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Matt

I would assume that Sea Ceptor would be held almost exclusively in reserve for use against hostile aircraft, leaving any incoming missiles to wait until in range of the gun systems.
I am assuming that aircraft will fire missiles well out of the ships gun range.
What would you do against an incoming anti-ship missile? Hit it with a precious Sea Ceptor, or wait to engage with the guns?
M@

ATH

Missile every time , much more likely to work.

Humpty Dumpty

ATH, I agree I’d rather use a missile rather than a gun to take out an anti-ship missile, but (a) the Type 31 will only have 12 CAMM missiles (well assuming they don’t go down the FFBNW route) and (b) Sea Ceptor, and Sea Viper for that matter, haven’t ever been put to the test against a peer or near-peer enemy, so no-one knows if they’ll work as advertised or not (our anti-air missiles seriously underperformed in the Falklands for example). Plus anti-missile missiles are ridiculously expensive.

If these missiles do work as advertised (which we won’t find out until the next war), then I’d say fit as many of them as possible on the Type 31s. That would mean fitting Mk41 launchers with as many cells as will fit and then you can quad-pack CAMM missiles in the launchers. Plus this would mean that the Type 31s could also carry VL-ASROC, LRASM and TLAM.

But it would also make sense to have ADL launchers as well since not only can CAMM missiles be quad-packed in them, but ADL has the huge advantage that it can be replenished at sea.

All that said, I’d still like to have another line of defence and that’s where the Bofors guns come in (and decoys too, which worryingly aren’t shown in the image above). I have no idea how effective these guns are against anti-ship missiles (or what types), but these guns are advertised as being able to take out anti-ship missiles. Since they can use smart airburst ammo I’d have thought they’re more likely to successfully hit an incoming missile than Phalanx is (compare using a shotgun to a rifle), but again until we’re in a war against a peer or near-peer enemy, no-one will know for certain how effective (or not) any of these defences actually are.

Rudeboy

Given the frequency of anti-ship missile firings you’ll sling everything you have at it at the furthest possible range, and keep firing until its killed. The last thing you want is for a missile to get close where terminal manoeuvres will dramatically compromise gun firing solutions.
If you have to withdraw to re-arm that’s better than a lost platform.

Matt

Cheers Rudeboy.
While I don’t disagree, I feel that in that situation, we’ll be out of missiles very quickly… thus needing to bug out early.
I guess, I’m just concerned that 12 is rather minimal.
Do you think it’s enough?
Which raises the question… what is enough? And enough for what?
I certainly don’t have the answer to that. But I’d love to hear the thoughts of others on here
Cheers
M@

Rob N

Do not forget that this ship is designed for lower intensity situations not task group protection. The T26 would have the task group protection role with 48 Sea Ceptor per ship. However I think the reduction in cells is a false economy. On the plus side the 57mm and 40mm guns can all use 3P amo that uses pre-fragmented anti-air shells. T31 could put up a wall of metal between her and an incoming missile. With this said you would use all weapons at your disposal to kill incoming missiles including Sea Ceptor.

Stephen

The 57 mm. can also fire O.R.K.A. guided rounds.

Paul.P

Well, 12 is minimal but probably enough to back up the Bofors guns. This is the sort of threat T31 needs to cater for and will handle.

https://www.businessinsider.com/iran-houthi-militants-yemen-missile-saudi-ship-2017-1?op=1&r=US&IR=T

In a shooting match in the straits of Hormuz we will be using Type 45 and Type 26.

Paul

In a shooting match in the Straits of Hormuz the guns on the Type 31 would come in handy – at least in theory….. as would a land attack capability. Unfortunately air power would be involved and without a decent number of Sea Ceptor Type 31 would be overwhelmed and destroyed very quickly

Teves

Matt the 12 are just a std fit if deployed somewhere hazardous they can drop a iso container full of sea ceptor onto the deck plug them into the CMS and they are good to go. Think there are multiple position allocated to temp combat system can be bolted on as required

Donkeys Flipflop

Can sea ceptor be reloaded at sea?, this could solve the issue as reloading from an RFA could be a way to maximise the 12 cells ( same as a type 22 had for sea wolf with reloads carried below)

Rudeboy

The RN has RAS’d and reloaded missiles in the past. But VL systems require a crane system and ability to stabilise the load. There is nothing in any of the images that suggests that they have any intention of doing this.

Iain

The Americans tried this with the early Mk-41 VLS’s on the Ticonderoga class ships and found it to be excessively dangerous so scrapped it for future vessels. Then again when you have 128 tubes and can quad pack missiles the need to have a R.A.S. function seems unnecessary. It is annoying though as anyone that watches what happens with ‘fit for but not with’ knows it really means ‘fit for but never with’ such as the Type-45’s Mk-41 capability. 8 or 16 cells quad packed would give a massive uplift in the Type-45’s Surface to Air Capabilities let alone the ability to host more up to date ASMs.

Rudeboy

And remember to do so they had a specially developed crane that slid into 3 of the VLS cells. (It’s still there but unused (which people should remember when counting the number of VLS cells on Tico’s…). Apparently in anything other than a milk pond it was a very unpleasant experience for all concerned.

4thwatch

But surely sea ceptor is much lighter than most USA missiles?

Paul

Agreed, my thought was, given the location within the ship and SeaCeptor geing soft launched, it should be possible to reload the cells from within the ship, ie from underneath.

Callum

To be fair, the T45s have yet to actually enter a situation that warrants fitting additional cells. FFBNW is to more easily facilitate future upgrades, like how the T42s got Phalanx after the Falklands.

I know, it would be far better to fit the capability NOW, but as far as the T45s are concerned it can hold off while more critical areas need funding.

Sean

Thing to remember is that anything bought to fulfil an UOR – such as the items to fill the FFBNW gap – comes from the Treasury’s emergency contingency budget.

Anything fitted to the ship in any other circumstances comes out of the MoD / RN budget.
So you can see the navy’s thinking in trying to pull a fast one on the Treasury to get more money.

Callum

Only fair, given that the Treasury decided to shove a load of it’s spending commitments into the defence budget to hide cuts

D J

Sometimes time is more important than money when it comes to FFBNW. Some systems can take months to install. As the Falklands showed, you don’t always get 3 months heads up. If it is a long lead time item, you are in trouble unless it’s already in the shed. Both Australia & NZ have 2 used SDL mk41 in the shed. Did anyone ask if they were available? Quad packable, that’s 32 CAAM per unit.

Rob N

The incident with HMS Duncan being swamped by Russian jets is a stark illustration of the weakness of having only 48 cells. T45 lacks combat staying power as a result. Given the scant number of T45s we should be maximising their capabilities. Anything less is a false economy. I think T45 could have a minimum of 12 – 16 extra cells fitted. You should have 48 Aster 30, 8 Aster 15, and the remaining cells fitted with multi-packs of Sea Ceptor. Now that would give the navy a true carrier group escort.

Callum

So what are you giving up to fund this? In a perfect world we’d get a spending increase to fund this, but in the actual world we live in that’s unlikely.

We all already know the T45s would be better with more cells, but what capability would be sacrificed to pay for it? Sailors? Helicopters? Maybe you raid the maintenance budget, or delay or cancel refits.

The reality is that upgunning the T45s is low priority for a peacetime navy, and the likely operational combat scenarios don’t justify sacrificing other capabilities that are more useful now.

Rob N

Perhaps we should raid the vast amount we spend on overseas development. I am talking abiut the Government getting real with defence and funding the the navy properly.

4thwatch

Absolutely. It seems this treasure chest of funding which is scattered around various dubious projects is an extremely unworthy way to spend taxpayers money. It should be reduced to .5% with immediate effect, which should be diverted to UK defence. This would represent about 4.3 bn GBP per annum (an Aircraft Carrier p.a. or in fact 6 over the build life!!!). Looked at like that it looks bl..dy awful doesn’t it?

Will

Any reduction in the Overseas Development budget would be an own goal in a post Brexit world where soft power will be very important and the money would be directed to health/social care in any case. Diverting it to defence would not be a vote winner.
 
 

Last edited 10 months ago by Will
Hugh Jarce

I don’t think Sea Ceptor can be reloaded in Sea Ceptor VLS cells, but if using Mk41-based ADL launchers, then Sea Ceptor CAMM missiles CAN be reloaded at sea: https://ukdefencejournal.org.uk/improving-the-type-45-destroyer/

Ron

Stand by for people to shout at me, but I really am shocked with 12 Sea Ceptors on a 5,600 ton ship of warsome countries have more than that on a 2,000 ton corvette. Then again I would be glad to see these ships get built and in the future developed as money and possibly kit of the T23s becomes available.
However I do have two questions or points.
1. The South African Navay managed to get the Valour class at £125 million (2007) per ship, based on the MEKO A 200 its not a bad little ship, so why could we not do something similar.
2. We seem to constantly have fitted for but not with, the reason is always cost. When I looked at the MK41 VLS and tried to find the cost it appears that the US pays about $50 million for the equipment and installation of 12 sets into a Arliegh Burke class. If we said that we need 48 sets, three sets each for the T26s, 2 sets each for the T45s and T31s that about £10.6 million per ship or £200 million in total for the equipment and installation. That to me seems a reasonable cost spread over 12-15 years that it would take to complete the T26 program.
Two sets of Mk41s in the T31 could give the ship a further 32 Sea Ceptors and 8 Crusie missiles with the space for 8 NSMs/RBS-15s, which would make it a handy little surface combat unit, With say five sets of Thales CAPTAS 4 compact it would give the T31s and or the Batch IIs a reasonable anti sub capability. We could suggest to our European allies to chip together and buy ten sets of CAPTAS 4 compact as a pool and that way other countries would have the use as well.

Callum

I doubt anyone’s going to shout at you for this one. 24 Sea Ceptor was iffy but acceptable. Less than a refitted T23 but more than FREMM, and with a very heavy CIWS suite. 12 is pathetic on a ship this size.

Regarding the SA Valour class, adjusting for inflation they cost roughly £345mn, so essentially the budget for a T31. However, South Africa has lower labour costs and health and safety standards, so it’s not an entirely fair comparison.

