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Great news – well done to Ben Wallace and the RN team

Fat Bloke on Tour

Not sure I get the positivity unless it is a measure of how far we have fallen as a fully functioning country?

What next — applause for opening a packet of crisps?


I do see what you mean. I can’t help feeling positive but do believe that this capability should have been a given.
When trying to debate this issue, over the last couple of years, on UKDJ, some of the contortions some commenters were prepared to go to to justify not having this capability has been hilarious.


Some even said all is needed is the Lancaster bomber back, FBNW.


Are they salt and vinegar?


conflicts take weeks to brew and capabilities years to develop. A loss of a frigate/ destroyer due to penny pinching is criminal, Wallace and RN have stood tall to secure a capability that’s never been required in history, yet without it it’s a life or death or war losing gamble. Credit where credits due – well done Wallace and RN!

Fat Bloke on Tour

RMJ — Political point.

Just what is it that gets BW all the good publicity / MOD fan bhoi luv?

Disappeared without trace in Holyrood — of all places — back in the day and now he gets talked up as some sort of PM in waiting every time the “Nasty Party” need another bit of fresh political meat to act as this month’s leader?

Outsider looking in — just cannot see the talent / ability / delivery so very much like the “Male Chicken Woman” aka PM that is another forces sweetheart.

Is he the boring grown up in the cabinet – standing tall in amongst a field of charlatans and chancers?

At least he doesn’t have a pet spider.


BW gets the good publicity as he knows what he’s doing unlike most of the Def Secs we’ve had in the last 30 years. His stance on UKR has been superb when others would have procrastinated. He understands capabilities and weakness. Def sec needs leaders not puppets.


11 sets mean 1 set each for the type 45s and type 31s when fcasw comes into service. would be even better if they put them on the typhoons and p8s as well.

Supportive Bloke

That would depend on them being added to the common stockpile for the P8 – which is the way that is run.

I’d be dubious that Typhoon needs that weapon.


Typhoon most definitely needs a AShM.

Bloke down the pub

Spear3 is the closest it will get , though the guidance trick added to Paveway allowing it to explode under a ship makes it a formidably effective tool.


I think Germany is planning to incorporate the jsm on there typhoons so could keep costs down.
I think anti ship typhoons in the North sea would be great at making the russian spy ships think twice.


No it wouldn’t. Spy ships operate in peacetime they know the war isn’t going to start with an unannounced attack on a spy ship.


More likely these will be moved from ship to ship as ships enter refit etc, so would be enough for the Type 32s as well


Very good news but long overdue, hopefully they get a move on and get these integrated ASAP, we needed these yesterday!


Its main drawback is the small warhead with about half the hitting power of the Harpoon

Well, I’ll take a warhead half as powerful as a Harpoon over having nothing at all for a decade, any day of the week.


Something is better than nothing, but given options available, NSM is not top of the list, more like bargain basement option.


There were cheaper options than NSM, it was the no.1 choice on capability


Thermal imager based seeker, Low RCS, Image database for precision attacks on specific targets even when within a fleet 😀


Once the JSM additional RF seeker gets back ported, these will be very hard to beat. Completely passive both sea & land attack. Unless your radar picks them up (low RCS & sea skimming or terrain following), you get zero warning & extremely hard to jamb or spoof. According to BAE Australia, the RF seeker will add several additional land attack options to the missile, in addition to all weather operations. Seriously, LRSM is the only current competitor (longer range & heavier but otherwise similar), & even LM have gone back to BAE requesting an updated RF seeker. Which to me, indicates JSM is slightly ahead in the RF sector. These two are IMO the benchmark.


Hah yes – you can always fire two. 8 SSMs on a T31, that’s still up to 4 kills


That assumes the target can’t defend itself. The Moscva sinking demonstrates there are rustbuckets out there with poorly-maintained, outdated radars and/or air defences. But it’s bad practice to equip and operate a force on the assumption that the enemy will not only be caught off-guard, but will also be badly equipped and trained.

Assuming a modern, capable warship is the target, then multiple ships will each need to launch all of their 8 NSMs in a co-ordinated attack to give a high probability of scoring a hit. This procurement is not so much the RN equipping its ships to sink other ships (despite the halfing of the fleet submarine force, it’s clear RN doctrine still relies on SSNs to be the credible anti-surface units of the fleet) but instead it rightly recognises the need for warships to be able to shoot back in self-defence (forcing the opposing ship to go on the defensive itself) and to discourage opposing ships from closing the range such that our ship’s air defenses will be effectively reduced. But, unless one of our ships gets lucky / the enemy gets unlucky, it seems improbable even in a war that a lone T45 / T23 / T31 is going to score a hit on an opposing major surface combatant.


Missiles like Harpoon, use active radar. If you have the right gear, you will pick them up as soon as it turns on. If you haven’t, your odds are not good. If you do, then it depends how good your defences are, including decoy’s etc. Decoy’s like Nulka are especially effective against these.

Missiles like NSM/JSM/LRSM etc don’t advertise their presence & are low RCS as well. If you are relying on optical to pick up a sea skimmer, your defensive timeframe is very short indeed. Decoys generally don’t work against these 3 missiles, especially the last 2. Once the JSM seeker is back ported to the NSM, all 3 will be hard to defend against. Not impossible, but if the Moskva couldn’t defend against an active radar missile, it’s chances of even detecting one of these 3 is questionable.


I understand how NSM differs from Harpoon. It is a huge improvement in many regards, particularly over our completely outdated Block 1C variant. And I also agree with you that passively-homing missiles like NSM are a huge challenge for aged warships like Moskva, where its radars struggle to detect low-RCS targets and any targets against background clutter like tall waves.

However, I would disagree with you that modern radars will be incapable of detecting NSM. They have nothing like the same problems when dealing with background clutter and have generally much higher resolution scan and tracking capabilities. The ability of the SAMPSON MFR to detect and track very small, supersonic objects at long distances is well published and, whilst it may be one of the best radars of its kind in the world, a ship does not need such capabilities to defend itself against a handful of AShMs. If a ship can detect the subsonic NSM at 20-30 km, then it has the opportunity to employ its air defenses.

We don’t know the exact details of the Moskva sinking, but we do know that its radars were of an old design with many limitations compared to modern sets. We are confident that its primary air defenses have a higher minimum engagement altitude than the flight altitude of the Neptune AShM in sea-skimming mode (seemingly leaving the Moskva with nothing but its CIWS if it did detect the incoming missiles). And from the leaking of information online, there is a reasonable suspicion that – so poorly maintained was Moskva – that her air surveillance radar may not have been functioning properly at all. When I wrote about “modern, capable warships” and AShM defence, I was not thinking of the Moskva. If we want to think about Russian warships, I would suggest thinking about the likes of the Admiral Gorshkov and Admiral Grigorovich classes as well as some of their latest corvettes. It is these ships that I contend a lone T31 or T45 with 8 NSM (or any other in-service Western AShM) could not likely hit (at least if they are properly operational). But I would also observe that Russia is not the only potential adversary for the Royal Navy, perhaps – even now – not the most likely either.

Last edited 1 year ago by valeoak


Of course there are radars that can pick them up. I never said that modern high end radars can’t. It’s a case of if the target has one or not, if it does, is it functioning at 100%, is the crew well trained & functioning at 100% & can it’s missiles pick them up. Just because your main radar can see it, does not mean your missiles can hit it. How many firing channels can it support (multiple missiles coming from different directions). I am sure you are aware that smarter AShM’s can do that. There are many ships out there fitted with AShM that will be hard pressed to detect a missile like NSM before it gets below the minimum engagement range of a number of SAM systems. Not all of them even carry SAMs. It’s ability in the littoral space is an added dimension. Every little bit helps.

The problem for the RN is that some navies fit AShM to ships that are way short of what would be regarded as a modern surface combatant. This increases the number of ships capable of potentially sinking you or ships you are escorting. Right now, a T31 would struggle against a couple of SE Asian OPV’s (& they are definitely not corvettes).


There are plenty of factors at play in any type of military engagement. You could just as easily throw in other possibilities like the maintenance of your opponent’s ship’s engines or whether their AShM missiles are properly functioning, etc. Very simply, you don’t (properly) plan for wars by assuming every factor is working in your favour and that your opponent is incompetent.

My point is very simple: the RN is not purchasing this modest stock of NSM and fitting them in small numbers (eight) per ship for them to be used offensively. The reasonable analysis suggests that a modern, capable surface combatant could defend itself against a lone T31 or T45 firing eight NSM in a single engagement. Sure, they may get lucky, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

Mr Bell

Artisan can detect and track upto 150 targets travelling at supersonic speed with an RCS of a tennis ball out to 200+ miles range.
So a sea ceptor equipped vessel should be able to defeat weapons of the NSM class.
I think spear 3 fired in saturation attack from a few F35Bs are going to be damn hard to stop. Likely overwhelming a defending ships SAMs and CIWS.
Eurofighter could in theory do the same with Spear 3/ Brimstone


Don’t need to sink a ship to remove it as a threat. A well aimed missile taking out critical functions will seriously ruin their day!


Well that’s the thing, you hit a modern warship with a 125Kg of high explosive, At the very least, its back to port and out of action for many, many months.

Today’s Warships aren’t like their WWII counterparts when it comes to repairing them and getting them back in action.

