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What is fun with this graphic is reading between the lines…
Core: We want this
Adaptable: This would be nice or in the case of the main gun we might consider something smaller than a 4.5″ gun but not smaller than a 76mm
Also very vague about certain key systems like Radar, currently all the graphics put forward by potential bidders show something resembling Type 997 ARTISAN. I wonder they are going to start showing the Terma Scanter 4100 instead. Only sensible PDMS is Sea Ceptor, being an active missile the Terma Scanter 4100 can provide queuing for it. It should be noted that the Danish Knud Rasmussen patrol vessel is fitted with the Terma Scanter 4100 like our River class and uses it to queue the RIM-162 ESSM fitted to the class.
I can see Type 31e getting the sensor and CMS fit of the River Batch 2 but with a hanger for Wildcat, PDMS and medium gun. In effect a stretched out OPV…plus empty space to hopefully fit extra stuff in the future.


Are there any instances where we have built “fitted for but not with” and then actually fitted it later? I can’t think of one.


Type 45 Phalanx


Point defence AFTER the Falklands

David Simpson

CIWS and Harpoon on T45…


The Harpoons were Recycled from the Type 22 Frigates (The T45 was never fitted for them) and CIWS is a plug and play system. The Strike length VLS cells for RGM 109 Tomahawks (Which includes the new Anti Ship version) would be nice to have on the T45..they have the AA Length A50 Silver cells 🙁


It is usual in government competitions to state what must be provided and what could be provided. In my day we used terms like mandatory and desirable, but it looks like the current fashion is for core and adaptable. If you add together all the core requirements then you have a description of the minimum capability that the purchaser would accept and all bidders should meet this or they will be removed from the competition with no further consideration or appeal. The adaptable requirements are where potential suppliers have the opportunity to put forward better technical solutions than their competitors.
The apparent vagueness in specifying systems and sub-systems is again a normal requirements writing technique. System and sub-system capability is often specified rather than stating specific solutions that are already on the market or in design. You never know, the supplier might propose something better than the requirement writer would have come up with.
What is an interesting difference from the requirement definitions in which I was involved is that the maximum price per frigate the purchaser is prepared to pay has been stated. If you do this then, magically, the proposals tend to all come in just under the budget. I would expect this to happen in this case which could mean that a cheaper option may not be put on the table. This might matter as it would have given the option of weighing up having a larger fleet of less capable ships. For example cut £50M off the cost per frigate then the overall budget could buy 6 ships instead of 5.


Surely they’d transplant the Artisan units already fitted to the T23s? I see these ships as transfer recipients for as much as possible (esp T23 MLU gear) on newer hulls with reduced crews.


I agree transplant as much reusable equipment from the T23’s as possible, however as the fleet is already cut to the bone this will result in a further reduction in the fleet below the current 19 with T23’s being out of service being stripped of parts whilst you have new T26’s and T31e’s in the water with no or limited armament. I would be interested to see if there is a plan to do this?


The first 2 builds appear to be receiving new ordered equipments. Then the subsequent retired 23’s will be scavenged.
This removes reduction in numbers


It would be great if this had (even) “just” 8 Mk 41 VLS, designed in; surely the cost would be negligible? That could offer a serious potential offensive capability. 16 CAMM VLS I would assume to be the minimum. Any other radar other than the Artisan would be a strange decision. But, something radical: How about 2 x 76mm guns? That could offer the fleet some real flexibility re “constabulary” missions, as seems to be an in expression at the moment.
Unfortunately, that “capable of fitting a hull mounted sonar” is the closest to any ASW options we will see, with such a price tag.
It makes no mention of the propulsion requirements or quietened for potential ASW configurations? Also, the future is needing to include Directed energy weapons, so battery and power considerations should also be designed in?
This is unfortunately NOT going to be competing with the similar-sized Russian boats that have been launched. But the nearer we can get to them the better, for the given £.


VLS are actually quite a bit more expensive than you might think, as are the weapons and sensors of a ship in general. Given how much the OPV’s cost I can’t see the navy getting much more than a “naked” frigate with major equipment but almost nothing in the way of combat ability or situational awareness.