As for the Mk41, you’re forgetting the foreign military sales tax that the US puts on defence exports. It might cost the US $50mn for 12 on a Burke, and it might be BAE that builds them now, but there’s still an FMS charge. That’s part of why we still develop our own gear instead of going complete dependency on the US: even with development costs and smaller budgets, it’s still routinely cheaper to develop our own and support local industry. It would be a reasonable cost if £200mn over 12-15 years isn’t the sort of money thats needed for things like keeping existing ships at sea (I’m probably wrong, but a while back I believe it was revealed that the 3 batch 1 Rivers cost £16mn a year to operate)

Ron

Callum, the Valour class were built in Kiel at the Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft so labour costs, health and safety would be either German or EU standards. I put the 2007 cost through an inflation calculator and it came out at £175 million per ship, so they are still within the budget.
I understand the comment about the Mk41s and did not take FMS charges into account, however, we are already buying 24 blocks for the T26s, we could always buy the Sylver A-70 instead from DCNS, we already use the A-50s on the T45s.
All I was trying to point out is that other nations seem to be able to build ships that are able to do the job whilst we seem to spend a lot of money and get a poor return for the investment. Something is going wrong with our ship building process.

Jon

Germany subsidizes some ships. I know German submarine and corvette sales to Israel are heavily subsidised, and that might be the case here.

sparky42

Think Germany treats sales to Israel differently than it does with other nations for obvious reasons.

Riga

Thread drift – so, your FMS tax – how does that balance against the 10%ish workshare that is lauded on the F35?

Callum

As far as I can tell, FMS varies depending on factors like who the customer is, what the purchase is for, and does it fit into existing US purchase plans.

UK percentage of the workshare is roughly 10% on the A and C, 15% on the B. If I had to guess, due to who we are and US purchase plans, the FMS tax on the Lightning for us is pretty low.

WeeWill

And the fact the Treasury stick 20% VAT on anything bought FMS as well; literally robbing back what they allocated. Not that such things should be considered essential items or anything…

Callum

Oh god, don’t get me started on that. Charging tax on your own expenditure is possibly the dumbest bit of government bureaucracy I can imagine

Steve Taylor

The Absalon (basically half the engine fit out and same hull shape) would cost if built today £230 million. And that was with the hull built in Eastern Europe and only fitting outing done in Denmark.

It is going to be tight.

Paul

But this is our 5600 ton Corvette….

James Fennell

One explanation is that they seem to be the same ‘mushroom farm’ tubes as on T 23 – which are themselves modified Sea Wolf VLS tubes. These are different from the bespoke new high density Sea Ceptor cells BAe is putting on T 26. Might be a penny pinching idea to re-use these old T 23 VLS tubes, which are 1980s tech and probably take up a lot of space for what you get. If its an RN or Babcock strategy to keep to the price, then it can make sense, but someone will need to come to their senses and buy the proper kit.

Stevep

I grow more unimpressed with these ships with every new piece of information.

They displace more than the Type 23 GP frigates they replace and yet:

1) Are no use for NGS due to the small calibre main gun

2) Are now being reported as carrying 12 SAM’s compared to 32 on the T23

3) Carry no SSM’s compared to 8 on the T23

4) Have no ASW torpedoes whereas the T23 does

5) Are not much use as ASW platforms due to being diesel powered whereas the T23 GP, although lacking towed sonar, still has the same propulsion system and bow sonar as the ASW version.

£1.25bn for 5 ships that are less use in every area than the 30 year old design they are replacing with no NGS, ASuW or ASW capability and now it’s suggested next to no SAM capability. Folks are getting excited about how good they would be against Iranian speedboats but £1.25bn is a lot of money for ships that won’t be much use for any mission other than that.

Callum

Honestly, as much as I want to argue, it’s hard not to agree. With 24 Sea Ceptor and such a heavy gun armament, I’d still argue they’re the right ship for the GP frigate role, but with just 12 missiles? I can’t defend that

Ron5

The actual budget for the Type 31’s as revealed by the government is 1.98 billion i.e. an average of 400 million per ship. The missile system cost is not included within the 1.25 billion that goes to Babcock’s but is included within the 1.98 which leaves many to conclude the missile systems are being reclaimed from decommissioned Type 23’s.

Meirion X

Stripling out Sea Ceptor mushroom farms from the old T23s will be costly, another refit required for each T23.
You save money by starting afresh.

Simon m

The 1.98 billion includes shipyard build, design costs and some other various costs. The actual ships will cost under £250 million per vessel. Obviously if you simply divide over the 5 ships then that is the true cost, however obviously if achieved the unit price would go down on the more vessels procured. Even at £400million they are 50% the cost of T26 and can probably do most of the peacetime work & 80% of wartime although more than 12 sea ceptors will need to be fitted!

The missiles will come from T23 as they will for T26 it’s not surprising that

32 x 13 = 416, T23,

48 x 8= 384 T26, 5×12=60 T31 =444 = average 34 per vessel

Basically T26 is robbing T31 to have a large war load in fact 32 extra cells are being purchased just to equip T31 with 12 cells each! Surely it would make sense to drop T26 (protected by T45 and carrier aircraft & access to mk41) to 40 cells, this would allow T31 24 rounds based. This would total 440 4 less cells than current projected total!
What’s more concerning is these are probably the cheapest vls in the world & the RN is struggling to arm it’s ships properly over this?

Steve Taylor

The ship isn’t the systems. Hulls are getting bigger have been since WW2. One of the main drivers in accommodation. The days of 8000 matelots being crammed into a messdeck 10 x 10 with hammocks and pipes dangling from the deck head are long gone. If push comes to shove other weapons will be bolted on. But saying that I don’t think there will be a WW2 like lead up to war. We will be dealing with situations less than war that suddenly blow up. And then will be deseclated within days.

Simon m

This is not the vessels fault but decisions made by the RN & government
1) NGS could have been provided by either 114mm, 76mm they chose other priorities with the 57mm time will tell if this is correct maybe longer range ammunition is on the way some time in the future.
2) the CAMM launchers are cheap & there is absolutely no reason 24 or 32+ cannot be fitted my suspicion is they are earmarked for the very expensive which BTW T26 which has no radar or SAM system in its provision other than taking from T23
3) no other vessels will receive these weapons other than 5 towed array T23
4) T26 will not have torpedoes despite ASW being it’s primary mission
5) the diesels could have been chosen at build to be raft mounted also it only needs 1 diesel for up to 18knts it conforms to NATO noise standards & will probably be on a PAR with the 1 billion T45 in ASW.

Iranian speed boats are not its mission. Its mission is to keep trade routes open, HADR, provide presence, contribute to maritime picture, support tasks when needed for task groups. What’s better 8 T26 or 8 T26 plus 5 T31 the government more or less made it clear that they were spending no more on the former.

The ships themselves are great & will give sterling service extremely high availability rates, ability to carry out small maritime operations on their own, with long range, space for UAVS, UGVs, UUVs, able to work with Chinooks, easy maintenance, space to almost double the personnel capacity, extremely comfortable living space, 3 medium guns, maneuverability with bow thruster, low draft for size of vessel, proper stealth design, ideal for working with RM commandos say for non combatant evacuation operations, ability to quickly add new weapon systems.

There are things these can do with T31 that you can’t do with a T23, just not high end ASW is not it’s strength nor was it supposed to be. Although the possibility of 12 CAMM is unpalatable it will have them & luckily it has the space for guns that in someway will make up for it.

I believe the RN is trying to walk the tightrope between T26 & T31 politicians see ships and money not much else if T31 gets too close to T26 the risk is the cost difference is difficult to justify.

This is plainly wrong to me as T26 & T45 will be in a task group with mutual support T31 will not. If deployed to near Iranian waters it will be the most likely vessel to enter conflict. Hopefully 12 ceaceptors will not be the final fit & hopefully the mod will see the stupidity of the ISSGW which is not interim.

MikeKiloPapa

Honestly your point no 5. is. bollocks!…..Diesel propulsion does NOT automatically = useless at ASW……with a decent HMS, a good VDS/TAS and a Merlin HM2 , a T31 would make a potent ASW vessel….at least as capable as the T26 will be in AAW.

Simon m

@Mikekilopapa – My points were in answer to stevep who stated almost as such that diesel was rubbish. My point was that running on one diesel in a NATO URN hull meant it could be good at ASW. Furthermore the platform in terms of noise reduction could be enhanced further by raft mounting.
So not sure my point is b******ks ? Or were you answering @stevep?

MikeKiloPapa

Yes Simon, my reply was in response to stevep’s post.

James Fennell

I suspect the RN is trying to get more of them, and keeping them to the price agreed with treasury will help their case during the next major defence review (later this year) . I hope and trust the review will note that our new status will require us to 1.) get more involved in Asia-Pacific, where there is a serious arms race underway between China and Japan, Korea, Australia, Singapore and pretty much and everyone else in the region, and 2.) in the Middle East, Africa and Latin America, where we need to look for other new market -and which are considerably less stable than Europe and to where we will have to export stuff in ships rather than 14 wheelers through the channel tunnel..

Humpty Dumpty

Stevep Totally agree. If all we want to do is deal with fast attack craft, then stick Seahawk Sigma on River-class OPVs and job done.

andy reeves

i’ll believe in it when i see one

T.S

Whilst 12 seaceptor is pathetic, and I notice there is no mention of 30mm ruling out the ship getting Martlet, we have to remember the price tag for these ships. I was quietly hopeful the government would have stepped in once a good value baseline ship was attained and provide a little extra money for cells and ASM’s but it doesn’t look to be the case. Let’s just hope we get the batch two rumoured and that they carry greater firepower and utility.

donald_of_tokyo

I’m afraid “provide a little extra money for cells and ASM’s” might mean cutting one T26.

Already the program cost saw rise from 1.5B GBP (1.25 for build and 0.25 for other), to 2B GBP (0.75 for other, including GFE). This “+500M GBP” might cause a big problem in SDSR2020, to help degrading (or even decreasing the number of) T26.

On the other hand, if it is “within” the agreed budget, it is relatively free to “shift” (e.g. MOD even re-located StarStreak budget to LMM in the past).

Option-1: How about degrading the armaments of one hull, to, say, a 57 mm gun, 12.7mm and miniguns only, and use it as a training ship (aka, JDS Kashima, Brazilian navy Brazilia, or the last several years of HMS Bristol). This will enable all the other 4 hulls to have 24 CAMM each (but nothing more, I guess).

Following the BMT’s paper proposing spiral development of ship building, the 1st hull shall be the “training frigate” = simpler to build. The paper says, this is good for flattening the workload.

Option-2: How about CUTTING the T31 to 4 ship program. It will free-up only a fraction of the average cost (400M GBP), but may worth 200-300M GBP (including GFE, support and training reduction). And then, imagine what the (at least) 200M GBP can do.

Not surprised to see 36 CAMM, 8 NSM, a hull-sonar, and fully radar capable FCS for 57 mm and 40 mm guns, on the remaining 4 hulls.

Meirion X

Option 3, degrade 5″ gun on T26 to 76mm.
Option 4, change VLS on T26 to Sylver A70.
Option 3 + 4

James Fennell

Dropping the 30mm makes sense if you have 3 rapid fire guns on a broadside. The 57mm can do the same job as the Martlets, has about same range. Some NSMs or LRASMs would give longer range – hopefully the one’s to be bought for 5 T 23s are to be cross-decked onto the T 31s.