..its a much more complicated business

Supportive Bloke

Look at the damage done to Brilliant (?think I got that right?) in the Falklands by ordinary bullets fired from an attacking jet.

That shredded the Sea Woolf loom.


It was the Exocet cables shredded by 30mm rounds .
I was an 19yr old baby tiff on her and got the dit first hand from the maintainer when she deployed back down South at the start of 1983.
The CPOWEA maintainer spent around 2 days identifying the broken cores ( 64 core cables),soldering them up, heat shrink sleeving them, continuity testing and then wrapping the whole thing in self amalgamating tape
He got the system back and operational.
BDR at its finest.


Exactly! HMS Sheffield wasn’t sunk but was utterly gutted by an Exocet. Plenty of other examples of ships being put out of action for prolonged periods by single missile strikes.


Precisely. A ship may technically be repairable, but it may not be capable of being repaired until long after the war has ended.

And forget even a direct hit, enough shrapnel into a ship’s air surveillance radar and it’s effectively blind and extremely vulnerable to a follow-up attack. That’s why CIWS like Phalanx, even if they successfully destroy an incoming missile, may not save the ship in the long-run.

Supportive Bloke

There is a lot more to a warhead than the size of lump that it is.

The effect of a modern warhead might be many times the effect of a 1980’s one, for the same mass of explosive.

Trevor G

Plus the effect of residual fuel burn off and also the kinetic effect of several hundred pounds of missile arriving at M0.8 or thereabouts.


Indeed. You could make similar (I realise there are significant differences) comparisons with rifle ammunition. Compare a 45-70 405gr bullet with a .308 175gr bullet. Not contest in mass. At up 50m the 45-70 (with 40% its maximum weight of powder) will go threw two railway sleepers. Pushing out to longer ranges the .308 is more accurate and better penetrating. More relevantly the 45-70 was introduced using black powder, its enjoyed a new lease of life with nitro.


True, in any case Neptune missiles have 150 kg warheads, only a bit larger than the NSM, and it only took two of them to sink a 12000 ton cruiser. Hitting a ship in the right place more than makes up for smaller warheads. I believe the warhead on the Exocet which sank Sheffield didn’t even explode, all the damage being caused by burning propellant.

Supportive Bloke

Wether it exploded was greatly debated at the time.

It probably did explode.

Whilst the Exocet was a bit of a lump the war head wasn’t that sophisticated on the version sold to the Argentinians.

If I recall correctly there was essentially ‘a NATO version’ and ‘an export version’.

But wether the warhead exploded or not it was the subsequent fire that did all the real damage: no question there.

It is easy to forget that T42 was pretty blast and shock resistant. That wasn’t the problem. The slightly higgledy piggledy arrangement of bulkheads didn’t help firefighting and damage control.

But the biggest problem of all was the internal fire load, Lino, cables, paint, furniture, bits of timber handrail, timber desks and counters etc etc and with the fire load came a terrible toxic smoke load too which made it much harder to fight the fire.


T23 and subsequent classes where built with the lessons learnt from such incidents. LFH Cables, minimise flammable materials hence the rather austere accom compared to earlier mess decks (T22!) , zoned fire pumps, no ring main, smoke clearance fans, no hydraulic ringmain, OX 40 hydraulic fluid, doors and hatches with clips not single acting “spin the wheel” doors.

Mr Bell

Sheffield did however survive the Exocet strike. What she didn’t survive was being towed to South Georgia through 10+m waves washing into her open hull.
I wonder why fleets going into action don’t take floating docks with them? Ship gets hit. Fire put out. Loaded up onto floating dock, secured and then transported back to blighty for repairs.


With its Thermal Imager based seeker…it definitely has a massive edge on precision targeting over Radar based Seekers

Mr Bell

Moskva’s design is plain stupid. Having so much heavy weaponry on deck in minimally armoured and protected launch silos just makes secondary explosions all the more likely.
Moskva’s design philosophy is the same as Ruskie tanks with their auto-ejecting turrets. Shows scant regard for crew or platform survival and highlights all Soviet kit was considered expendable.


11 sets for T45 and T23

As there’s six T45’s, that leaves fives sets for T23. I would expect them to be prioritised for the GPs, but with with Monmouth decommissioned there’s only 4 of them.

However there are five T31s planned, which is the direct replacement to the T23 GP frigate. So it’s looks pretty certain the NSM will be moved across to the T31 when the T23 is replaced.


It says fitted for 11. I suspect we wont be getting that many as they will be swapped around in port much like Phalanx.


11 stets would initially be put on the ASW type 23s and half the type 45 fleet. When fcasw is in service then all type 45s and type 31s can be equipped. The ASW frigates will be the preferred choice as they are the ones expected to go into a warzone along with the queen Elizabeth class.


The ASW frigates will be expected to do that, ASW. So fitting the 5GPs makes more sense as they are the wants expected to engage in surface warfare.


The GP frigates usually operate in lower threat area’s such as escorting foreign warships through the channel and watching over tankers in the gulf, you don’t need anti ship missiles for the roles they do, this is also the reason as to why the type 31 is so lightly armed compared to the GP type 23s.

The ASW type 23s are the war fighters while the GPs are the guards.


What happens if whatever you are guarding comes under attack by something the T31 can’t handle? This doesn’t need to be another frigate. A corvette or missile boat or land based AShM only need to keep outside the range of the 57mm to be immune from the T31. The T31 guns become less effective if they are not the target, especially if you are talking multiple such targets spread out over several km. CAMM will help defend, but 12 doesn’t go far when you consider most frigates carry 8 AShM or more.


That’s what the helicopter is for.


Firing what exactly?


I would also point out that helicopters are not 24/7 assets & unless a Merlin is onboard, T31 has zero ASW capability (no sonar). T31 can in some circumstances defend (for a short while). It has zero attack capability. If you can barely defend yourself, how do you defend others?


OPVs can (and do) escort foreign warships through the Channel and operate in low threat areas. So why not build some more much cheaper OPVs, add a dozen CAMM and a 57mm gun, and call it a guard? Why build a 140m long, 6,000 ton frigate?

The Type 31 is an aspiration. It’s a statement of intent to arm properly when we can afford it, including Mk41 VLS and something to put in them. They are to be fighting ships: proper warships able to fight a war even if they won’t be initially tasked to do so.


I understand that we use the GP versions in the Gulf which is one of the highest risk areas the RN operates in


The GP T23 & the GP T31 do not compute. No hull mounted sonar & 12 vs 36 SAM. No long range AShM. No onboard anti submarine torpedo. No NGFS. One is an oversized OPV. The other is a GP frigate. I will let. You decide which is which.


All T23 are exactly the same mechanically and weapon fit with or without a tail Stand fast PIP). Both have active sonars and do ASW. The only difference is the tail and the helo they carry.
You dont need a tail to do ASW but you do need a tail to do very long range ASW. That said the 2050/2051 fits are by no means short range active sets. They have a very good long range performance.
If anything its the GPs who will get the missiles as they are the ones who go into harms way far more often. Gulf based T23 are the regular Harpoon carriers and they dont have a tail. Its areas such as the Gulf where ASMs are needed not in open ocean blue water.


Littoral warfare is something most navies have ignored (UK included). US LCS was a p**s poor effort, from someone that had no idea & was not prepared to ask anyone that did. Hull mounted sonar is a must.. It’s not just submarines, it’s also UUV’s. There are HW torpedos, LW torpedos & now VLW torpedos. Add to that. shore based & ship based AShM. AShM should not be an afterthought. Littoral warfare means incoming is seconds away. This is why any T31 & the Gulf make no sense. Yes, you can get away with it 95% of the time. I could do the same with my house insurance. Would you? She that must be obeyed says otherwise.


Actually, it’s precisely because the Gulf is such a nightmare that it makes complete sense of a T31 to do the deployment. Much better to lose a T31 than a T26 or T45.


So you are happy to lose 100 odd experienced crew & a warship that will take a number of years to replace? This ship will cost 300+ million to produce (don’t forget GFE, missiles,ammo etc), not counting crew. The cost of doing it properly was not that much more. A hull mounted sonar, at least 24 (32-36 preferred) SAM, 8 NSM, secondary radar (NS50 would do), 76+mm main gun , ship based torpedo. That is a basic modern GP frigate. Not world beating, certainly. But no navy anywhere is going to ignore it. Current T31 is ignorable.

T31 had a lot of potential. It can go to 32 strike length mk41 if required. The diesels could have been rafted for better ASW. It can handle a 127mm main gun at A & a 76mm at B. You can replace the B gun with more SAM. There is a reason the A140 is winning orders. No-one, however, wants a T31.


No, I would not be happy to lose them. I think the difference in our outlooks is that I recognize that the Strait of Hormuz is such a dangerous place for a lone warship (or even a few operating together) that even if the ship deployed is a T45 AAW destroyer, if Iran decided that they actually wanted to sink the ship, they could do so. The Gulf deployment is not about having a warship that can single-handedly keep the Strait of Hormuz open against determined opposition. Instead it’s about a game of posturing: “If you want to stop my merchant ships from transiting, you’ll have to sink my warship and that means war.” If we’re honest, it’s not so much even the threat of war with the UK that is part of the posturing, but the likelihood of the US getting dragged in as well that means other Western navies can operate in the Strait of Hormuz without getting shot at on a regular basis.