For me it’s the Cutlass design. It’s based on a ship that’s actually been built, achieved export success (Oman, with significant interest from Thailand), unlike Venator and Spartan. And whilst in Omani service it can be described as a Corvette, the Arrowhead and Avenger are based on pure OPVs. Even in the unstretched Omani version it had 76mm gun, 8xSSM, SAMs and a helicopter of Lynx size – a 21m stretch should make Artisan, Sea Ceptor, Type 2150 bow sonar, 4.5″ main plus 2x30mm guns and Phalanx, all transplanted from outgoing T23s. BAE have a bad rep, but the MoD are awful for changing specs, delaying schedules and bloating sizes, this is BAE’s chance to prove they can do it as they did for Oman, and with Bay class (vs Swan Hunter’s effort). I’d have them design and do some blocks, then assembly at Roysth with their help, farm out remaining blocks to other yards.


Sorry, but get back to your BAe office and stop posting drivel! Metaphorically and practically the Cutlass is a stretch and a massive compromise, it’s a half hearted attempt at producing a corvette at best and would have been better suited to OPV B2, why on earth did we agree to buy 3 Rivers for £348m when the Omanis got theirs for around £150m a pop. Hands up who’d prefer 2 and bit of those over River B2s to do constabulary duties, and leave the Vosper built and nearly new original Rivers to see out their service lives? We are decommissioning perfectly good ships to satisfy a contract that left BAe holding us over a barrel and telling us what they’d build for the money.
I wouldn’t let BAe near this and make them realise that they aren’t a monopoly and can’t pluck prices out of the air to overpay executives and retired Admirals and politicians. We won’t go into the various court cases and cancelled contracts due to irregularities currently ongoing. No potential export customer will look at Cutlass and say “Mmmmm, nice Frigate. Let’s have those”. Anyway, at BAe prices they’ll offer the Avenger, Cutlass is probably priced at £500m a go!
FYI, no Phalanx on T23.
Ever been on a Bay?


Without wanting to bang on too much about the Cutlass (oops too late), this section from also is encouraging: “The modular design supported by a comprehensive weapons management system allows customers to integrate equipment and systems for specific mission requirements.
The hull is incorporated with stealthy features for reduced radar signature.”
It also has electric propulsion system for slow speed running (up to 7.7 knots) the reduces running costs, improves range and fuel efficiency, and minimises acoustic signature. That capability, plus bow sonar from T23 and onboard helicopter, is likely the best ASW capability we’ll get in the budget envelope.


T26 is all we need for ASuW, all T31 needs to be is a picture contributor, I think you may be missing the point of T31.


I think the bow sonars from the t23s are already booked for the t26


Pencil sketch of mast resembles Thales
imast series. Imast would speed up build and and as their is a range of masts from a basic model to a high end model would allow for customers to spec what model they want. It would be easier to upgrade to a more high end model and would meet the flexible and adaptable theme of the ship ,


1. I notice that the point defence missile is not required, there just needs to be space to fit if the CIWS is fitted.
2. Any idea how the reuse of T23 systems will be accounted for in the price?

Lord Curzon

These are going to be built on the cheap which, frankly, I am not complaining about.

Iqbal Ahmed

Maybe these cheaper ships can take on a sort of ‘Home Fleet’ duties in and around Britain and territories. Free up more sophisticated ships for high intensity operations.


Impossible timescale
No clear mission
No clear leadership or accountability
Desperately underarmed
Spread all over the place, almost designed to be inefficient
Abitary budget
This is going to be a disaster, isn’t it?


Looks like a version of the USN LCS. Adaptable all the way


With enough CAMM cells, the T31 could have a role in a CBG, as a goalkeeper or point air defence, freeing up T26 of go off hunting subs and T45 sylver cells for Aster-30 and long range AD. As the T31 will need to have CAMMs anyway, with the additional crew and systems that would required, we should double down on it and cram in as many cells as we can. Forget strike length VLS – canister tomahawk or any AShM can do a good enough job.