James Fennell

And both NSM and LRASM have a land attack capability for that NGS role.

D J

Very expensive way to do it & you will have 8 at the most. Fine if you have a designated high value target such as a bridge, power plant, SAM site etc (NSM has a 125kg warhead). Not much good thou for general NGS (for troops on the ground).

Simon m

That broadside leaves a gap on the sides between the gun arcs of the 40mm Bofors so I think getting 30mm guns either side should be included, otherwise 360 degree defence is somewhat weakened seeing as martlet being added is pretty much peanuts is a no brainer for me. But then again 24+ sea ceptors is also a no brainer to me so who knows!

Paul.P

So only 12 Sea Ceptor in the first batch of 5 to meet the budget. Batch 1 will be ‘patrol’ frigates. I’m thinking there will be a second batch which will be more heavily armed.

The big ginge

Er what 2nd batch ?

Paul.P
Geo

A second batch would mean that there has been a big windfall of money somewhere along the line … if there is a big windfall of money somewhere along the line it would lead to more Type 26. Remember Type 31 is the bare bones design to bring the number of hulls up to an acceptable minimum, it’s a T26 you want to be on if the shooting starts (although it is possible to make the argument that T31 has a better radar). Unfortunately the other scenario that could lead to a T31 batch 2 is a cut in the T26 program.

Paul.P

Its possible we might see T26 buy fall to 6, arguably the minimum you need to ensure 2 are always available for a carrier task group. Alternatively, ‘somewhere along the line’ might be just a case of waiting until the QE class and Astute big ticket rows on the budget spreadsheet start to fall.
If the shooting starts T26 is too valuable to put at risk. I would move its 5in and its Mk41 to a T31 tasked for NGS. A 57mm on the T26 would enhance its self AA and anti ship missile protection. Its primary role is ASW. Its offensive armament need only be some canister launched NSM or RB-15. Just my view.

WeeWill

I am at peace now with 6 being the minimum number of AAW escorts to support a CSG. I am not, however, for ASW. Primarily as the extra hull(s) are needed for towed array duties in homewaters / GIUK gap.

D J

Personally I would scrap any mention of 57mm on a frigate. 76mm, 100mm o r 127mm are frigate guns. T31 is supposed to be at least a “viable” frigate. The only frigate I am aware of currently sporting a 57mm is Canada & they are not repeating the mistake. But yes, T31 is more likely to use a 127mm than a T26.

Two somewhat comparable allied ships to the original T31 concept are the RAN & RNZN Anzac patrol frigates. They are based on the German Meko 200 design (one of the T31 competitors was an updated Meko 200A design). The Anzacs are GP patrol frigates. Both RAN & RNZN Anzacs are undergoing/ have undergone upgrades.

Both Anzacs started at around 3,600t. Current RAN upgrades include CEAFAR 2 radar & 32 ESSM (weight increased to 3,800t & drop in top speed). Current RNZN upgrades include Smart radar & 20 CAAM (mk 41 launcher removed to save on top weight), weight & speed maintained. Both have 127mm main gun. RAN has 8 x Harpoon block 2, RNZN using helicopter launched Penguin AShM. T31 none planned (T23 have old Harpoon block 1). Any allied task force anywhere in the world would be happy to have an Anzac frigate of either nation join up. T31? I suppose radar pickets still have their uses. 24 CAAM was below par. 12 ? There are better armed OPV’s out there (& are not considered corvettes).

Fitting 76mm to T26 would still give you a useable frigate. 127mm would still be better for a frigate of this size (perhaps drop the new auto loader system). 57mm ? – only if you have already signed the contract. I had high hopes for the T31. Right now thou, a RNZN patrol frigate would blow it out of the water. An IH frigate in its ASuW config (16 AShM) & 2 x 76mm ? Sad really.

Can the automated 127mm reload system on T26 & spend on the T31. They are so close yet so far.

WeeWill

I love the fact there is an AShM called ‘Penguin’.

Stephen

Does the R.N.Z.N. have 2 aircraft carriers? Do they have 7 nuclear powered submarines? Do they have 4 nuclear deterrent submarines? If a R.N.Z.N. patrol frigate blew one out of the water their entire navy would be destroyed.

The reason lesser navies ships of this size have more weapons is because that is all the ships their inferior navy have. 99% of navies would kill to have the Royal Navies ships and submarines. We are in the fortunate position where we don’t just have a bare few ships and have to bolt as much as we can to them, we have a full range of ships from O.P.V.s to Type 26 and Type 45 to 2 aircraft carriers to 7 nuclear powered attack submarines to 4 nuclear deterrent submarines, etc., etc.

The Type 31 was always meant to sit in between an O.P.V. and Type 26/45.

D J

The point I was trying to make is that UK is intending to forward base a number of T31 (East of Suez I think it was described as). They are expected to often be acting alone. All those other ships you mentioned are half a world away. If a RNZN patrol frigate can blow one out of the water, then so can numerous others.

UK had all these things, yet the Falklands war still happened.

If things go bad in the SCS or ECS while a T31 (as it is currently armed) is in the area, it’s in serious trouble. It can barely defend itself while having almost no way of taking on much more than an OPV & on some of those it will struggle. The Northern half of SCS is within easy land based air range & that’s ignoring the fortified islands scattered about (with SAM’s, AShM’s & airfields). The Western North Pacific is swarming with submarines. For the first time in 75 years, Japan is aquiring carriers. South Korea is following suit. Even tiny Bruni has OPV’s with 57mm gun & Exocet missiles. Not a good or useful place for a 6,000t underarmed frigate to be.

Glass Half Full

The new USN FFG(X) guided missile frigate is spec’d with 57mm, along with their LCS, and their Legend- and Heritage-class coastguard cutters. It seems countries are selecting 57mm for the main gun, unless they already have 76mm in their inventory.

The 57mm rate of fire and development of innovative ammunition is making these weapons very capable, especially using trickle down of technology from the larger calibers. Solutions beyond the basic round include 3P programmable ammunition, guided ammunition such as ORKA and ALaMO.

The DARPA/Raytheon MAD-FIRES takes 57mm to the next step with what is basically a missile fired from a 57mm, primarily to counter air threats including ASM and cruise missiles. Basically a very deep missile silo to help counter saturation attack. Still in development though at this point.

LLnow

It has nothing to do with capability but nationality. 76mm is an Italian weapon, Italians also do their 127mm. 57mm is now a BAE gun when they bought Bofors.

It is a fight for the naval gun market in Western world. British(57mm ex Swedish)+US(5″) vs Italians (3″ and 5″) – in cooperation with Germans, Dutch and French.

D J

The Coastguard cutters don’t need anything more than a 57mm. They are not expected to fight warships unless a full blown war breaks out. Some did (still?) have 76mm fitted, but they weren’t keen on all the extra maintenance required for a water cooled gun. The FFG(x), like the T31, will be unable to do NGFS. USN do have plenty of other ships that can, RN does not (really only the 8 T26). 76mm also have 3P type rounds & guided rounds. But they also have Volcano with a range of 40km with a 5kg shell. Once Canada goes, it will only be USA & UK with 57mm on major warships as a main gun (that I am aware of). I don’t at this point see anyone else following. FFG(x) also has NSM & 32 mk41 VLS & a pretty good radar in its designated minimum specs. An export level A140 also pretty well matches those specs.

Being an air cooled gun, the 57mm requires less maintenance, but also can only fire a handful of shells before it has to stop to let the barrel cool down. Not such a good thing in a saturation type attack (lucky there is all those AAW missiles). A 76mm doesn’t have to stop. It can keep firing till the ammo runs out.

Glass Half Full

All good data points. It really seems to come down to one’s views on the viability of NGFS in the future against anyone but the lowest caliber of threats. That viability is related to both the weight of fire and its effect (or lack of it) and the resources the adversary has to counter. With Russia and China happy to export sophisticated weapons such as stealth and supersonic cruise missiles, let alone hypersonic in the future, NGFS may be heavily reliant on 100% successful air defence. Some may argue that’s worth the risk. I question whether the US with Arleigh Burke’s or the UK with T26’s will put either ship on the gun line when there are rotary, fixed wing or missile assets available, including some off the wall solutions such as HIMARS that the USN/USMC have been evaluating.

Simon m

Can we have the mk41s?

Simon m

The T26 is not only earmarked for carrier group ops but also for protection of the nuclear deterrent. I also remember not long ago concerns about security of underwater cables. There may also be independent Amphibious Ready Group operations that need protection.

We are at the minimum for escorts & the RN know it. How many cuts did they accept in T45 numbers & losing T23s?

It is telling that instead as a lot of people have commented that they didn’t accept a cut to 10 T26 for more capable vessels and abandon T31. Although I still don’t think the government would have bought any more due to the cost.

To some extent I agree in regards to 5inch and 57mm but I can’t see the RN doing that as it is a capability to help justify the expense of T26.

The reality is we probably need more of both T26 & T31 and quicker

James Fennell

Highly unlikely. What is more likely is a follow on D 46 destroyer based on the design to replace T 45 in the 2040s.

James Fennell

The answer is the outcome of the upcoming 2020 Defence, Security and Foreign Policy Review. The 1997 review was important as it set out for the first time a post Cold War strategy which was about Blairs ‘ force for good interventionism’, a road that led via 9/11 and more by accident than design to Iraq and Afghanistan (and also led to the carriers, F-35 and so on). This one is the most important since them, the Brexit post-EU defence review. Lets see what it says. There are definitely preparations being made for more T 31 by Babcock (even some lead items being bought).

Tim

Would it be able to fit the LMM in a bolt on launcher as there are no 30mm mounts onboard in the picture ?

D J

I don’t think they serve any point with 40mm & 57mm guns on board. They can do the same thing way cheaper & they hold far more than 5 rounds.

Ron5

I may be wrong but are not the systems labelled “Vigile-D ESM” in fact Thales Gatekeeper EO ?

Lee H

Afternoon All
So it looks like to get the ship out of the door on time and to cost some “risks” have been taken. Most of the platform, as it was articulated at DSEI are still there:
Guns, sensors and room for a big helicopter.
What seems to be exercising people is the 12 canister launcher sat in the middle of the ship. I do not think this is as much to worry about as people think.
If I were Babcock and were looking to extract as much money out of MoD as I could an easy way to do so would be to change the graphic to show 2 single 6 round canisters, it doesn’t take much to add another 2 – especially now that on other sites the arm chair admirals will be stating how “under armed” these assets are, how they have less missiles on board than the vessels they are replacing and haven’t learnt the lessons from the Falklands where it was discovered that 12 missiles wasn’t enough.