With that being the reality, the question is not so much “Which ship is up to the job of keeping the Strait of Hormuz open in the event of a conflict with Iran?” but more “Which ship am I prepared to lose in the opening salvos of a war?” The T31 not having the VLS and radars of the T45 or the ASW equipment and hull insulation of the T26 is much a cheaper ship. Not only is it cheaper, but it would be quicker and easier (from an industry point of view) to replace. It has a smaller complement than either the T45 or T26, so you are risking fewer sailors. And it is better able to face off with FACs and other small vessels of the IRGCN, which goes some way to better managing the psychology of the regular confrontations. It seems the ideal choice, all things considered.

I think that the T31 is a design with great potential (present tense). If at a future date there is the desire to make the type a much more formidable class of warships, then there is the scope to do that relatively easily. And that’s what makes the Babcock design so much better than the BAE proposal: its adaptability and scope for upgrades. It is a serious base design which the RN can do much with in the future. I think a reasonable set of upgrades that funding should be made available for as soon as possible (now that we can be reasonably confident that the T31 will get NSM) is to double the Sea Ceptor silos to 24 and add in two ASCGs aft (to help layer and improve the defence against FACs and other small, fast surface threats). This would further bolster the ships to fulfill their primary duties (flag-flying, posturing deployments and handling low-intensity conflicts like piracy, terrorism, drug smuggling and threats from small powers) whilst also giving the T31 the capability to carry out supporting roles in war (joining a CSG to goalkeep for the carrier or to do picket duty (possibly with another ship), escorting merchant convoys, etc.).

Regardless, I don’t think we should forget that, for all the limitations of the T31 as they are to be equipped at launch (which I do not dispute), the RN is getting a much better ship than it ever thought it would get. In addition to upgradability, it also has a ship with better weapons than it expected for its strict price tag. For example, the minimum specification called for a single Phalanx gun for air defence. Instead, in addition to three guns (each of which is a better CIWS than Phalanx, especially the 57mm if used with ORKA ammunition), it is also getting 12 Sea Ceptor silos. Instead of getting a ship that may be able to defend itself against a single incoming, old AShM fired by Hamas, the T31 from launch has a very high probability of defending itself against a co-ordinated attack by three or four aircraft with modern AShMs. This may not be exceptional, but it’s so much better than anyone originally expected and is more than a T22 or T23 with Sea Wolf could have done (and it wasn’t that long ago they were in the Gulf).

Last edited 1 year ago by valeoak


I take your point & thinking it over, we are probably not that far apart. Just coming at it from different angles.

What annoys me is they were so close with the T31 but yet so far. A140 is a good basic frigate from companies that know what they are doing. T31 is? There is nothing in the NSM numbers that says T31 will get NSM for at least a decade (the way I read it). East of Suez includes more than Iran (as I read it), in which case T31 does not cut it. If you wish to operate in the littoral space (eg SE & E Asia) you need a hull mounted sonar, 76mm or better (in case you haven’t noticed I am not a 57mm fan), a modern AShM & preferably a couple dozen or more SAM. That assumes you are a 3,000t warship. T31 is more a 6,000t class.

From a naval POV, Iran is a non event except for the small matter of oil! They don’t actually need a navy to close the straights/gulf. T31 has nothing that can do anything about that except wave the flag. Waving the flag is something the likes of Russia will take into account. Iran & N Korea, I am not so sure (is anybody?). China is complicated by their 2nd & 3rd tier assets that are not actual military, which means control is loose & if too many drink from the CCP fountain, mistakes (as in Duke Ferdinand type), can lead anywhere.

Russia is now very much a non event (unless things go nuke – in which case, nice chatting with you). China is where the sights are set if you have a world wide view, which of all of Europe, only UK & France still have. Iran & N.Korea are the unpredictable duo. China is much more predictable (it’s more that Western Government’s don’t like the predictions).

Compare Brunei or Thai OPV to T31. They can attack, but limited defence. T31 can defend (for a limited period), but not attack. They (Brunei or Thailand), can reload. Where can T31 reload? NZ? Chile? How long can you just keep defending?

The problem with the idea that you can do it later is that it has a bad habit of not happening.


There’s a lot to unpack here. I think we do agree on some things, but there are other things where even if we don’t disagree I would put the emphasis differently.

First, let me say that I agree with you that the T31 as it is to be built is not a serious warship for high-end conflict. However, there was never the expectation that the class would be high-end warships. The T31 is itself the product of desperation: a navy that knows it cannot afford to build enough T26 to replace all its T23, but also really wants to avoid cutting its number of surface escorts any further. The T31 is the compromise. And again I should state that the RN has actually ended up with a ship that surpassed its expectations: by buying off-the-shelf equipment from foreign manufacturers and developing upon an existing design, it is able to build a better frigate than it thought it would get for the strict price tag it has set. So for all your disappointment with the T31, I think the RN is actually quite pleased – it thought it was going to be a lot worse.

You mention the AH140 design as if the T31 failed to live up to it. But the reality is that the AH140 was (despite preceding it) an extension of the T31. All the work was done on and for the T31 project, which had a strict and limiting price tag. The wider options for the AH140 design were about showing the design’s potential for growth and adaptability in the future and for export to customers willing to pay a higher per-unit price. There wasn’t and isn’t the budget for the RN to acquire five T31 whilst taking advantage of all the design’s capabilities. Just look at the Italian FREMM: it had a per unit cost of €600mn in 2016 – way beyond what the RN can afford (and even then it carries only 16 SAMs). At that price, the RN could have built maybe two T31 (but then you lose any economies of scale and that may have further increased the per-unit price). In that situation, the RN’s best option would have been to scrap the T31 altogether and just build a ninth T26 and accept it would be a navy with 15 escorts. And at that rate it wouldn’t need to worry about the Far East because after home waters taskings and CSG there would only be two or three escorts on standing deployments: presumably APT(S), SNMG1 / SNMG2 and Op Kipion.

And thus, whilst I strongly agree that “the problem with the idea that you can do it later is that it has a bad habit of not happening”, I feel even more strongly that if you don’t even have the option (in this case, not having the option to upgrade the T31 because they were never built), then it definitely won’t happen. It’s not that I don’t want the T31 to have hull-mounted sonar – I think it’s deeply regrettable that it doesn’t (just like with the T45). But I accept that it was never an option as-built.

There are a lot of things dotted in your reply and I cannot respond to all of them. However, whilst I agree China is by far the biggest military threat, I do not think a conventional war with Russia would be a “non-event”. They have a capable submarine force for a start that could prove a real problem. It is also possible that they will eventually replenish their stock of land-attack missiles, which could also be a headache. It’s odd, because I have spent years telling people that they completely overestimate Russia’s military power and threat to the UK, rather like Britain worried too much about Imperial Russia. However, I now find myself cautioning against being too complacent about Russia (rather like the Third Reich underestimated the USSR, particularly in light of the Winter War). They shouldn’t be written off.

Also, you make comparisons between Brunei and Thai OPVs and the T31. I’m not entirely sure why. But in any case, you say that they would be able to reload. I disagree. Let’s say that a T31 encounters a hostile Darassalam-class OPV. The latter fires its four Exocet MM40 AShMs in quick succession. The T31 will detect these and defeat them with Sea Ceptor. Then, the T31 launches its Wildcat with four Sea Venom AShMs. At the edge of the missiles’ range, the Wildcat launches all four Sea Venom at the OPV. Even if the OPV’s limited search radar detects the incoming AShMs and the FCR is able to provide a suitable firing solution to the Bofors, it is highly unlikely to stop all four missiles. The T31 (as built) may be operating at the edge of its capabilities, but there is still no contest here. There will be no reloading for the OPV.

Blue Fuzz

And when the T45s are eventually retired perhaps NSM will migrate from them to the T32s (assuming T32 happens).


The initial requirement was 5 sets for T23 so i’d expect the 11 sets to be for them and all 6 T45’s as the older T23’s will be going out of service by the time NSM arrives.

Would also assume it’ll be the youngest 5 ASW T23’s to get it as they will be focused on intergrating into the Carrier Strike Group.

Great news as it means we’ll also hopefully see them moved over to T31 in due course!


I guess (hope), 11 sets be rotated on the active ships. Active T45 and T23ASW is less than 11, anyway.

Say, 5 T45 and 6 T23ASW?

Craig Lewell

I think the bottom line is that every escort ship that goes to sea will have NSM installed as given LifeX for T23 and retiring T23’s (Montrose next up) and PIP for the T45’s are we ever likely to have 11 escorts at sea this decade – probably not. Good news

Supportive Bloke

Exactly this, I suspect.


You can make a strong argument that the 180 degree u-turn in the decision to procure anti-ship missiles highlights the ineptitude of our Admirals/MOD/ Treasury/Politicians  


I never liked Quin. A smug bender of the truth and never more so over the ship to surface missiles. “The planning assumption is that FC/ASW will be installed on the Type 26 by 2028,” he said, knowing all the time FC/ASW was still in concept phase and that the planning assumptions were a joke.

Shelbrooke seems to have disappeared pretty smartish, lasting no longer than Liz. I wonder what Chalk will be like. Winchester and Oxford. Law degree. That sounds like they’ll eat him alive, but he was a prosecutor for the Inland Revenue and has been a PPS to Penny Mordant when she was Def Sec, so maybe he’s tougher than his origin story suggests.

