASW capability for me – and buy some SSGMs for Astute and F-35 and GET SOME MORE SSNS AND F-35s (message broadcast to SDSR planners). Cruise missile ranged SSGMs (1,000km) – like an anti-shipping version of Tomahawk or FCASM – are another matter and T26 and T45 should have some.

US Guy

I think you make a good point. In a fleet clash the surface ships are the shield, the carrier and (to a lesser extent) submarines are the sword. A carrier with F-35’s armed with Joint Strike Missiles will out range ship launched AS missiles by several hundred miles. And unlike ship VLS’s, airplanes can re-arm at sea.

James Fennell

Over the last 40 years the RN has fired copious amounts of TLAM, Sea Dart, Sea Wolf and Sea Skua in anger – even, rather ineffectively, a lot of Sea Cat and Sea Slug in 1982 – but not once found a tactical use for the Exocets and Harpoons that became de rigour for escorts from the mid-’70s onwards. And given that the RN fought a proper naval war in the Falklands and played an important role in the Balkans, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Libya and various and ongoing Gulf conflicts that probably says something. On the other hand the carriers, with their Sea Harriers and Harriers, and the SSNs were always able to be tactically employed to provide offensive firepower. We should use our money for more submarines, ASW and unmanned capabilities, and of course for enough F-35 to equip both carriers. If we want to buy LRASM or NSM, let’s hang them off the F-35s, then they stand a chance of being tactically employable as offensive weapons.

David Broome

I would not have a problem if the RN had 8 SSNs and 4 SSK’s. That we don’t and are unlikely to, means designed for and with SSMs is a must for the Type-31s and Type-26s.

That gives them a land attack option too. As 1:3 vessels will always be in refit or along side, it is not a one for one requirement either. Designing a hot swap modular system would save costs, please Treasury and add to lethality.


Swapping around canister based missiles happens all the time in some navies. The electronics & wiring need to be there, but you can add or subtract canisters & missiles very easily (within design limits) with most systems. The main advantage to RN of going the Harpoon upgrade route is the electronics, canisters & missiles already exist within the RN.

Meirion X

My concern of going the Harpoon upgrade route, is GPS jamming.
Is is likely?

Stray Vector

How many harpoons does the Royal navy currently own?


Counting all 16 Type 23 frigates and 4 Type 22 frigates Harpoons ( The Batch 3 Type 22s were where the Type 45s missiles came from) the number is 160. The issue is these missiles are really old and are Block 1c…..Harpoon is allready at block 2 in service and are offering block 3 and 4.


Boeing are specifically pushing Harpoon 1c to 2+ upgrades, so the model is not a problem, don’t know about the age. How long did they ship 1c missiles? USN still has a heap of them.


Royal Navy Block 1c missiles are from 1985 when they were ordered for the Type 22 batch 3 and Type 23. So 35 years old.

James Fennell

Yes but I fail to see a tactical situation in which they might be used, except as last ditch self-defence. They might add ‘lethality’ on paper, but in reality are we really going to put frigates up against a peer-opponent without air cover or SSNs? If we need to conduct sea denial then we are going to use air assets and submarines surely? Using FFGs would be suicidal. I can see Sea Venom being very useful, and I can see NSM or LRASM being a great anti-surface threat if integrated on F-35. OK maybe a few T31s operating as singletons in the patrol role could have a few for self-defence in extremis. But let’s not imagine that we can fight a war with surface launched sea skimmers and win.


According to reports, the T31 is not getting any. As you point out, they are the ones that need it most. The other reason to have SSM on a ship is that they also have a defensive roll. They keep the opposition from getting too close. If you are out gunned (like LCS or T31), then you need some way of keeping the opposition outside of their gun range. If your a T31 trying to escort a tanker (meaning you cannot just use your speed to run away) & you are faced by an OPV with a 76mm, then you are already outgunned & outranged. It doesn’t matter if the OPV can’t take a hit if you can’t hit it.

Not all ships always operate as a task force & not all task forces have a carrier at their centre. If you are operating a long way from home without a carrier then you are relying on either allied aircraft or you own aircraft from allied bases. Assuming you can always do either or both is unwise. Supply ships eventually run out of supplies & have to leave a task force to be resupplied or replaced with another. They are not going to send an aircraft carrier as an escort.

Yes, SSM’s are to some extent pointless (except for ground attack), unless you don’t have any & the other guy does or they outclass you without. Although it should be pointed out that some SSM’s are better than others. NSM/JSM are considered stealth (low observable) with completely passive seekers. This makes them hard to find & destroy & hard to decoy (especially JSM).