However, unlike the T26 which has an area responsibility (hence higher number of Sea Ceptor) the T31 doesn’t have that responsibility. Could it be that the platform is appropriately armed to carry out the tasks for which it has been designed and that the extra guns are enough to deal with, in conjunction with the 12 Sea Ceptors, any air threat that these vessels would be tested against.
I do not think we are going to be putting them in the Caspian Sea where a T45 dealt with 17 separate aircraft at the same time, these vessels are going to be utilised in constabulary type tasks – in the Gulf and Mediterranean, in some cases in the West Indies.
These vessels are also lacking point anti submarine defence (no 324mm Stingray launchers) so we can only assume that the RN planners have managed this risk and others when deciding where these assets are going to be deployed.

Some commentators will talk about the size of the vessel and how much more weaponry and associated sensors could be added, they will quote other nations that have armed patrol ships with every missile system conceivable – this isn’t what the T31 is there to do – especially within the RN context. It is there to show presence and where required minimum deterrence and the ability to defend itself from the peer that it is put up against. I doubt in most cases it will even deploy with a Merlin, but will deploy with Wildcat, a helicopter that is being provided with weapons that supplement the T31 – together T31 and Wildcat, in a wider C4ISR and contested environment suddenly looks a lot more appealing than a patrol ship with a big radar and some missiles.

We have a very flexible ship being built as part of a wider complex system – replacing a tired but venerable platform (Type 23) which although carrying numerically more weapons doesn’t give the wider utilisation that T31 and Wildcat can offer, we haven’t even discussed the boat bays and the additional flexibility under the flight deck.

Its just a picture – but it is starting to show how the RN intend moving forward.

Captain Nemo

Absolutely every other nation would do this differently, but we’re smarter than that.

Not a dig at you, I’m just finding it funny at this point, I’ve kind of given up to be honest.
‘OMG! Dude put some trousers on’
“Nonsense, I have very fine trousers”

If we just want to show the flag we should send a postcard, it would be cheaper.

Glass Half Full

Tell you what, the Russians and Iranians will have a lot more to worry about if the UK can put a frigate in the Caspian. You meant Black Sea of course but I couldn’t resist.

Renown

I think we need to look at this in context of T26. Compared to the T23 the 8 Glasgow class vessels look better armed and capable (with the real exception of the lack of anti ship missiles). In order to offset the concentration of capability in the T26, the T31 had to be downscaled in terms of cost, capability and mission. I wish they had 24 seaceptors but if that’s the price to pay to keep the total number of frigates at 13+ so be it. In short we’ve gone from 13 medium/medium high capable vessels (GP/ASW T23) to a high/low (bordering on medium) mix of new frigates

Gavin Gordon

I certainly have sympathy with your above, Lee, though saying where you’re not going to put a class has a habit of going pear shaped.
Yes, most other nations have to rely on one jack-of-all-trades vessel so are indeed going to stuff all they can on that platform. Contrast that with the RN as currently planned and, from an opponent’s standpoint, you are faced with us patrolling in most seas with a range of assets that span the gammut from basic patrol, through gp, front end aaw & asw, aircraft carrier and nuclear subs. You would have to bear that fact in mind when concluding that, at any one singular and opportune time, you may have a ‘bigger gun’ to hand.
It was ayguably a similar mindset that did for Argentina when deciding they imminently faced less than an ice patrol ship and an island in mid-southern Atlantic. Shame, really.
So, unless our government decide to go potty again, viz 2010, we should be fine.
Regards

Captain Nemo

No, most peer nations just wouldn’t see the sense in building a six thousand ton ship and then barely arming it, it’d be like going to Vegas, then congratulating yourself for not wasting money seeing the Grand Canyon.
What an opponent would be faced with is tiers of Royal Navy vessels unable to act, which would allow it to achieve a limited objective, this invites brinksmanship with few options for HMG between peace and state on state conflict.
Argentina was able to achieve its objective, it just underestimated our resolve and our ability to act (a view shared by our allies), a more competent enemy would have kept the islands.

So, POW is in refit and QE is on the exact opposite side of the planet and your opponent moves (because that’s when they’d move); what you should see is assets converging to create balance, signal intent and then create overmatch, what actually happens is this:
If there’s a River it can’t act and it falls back, next asset is a T31 one ocean away, that can’t act either so it stays put to terrify China.
Bad guys are on the ground by this point, S400 is up and running, para’s go back to the bar.
By sheer luck there’s a sub three days away, it will monitor events but not intervene as PM hopes to avoid bloodshed, subs crew issues a collective sigh of relief.
PM stands on a ship and signals his intention to send carriers and marines, navy tells the PM it lacks sufficient escorts to do that and that probably everyone will die.
Our opponent knew that all along, wonders why the PM didn’t?
PM looks a tool.
So do we.

Glass Half Full

Entertaining but I gotta ask – Who is this enemy with perfect timing that the UK is fighting all on its lonesome?

Captain Nemo

lol, thanks.
Well that is a question, I don’t want to get bombarded with reports on the state of the Argentine armed forces, I’m aware, so it was just somewhere on Earth, we have fourteen overseas dependencies, so it could be one of those, or maybe it was a Commonwealth country, somewhere falling below a NATO threshold but within the UK sphere of influence and responsibility, so your enemy is whoever your enemy is on the day, ten, twenty, thirty years from now.

There’s the possibility of a cascade effect due to the assumptions at work that hollow out our capability purely on cost grounds, that the Rivers don’t need to fight because the T31 will, that on second thoughts the T31 won’t have to either because the T26 will do it and that the T26 shouldn’t do it because a SSN is better at it or that we won’t ever fight because we have a carrier and because we have a carrier we don’t have to spend on X, Y and Z, or that we can just fly a flag and people will respect it.
That NATO will help, or the UN will, it is within living memory that there was no NATO and no UN.

Point being that GP sits on both ends of my half arsed pretend crisis, it’s not offering deterrence and it’s not affording mass, so for the sake of a percentage hike on GP you’re more likely to fight on the one hand and unable to on the other, that’s a poor set of choices.
I’d add that anyone looking to make a point is going to pick on a T31, because it can be picked on, because it’s a picket.
I don’t think perfect timing’s a luxury anymore, everybody knows exactly what we’ve got, what it can do and where it is deployed.
Nemo

Glass Half Full

Thanks for the answer to my somewhat tongue in cheek devil’s advocate question. The truth is that the UK has rarely fought without allies, it certainly wouldn’t do so against tier 1 potential adversaries such as Russia and China. So then we would have to ask which country would risk such aggressive action? What would they have to gain from it? And if its severe enough, it might result in the UK turning up one day with a carrier strike group (assuming the US didn’t turn up first because it impacted their interests too). I am struggling to come up with such a country and it behooves us to do so otherwise we might justifiably be accused of inventing phantom enemies. Certainly if we decide to fly the T31 flag directly off the coast of N.Korea or some other looney state (and I don’t count Iran in that category, they are far more calculating and rational) then we invite trouble – but why would we do that, we don’t have to taunt nations in order to send a message.

That said, who doesn’t like a fighty ship armed to the teeth. But UK defence is recovering from 1-2 decades of peace dividend under-investment, followed by a decade of recovery from the great recession, in parallel with one and a half decades of playing in the sand pit along with ever increasing competing demands on the budget from other areas of government. The T31 gets us a large, economic to operate and likely high availability ship that can be up-armed in multiple ways to perform multiple tasks over its life. Many of those up-arming capabilities could be undertaken very rapidly if required.

Captain Nemo

There’s some irritation on my part, it’s so close to a balanced fleet that for me the extra cost on a T31 is neither here nor there; just wanting a tiny bit more effort, one for the corps if you will, because 3CDO is going nowhere with that number of escorts.

I think you need to include near peer, those who would be encouraged by our apparent lack of concern or emboldened by, say, the proliferation of and access to area denial systems, I wouldn’t discount the Chinese providing technology as a buy in or the Russians doing it just for the sake of mischief making, causing us to reweight or to become embroiled in proxy conflicts.

Yes, it’s a good ship, I thought it was to have a short life?
Shouldn’t it burn bright?

Glass Half Full

I do agree that it seems like it would take relatively little additional expense to make T31 more capable. But when all is said and done I’d push for lighter armed T31 as standard if it means getting more of them and I think that is the plan. One thing for certain, we can’t build a T31 as fast as we could up-fit one with mission modules if we needed the capability in a hurry.

Actually I am not excluding anyone, near peer or otherwise, and I fully expect Russia and China to continue to export their authoritarian playbook along with weapons including supersonic ASM and sophisticated A2AD to bad actors. I am just struggling to come up with a scenario where its only the UK that’s reacting.

Captain Nemo

Well, basically anywhere in Africa. If Americans can’t find it on a map and Congress doesn’t need anything from it then it’s on its own. US Africa command recently downgraded I believe.
Conflict between two Commonwealth countries, land grab, genocide or a mixture of, the UN is going to want a peace to keep and only the UK and France go to Africa. I guess you could add regime change/fundamentalism to that.
There’s the one we do not speak of, Argentina, I don’t believe we’re done with that until they stop teaching it in school and having recessions.
There’s Brunei, anyone else going to help the Sultan out, I’m not even sure we should.
Would Oman be for us or would the US want a piece of that?

You’re asking me to predict the position of every atom in the universe at any given moment in the future.
Maybe someone will put a bomb in a marketplace in Nairobi and his entire caste will end up exterminated or maybe he’ll sit in the sun and have a cheese sandwich that day instead because he met a girl called Laura.
Maybe the US will slide towards isolationism and maybe China will take up the slack, perhaps we might be more inclined to pre-emptively use soft and hard power to fill the occasional vacuum if an expansion of China’s interests is the alternative. Or maybe China will go back to sleep for another 500 years.
Maybe there will be no NATO?
Maybe the EU won’t believe in our ‘shared’ interests to the extent that it will pay in blood.
Maybe the world will flip on its axis not just metaphorically but actually, sending a cleansing wave across the face of the Earth, as per the 1977 George Peppard film Damnation Alley, I take some comfort in that (not the film, terrible film).

Glass Half Full

Ok, Ok I’ll stop asking 🙂 We don’t want to get into atomic-level warfare 😉 Or they who shall not be named. I’d best go dig a ditch round the house now, unless the cleansing wave is some other useless Goop being pushed by Gwyneth Paltrow.

Captain Nemo

No, you made a fair point, it is difficult to imagine anything outside of a coalition requiring more than the single group we could probably generate, an evacuation, littoral manoeuvres and such.
With that in mind it would have been nice for the then Def Sec not to stand up at RUSI and brag about our amphibious capabilities.
I think using the Falklands as an example always elicits a groan…
Gwyneth Paltrow would be steaming South though (very crude, my apologies).