Supportive Bloke

Or does it?

As these for AShM purposes or are they for land attack?


That’s the beauty of NSM, it can be used for both.

Supportive Bloke

Well quite.

There is only so much space to put things and if you have 8 shots they might as well be dual purpose ones.


NSM uses Thermal Imaging rather than radar…hence why it can do both jobs. That gives the T45 Anti Ship and NGFS abilities….hopefully that should end its 1 trick pony days

Supportive Bloke

True…but Ceptor can also be brought to target in a number of ways and A30….not just radar… is risky just reading the public domain descriptions of missiles without going a bit deeper into things.


True, But regardless of the ship, no-one is going to shrug off a NSM strike. You may keep fighting, but you know you have taken a serious hit. A second strike will certainly shake things up. Loose a radar, well most have a viable backup (unless you are T31). Despite the lack of armour (in reference to WW1 & 2), modern front line warships are amazingly hard to sink. CAMM is small & limited range. A30 is longer ranged but same problem. How hard would it be to take out a GP T23? How hard would it be to take out a GP T31?

I suspect the T31 would be the last one to sink, but the T23 the last one to stop fighting.


Good point Nick, a lovely word ineptitude. In reverse order our politicians obviously have not the faintest idea about Defence of the Realm, it doesn’t win votes. The Treasury do not have the cash for Defence of the Realm. the MOD is just a scam. Just show me one British Admiral who has put his career on the line by stating that over the last 50 years Royal Navy frigates and destroyers have been badly armed and unable to kill an enemy at distance. I hate the first three categories, but at the same time understand their problems. Admirals, however, should be forced to fall on their swords. They are the real disgrace in the disintegration of the Royal Navy.


It wasn’t long ago the previous First Sea Lord was saying he preferred sensors to sexy weapons. As if one was any use without the other. Was this just him desperately trying to justify his porcupine navy or was it a load of flannel?

Craig Lewell

Fantastic news. I thought they might just go for five sets to replace the retiring Harpoon kits, with the T45 simply expected to launch FCASW from Sylver at somepoint down the line, so good news .

I’m surprised however that we didn’t at the same time buy a few JSM for the F35B as that needs “gapping” until Spear 3 and it would mean that the escorts allocated to carrier strike group could do without cannister NSM. I know Typhoons launched Paveways in the recent Sinkex and F35B can use the same but would be good to have a more “standoff” weapon.


Totally agree. A stand-off land attack and anti-ship missile is vital for the F35B and JSM does the job. It doesn’t have to be the whole fleet but at least a third of airframes would give a vital stand-off capability.
JSM would have to be carried externally but stealth doesn’t matter as much on on air to ground/ship missions where your ASM outrages the opponents SAM

Last edited 1 year ago by Sunmack

Especially if a F35 two ship was up. Both armed with JSM and Spear-3. A coordinated time on target strike using multiple directions will be hard for even the most advanced warship to counter. Chuck in a couple Spear-EWs and I almost feel sorry for the ship!


This anti-ship missile will look to replace the Harpoon surface-to-surface weapon, due to go out of service in 2023, and will be fitted to three vessels at pace, ready for operations on board the first Royal Navy vessel in a little over 12 months.



If the NSM is second rate, why has it in service or been ordered by the USN, Poland , Norway, Spain, Canada, Australia, Germany, Malaysia, Romania and the RN ?


Simple answer to that is because it isn’t second rate. It is stealthy and avoids the use of radars to remain so. The warhead is fine for a mission kill, hitting sensitive parts of an adversary to take them out the fight.


NSM is inferior to hyper-sonic ASM in its speed and lethality. But hyper-sonic ASM is very very deadly expensive, and it is just no in the same league.

NSM is inferior to TLAM in its range. But, who cares? They are aimed at different tasks.

I am not sure if Mach-3 level supersonic ASM is “much better” than NSM. Speed is very expensive, and I have a feeling that, with modern SAM systems, Mach-3 level supersonic ASM can be handled well. Both NSM and “Mach-3 level supersonic ASM” will be in good competition with those SAM systems. Then, it will be a matter of number (saturation attack).

What is very good for NSM is, it is very tolerant against soft-kill. As the primary ASM-defense tool kit had been soft-kill for decades, this change is important I think.

In short, NSM is a relatively compact ASM, and thus does not have large warhead nor long range. But, except these two points, NSM is of course top-ranked ASM, I think.


NSM’s biggest shortfall at the moment is lack of all weather ability. This will change when the passive RF seeker from JSM is back ported.

Supportive Bloke

What real production hypersonic AShM are there?

The Russian thing is no threat to anyone.

A ballistic missile is little threat other than to a static or straight line constant velocity target.

Capt WashandGo

Tell us how much you know about Russian or Chinese hypersonic missiles.
You only have a PhD in chemistry from Kabul?

The Kinzhal missile is already in use by the Russian described by US as impossible to stop.

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Last edited 1 year ago by Capt WashandGo
Supportive Bloke

Ha, ha, ha, ha Mr Wash’n’GoSki

The Russian hypersonic is just a warmed up Cold War weapon.

As the Russians were arresting their own for sharing the ‘tech’ with China I won’t be holding my breath.

I dare say I’ve seen the insides of a few more relevant bits of kit than you have.

Whenever the Russians have fired a ‘wonder weapon’ we have all collectively gone ‘is that all they have got’?


You must have seen quite a lot of toilet bowls in Stockport 🙂 most impressive

Even a WW1 grenade can still blow your balls off.

In 1982, ARA Belgrano was sunk by RN pre-WW2 1927 design Mk8 torpedoes.

Last edited 1 year ago by Rick

Yes. Even Spearfish started its development in the 1970s…although the digital side might be further updated.


Its all about the kill chain.
Break the chain and the bit that goes woosh is as much use as a one legged man in an arse kicking contest.
Stop the targeting aircraft, refuelers, mid course guidance etc. Its a big ocean to hit a target in if you don’t know where to fire at.

Last edited 1 year ago by Gunbuster

SB with my physics o level i do question how something going that fast makes last minute corrections when homing in on anything that moves. surely the g forces would be immense, and the missile would just break up


blue streak

blue steel 2.jpg

The strength of the missile frame and the actual manoeuvres it can do are validated during testing.
Different planes , like airlines compared to fighter jets are limited by the G they are designed for. Having only small lifting or steering surfaces helps the design of missiles as theres ‘less to tear off’ under high G


A higher approach speed means a small control surface correction has a greater result in missile course deviation. Its factored in during design but it means a manoeuvring ship, throwing out ECM , missiles and bullets has a good chance of evading a hit by making the missile work harder to acheive a hit.
AAW missiles like Sea Viper use directional control jets not control surfaces in the terminal phase to achieve massive G manoeuvres.

Fat Bloke on Tour

Interesting to see how the budget is to be split up?

Money spent on actual missile fixtures and fittings vs money spent on integration aka middle class / corporate welfare.

Warhead issues — not a real world problem.
Warship resilience is not what it used to be.

A couple of RPG7s would take down most current frigates.
A 125mm tank gun would probably go straight through if all they had was a few AP rounds.

The 11 ship buy shames the nation — more hulls than “guns” is never a good look.


it’s far better that expected, don’t forget it’s most likely to be moved around the active fleet. Thanks


Warship resilience is not what it used to be.

Very true indeed. It was certainly a problem in the Falklands and why Belgrano was seen as such a threat. Belgrano herself was a light cruiser (?) and protected by plate and belt armour. Our frigates might have struggled to do a lot of damage to it which, I suppose, is why the Conqueror took the opportunity to sink it.

Supportive Bloke

I totally disagree with that statement.

A T26, closed up, would be much more resilient than any of her predecessors. Likewise QEC. These are very tough ships.

Look at the SINKEX videos at how many hits it takes to sink them.

The belt armour might have been useful *if* you were confined to taking side on pot shots.

The reality is that had Belgrano been engaged it would have been by top down tactics through the thinner deck armour.

Whilst Belgrano notionally had a longer range in her guns than the 4.5” the reality was that WWII era gunnery radar wasn’t a patch on what was on most of the task force. And with degraded charges the shots would have been all over the place.

As we have seen with the Russian the weight of firepower is all very well but it needs to get on target.


ARA Belgrano had been modernised in late 60s with newer US radars and even included Sea cat

Supportive Bloke

Sea Mouse was less use than a gun. It was the definition of a fig leaf system.

I don’t think the gunnery directors had been modernised TBH.


Really. It was continuously updated , probably the only RN missile to be done like this
The last version in the Amazons- GWS-24 left the manual control far behind and used an Italian developed Alenia Orion RTN-10X fire control system with Type 912 radar .
Of course in the 80s they were facing similar era Argentine jets.

The pictures of Belgrano, even during sinking, show the search radars and fire control systems to be much later than WW2.

Check out USS Helena after its modernisation in the 1960s, same fire control as Belgrano, thats if you want evidence instead of fixed opinions


Indeed….Sea Cat was a point defence missile that in the Falklands was forced into a fleet defence role that it was never capable of. The weapon was designed to defend the ship launching it -in San Carlos there were lots of ships and no-one knew who was the target when the AAF came screaming in. Like with Phalanx today you would have to be right next to it to gain any meaningful protection. Fleet defence was supposed to be covered by Sea Dart but because penny pinchers decided that the antique 1950’s era Type 965 Early Warning radar was fine and that Type 1022 can be installed at a leisurely pace….Sea Dart was not as effective as it should have been. Hence why HMS Exeter got more than half the Confirmed kills with Seadart as she was the only Type 42 with Type 1022 at the time.