There are only a handful of carriers in the world & submarines number far fewer than surface ships. Oceans have not got any smaller. Tracking a task force with a satellite is doable (once you find it). How long that satellite will last in a peer scenario is anyone’s guess. Tracking individual ships though is extremely hard (unless you have nothing else to do). The opposition also likely has submarines & possible carriers. Missiles & modern fast jets are very slow to manufacture. Gun ammo though can be knocked out in the thousands. Take that to it’s endpoint & you end up like 1916.

James Fennell

Again the concept of being ‘outgunned’ is also dinosaur – there have not been any RN surface engagements between large ships with guns since WW2 (and even then they were on the way out)! Naval helicopters provide much greater range than guns or missiles – that’s how Wildcat with Sea Venom and Martlet would come into the scenario you describe above and deal with a gun armed OPV. BTW the 57mm Bofors has the same or better range than the Oto 76mm (around 17km) and a far higher rate of fire – bore alone is not a good measure of the effectiveness of a gun system (off topic but I think the 57mm system is a much better choice than the old Oto 76mm which is neither fish nor fowl). Sinking a large warship or merchant ship with a heavyweight anti-ship missile is a major act of war, and is unlikely to be a requirement in the policing or asymmetric operations envisaged for T31. If T31 did get involved in a hot war it would need to protect itself from aircraft, missiles and submarines as a much more likely and credible threat than large surface ships. In areas where it might stray into danger – the Gulf, Falklands or around the UK and Med, there are land based air assets or submarines at hand, and with the new carriers hopefully this can be extended into the Indian, Pacific and Arctic Oceans and other potential future conflict zones. As for ‘if you don’t have any but the other guy does’ – if you have Sea Ceptor, ESM/ECM, decoys and CIWS you can protect yourself.


What you talking about? OTO has more range then Bofors ballistically and with Vulcano rounds even more but that is not a priority. The priority are the guided anti missile rounds with DART-STRALES.
If all of that works it is at another level compared to the Bofors.


Yeah and eye wateringly expensive. With the exception of NGFS 57mm with P3 ammo is much more effective and far cheaper too.


The Leonardo equivalent to P3 is called 4AP. All guided rounds are relatively expensive, as are very long range rounds (guided or not). Guided AA rounds also exist for the 57mm (also expensive).

In general, larger calibre rounds are more expensive & fire slower, however each shell carries more. An Oto 76 SR can put more & a greater weight of metal fragments in the air in 10 seconds than a Bofors 57mm can (the Bofors fires almost twice as fast, but the Oto shell is something like 2.5 times heavier). The Oto can also keep firing till its ammo runs out, something the air cooled 57mm cannot do. Its not just NGFS, its also in anti-surface that the 57mm is lacking. When it hits, it doesn’t do enough damage, even if it hits twice as often.



A few points if I may. Helicopters have a few problems. They are very weather dependant. Also, like all aircraft, they require constant maintenance, however most frigates or lower, only carry one if they are lucky. They are not available 24×7. They are slow & cannot fly particularly high. They are extremely susceptible to SAM’s of any class (you can even take them out with a RPG if your lucky). They are extremely susceptible to most gun systems (depending on their amount of armour – Russian Hind being very heavily armoured). Even some submarines have the capability to take them out. UK does not have any long range helicopter launched AShM (such as NSM or Penguin), so your helicopter is starting to get well into missile or gun range. Something like CAMM is 25km, CAMM-ER or ESSM somewhat further, the likes of SM2 etc over the 100km range. In short, helicopters work well against low end opponents in good weather. They struggle against high end opponents or during poor weather.

Weight of shell always matters. A 57mm needs to land 3 shells in the same place to equal or better the 76mm & that ignores the fact that the lighter 57mm will not penetrate as well as the heavier 76mm. Yes, the 57mm has a higher rpm, however it cannot keep firing at that rate for more than a few seconds (its air cooled barrel will overheat). The water cooled 76mm (either the compact at 85rpm or super rapid at 120 rpm) can keep firing till it runs out of ammo. Ships move & at long range, accuracy & natural variation in shells will mean 3 shells all hitting in the same place is unlikely. The OPV is also usually somewhat smaller, so a smaller target. In one minute, a 57mm cannot fire 220 rounds, even if it has the ammo. Canada did a live fire exercise utilising 57mm & 76mm against a decommissioned ship. They were not impressed at all with the 57mm. You may have noticed they are going back to 127mm for their new T26 frigates.

As to the fact that UK has not engaged in large scale surface warfare since WW2, neither has anybody else. Falklands war was in reality a storm in a teacup compared to WW1 or 2. Korean War was primarily a land & air war that ended up where it started. Iraq war was primarily a land war. Where ever there has been uneven warfare on the tech front, it’s the technologists that have struggled (primarily because their high tech gear does not cope well against low tech non peer opponents). There has not been a direct major war between major peers since WW2 (a few indirect ones, including Korea).