Trawling through movies at the moment to introduce someone to various sci-fi genres.

D J

The problem with assuming you have time to undertake these upgrades is that, like the Falklands, you don’t always get notifications in triplicate 6 months out. If you are talking peer or near peer (& let’s face it, Argentina was neither), then getting long lead time items in a hurry is very difficult (& you are probably not the only one trying). You have a much better chance of acquiring missiles than the launchers to fire them. You are much more likely to obtain ammo than the guns. All it takes is someone in the SCS or Korea pushing the wrong button. WW1 started because of someone who fired a revolver. As to Iran, mistakes do happen, as the recent downing of the Ukraine passenger jet showed. With all this technology at our fingertips, it’s still happening.

Glass Half Full

The crux of the argument for most of the upgrades is that they can be done rapidly from a warehoused capability that can be flown to anywhere in the world there’s an on-station T31, if that weren’t the case then I would agree with you that we almost certainly wouldn’t have the luxury of a notice period and time to react. These upgrades wouldn’t of course turn the T31 into a T26 or T45 but could make it significantly more capable. This is the appeal of a mission module approach.

Consider ASW-lite for littoral and in-shore use, using Captas 1/2 or the Krait system from Sea. The latter was IIRC fitted to a Portuguese vessel in about 2 days for an exercise last year. We have an option for Wildcat to carry dipping sonar and torpedoes as the ROK have done. MCM is moving to mission module anyway. AAW point defence through more CAMM lends itself to a pallet and/or ISO solution. ASuW can be deck mount canister supported with potential weapons such as Sea Spear, Spear 3, NSM or even FC/ASW which would also add land attack, along with Wildcat weapons. All of that is possible (not necessarily all at once on the same ship) if we structure for rapid module deployment with associated specialist teams. None of that requires Mk41 or major engineering work if planned for as a capability.

We man and train for these systems using full time specialist RN teams that are tied to and travel with the modules, forming the core of excellence. We might then add to that with additional RNR teams.

Fortis Fortuna

You’re assuming the availability of a friendly nation that has an airport to fly the equipment into a suitable road network to the port and a port that has the facilities to crane the equipment onto the vessel(Not all ports that handle shipping containers have a crane suitable to hoist equipment onto a warship especially if your concerned with Health and Safety). Not forgetting the equipment needs to be available in the warehouse in the first place

Captain Nemo

One of the defence twitter crowd made the (I think) excellent point that Argentina could be regarded as near peer in the context of the Falklands conflict due to the supply lines involved, their fighting close to home and us at the very limits of our capability.
They of course had also had access to Western training and equipment and were particularly intimate with some of our systems.

WeeWill

This is the crux of the problem, particularly for internet commentators. Has a ‘needs analysis’ being done, in to what is likely and responses war-gamed? You’d bloody well hope so! Is this going to be releasable? Probably not. Can some of it be guessed at from stance and policy? Yes. Will it be frustratingly vague because being everything to all men and all nations is what UK politicians do? Unfortunately. Will the Treasury give a shit and allow appropriate responses to war-gamed results be funded? Not if recent history is anything to go by.

We’ve also got to the point were the definition of ‘general purpose’ is forgotten. A true GP is expected to be able to operate alone, at least making a nuisance of itself as it bravely runs away until appropriately supported / reinforced. It does this by having, say 75% of the capability of the various specialist assets, considering that actually its the last 10% of making an exquisite capability that costs the most. So a GP will never carry out area AD like a T45, but it can point defence; same with ASW vice a T26; or landing troops vice an Albion; or ASuW vice an, erm…

Glass Half Full

Well I guess first of class should be called Sir Robin then 😉 I think we get to the GP capability you outline with mission modules as I outlined just above but we do need to have enough of them. Its much easier on the budget though to buy mission modules over a period of time, rather than put all the capability into up front cost.

Ron5

But the budget and schedule is not being kept: the new budget is 1.98 billion for 5 ships so 400 million each and not the promised 250 million. And the schedule has slipped by 4 years such that the first will not be in service until 2027 meaning overall escort numbers will drop.

And Babcock’s is not paying for the missile system. It is Government Supplied Equipment (GFX) and is outside of the Babcock’s contract with the MoD. So no, the number of launchers is not Babcock’s to decide.

These ships will have zero ability to defend themselves or any other ship from any underwater threat: submarines, mines, frogmen, because they will have no kind of sonar. They will have a minimal ability to defend themselves from air attack. Only the CAMM missiles have any credibility. The guns anti-air ability is brochure talk. They are carried to deter Iranian speedboats. Which the Wildcat helo is well equipped to manage.

Other nations are not naive, if a Type 31 comes calling to show the flag, they will quickly notice it is no better equipped than their own patrol boats & corvettes. The flag waving will just broadcast the UK’s weakness. Can anyone seriously see the Type 31’s challenging international rites of passage in the south China sea?? Chinese coastguard cutters are better equipped.

The Type 31 is not a frigate and should not be advertised or counted as one. Otherwise they will be sent to fight in a real conflict and sailors will die due to their deficiencies. The UK has a long and inglorious history of doing this. It’s about time it was stopped. No more snatch landrovers of the sea.

Ron5

The article states that “At this stage, the concept design process is underway with the detailed design phase due to begin in late 2020”.

I find this hard to accept seeing that steel has to be cut in 2021 and the Type 31 design is based on an existing ship. Surely the concept is complete by now and detail design is underway? If the concept hasn’t been completed, how on earth does Babcock’s know it can build them at that price and schedule?

N-a-B

Perhaps the author of the “article” doesn’t understand what concept / basic / detailed design actually mean? It isn’t 3D graphics.

D J

Some detailed design work is dependant on what systems are to be fitted (or not fitted). The detailed design work for a 57mm is different for a 76mm, is different for 127mm & 40mm (& different between BAE & Leonardo). IH is stanflex based, T31 isn’t, IH has the 32 SL mk41, T31 doesn’t have any mk41 (as yet). Might a 127mm still be fitted later? None of it is particularly hard (especially for the companies in Team 31), but still has to be done. Are you going to utilise any of the unused SL mk41 space? If you are not fitting ASW torpedoes, can that space be utilised & is it possible you might fit them later? Some decisions can have knock on effects, even when they appear simple. Even when everything is nailed down, there will be changes during build as unexpected problems occur.

donald_of_tokyo

I understand “detailed design” includes,
– schedule with work-flow control,
– parts list with their purchasing program revieled,
– real-work planning (what part to be first done, and then next what)
– inspection/verification program,
– integration testing program
and this is all about writing many-many-many documents. It will not disappear even when you are building a ship already built in other yards, for sure.

Even in the simplistic case, “a DIY on Sunday”, between having a blue-print and actually cutting your panels, bunches of other works exists. You need to prepare your gears (Babcock has none in Rosyth), panels (steel and steel-work kit), plans (when and from where to buy the panel, where to store it before you actually use it, also when to go to lunch and when to escort your children), and contingency for “unexpected” (may rain in the afternoon). In addition, you need to reserve or prepare a skilled supporter to investigate you did it right, which will certify you made it correct. Of course, designing “the process of building an escort” is a few orders of magnitude complex task.

Sean

There’s been no reduction in the number of Sea Ceptor cells. The labelled diagram of the Royal Navy T31 in the Sept article linked-to above has 12 cells labelled.

The question is whether these are single Sea Ceptor cells or standard VLS cells that are quad-packed with Sea Ceptors, giving 48 available missiles.

Mark L

If you zoom in the picture it is clear they are the same launchers as Type 23, so 12 single cells.

Pacman27

If that is the case , then the justification for 12 would seem flawed.

I do think we are missing an opportunity here, we can stanflex our current Seaceptor farms and insert as required. Stanflex was designed precisely for this ability and the old seaceptor mushroom farms are perfect for T31.

This assumes that T26 is getting new Seaceptor or other (A50) VLS. If we are porting the T23 VLS to T26 then you really do have to ask what are we getting for £1.2bn. My preference is for an all MK41 fit out on T26 with a mixture of lengths to ensure best value.

Stanflex gives us the best of both worlds, FFBNW and a proven way of actually fitting that is relatively inexpensive and manageable. Just for the record I believe the T26 should also be Stanflexed up.

Simon m

T26 is getting seaceptor from T23 as well as the radar. The T31 costs less and probably has more new equipment than T26. So although 12 is pathetic so is the fact new ships cost huge amounts but borrow equipment from their predecessors. I had hoped T31 was going to buck the trend in someway it has but no country is going to be impressed by a 12 SAM warship so a presence visit is a bit of an empty gesture. These could be good warships but again the government, mod & to some extent industry is going to let us down! Is this the kind of weapons fit envisaged in the NSS? How much are 12 tubes for seaceptor anyway? probably peanuts in the grand scheme of things this can only be to differentiate T31 to T26 so RN can make the case for more of the later which is almost as pathetic as having a 6000t 12 SAM warship!

Sim

I’d rather forget these giant OPVs and just get another 1 or maybe 2 (after the inevitable increase in cost of T31) T26 for the £1.9bn total cost of the program. Now that the Australians and Canadians have ordered 24 between them the cost of T26 must be falling to a level where we could afford a couple more. Then build 9 AAW optimised T26 and you have your 19 escorts on a common platform.

Stevep

I’d build 3 batch 2 T26 used for dedicated carrier escort. I’d not fit the Mk41 VLS or multi mission bay as the capabilities provided by that kit come from the carrier. This would reduce the unit cost per ship allowing 3 to be procured.

They would provide ASW and SAM goalkeeper roles in the carrier strike group releasing the full spectrum T26 hulls for independent operations

Sim

No missiles on the QECs unless you’re thinking what F35 is carrying. Currently QE only has 2 Phalanx, she will eventually get a third but most probably not the 4th she is FFBNW. No 30mm as yet. I know there are many on here who think properly equipping our navy is unaffordable, to me we cannot afford not to.

Stevep

Don’t disagree. I’d have the F35 equipped with Storm Shadow and LRASM which would remove the need for escorts to have the Mk41

Meirion X

The T45 destoryer escorts are armed with Sylver VLS with Aster 15 and 30 missiles.

The UK was a tier 1 partner in the PAAMs VLS.

Simon m

So on that basis what does meteor mean? (which if you read my comment is what I was referring to) also no SAMs either? I didn’t say anything about not properly equipping our navy!? I was stating that 3 less well equipped T26 sometime in the late 30s early 40s is not the answer! With the likelihood they could also be cut in 5 or 6 SDRs between now and thenà

The current approach is correct but the execution is rubbish. A well equipped T31 would be an asset to the task force it just lacks super quietness of the T26 if used as a inner layer of defence considering noise of T45 and carriers this wouldn’t be such a disadvantage

WeeWill

You have to imagine the point has been made to government that the penny-pinching of escorts will make the carriers the world’s most expensive coral reefs if they’re ever called on to do what they’re ultimately designed for. They probably have plenty of cash in the PR department to deflect blame if that does occur of course.