GWS-24 was a big improvement…the RTN-10X was a solid system and is still used today by some countries. The only Problem was that the Type 21 Frigates it was equipped to didn’t have their own dedicated Surveillance Radar and could never have as they were left with no weight margins to add any (Something about top heavy)


The problems were : Seacat was a very slow missile being subsonic,, that the Type 21 search radar was not good enough to give reliable data to the system near land, and i have seen references that altimeter in Seacat was making the missiles flying too high.


Seacat was slow indeed….but for basic point defence work that is not the biggest problem as it was designed for a single ships use in self defence…therefore any attack would be almost always in a inbound manner. In the Falkland the RN deployed as a fleet and tried to use Seacat to defend said fleet – No-one knew exactly which ship was being targeted and so they all fired Cats…the targets would have been crossing all over the place and often beyond the Cats max range (Max range is flight in a straight line…combat manoeuvres eat away at this range).

Had HMS Coventry had Seacat as well as Seadart then they would have been in a better situation to use it effectively as all 4 Argentine Aircraft were heading for Coventry and Broadsword.

I thought Seacat had the Altimeter added as they were often fly into the sea when engaging low level targets?

The Type 21 had a very very basic Search Radar. Type 992Q which like Type 965 was 1950’s tech

40mm Bofors like STAAG Mk 2 would have been better than Seacat in the Falklands undoubtedly and its always bothered me that when Styx/P15 Termit reared its ugly head that the RN went with Seacat rather than STAAG which was a full blown CIWS…STAAG just needed its computer tech updating to solid state


T21 had 992 surveillance radar. the same radar was on T42 and T22( as 968 in the same rotating radome as 967…below decks was the same set).
The T21 GWS24 system was top notch however the attached missile was rubbish so it never achieved the performance it could have.


Type 912 is the RN designation of RTN 10X which is an Italian radar director very common all over the world specially for 76mm gun, but also for light missile installations.
By begin 80’s it was being replaced by monopulse RTN 20X.


and then the RTN-30X after that 😀


All Sea Cat Models were at the Falklands ranging from GWS 20/21 aboard the Rothesey Class Frigates with the OG Joystick controls and a Type 262 X Band radar which was WW2 Tech, the GWS-22 with the mrs-3 director and Type 909 Radar on the County Class ships and the ARA General Belgrano. Duker has covered the GWS-24 from the Amazons Class Type 21s


It will be fitted to three vessels “at pace”, ready for operations on board the first RN warship in a little over 12 months.

Remember when Tony Radakin said that we couldn’t get these operational before 2027? I said it then and I’ll say it now: tish-poo, Admiral.

David Steeper

3 systems deployed within 12 months is very impressive. If achieved. All in all this has been a great month for the Navy. 5 Type 26, 3 FSS and now this. It looks disturbingly like joined up thinking and planning ahead. Even if it’s the last big announcement this year it’s going to be a much more merry christmas than expected.


Excellent news!


Excellent news, quick win for the navy.


There were a few posters on here when I-SSGW was cancelled supporting the omnipotent RN and its political leadership taking that decision on the basis that we could sink ships with helicopters, submarines, CAAM used in SSM mode and P3’s. Those of us criticising the cancellation were told that the RN knew better than us “armchair admirals”.
Given that I’m expecting those guys popping up to talk about what a waste of money this investment is.
Personally I think that it’s brilliant news.

Last edited 1 year ago by Sunmack
Defence thoughts

They never do that. They’ll just join the bandwagon saying “this is fantastic news” as if they’d never opposed it. I’ve seen their behavior on UKDJ when the Type 31s were announced. They never admit they are as blind as the rest of us on these matters.


Completely agree mate. I remember being told on UKDJ that the RN understood why SSM’s weren’t necessary because they knew far better than an armchair admiral like me


Indeed…..the RN was looking like it was going to have to use Sea Ceptor as an ad hoc Anti ship missile because it didn’t have anything dedicated to do the job. (Not saying Sea Ceptor is bad but that its ability to be fired at ships is very much a secondary spray and pray kind of option) It was getting to the point that a Fletcher class DD could sail up to a RN combat ship and get into gunnery range because the RN had nothing to kill it with…pretty sure Helicopters would still be very vulnerable to 5 inch VT shells Circa 1945


NSm is a welcome replacement.
However it is interim, does have short legs and something like Harpoon upgrade would have been easier as the fit is already on ships, the maintainers are trained and the ammo depot support is in place.
Regarding the use of Ceptor. It has a surface role, is quick reaction and can hit targets at a horizon + range that the old Exocet fitted to RN ships in the past could achieve but with a far quicker flight time.


Harpoon upgrade would have been easier, but still second rate. NSM is state of the art. Completely passive (no active radar) with genuine land attack capability. The likes of RAN are replacing Harpoon Block 2 with NSM. Exocet itself has not been standing still. Latest variant is MM30 Bock 3c & only from December 2022.


Put much better than I have managed.

Fat Bloke on Tour

To be fitted to 11 warships …
So how big is the order?

How many missiles?
How many launchers?

Regarding the project management / integration — does the MOD/RN have any native/intrinsic management capability or is everything handed over to the private sector?

Starting with the basics.
Who signs for the receipt of goods — public or private sector?


BAe and Babcock have the contracts for maintenance support of the Fleet on behalf of the RN/MoD. Babcock is to do the installation/ integration on behalf of the MoD

Clueless Observer

Fantastic news, giving some teeth back to the Royal Navy ! I was hoping it was a misread and it was 11 sets for the type 23 frigates…….. And the type 45 (destroyer) 6….. so 17 sets ? But I guess not….. still good news though and first installs in a year ?! Which Admiral said it was not worth getting an interim system because they could not integrate until 2027 !!!!??? Great work by someone !
Just keeping everything crossed for JSM on P8 and F-35, anyone know if it has been integrated on F-35 yet or will that be waiting for Block 4 upgrades as well ?


They will probs be only fitted to active ships serving in high risk areas like the North Atlantic, Baltic, med, and Asia Pacific region. As 30% of the fleet will me in maintenance. So still good. Jsm fitted to F35B, and the helos would help increase range of protection. Same we cannot adapt asroc to us our light weight torps to give us sub defence.


Thank God.

Integration with the Bravo soon?


The missile comes in 2 versions, the ship launched version and a general purpose version that has been tested for size fit in the weapon bay of F35 A /C ( 2 missiles can fit internally) but the B version is a pylon only carry so not as stealthy. The orders for this missile are growing and Australia, Japan,USA, UK, Norway are all committed to purchase.


That’s a shame. The numbers the UK is buying means we have to optimize stealth.


Konsberg are looking at an internal carry JSM variant for the ‘B’, however it will have to be physically smaller..Even if they announced it tomorrow, it would take years, unless WW3 intervenes.


Well done UK!


Good show to Norwegian NSM anti-ship missile, French-Italian Aster anti-air missile and Dutch radar!


The Aster missile development – and production- was done at the time by a consortium

Thomson-CSF, Aerospatiale Matra, Alenia Marconi Systems and UKAMS, a subsidiary of Matra BAe Dynamics. 

The names have changed now but even then Marconi and BAe Dynamics were of course British. Figures released at the time showed Sea Viper and radar ( its RN name) development cost UK over £2 bill when the final T45 final unit production cost ( 2009) was £650 mill each

Supportive Bloke

As you correctly state, and I have posted before, it was the cost of the development of Aster and Sampson that reduced the T45 build numbers. There was a total budget of around £6,000m for the project.

It was initially anticipated that each unit would be around £400m – which seemed fair at the time (2000 ish) and would have bought 12 units.

It was further assumed that an R&D budget of £1,200m would be fine for the radar and the missiles as these were shared endeavours and so a total multinational R&D budget of £3,600m sounded very sensible and would do a superb job.

Then France did what France always does and threw its toys out of the pram at the idea of the UK radar and CMS as that wouldn’t support French jobs and it wouldn’t be French enough.

The project split and RN then had to produce the whole of the remaining R&D for Sampson and CMS and build the T45 still within the £6,000m budget that it has been given.

£6,000m – £2,000m = £4000m

£4,000m / 6 units = £666m each

That is why the numbers were cut: nothing else.

Hulls 7 & 8 would have required a budget increase which didn’t exist as RN were trying to get T26 green lighted before the T23 needed LIFEX and that made another hole in the budgets.


Finally, common sense prevails. So, it is only 11 sets shared amongst the T23s and T45s. Big deal, I see it as a start. Once you have the system within the fleet. It won’t take much to further expand the numbers to more ships fitted with and not for.

The NSM will give the Navy not only the punch to fight other warships. But perhaps more significantly allow our surface ships to engage land targets from beyond the horizon, thereby staying out of harm’s way.


If I had to guess i’d say 11 sets are for the T45’s and 5 youngest T23’s given that they will be progressively leaving service through the rest of the decade and into the 2030’s.