My point remains, once everyone has fired off all their expensive slow to replace missiles what’s left? You place an order for a fighter jet – how many years before they deliver? 12 CAMM on a 6,000t frigate? RNZN 3,600t GP frigate carries 20 CAMM. RAN 3,800t GP frigate carries 32 ESSM. Both carry 127mm main guns. How many SSN does UK operate? How many are at sea? How many of those do you think are going to be tagging along with a T31 GP frigate? They actually used bayonets in the Falklands (as bayonets, not can openers). Think about that. A blade on the end of a stick. How very 1916, or 916, or 16, or ……


DJ, very good points about the chopper, as you say it is not a 24/7 asset. However, it does give you the opportunity of reach, especially just over the horizon. The forthcoming arming of Wildcat with Sea Venom, will make a huge difference, especially if its used correctly, i.e. sea level approach and launching from a quick pop-up as per Apache doctrine. So the use of Wildcat against a peer vessel is doable, just needs to be done right.

The T31 is a conundrum. Basically, on one hand a very large off-shore patrol vessel and then on the other a “frigate” in all but name that is supposed to do frigate duties. She has the capacity and volume to be a real player, but there seems to be either a lack of money or the will to make it so. Let’s start with the main armament, the 57mm gun. Whilst it is a capable weapon system, it is extreme limited in its use. Yes, it can be used against air threats and small fast attack craft. But its useless against other similarly sized vessels or for supporting troops ashore etc. I also read the report by the RCN on the live fire exercise, when they tested the effects of the 57, 76 and 127 against one of their old ships. The 57 put lots of holes in the side, the 76 did some damage, but it was only the 127, that caused destructive damage. This should be noted by the Admiralty. Where are you likely to be putting the T31, in potential flash points like the Gulf possibly? Therefore, the ship needs the capability to respond to not only typical threats but asymmetric threats, such as suicide drone attacks.

Ukraine now has a lot of experience with dealing with drone surveillance and attacks. They have developed a number of new countermeasures, but its small arms that have accounted for most shoot downs. They initially used SA7s (MANPAD), but these quickly run out, and were completely wasted on a cheap ebay drone. They actually found that their old Shilkas (ZSU23-4s) were the best system to counter drones. This is where the ship’s 57 comes into play. Rounds are significantly cheaper than a dedicated missile, but perhaps more importantly, more plentiful, especially if backed up by either a DS30 or the possible Bofors 40.

But as we already know the 57 has limited use if any against another vessel. Therefore the ship need something bigger. Granted, it is unlikely now that the T26s 5″ will be swapped onto the T31, which would make sense. But why can’t the 4.5″ not be fitted? This is a highly accurate weapon system, perhaps without the development that’s gone into the 5″, put it is more useful in some respects that the 57. For starters it can do real damage to a vessel and can also be used for NGFS. Again rounds are still much cheaper than missiles, so if within the horizon, the ship has something it can use against a peer vessel, such as the Iranian T21 copies. To my mind the 57 in the A position should be swapped out for a 4.5″. The 57 could either be fitted in the B position or preferably on the hangar roof, using the separate rear feeder magazine.

I’ve mentioned a quick and cheapish fix for the T31 in regards to a anti-ship missile before in another thread. Which is to fit them with canister launched Sea Venom. MBDA have already proven the concept through existing trials. The magazine will already be cleared for storing them for the Wildcat. The crew will already be trained on how to handle and maintain them. The missile will conform to the current rues of engagement, especially when operating in the busy sea lanes around the Gulf. Granted it has a small warhead, but launched in batches it could target a ship’s key areas, such as radar, missile system etc, which would be enough for a mission kill. This would at least give any of our ships a flexible weapon system that not only can be used against other ships, but also against land targets. But perhaps more importantly, can be fitted today



I was not aware that the canister launched Sea Venom was out of developement yet (though neither is the T31). If the range of the canister launch version is the same as the air launched version, then I think its a little short. Fine against OPV’s (provided they aren’t carrying AShM), but you are starting to get yourself into gun range. Guns in the 100mm plus class have a similar weight shell & a lot more of them.

As to the air launch version, yes the pop up method has a good chance. However if they have their chopper in the air & see you coming, then I would be worried about active seeker missiles like CAMM & ESSM B2. If they fire one (or more) of these mach 3-4 missiles based on the pop up radar signal, what’s the possability that the missile’s active radar seeker can still lock on even if the ships radar no longer can? Due to the data link, the missile will fly to wherever the ship says till the seeker takes over. Helicopters don’t move overly fast & a mach 3 missile (CAMM) travels over 1,000m / second, a mach 4 (ESSM) over 1,350m / second.