Simon m

How would that work and be affordable? seeing as T26 probably 800m+ not including SAMs or radar. The multi-mission bay would have to be designed out which would probably cost more, & if so it would leave it with 1 sea boat. The multi mission bay is probably one of the most important features for future plans in extending ASW as potentially is mk41 when/if fitted with ASROC. Some of this capability can come from the carrier but you could argue that with SAMS and F35s equipped with meteor. The idea is to preposition capabilities to get as far in front of the carriers as possible.

Plus when would we get these vessels into the fleet as they would likely be added on to the end of the batch 2038, 40, 42 unless we find more money to speed up delivery it is not going to help current numbers. The thing about T31 is it’s in build whilst T26 is in build & even 2027 will probably beat T26. Some of the same letters mentioning the delay still state all T31 in water by 2028 which is a bit of a head scratcher but could mean all in service 2030@

Meirion X

The Escort T26 will still need to be armed with Sylver VLS to be effective goalkeepers, and lasers from 2030. Laser armed warships will required sufficient energy storage and genartion.

Geo

The Australian and Canadian versions are both sufficiently different to the British original (and each other for that matter), and are being built elsewhere so there isn’t much economy of scale to reduce the price of the Type 26 as you might think.

Sim

The entire propulsion system is common, admittedly the sensor fit is quite different, perhaps a joint purchase of the Mk41s could reduce costs.

Jon

The UK will be down 4 hulls by 2026/27. Without the Type 31 it’ll be down by 7 in the mid 2030s. Adding to the BAES batch 2 order won’t get more hulls operational until 2038, and then only if Govan can build faster. If they keep building one every two years, you’ll see your extra hulls deployed in the 2040s. It would have been more realistic to build four Type 31s with the Mk 41 VLS for the price of these five, and swap over the main guns with those bought for the Type 26.

Glass Half Full

The irony of course is that while the UK may be down 4 escort hulls by 2026/27 (I assumed your numbers), based on the number of hulls currently out of service, it may be a wash on active hulls or the situation may actually be better than today? I’ve maybe lost track but it seems like we currently have 2x T45 in major refit and long term lay up along with 5x T23 in lifex, so only 12 escorts total currently operational.

Dan

So no ship or land strike capability other than guns or whatever a merlin can carry? I get that these are ment to be less top end but didn’t expect so little offence.

Simon m

Only the T23 towed array will get the anti ship missile so no different from the vessels they replace or T26 until 2030

Barry Larking

‘They were expendable …’

Glass Half Full

I wonder if we will see the oft suggested ISO and/or pallet based CAMM solution implemented for RN/RFA use at some stage?

The T31 platform in particular seems made for such a solution since it has everything else required to support the missile, including a generous deck area. Standard T31 ops would run with 12 cells, while in extremis requirements might fit the extra cells with the rest of the infrastructure already in place to support it. Such a capability might be warehoused somewhat similar to how the RN rotates its Phalanx and only fitted for missions that require it, including the ability to fly out such systems to hot-spots to upfit ships already on-station.

Take it one step further and a soft-launch Spear 3 would add a modest ASuW/ground attack capability.

Add CEC to the fleet in say a decades time, then any ship from T31 and above might launch and target a missile from any other RN or RFA platform using ISO/pallet solutions.

Seems like a lot of possible options for the future including the more usual suggestions for permanent fitment of extra cells including Mk41, although the latter still requires the UK to define what we want to put in them beyond (presumably) Aster 30 variants and the rather inefficient use for quad-packing Sea Ceptor.

Sim

Engineering out Stanflex would seem that an easy upgrade path has been dismissed.

Glass Half Full

Stanflex seems to work for the Danes but seems less compelling for the RN at this point. Its not required for the T31 guns and cold launch Sea Ceptor lends itself to inexpensive non-penetrating deck mount. The Land Sceptor/Sky Sabre pallet launch platform illustrates this. The other advantage of non-penetrating deck mounting would be no incursion into the spaces below deck.

Sim

I think you’re missing the point of Stanflex, it gives you the ability to easily (and cheaply if you discount the actual value of the particular weapon system) change the weapon fit. Disconnect interface, unbolt module, lift out with crane then fit new unit. It’s brilliant in its simplicity and adaptability, want to upgrade to 76mm, just swap out the 57mm and drop in 76mm. Can be done alongside and doesn’t require months in refit.

The same argument for Mk41 applies, you don’t have to fill it with missiles but it gives you the ability to load out whatever is required. Need a QEC goalkeeper, quad-packed Sea Ceptor gives you 128 shots if you have 32 cells. Want to support amphibious landings then take out some Sea Ceptor and add the appropriate strike missiles, quad-packed SPEAR/JAGM etc. Anti Surface fit… you get the picture. It would then be a General Purpose frigate rather than a giant OPV that this story is suggesting.

The ship was designed to receive penetrating weapon mounts, this is a warship not a cruise ship, it’s laughable to suggest that not penetrating the deck would be an advantage. But your Glass is Half Full.

Glass Half Full

I understand Stanflex. How often do you expect a T31 to be swapping its 57mm and 40mm weapons or replacing them with something different? What else would you put in Stanflex apart from Sea Ceptor that we would expect to be frequently swapping in and out? Nothing wrong with deck mounting if a system doesn’t require penetration.

The UK doesn’t have any missiles qualified for Mk41. So we could front the expense of fitting the VLS in T31 and then have nothing to put in them until we do have missiles qualified which may well be at least a decade away from today based on when T26 is in a position to do so. The first missiles likely to be qualified would probably be CAMM and Aster 15/30 since they are in inventory, the former being an expensive way of launching CAMM. We aren’t anywhere close to selecting other missiles, let alone qualifying them which is not a trivial or inexpensive exercise. If we stay committed to FC/ASW then that’s unlikely to be available for qual until the early 2030’s. If we want NSM as an interim then we can canister mount them. So Mk41 for T31 probably wouldn’t make any sense until mid-2030’s.

As to penetrating the deck … well that rather depends on what you are penetrating into. If it compromises boat bays and mission module spaces then it may undermine some of the primary potential roles for the ship.

Sim

It’s more when they realise they’ve made an almighty mistake, more of an upgrade path than mix and match.

We haven’t “qualified” 57mm and 40mm either or any weapon at all for the T31, moot point. There are very many proven missiles that are already “qualified” for use from Mk41, it’s a question of choosing and affording which capability we actually want.

Arrowhead has been designed to have a 32 cell (4 systems) Mk41 VLS block amidships, they are simply designing it out.

Abandon T31 now, it’s a bad joke, 2 more T26 in a GP FFBNW ASW fit like the 8 (if we get 8) already announced and keep building another 9 optimised for AAW to replace T45s. Speed up the build rather than build slow and perhaps we’ll sell more.

Glass Half Full

Just to clarify, the qualification I am referring to is not just operation of a missile from Mk41 that might have occurred on other platforms. It is having that missile operate from Mk41 within the context of the RN ship’s systems, including the software support for that missile in the CMS along with all the associated training and logistics for that missile. Its not a trivial exercise.

Yes Iver Huitfeldt class has 32 cell Mk41. Its also considered an AAW destroyer, with the radar fit to match.

Jon

Whatever we do will be new because of the decision to go with Tacticos. Wouldn’t it have been simpler to adapt the CMS to fit the Thales Radar? The non-standard fit to this ship may be an issue; nevertheless, it’s far better than nothing and it needs to be sorted.

A VLS is essential if the Type 31 is to have a role beyond bullying torpedo boats, and we have over seven years to figure it out. The decsion to go Mk 41 or Sylver isn’t easy. We share a lot of our missile systems with France. The FC/ASW will be developed to be compatible with Sylver 70s. Upgrading Aster 15s to Aster 30 NT in the Type 45s would release the 15s for use in the Type 31. And everything should get Sea Ceptors.

Having large numbers of short range anti-air missiles, both the Asters and Sea Ceptors, fits the Type 31’s bias toward countering asymmetric. However you can also add punch. With the demise of the Tornado, some of the RAF Storm Shadows could be adapted for Sylver as the French have already done (MdCN), giving a land-attack cruise missile.

You are right that developing a VLS system for the Type 31 won’t be easy. But I think it has to be done now. If not, it won’t be available when it’s needed.

I agree about the modules. You need a level of commitment to use something like Stanflex, which the Royal Navy can’t provide.

Meirion X

I agree, swap Sylver A50 cells for A70 cells in the T45s. For use on T31.

Simon m

The radar being fitted is a radar already interfaced with tacticos hence the reason for not bringing artisan across? The mk41 vls is not essential, most anti ship missiles have a canister fit as well a number of them have land attack.
You are only getting TLAM SCALP etc. Whilst this is a capability I think they should have, it does not somehow make them incapable of high ends ops. My understanding from Babcock is nothing has been taken away in terms of flexibility so weapons can still be easily swapped out etc.

You’re putting more requirements on something that at the moment can’t get more than 12 SAMS need to get the basic fit sorted first

Glass Half Full

I doubt the use of Tacticos was a lightly taken decision so there were presumably compelling reasons not to insist on BAES CMS with Thales radar.

Regarding Mk41 vs Sylver. I suggest we separate the missile programs from the VLS. MBDA, the parent companies and respective governments are certainly focused on selling its missiles to both Mk41 and Sylver customers to help drive down costs, so FC/ASW will be developed to operate from both. Similar to CAMM being qualified from Mk41. It seems unlikely that the RN will want to have inventory of Asters as well as SM2 and SM6, so I would expect qualification of Aster for Mk41 and sticking with MBDA.

Storm Shadow is on the way out as FC/ASW will replace it so its very unlikely to be qualified for RN use.

Meirion X

The only warpon that is qualified for launch from Mk. 41 that would be of real use to the RN, is the rocket launched torpedo ASROC. And not forgetting TLAM as well, but more effective when launched covertly by Subs by surprise.
ASROC can be launched from cansters as well as VLS, or could be qualified for launch from Sylver VLS.