With an expectation that T26 will carry FCASW it’ll hopefully mean NSM can be moved across to the T31’s. Although it’s still described as ‘interim’ it’d make no sense to start binning NSM once FCASW arrives when it’ll still be a modern system and not even a decade in RN service.


With 48 Aster 30, 24 CAMM and (hopfully) 8 NSM the T45’s will actually start to look well equipped by the time they about two thirds of the way through their project service life’s!


They will (although they’ll always be much more useless in the undersea warfare role than equivalent AAW platforms in other navies. To be truly top notch AAW vessels though they need TBMD capability.
To be honest I’d be prioritising my money to TBMD for the T45 ahead of CAAM or SSM’s.


Yes. They are something that has to be escorted. So there is little point giving them escort’s weapons when as you point there are other areas that need covering.


Someone will be along to tell us soon that the RN knows much better than other navies which fit a decent sonar and torpedoes to their AAW vessels.
Just like they told us that the RN knew better than those navies who fitted their escorts with SSM’s


The T45 can carry 2 wildcats equipped with stingray torpedoes capable of targeting submarines 100’s of miles away. If the ship is launching the torpedo’s from its own hull its doing something seriously wrong.

Alba Seaborne

The ship in this case T45 wouldn’t be doing much wrong, it’s not ASW, can’t launch torpedoes and doesn’t have a towed sonar. RN Wildcats don’t have a dipping sonar, cannot target submarines and don’t carry Stingray 100’s of miles


I’d certainly prioritise some dipping sonar’s for Wildcat over ship launched torpedo’s.

The T45’s had bow sonar’s until recently but I believe they were removed. Not sure why? I heard it’s because T45 is too noisy but are they really that much worse than all of their peers?


T45 is very noisy. I understand that the sonar is still fitted (albeit it was never very capable) but it’s no longer manned and kept operational.


Who says T45 is ‘noisy’ ? This isnt the 1960s anymore and the electric drive and modern warship design using rafting and such makes all the difference. They arent a specialist ASW ship with a long towed array or VDS to listen over large distances


They are. And I don’t think torpedos care if they are a specialist ASW ship or not. Just as missiles and bombs don’t care if a ship is AAW or not. What a daft thing for you to say.


The specialist ship has more and longer range sensors. So as to be able to ‘hit the shooter rather than try to doge the bullet’. The person giving the fire order ( bombs or torpedoes, does care if its a specialist ship as they can possibly hit him first)


How does it find the attacking submarine to que the Wildcats onto target? Wildcats which BTW aren’t fitted with sonars themselves.


And the number of helicopters don’t really exist for even the tiny number of escorts the Royal Navy has.


Which other navies do you mean?
The USN only has Burkes, which are primarily AAW destroyers but also have to pull ASW because there aren’t any specialised frigates. Some have towed arrays, but not all, and they may or may not have ASROC (obsolete), plus the Mk54 torpedo they have on board is considered not operationally effective by the US DOD.
The French and Italians have the Horizon class air defence destroyer, but I don’t think that has TAS (only on the FREMM, I believe?) and so their only advantage over a T45 or Burke are the MU90 torpedoes (honestly not sure how useful they actually are, but there we go).
Everyone else utilises multirole frigates, so not comparable. And everyone including the above utilise their specialist towed array vessels and air assets for ASW because that is what they reckon works. Running an ASW search pattern would put an AAW destroyer out of position to perform its primary purpose- which is air defence. So, to me, ASW weapons on a purpose-built AAW destroyer are a nice-to-have bonus and I’d rather they focussed the cash elsewhere to be honest.


Horizon has decent hull mounted sonar and is quiet. That is what we require. TAS is a specialist area sensor.

It is about adding to the underwater picture. And being able to prosecute local targets.

It is the reason why T42 went to sea with 2050.

Are you suggesting we should take all the air search radars off frigates? No? Why not? Because that is stupid. So why do you think a AAW hull can do without a sonar.

As for Burke well……….

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They might not all have TAS but they all have hull sonars.

Last edited 1 year ago by X

I’m not one to blindly believe everything the RN tells me, but their bit on the T45 fairly clearly states that they have an MFS7000 hull-mounted sonar to “detect enemy submarines”. It doesn’t have to be great at the job, but I presume this adds to the underwater picture? As far as hull design goes, I don’t know how quiet the Horizon is compared to the T45, or the Burke for that matter. If you’ve got a decent link to a comparison then I’d appreciate it.
As far as prosecuting local contacts, I presume this is a reference to giving the T45 torpedo tubes? It’s going to be steaming relatively close to the centre of whatever fleet its defending, so as to include as much under its AD umbrella as possible- certainly much closer in than the dedicated ASW escorts that we are fortunate to possess. Whatever anyone says, I am still struggling to see the value in fitting weapons with an 8 km max range to a vessel that will be the target of a submarine that can fire a wake-homing torpedo from 50 km out. The idea that an enemy SSK or SSN would sneak so far into the carrier group that the AAW destroyer is going to be closer to it than the ASW frigate or ASW aircraft is just very difficult to imagine. There’s more justification for fitting it to the T26, and even then I’d rather they got an ASROC’d Stingray (I know it doesn’t exist, but I really think it should!). I’m not against putting tubes onto the future T83, but only once all the other option boxes have been ticked- there’re a lot of priorities over torpedo tubes for an AAW destroyer. Besides, as I said to Sunmak, Burke’s ones are effectively useless because the Mk54 isn’t up to much.
We both know that the T45 was hobbled by nightmare development, and lost some pretty key capabilities even for its primary role (CEC being the principal one, although I understand we have some form of workaround now?). But I really don’t see how torpedo tubes are going to make a significant difference to what is a secondary capability. NATO primarily uses it’s helos for ASW anyway, and T45s can contribute their hull sonar picture, flight decks and Wildcat to deliver Stingray and depth charges. 


The set installed into T45 was based on one sold to the Brazilian for ‘mine and obstacle avoidance’ or MOAS. Another RN botch job. And not the 4110 set as was intended as used in the Horizon.

Prosecuting a local target can mean anything from STWS to rockets to helicopters. But you can’t prosecute a target you cannot ‘see’. I never said anything about STWS. But other navies do fit them. Could it really be the RN is right and everybody else is wrong? Horizon carries 24 torpedo reloads.

SSK’s might be able to slip inside a perimeter as might SSN.

The RN has few hulls. T45 sans sonar means it can’t be sent on its own to monitor say a choke point. T45 is something that has to be escorted. Luckily with only 6 it will sit in the middle of the group next to other HVUs. But T45 is far from being the GP asset that T42 was…….

No NATO doesn’t use helicopters primarily for ASW. They are used for a whole of other purposes everything from lasion to SAR to replenishment. And even in ASW they work as part of a team with ships and even MPA because both former are capable of covering far larger areas of sea,


I would have answered him but there’s no point as you’ve nailed it


I can’t understand the thinking. Nobody says frigates don’t need anti air systems. But often here you see it spoken here that destroyers that they don’t need ASW kit. Often coupled with it is better if ‘they’ concentrate on sphere. And it is rhubarb. I think it is partly down to that neither ‘destroyer’ nor ‘frigate’ are universal terms. And indeed those terms have changed in use in different navies. Yes for a long time a destroyer was primarily an anti air platform and a frigate an ASW asset. Just before that a destroyer was a ‘fleet escort’ and a frigate was an escort for merchantmen and secondary tasks. As the RN shrank that mean became redundant. Then you can throw all the stupidity caused by the RN calling tailless T23 ‘general purpose’. So we have the stupid situation where an escort with an excellent hull based ASW capability and a good PDMS is general purpose, the same hull with 2087 is pushed as a specialist, and the first type is to be replaced with a ship with no ASW capability. Never mind how are the TAS equipped T23’s any less ‘general purpose’?

All RN escorts since T12(M) have been general purpose because even the large (to now) RN realised it would never have enough ships to ensure a decent mix. Not that technology also allowed AAW, fighter direction, and ASW to be all concentrated in one hull. Never mind that the diesel propulsion of the time in the Cats and Cathedrals was too slow for modern war……..

Lastly the RN wanted T45 to replace T42. They wanted a GP hull with a good area missile. They didn’t want the ‘specialist aerospace defence’ ship they ended up with. If they wanted that and knew from the get go, which they didn’t, that only a small number would be built and they would have to defend a carrier why would they build them with a hangar. A large structure that takes up a large amount of upper deck space that could be used for weapons and sensors and that obscures arcs of fire. What does such a ship need a helicopter for sitting next to a huge floating airfield? Look at HMS Bristol. Look at American thinking for the Flight 1 AB’s; wrong for the USN for a variety of reasons but it wouldn’t have been for us. No the RN wanted a decent hull that could use modern systems for anti-air but also engage in ASW with a decent hull sonar and helicopter just like T42 did. Heck the class even has a frigate T number………

Perhaps the confusion could have been avoided if…….

The RN says the difference between frigate and destroyer is now the same as the USN that is one of size. So like the RAN has 3 Hobarts which will be ‘leaders’ and smaller Hunts as frigates. All capable of ASW work (the Hobarts will even have TAS) and AAW (the Hunts will be able to fire SM-1 and ESSM).