Michael Watson

I think this is positive news, things are moving at a faster rate than most other projects. OK this will cheaper version than the gold plated Type 26, given the budget restrictions this is the only way the Navy has any realistic chance of increasing the number of frigates from the current level. The challenge now is to build a cheaper and capable Frigate not end up with a cheap and cheerful Frigate, question is, can we or are we capable of achieving Cheap and Capable vessel which would be an asset to the Navy????


and also avoid replacing the 5xT26s yet to be ordered with more T31s

Michael Watson

Majority of our warships have a helicopters for anti submarine warfare, would it be worth considering for the new Type 31e’s not to have a helicopter stationed on each of these Frigates. Instead have other types of anti-submarine weapons on board i.e. 21st century version of multi- barrel depth charges or underwater missiles? As part of a carrier battle group, still would have anti-submarine helicopters as a first line of defence against attacking submarines, if a submarine got passed our 1st line, the Type 31e would provide a second line. What do you guys think of this idea?


Look at stern quarter of recently refitted USN carriers. ATTs are going to be the must have when the price comes down. QNLZ should have them ASAP and indeed all the major warships.


Question: Would it not be logical to build 12 T26 ships (1/2 ratio with T45) by 2030/32 and then begin building cheaper frigates from 2028/30?


1 Billion = 1 Type 26 or 4 T31
Also build rate too slow.
First T26 in service approx mid 2020’s then
Approx 1 every 18 MTHS after that.
Last one of 12 would be approx 2041.
Last T23 retires 2035.
Would result in a big hole in escort numbers.
Hence T31.
Only way for more T26 is lots of money.
Which not likely.
Or if foreign orders reduce build costs and increase construction speed . You might have a very small chance of maybe getting an extra hull.
Hopefully T 31 will meet the high hopes of all.


There are many deficiencies with this project. Apart from producing a number of hulls to meet the 13 type 23’s reaching out of service date it falls far short of what a serious Oceanic navy requires. This smacks of the WW2 Flower class Corvette or worse syndrome.
Is what is needed is first of all a hull of adequate endurance, sea keeping ability, quietness, speed, adaptability and damage resistance.
This probably points to about 4500 tons.
This needs to be fast enough to manoeuvre with task groups. In my opinion the trend towards a standard 26 knots is not fast enough for an escort. The USN is unimpressed with slow ships and under powering RN ships has got us into the type 45 mess.
Once you have got the best possible hull you can start to bolt on the sensors and weapons as appropriate.
If this is a rushed job, in itself this is a major problem.
I very much doubt if all this can build a useful ocean going frigate for 250 million.


I wonder if someone could answer a question for me, what would it cost to build a new type 23. She would have the same hull with modern engines, stealth superstructure, a modern equivalant of her electronics suit, similar weapons outfit with the addtion of a CIWS and the helicopter limited to the wildcat or similar. Basically a 2020 Type 23 with a stealth superstructure. Much of the new ships outfit could be reused from decommisioned type 23s. If that could be built within say a 300-350 million range would that not be a better solution. The hull of the type 23 is quiet as we know and sea worthy, her anti submarine capability is good to outstanding, with the Artisan-SeaCeptor outfit she is capabile of a good air defence. The stealth superstructure could have two 11 meter assault RIBS internal. She would not have a missions bay but then she is not designed to do everything.

Richard Thompson

So, as usual, a do everything spec for a cheap price. When will the RN learn? This is a global presence, numbers not capability, general purpose vessel. A modern Leander. Towed arrays? That’s what the 26 are for! These are all diesel, not particularly silent ships. 3 inch gun, Sea Ceptor, Artisan, Wildcat with FASGW, not much more…


It’s not a “do everything”. It’s the baseline variant of what will be a family of single-task specialist variants (p. 1, top right). Hence the ‘e’. I guess, the RN learned that putting all eggs into one expensive basket will not bring them anywhere near the 25-32 escorts needed to fulfill their tasks + reserve. The really interesting question is, how a sonar-equipped ASW for roughly £400m will compare against the T26 global cruiser.

Richard Thompson

Thanks! T45 is single task (AAW) as is T26 (ASW). Except that all hulls have to be GP as well. Hence their other attributes. I thought these new frigates were supposed to be GP only and cheap. Core RN escort fleet will reduce to 14 hulls, hence need to produce cheap units to augment numbers to match required tasks. These units are supposed to fulfill 95% of naval tasks short of all out war, when they should be able to defend themselves before vacating theatre or operate under T45/26 umbrella. If you start to make them task specific you will drive up costs, reduce overall numbers and never have an asset as good as a T45 or 26.