Glass Half Full

There are a couple of issues I see with RUM-139 ASROC at present. Its based on the US Mk 54 torpedo. Regardless of whether Sting Ray Mod 1 is better or not (and the former seems to be the case by some margin), Mk 54 would introduce all the issues of having to support a second light torpedo in inventory. It would be crazy to support Sting Ray for the Merlins and Mk54 for ASROC on the same T26 for example. Its bad enough that the UK’s P8s are having to be armed with Mk 54, at least for now. However even if the RUM-139 ASROC was produced using Sting Ray, which in theory is possible, there is still the issue of current ASROC range, with submarine-launched heavy weight torpedoes far out-ranging ASROC reach. Perhaps MBDA might find a market for a universal torpedo launcher with greater range.

The problem with TLAM is that its fundamentally an old missile, despite updates, and perhaps more importantly it be would compete directly with FC/ASW. So on both counts it doesn’t make sense to qualify for UK Mk 41 use.

WeeWill

I am hard over about deciding on a VLS system and it being the core around which surface combatants are built. Even as DEW come online, the need for missiles will not go away. The crux of the issue is which VLS. I was previously quite evangelical about Mk41. However, the weapons qualification issue has swung me to Sylver, in light of the need to prep for Perseus, etc. Yes it will be expensive, but a commitment is needed and once it’s done, it’s done across the fleet.

Steve Taylor

The RN (government) doesn’t buy enough systems now due to budget. There will never by money to have spare anything sitting in a warehouse just in case. The main advantage of modularity is when systems are being designed as there is a standard common interface for systems that will be practically permanent not so things can be swapped in and out. Ships have high utility, but a fleet has to have a certain mix of hulls with crews worked up on those hulls and the systems they carry.

Glass Half Full

Well you may be right. Although isn’t this how the RN operate with Phalanx today, only fitting when required on RFA vessels? In any event, adopting a flexible armament approach, i.e. upfit when needed, is effectively saving budget because we wouldn’t be trying to outfit every vessel to the same higher spec, all the time, regardless of mission. Such an approach might be implemented on T31, future MCMV, even B2s.

Consider, a routine MCMV operating in normal peacetime European theater doesn’t require Sea Ceptor. However, operating in future in the Gulf, in Europe/Baltic if things heat up and off other hostile shores does seem to require Sea Ceptor, given the proliferation of shore based ASM if not air launched weapons; unless we want to dedicate an additional escort for this role which seems wasteful given our limited numbers. The same argument could be made for lower end littoral ASW operating off home shores versus operating off hostile shores.

The main issue with MCMV and B2 in this scenario would be the need for Sea Ceptor PDL and appropriate radar for independent operation, presuming B2’s Terma Scanter 4100 is inadequate. RFA might need this too if not operating as part of a larger force.

As to crewing and training. T31 would already have that since its just expanding the capability. I’d expect other vessels would have personnel assigned with the weapons module. I suspect a mission module approach to ASW, MCM and perhaps AAW for lower end warship and RFA use is going to drive more flexible crewing approaches in future, with an opportunity to have core full time professional teams augmented by reserves teams.

I appreciate this is a bit radical, but given limited numbers of assets, manpower and budget, the RN is probably going to have to get creative about how it addresses threats.

Steve Taylor

A MCMV would be operating as part of a larger group that would have assets for anti-air warfare whether afloat of land based. It would enter its area of operations only after a degree of sea control had been achieved. So there is need for a MCMV to have AAW systems. Just as there is no need to build a frigate out of plastic with non-ferrous metal parts.

The hull may be the cheapest part of a warship but it is built for its role.

It is like advocating we buy C130 and use it for everything from fighter to CAS to basic pilot tainting to transport.

You need a mix of hulls and systems.

Glass Half Full

A MCMV may operate as part of a larger group today. But MCM is changing. The RN have been using UUVs in various forms for almost 2 decades at this point to address MCM, the need to put a ship into the mine field to perform this role is giving way to Channel Standoff. The use of UxVs allows just about any vessel with an adequate deck and crane to be able to perform MCM operations without risking the ship.

I’ll be surprised if the Hunts and Sandowns are replaced with dedicated MCMV. The RN, constrained by budget and fleet numbers, needs to maximise flexibility in its platforms. A mission module UxV approach gives them that and may allow them to increase T31 numbers instead of ordering dedicated MCMV replacements (but I’m certainly not implying on a 1-for-1 basis) with the MCMVs perhaps at best providing a secondary OPV role. We have enough OPVs at this point.

David

Admirals of many navies have historically given lip service to mines and it is deeply concerning that there appears no dedicated replacement for specialist mine countermeasures vessels.

Deep down, we all know that it is far more likely that some kind of terrorist group could place mines around British ports and cripple the economy than an outright 1940s style conflict between aircraft carrier battlegroups. The former scenario is far more threatening to the UK’s security.

The mine countermeasures force could probably be replaced in its entirety for less than the cost of a handful of F35s and deliver far more capability.

Glass Half Full

Actually I’d suggest the reverse in terms of how the mine threat is perceived. Mines are a threat both in littoral and open ocean scenarios (although much more likely from state actors than terrorists) and I suspect are going to become much more of a threat as their capabilities are likely to improve. So a CSG’s ability to counter mines is going to be just as important as littoral/shoreline threats. Mission module based MCM can be much more prolific and flexible in deployment than dedicated ships, the latter being highly unlikely to be able to keep pace with a CSG, certainly the Hunts and Sandowns can’t.

Note with mission modules we aren’t losing the specialisation, we are simply separating from a dedicated platform.

David

It is true that the Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers are highly vulnerable to mines and other threats, however I’m sceptical of the claim that a Type 31 frigate constructed of steel and fitted with a few secondary features is going to be superior at this job to a dedicated mine countermeasures vessel. Again, it is a bit like saying that a motorhome is going to perform well in a motor race. Sure, you can enter such a vehicle in the race and it will even be able to drive around the track, although it is going to perform very suboptimally compared to vehicles specifically designed for motor racing.

Sadly this is another example of the fixation with basing an entire navy around two huge aircraft carriers that it cannot afford, displacing other capabilities that are far more valuable to the UK’s security.

Simon m

Also GRP hulls etc. are not the only option for mcmv hulls, especially if channel standoff concept applied. Vessels such as venari 85 concept fit in multirole as well as mcmv by having degaussed hulls.
I do think the time to abandon the dedicated mcmv is coming soon. The Japanese also use the Merlin in the mcm role similar to how the Americans use sea dragron helicopters.

I think if we could get a venari 85 design and venator 90 design for mcmvs they could provide a boost to both patrol and war fighting (respectively). We need to maximise the assets we have.

Steve Taylor

The discussion is not about mine warfare the discussion is about ships and systems there in with MCM used as an example. But as it has been mentioned why on these sites is their a belief that drones will be cheaper, smaller, and more flexible? We are decades away from them being the fantasy robots that some this tech can do. And the ‘any ship with deck space’ fallacy. No.

David

Very true and sadly this practice is becoming more common across UK defence procurement.

It is a bit like designing a formula 1 race car that is also capable of acting as a motorhome. Sure, it can be done, however such a platform is not going to be competitive against other vehicles specifically designed for that purpose.

Something like the F35 is the ultimate symbol of this way of thinking. Trying to design a plane that can be a fighter, a bomber, do close air support, fly supersonically and take off/land vertically are all very different missions that would demand vastly different designs if you wanted to develop a winning platform. Trying to design something do to everything, unfortunately creates mediocrity in each specialisation and creates great engineering challenges which is part of the reason the plane is still not working properly 20 years later.

Steve Taylor

These new anti-mine drones are very clever. But the step up is like that from going from a lathe to CNC machine. They are clever but they are still machines and very dumb; it is still a challenge to get computers to identify things in the air in bright light never mind in the merk of the sea. If the operation is a peacetime clear up of a water way and the bits can be flown in and a ship charted then fair enough. But what if you are coming from seaward in an offence operation? What about command and control of these drones? Last time I looked radio and water didn’t get on…. And the idea that you would time an ocean going platform for such operations like an escort when we running short of those?

Not saying modularity can’t work in very specific cases. For example the Holland class OPV and the i-Mast. if one of the class is paddling around the North Sea it doesn’t need the latter fitted, off somewhere more exciting than an i-Mast is fitted. The reason why that works is the i-Mast supports the platform’s main role as an OPV. It isn’t additional role. The mast is built for a specific class not to be shared. And the numbers were procured matched probable deployment cycles.

I agree about F35b. We did well out of the deal really though. We have gone from 2 or 3 generation old platform with SHAR (Fiesta end), and have swapped for it a brand new Mondeo. Probably too much plane for the USMC, but we get a modern fighter. Modern kit is just complex. The idea that new kit, see drones, means less personnel, isn’t always the case. Often the same numbers are needed just more qualified. The only thing the two planes have in common is STOVL.

David

The main example of trying to apply modularity to ships and mine hunting is the US littoral combat ship. This exercise has proved to be even more embarrassing than the F35.

Glass Half Full

I suggest both you and Steve read this past STRN article on the Future of RN mine hunting, especially the last section titled “The MHC programme – goodbye MCMVs”
https://www.navylookout.com/the-future-of-royal-navy-minehunting/
Edit: Added link

David

The article is basically advocating that the entire mine countermeasures fleet can be ditched on the basis that future and as yet unproven technology will be developed to replace it. Sounds like really sound advice.

Glass Half Full

Hardly unproven. The RN used remote vehicles as early as the start of the Iraq war. The UK, France and US have all been developing and evaluating systems since then. This is hardly a rush to replace existing MCMV which in the UK’s case are likely to be around for at least another decade, with the decision on what to replace them with likely to be taken in the next few years based on the NSS schedule.
https://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/umm-qasr-unmanned-warrior-royal-navy-mine-countermeasures/

D J

I would also add, the means of laying mines, especially in the littoral space is also changing. The USN testing of US JDAM tail kits with Australian JDAM-ER wing kits fitted to Quickstrike mines has shown you can precision drop multiple shallow water mines in a single pass from 70+km away.

D10shaw

By the time these vessels are brought into service, they will be suitable for little more than constabulary duties in post-Brexit British waters. Woefully under-equipped. Better to capitalise on the type 26 design, which has proven to be more of a success than expected. Use the Canadian design, no need for specialised hulls on all of them.

Mr Peter M Blythe

I must be missing something here. The type 31 is a relatively large ship. The weapon fit is an absolute joke. I know I am getting on a bit but I served on County class destroyers in the 70s. They are very similar in size. I. E. Hms Kent 1977, 4 x 4.5 in two twin turrets. 40 seaslug surface to air, two seacat launchers approx 60 missiles, two 20mm orlikons, 1 wessex mk3 helicopter with torpedoes depth charges and also the nuclear one. All this in under 6000 tons. Type 31 a 57mm gun and 12 sea ceptor. I think we are being taken for a ride.

Stray Vector

This is how how you get a ship of this size for £ 250. This reminds me of when the Spruance class came out in the 1970’s. The Soviet Navy was looming large with heavily armed ships. Everyone considered the Spruances under armed, and initially they where, especially compared to the Soviet ships .