The RN reintroduces ‘rates’ for escorts. So all escorts are GP. They all have at least a ‘second rate’ capability in each sphere. But some ships have ‘first rate capability’. Where ‘second rate’ is a point or local capability and ‘first rate’ is an area capability. So in a perfect with real budgets and proper equipment levels T45 would be a first rate AAW asset (capable of controlling air space 100nm out) with second rate ASW capability (that is quiet and a hull sonar and a properly equipped helicopter perhaps with STWS and a few ASW missile in their VLS). T26 would be a first rate ASW hull with ultra quiet propulsion capable of sprint and drift using TAS alongside a hull sonar and (perhaps 2/3) helicopters with a decent ‘local AAW missile’. And T31 would be a quiet cheap CODAD with a hull sonar and a decent ‘local AAW missile’. The problem with this is these days where RAN and RCN will go to sea with AEGIS and FREMMS can fire Aster 30 SeaCeptor though a capable PDMS isn’t really a decent missile for a ‘first rate escort’.

But no I find the thinking here at times odd.


Further to above. T31 would be a second rate.


I agree entirely with you, X. “Specialist aerospace defence ship” is an excellent description of the T45—of which at least 8 should have been built, by the way. Too late for that now, but hopefully you chaps will get 8 ships in the T45 replacement class, whenever that is built. Or if not, just go all the way and call the T83 “cruisers” (which they surely will be) and build 4 of them for carrier aerospace defence, and then replace the T45s on a one for one basis. If the 32s are built in the meantime, that would give you an escort fleet of 28 hulls: 4 T83, 6 T45 replacement (perhaps a variant of the T26 as has been suggested), 8 T26, 5 T31, and 5 T32. Plus patrol boats and other minor vessels, etc.

My 2 cents is that the bare minimum should be 32 and I would rather see 36 in a perfect world, plus some AIP submarines for home waters defence. But, this combination of 28 would just work, I think, provided every ship is properly armed, the RFA is strengthened, and the “guts” of the navy (spares, ammunition stockpiles, fuel, shore support, etc) is also properly maintained. You still wouldn’t have much in the way of ability to absorb battle damage and attrition against a peer or near peer adversary, but I am trying to think realistically. Meaning that there just isn’t the vision or the will in the British body politic to spend enough money to fund a properly sized and adequately equipped military. What I am sketching out here is probably the best case scenario from what I can tell from my vantage point across The Pond.

Last edited 1 year ago by Will

So, it was based on, but not the same? So it could be better for submarine tracking than the Brazilian one? I’m asking because I have seen zero information online, so it’s hard to say whether it does a sufficient job or not. No offence, but the conclusion “it can’t track submarines because it was based upon something that was intended for a different purpose” doesn’t necessarily fit.
As for helicopters, I realise I wasn’t clear. But I meant that, within ASW, they are the primary prosecutors of the fleet. Fixed wing ASW is shore-based only, until UAVs get a role, and yes the ASW frigate is a key component. But it’s the Helos that are dropping the sonobuoys, utilising the dipping sonar to triangulate and fix contacts, launching the torpedoes and depth charges- all that is happening at quite a distance from the ASW frigate and even further from the centre of the fleet. The hull-mounted sonar of the air defence destroyer is a lot less impactful than its ability to support/host an ASW helicopter.
I think we may largely be saying the same thing from opposite ends of the spectrum? We’re both well aware that the T45 doesn’t have a GP fit out, and is heavily focussed on the core mission because there wasn’t enough money for more than that. In fact, they even dropped some core cpability, the project was that badly run! But I don’t think the T45 was ever supposed to be GP, was it? The lack of close-in ASW weaponry and (potentially) a suitable sonar is, to me, less of an issue for an AAW destroyer than it is for you. I’m all up for a better spec for the future T83 if finances permit, although again I think priority for ASW fit should be placed on the ASW and GP frigates rather than the AAW destroyer.

Supportive Bloke

I wouldn’t necessarily assume too much about this.

Hull mounted sonar is useless when the ship is significantly underway however quiet the hull is.

So with a T45 it would have to sit or drift slowly for it to be any use with at least some machinery idle as it wasn’t ASW designed. That is the greater problem that pumps and things were not designed to be low noise radiant so the only option is OFF.

Realistically hull sonar is mostly used actively and for that is very accurate and it does not need such a quiet hull.

Upgrading the T45 sonars would be no massive deal as there is a sonar room and the difficult bit, which is the hull penetration and watertight compartment(s) behind it, are already there. It could well have been done – we are in an era where subtle upgrades will not be announced for obvious reasons.

There is nothing in the public domain about what sensors were actually fitted to T45 (as opposed to electronics) and it might well be that it is just the electronics/software fit that needs to be upgraded.

Assuming, on the basis of two year old comments, that the unit is no longer staffed might also not be totally true given the heightened state of friction ATM. Again I wouldn’t expect to see public comment and I was a bit amazed that ‘a former RN officer’ popped up on here broadcasting that the system was not in use to the rest of the world: that is in my view a pretty sensitive bit of information. That is unless is was an official ‘leak’ to get the issue up the running order: which is of course an irregular verb.

I give confidential security briefings.
You leak.
He has been charged under section 2a of the Official Secrets Act.

However, what none this achieves is the sensitivity of a tail.

Realistically it is far more likely that T45 would get an upgrade to the hull sonar and a drone that can drop sonar buoys combined with a drone that can launch a torpedo. The hull and magazine have the capacity to store them and the hanger can cope with those and the embarked Wildcat.


The US manufacturer EDO- L3 Harris , like Thales and others ,gives detailed ( to non experts) run downs on their equipment.
The secrets are in the software and the individual active or passive sonar emitters/receivers


YES! 🙂


Some information out there says the L3Harris Edo MFS 7000 sonar on T45 was only about detecting and tracking submarine torpedoes,
of course if carrying Merlin they have dipping sonar and sonarbouys


You may have the helicopter in the air at times. But most of the time you depend on shipborne systems. Flight hours mean maintenance hours.


Thats true.
From what I can find about Thales hull sonars is that the European AAW ships have the ‘basic’ torpedo detection and monitoring sonar as well. For serious tracking submarines you need the towed array- VDS combination, like on (some) T26
the USN AB class have the bow domes of a high end L3Harris Edo sonar SQS-53

This is one of the Thales range

Last edited 1 year ago by Duker

Yes those sonars have a full spectrum of capabilities.

But I am not about AAW hulls having an area specialist ASW capability just a local or a point capability. I am not sure how many times I have to say that………..

I think you are underestimating the ability of hull sonars by a fair degree.

Perhaps T42 with 2050 winning those ASW competitions in the 70s and 80s were fixed……….


Hull sonars can be capable , but they need size.
That doesnt seem to be the case for the T45 and similar sonar shown from Thales.
As it seems to be the case , the real capability has moved to an integrated towed array and VDS set.
Its nice the T42 won with a simple hull sonar in the 70-80s but the the T22 already had moved to far more capable ‘off hull’ systems like the T23 ( who have it ) do as well.


You just keep showing me you don’t know what you are talking about.


Wheres your evidence that you do? Im baffled by your contradictory claims.


The Horizons are just the same as the T45s . In fact apart from a few minor details could be mistaken for a T45. 2 gas turbines with 2 propulsion diesels but no integrated electric drive just the old style gear boxes
Your claim is just fanciful and doesnt stack up
Photo Chevalier Paul Richard Brito Wikipedia


The bow mounted UMS 4110 CL is a long-range sonar for offensive ASW (Anti-Submarine Warfare) and self-protection. It is designed for multi-mode operation and can simultaneously operate two active channels – ASW transmission modes – as well as passive channels for listening only or for the tracking of torpedoes. It also has the capability to carry out obstacle avoidance. A conventional cylindrical array lies at the heart of the UMS 4110 CL system, operating at about 5 kHz so as to exploit the range advantage of a rather low frequency.
In December 2001, Thales France and Alenia Marconi Systems were awarded a development contract for a new sonar system, known as 4110 CL, to be integrated into the four Horizon frigates. The 4110 CL is a hull-mounted medium frequencies sonar system featuring advanced signals processing. The development contract also included the procurement of four such sonar arrays to be mounted on two French and two Italian ships. The same sonar system was also selected for the FREMM multi-purpose frigates for the Navies of France and Italy.


Not too different to that for T45 what L3Harris says
“Model 997 HMS is designed to give the maximum performance possible while searching, detecting, tracking, and classifying targets. The system provides an unsurpassed capability to prosecute close-in, anti-submarine warfare (ASW) threats and defend against torpedoes
while avoiding mines and underwater obstacles.”

The smaller size of the array and the reduced number of discrete sensors, is of course for closer range only. Further range hunter-killer comes only with the Merlin- but not as a continuous capability

Just Me

They are incredibly noisy ships with no quiet low speed cruise capability.
no point in putting a decent sonar on a ship that deafens itself.


They shouldn’t have been noisy. One of the drivers for the design was to be quieter than T42. And one of the reasons why IEP is being pushed is that it is inherently quieter than mechanical systems. See T23’s CODLAG system…


Wheres the evidence ?


T45 is all electric propulsion , its a step ahead of the T23 which is diesel-electric and Gas turbine CODLAG with cross connecting gearboxes.
The T26 will be CODLOG
Those ‘noisy’ gearboxes dont exist for the T45 as each power unit has its own generator


And Power Improvement Project (PIP) still has not been fully implemented in all the ships of the class, so what is the point? No power and dead in the water in the heat of the battle.