Its very interesting to consider fitting the 4.5 gun system. Over many years after 1943 the RN introduced the 4.5 as the ideal standard gun on Destroyers and Frigates. On the other hand the USA had the 5″ (127mm).
The RN had found the 5.25″ ; its standard gun on some cruisers and secondary gun on modern Battleships too large and clumsy to be the ideal AA weapon.
Now that we are going to have a working NSS It might make sense to have on offer an armament caliber between the 76mm and 127mm.
Would it really be impossible and prohibitively expensive to update the 4.5″ to modern standards with a suitable range of ammunition.
Has anyone asked BAE for an estimate on the likely cost of bringing the 4.5″ up to date. The French have on offer their 100mm gun. So before we introduce the much larger 127mm gun maybe we should consider an updated and upgraded 4.5″ gun system. I suggest the development costs might actually be less than paying the huge present cost and future cost of the 127mm system.

David Broome

You are forgetting the land attack option. Block II+ Harpoons have a 133 nautical mile range and the Gungir much further. This reduces pressure on the Tomahawks while providing scalable options.


Would it be possible to equip the surface fleet with Spearfish? Spearfish has a range of 50km+ which beats the 4.5inch mark 8s range and while not an antishipping missile it wouldnt have to deal with as much hard kill defences that most warships carry in SAMs that Harpoon has to deal with. It also would provide both ASuW and ASW options which for the Type 45 would be very interesting. Anotherbenefit could be to build some good old fashioned dumb guided torps. The Vls ASROC can apparently fit in the S50 Sylver cells the Type 45 has so it could be worth a look


ASROC can only handle light weight torpedoes (such as the US mk 54). Spearfish is a heavy weight torpedo. The two don’t go together. The Sting Ray torpedo is the current UK lightweight torpedo. As to if the Sting Ray or the Eurocorp MU90 can be substituted, I don’t know if anyone has tried. But in theory’ they could. Spearfish – definitely no.

As I have been informed above, there is still a handful of ships that can carry heavyweight torpedoes (worldwide). However, in general, only submarines currently carry heavyweight torpedoes. That being said, there is the argument, that as things become more high tech, it’s the low tech stuff that the high tech doesn’t know how to deal with.

David Broome

As the Type-26’s will benefit from the i-SSGW it would seem a terrible waste to dispose of all the Block 1C Harpoons when Boeing has an affordable upgrade path that could easily equip the Type-31’s with SSGW’s and provide additional sets for any Batch 2 Type-31 plus war shots in reserve.

Based on USN orders, the Block II+ upgrade kit is priced at $240,000 (£187,000) per missile. If we assume £50,000 more ‘labour’ per missile, for less than £25 million, 104 Harpoon IC’s could be upgraded to Harpoon II+, which, according to Naval News “this version of Harpoon has a range of 133.9 nautical miles, an all-weather radar homing guidance system and a new, lighter but more lethal warhead.”

This would allow for 40 to installed from the GP Type-23’s as they retire (40 missiles), with sufficient missiles and tubes to equip up to five Batch II Type 31’s. This would leave 24-60 Harpoon Block II+ as potential war shots (or even used to up-arm some Rivers in the situation warranted).

Surely, someone at the MoD will see the logic of this.


Capt Hardy,
Sir, Now we are FFBNW our 104 cannon, what shall I do when we sight the French battle line?
Vice-Admiral Nelson,
My Dear Hardy I’ve never been in this position before; but no one can do wrong by putting as much distance as they can between themselves and the enemy or we can kiss our fleet goodbye.

Humpty Dumpty

When it comes to Type 23s, 45s and 26s, what we need is a ship-launched anti-ship missile that’s longer ranged than Kalibr, Oniks and Zircon. Even LRASM lacks range as a ship-launched missile compared to those missiles and so will Perseus it seems. Perseus is a good idea since it will be stealthy, fast and will have two effectors. It just needs to be longer ranged than the Russian anti-ship missiles. Perseus will be able to be sub launched, but whether Astutes will be able to fire it I don’t know. If they can’t, then can they be modified so they can? And if so, would this mean that Astutes could carry the sub-launched version of Harpoon until Perseus is ready? Plus why isn’t there a sub-launched version of LRASM?

We also need a stealthy, high supersonic anti-ship missile that the F-35B can carry internally. It wouldn’t need the range of a ship-launched anti-ship missile, since the F-35 could fly low and fire the missile from just over the horizon at an enemy ship. Or if an F-35 flies at altitude, the anti-ship missile would only need to be longer ranged than the anti-air missiles on an enemy ship. LRASM already has adequate range as an air-launched missile, but it can’t be carried internally by the F-35B. Carrying missiles externally would make F-35s far easier to detect by AEW aircraft and aircraft flying from carriers.

As for Harpoons, if they haven’t exceeded their use-by date by the time the Type 31s are ready, it would make sense to fit them to the Type 31s imo since their limited range wouldn’t be such an issue in the Persian Gulf compared to the open ocean and where anti-ship missiles wouldn’t be as vital as they would be on ships in a carrier group.

Last edited 3 years ago by Humpty Dumpty