Still a bit light on the SSMs but yes, overall that is an appropriate loadout for a guided missile destroyer in a first rank fleet in the 21st century.


Let’s get a grip – we have 11 frigates and 6 destroyers. At most 6 or 7 will be deployed – so 11 sets, which I assume = 88 nsm will be enough to equip all of those plus a minimal reserve. Way better than no sets or 5 sets and enough to be credible- able to scrape and borrow additional missiles if needed. Progress in other words, even if not perfect.

David Steeper

A question for any experts out there w.t.f. is a ‘companion mother’ ?


Sounds a bit like ‘sister wife’, but I’m not going there. Many phishing texts include misspellings and bad grammar; you’d think Nigerian princes would be better educated. I think it’s because it’s mostly the uneducated who will fall for their scams, so winnowing out anyone who would turn their noses up at ‘companion mother’ saves them time in the long run.

Phillip Johnson

Obvious choice but it has taken far too long to get there. The real problem is that there is quite a que for the NSM at the US, Spain, Australia……………..


I’m getting the impression that Ben Wallace is trying to be everywhere (because he has to) and is therefore spread thin. Perhaps those below him, political and military, aren’t performing that well and thus the length of time things are taking. By the way I think Wallace is the best SoS that we have had for some time.

Bloke down the pub

Presumably, when the T23s leave service, the NSMs will be transferred to the T31s?


Good decision after all the fiasco — some sticking plaster NSM

“late 2021, the then First Sea Lord, said the RN had abandoned I-SSGW as a “sticking plaster” approach”

But where is the money coming from? Reducing Fuel subsidy? Less drunk at NHS E&A?
I agree

Last edited 1 year ago by Hassinger

It’s a shame that we can’t (and yes I know we can’t afford to) go all in on the NSM/JSM family. Integrate externally on the F-35’s and get a NEMIS equivalent vehicle launched variety (perhaps on Supacat). Work with the Norweigen’s for a sub-launched version (Astutes can’t easily torpedo ships in littorals).


The NSM is a good weapon, certainly, but the warhead is small-ish for its mission. Getting this missile aboard its ships, or some of them, is good news overall for the RN, but I’m not sure that the latest Harpoon variants wouldn’t have served your purpose just as well if not better and for less money. Just about everything in the RN and RAF inventory can fire Harpoon. The British Army could, too, if it wanted to field some truck launchers. Just sayin’.

Last edited 1 year ago by Will

What are these ‘everything’ that can fire Harpoon?
Im only aware of it being currently used for T45 ( carried over from decommissioned T23) and T23
It used to be used on RN submarines (up till 2003) and RAF Nimrods
Once the UK had its own ASM , the Sea Eagle

Remember there isnt the Soviet fleet around , or Russian, to justify such a ‘heavy’ missile anymore

Last edited 1 year ago by Duker

Duker, I may have misspoken. I should have said that pretty much everything CAN or COULD fire Harpoon. Typhoon and Poseidon aircraft, Astute submarines (the Sub-Harpoon variant used by the USN), and all of your frigates and destroyers, plus—if they wanted to add that capability—truck launchers on land.

In the US military (I am American) pretty much everything that can or could fire Harpoon, actually does. But in the British military it’s more of a case by case thing, apparently, so forgive me for not doing more homework.

Still, given 1) how much kit you chaps do have in common with the US 2) your military’s experience with Harpoon 3) the fact that it could easily, quickly, and cheaply be integrated into all of the platforms I just mentioned, plus 4) its cheap per unit price and 5) much larger warhead….you see where I am going with this.

I’m not sure Harpoon is or should be done as a weapons system, either in the US or the UK or anywhere else. Not with the latest versions, anyway. Again I’m glad to see the RN do something to bridge the gap and give the escort fleet some actual hitting power. This was badly needed and it’s not that NSM isn’t a good weapon—it is, and the USN also bought it and so did the RAN. But I’m not sold on it yet and I don’t know that its merits are such that Harpoon ought to be discarded. It would be different if NSM was a quantum upgrade over Harpoon, but based on public sector sources I have read, it doesn’t appear to me that it is.


Good points , but you forget that the platform search and fire control has to be integrated with the missile ( unless its a direct buy from US like the P-8 which would be the only instance).
Its quite a substantial cost , shown by the amounts that say an F-35 needs for UK/Europe specific missiles which is around £80-90 mill.
F18 is the only fast jet platform that carries and fires Harpoon. The UK own AShM the Sea Eagle was carried by the Tornado and the Buccaneer- but that was the days of Defence budget being 3-4% of GDP ( it was 5.9% in 1960 and 2.9% in 1995 but falling rapidly)


Strange that the USN decided to use NSM in the newer LCS and Constellation classes
instead of Harpoon.
Newer versions of Harpoon might fill the gap but it is basically a 1970s design nearing its design obsolescence while NSM is some 40 years younger design that can stay in service for the years to come.
Except for NSM, Harpoon, Exocet, Otomat, and RBS15 are all 1970s/1980s designs.
Maybe try Indian BrahMos or Chinese YJ-12?
Then again some people still swear to use the 1.6in pom-pom is cheaper, Hoorah.

comment image

Last edited 1 year ago by Hassinger

As cool as the pom-poms were, uhhh, no. I’m not saying we should be taking them from HMS Belfast and putting them on the T26. 😉

The main virtue of NSM, based on currently available public sources, seem to be that it is more stealthy than Harpoon and thus presumably harder to detect, track, and destroy on its way in to the target. The warhead, while not tiny, is very definitely a downgrade from Harpoon’s large payload. Meanwhile Harpoon is a sea skimming missile which confers a good deal of stealth all by itself, and again: all or most of the supporting infrastructure for Harpoon is still in place and if the goal is to get some ship to surface and ship to ship capability into the RN’s hands as fast and cheap as possible, surely Harpoon should have been the choice?

Anyway, I don’t mean to beat a dead horse, so I’ll watch how much I repeat these sentiments, but I don’t think NSM is enough of an upgrade over the latest Harpoon variants. Nor do I see where its virtues, such as they are, justify switching to NSM in midstream when there will be still another changeover when some kind of longer range and/or hypersonic missile is developed for the USN, RN, and RAN in another decade or so. If it had been up to me, I would have saved the money and the effort required to fit NSM, bought the latest upgraded Harpoons, and put the cash into R&D for a next generation weapon that would be a much larger upgrade.

Last edited 1 year ago by Will

The key comment in your post is ‘in another decade or so’. USN, RN & RAN are all buying NSM now! Australia is helping Norway in funding JSM. Japan has already ordered JSM. These countries are well aware of what is in the pipeline & the risks associated. RN is expecting 3 ships operational with NSM within a year. The newer Harpoon are better than the 1C version the UK have. But USN & RAN already have Bock 2 Harpoon & while Block 2+ Is a further improvement, it’s still a non stealthy active radar missile. Not every potential target is the Moskva.


From the last budget I saw for FY 23 the us is buying over 3000 new harpoons and over 1000 NSM. I
am guessing that the hapoon line is hot and NSM production in the states is still ramping up. There is a whole lot of amphibious shipping in the SCS that harpoon would work quite well on. If Ukraine has tought us anything is that you cannot have enough munitions, and they don’t grow on trees.

Just Me

NSM can target discrete locations like the operations room on a warship – a 150kg blast fragmentation warhead exploding in the Ops Room is a 100% mission kill.


I dont thinks its that good, the discrimination would be between say a destroyer- frigate and some smaller vessel.
Operations rooms dont have a ‘signature’ to home in on specifically, they arent like a battalion HQ for a deployed army.


It doesn’t need an ‘operations room’ signature as such. If you have correctly identified the target against the missile database, you already know where the various systems are located. This isn’t Harpoon.


I doubt highly that NSM would have that kind of pinpoint accuracy. Meanwhile if there were one part of a warship that would still be fitted with armor (oh, alright: “armour”) it would be the operations room / CIC. Even a basic kevlar fit would have a good chance at defeating a smallish warhead like the one mounted on the NSM.

Miroslav Rečić

Ako to novo oružje uvodi Kraljevska mornarica onda je to oružje bezprijekorno,


Hell Yes!!!!!

NSM beats the hell out of 1985 Era Harpoon Block 1C’s. Unlike Radar guided ASHM this weapon can be far more discriminate with its targeting as it has a Thermal Imager and image database. It could probably nail a destroyer hiding within a group of hospital ships. Importantly the US also have these missiles as they bought them for their LCS classes

Just Me

Told you


Wallace is such a breath of fresh air after years of a lack of direction. Well done Sir.


I have always been confused by the statement

“total of 11 Type 23 frigates and Type 45 destroyers”

Does this mean 17 sets fitted 11 Type 23 (the number of active type 23 we have) and 6 type 45s?

Or 6 Type 45’s and 5 Type 23s?

Also as the Type 23s are decommissioned, what going to happen to these missiles, as 5 on the Type 31s or 32s would seem to make sense not 5 or 8 Type 26’s….

I wish is was all a bit clearer


Also how many is each ship getting pods of 8 or 4 its not clear at all.

Imagine if these are migrated the River class boats as another option, not sure they have the fire control systems / radar for them though.

Also they can be used in coastal batteries. As just a few batteries around the UK could in theory be one hell of a deterrent, either fixed or mobile.