Spruance as built:
– 2 × 5-inch (127mm) 54 calibre Mark 45 dual purpose guns
– 1 × 8 cell ASROC launcher
– 1 × 8 cell NATO Sea Sparrow Mark 29 missile launcher
– 2 × Mark 32 triple 12.75 in (324 mm) torpedo tubes (Mk 46 torpedoes)

Later fitted to Spruance:
– 2× quadruple Harpoon missile canisters
– 2 × 20 mm Phalanx CIWS Mark 15 guns
– 2 × quadruple ABL Mark 43 Tomahawk missile launchers (7 ships)
– 1 x 61-cell Mark 41 VLS launcher for Tomahawk/ASROC missiles in place of the 8-cell ASROC launcher (24 ships).
– 1 × 21 cell Rolling Airframe Missile launcher in some ships.

The fact is that the Spruances were built large with a lot of available space for future weapon upgrades, which is the rational for going with Arrowhead 140 over Leander.

Simon m

The only problem with the analogy is the US value their armed forces and take their responsible to defend themselves seriously whilst most of UK population don’t have a clue and the politicians are nothing more than big kids craving attention

Sev

These ships are getting more and more useless, at this point they are basically 5,600 ton OPVs and not GP frigates, no anti submarine capability, no meaningful anti ship capability, no NGFS, beyond barebones anti air. As they are now, they would struggle to have any role in fleet in any combat scenario aside from an Iranian gunboat swarm before the rest of the Iranian air force and navy showed up. Wouldn’t it have been better to just build more River class boats to a higher spec like the export models, and then try to squeeze in two more Type 26’s? It’s not like the Type 31 is any more useful than a River in a real high end shooting war.

donald_of_tokyo

I totally agree, canceling 5 T31, increase 2 T26 (will need 1.6B GBP or so) and invest the remaining 400M GBP to upgrade T45, T26 and some of the River B2, will be better. Yes the escort number will be reduced to 16 (from 19), and constabulary roles will go to (up-armed) River B2 (which is not optimal), but it will improve the efficiency of Clyde. Also, from man-power point of view, 16 Tier-1 matches well with current man-power.

I was proposing this for long. “Forget “19-escort saga” and face the reality to get the most out of the budget”.

However, I admit, T31 as is, will go ahead. So, let’s talk about about T31.

Here, calling T31 an OPV is wrong. OPVs are much more a specialist vessel = “sea-going days champion”. T31 will never be able to compete here, not to say about any escort. To meet the long sea-going days, OPV shall not carry heavy weapons = maintenance monsters.

In reality, T31 is exactly a corvette. A large-hull, long-range corvette. It is only from 1939, corvette became a “short legged vessel”. In its origin, corvette was sailing word-wide. As can be seen, T31’s armament is very similar to Damen 10514, Gowind2500 and Al Khareef class corvettes (albeit lacking SSM and ASW capabilities). So, I think the question is actually very classic.

“Do RN need corvettes ? ” –> “No, because it is short legged”.

“Then, what if long-range/endurance corvettes ?”

This is what the T31 is, and was, from the beginning = T31 RFI. My answer is “I do not like it”, but I also understand the rationale, much better than calling it a (2nd-tier) escort.

Simon m

When will we get 2 more T26 2040? if they are cut in the 5 or 6 SDRs between now and then?

donald_of_tokyo

By 2036.
The 2B GBP can be used between 2020-2030 (they say all 5 T31 to be handed over by 2028, but surely see delay, so 2030). We are talking about that range of years.

“Building a new ship-yard, introducing new design of hull, CMS and guns (to UK) with all the logistics, in a shipyard who has zero experience in escort building”

compared to

“Adding 2 hulls in the planned 8 hulls program”.

Surely latter is easier. It is 10-years program.

Simon m

Thought BAE were struggling for space hence backing for Cammell laird in T31 bid? They’re taking almost 10 yrs for first build so how’s it a 10 year program? Even on 2036 from now it’s 16 years. Which is at least 4-6 years more than T31 to deliver 3 less vessels. Due the bigger price tag they’re more likely to get cut, where as if necessary T31 could be reduced to 3 or 4.

T26 is a full on brand new highly sophisticated hull design & as yet a single hull is tested in the water, where as T31 provides a proven hull and lower risk.

I’m not sure a CMS in service with 25 nations is a risk with a company used to integrating new weapons.

New guns are needed anyway the 4.5 is outdated and new guided sophisticated ammo would be expensive to develop. Phalanx also destroy missiles too close to the vessel. Is the acquisition of 5inch guns for ASW T26 really a wise investment?

I like the T26 and we need it but the program is being dragged out just to afford it, and to keep costs down the vessels don’t come with their own radar or SAM launchers despite costing 3 times T31 which at least has it’s own radar. The low numbers of SAMs on T31 is likely to facilitate larger numbers on T26.

The government has made it clear it has no support to keep paying almost a billion pounds per navy ship. This not about getting gold plated ships 750m to ultimately chase pirates, conduct boardings etc.

For T31 the RN could have specified a sonar & the number of SAMs could be increased and the budget could still have been met 30mm instead of 40mm & 4.5 gun rather than 57mm, sonar could still come from T23. But they didn’t.

Furthermore this is about getting Warships the RN can afford and do the majority of the day to day work of the navy. Not replicating a budget T26.
Is 12 SAMs good enough? no, if there is no sonar is this good? no. Will it matter day to day probably not, but these issues can & should be rectified to ensure it is a warship.

But we need the hulls to cover tasks & also the T31 is the only way the navy could hope to realistically actually increase numbers.

The reality is less hulls means less drug interceptions, less weapon search’s, more chance terrorists could move around, get funded, and get in the UK. 2 T26 cannot be in as many places as 5 possibly more T31.

Donaldson

With all this “Fitted for but not with” malarkey, What is the likelihood the Type 45 will get the additional 16 VLS cells they were designed for?
What confidence do you give all these ships with “Fitted for but not with” to be actually armed appropriately? As I’m sure Russia and China are laughing away with their armed to the teeth WARSHIPS.

Simon m

Fully agree all programs are a joke even T26 any other nation would have tlam, asroc, aster 30, dump mickey mouse mushroom farms for exls and quad pack CAMMs.

John Pattullo

12 sea ceptors………… seriously – 24 should be the absolute minimum!!!! – hell it should be 24 cell mk 41

Paul

You have to really question why we are even considering building these ‘Corvettes’. 24 Sea Ceptor was the absolute minimum and even then very unwise. In this day and age, with more advanced weapons being developed on a regular basis and with our rivals building far more capable vessels, I honestly think the RN and UK Government have completely lost the plot.

4thwatch

How about lining the rails with shoulder launched military missiles like the Russians do.

Adrian

The type 31 is now becoming similar to the US LCS. The only difference is the frigate hull and range is good. Otherwise, it’s little different from a helo equiped OPV.

There’s really no reason the UK shouldn’t have just chosen the US coast guard Legend class cutter instead, since they intend the Type 31 to do the same work as the US Coast Guard when it’s on overseas deployment. The US ship can deploy it’s RHIB’s properly and quickly aft, instead of having 4 need the cumbersome crane from the sides. Similar size, greater range ( 12,000 nm! ), can be fitted with similar sensors and weapons.

Or they could have made the “OPV Plus” STRN wrote about in its previous article about the river class OPV.

Steve Taylor

The NSC is very good design. It has some very trick features for its role.

Why you got 2 down votes I don’t know.

donald_of_tokyo

Even though the 12-CAMM is shocking myself, it is very much as expected.

# In reading down, please do not forget I am NOT a supporter of T31. Never been.

Looking at T31-RFI, it was looking for
– a 110m long, 3500-4000t ship, 27knot speed with > ~6000nm range
– armed with a gun, a helicopter, and “a SAM system (FTR) or a CIWS”,
– SSM and ASW not mandatory
– a Wildcat, and 4x RHIB, and 4x 20-ft containers
In other words, “a long-range corvette with typical armaments of a corvette of the day”.

On this regard, “12 SAM” is the same to Damen 10514, Gowing2500, and Al-Khareef class. A 57 mm gun, two 40 mm guns is even better than average, while lack of SSM and ASW is “special” (not required). I think they will surely say, “nothing to surprise, fully complies with the T31 RFI. Even significantly exceeding it, as 6000t hull with superb seawrothiness, a Merlin-capble hangar with Chinook capable flight-deck, 30kt top speed”. And this argument is true, for sure.

Also, don’t forget. By selecting Arrowhead 140 for T31, RN gets large hull, good for future growth and seaworthiness, but eating-up cost to be used for armaments. For example, it has 4 large diesels with total power of 32MW with relatively large 2 gear-boxes, while Cutlass/Leander had only 2 with 18 MW with medium-sized 2 gearboxes (also connecting 2 electric motor). Of course, the cost around the engine room differs a lot = eating money there.

Anyway, sad but easily expected conclusion = no surprise. (the reason I kept being against T31 from the beginning).

This is one of the reason I am always “against” T31 program (see River B2 uparming thread).

Stray Vector

Yes, its interesting how this and the River B2 up-arming thread overlap.

T.S

The only warship in the fleet that will be appropriately armed for its purpose will be the T26 although even that is dependant on us procuring new missiles. T45 short on AAW cells, T31 short on most things and river b2s with nothing useful to bring if a situation turns hot on a 2000t hull.
So what we will have is everything with any potency being with the carriers with the remaining being mostly in refit, maintenance etc. For everything else, the reminaing platforms will be so embarrassingly outgunned even by second tier militaries.
My thinking is T45 is our anti air platform, T26 is our asw platform, river 2 is our patrol platform, what do we have for land attack, amphibious escort and shore bombardment and the like? T31 needs to be able to fore fill this role.
I would take the 5″ guns off the T26 and replace with 76mm, then put the 5″ on the T31 with the 57mm on the secondary gun position. I would then fit the 32 mk41 fitted out with 48 seaceptor quadpacked in 12 cells leaving 24 cells for tomahawk or future cruise missile. I would then suggest some box launchers could be fitted into the large airship top deck area. Install MBDA launchers of Spear 3/brimstone.
We then have a really potent ship for its specialised role but also able to escort task or amphibious groups. Each esvort type has a specific role within the navy rather than the T31 just being for willy waving but having to run away in a fight. Up arm river b2’s slightly to take over this role and buy some cheap cutters for fishery role. Yes I know there is a cost to this but at some point we have to start arming our vessels properly

Meirion X

Did you say Airship? If so an airship would Not take the weight of box launchers loaded with missiles.

T.S

Mid ship, bloody auto correct

Aaron

The reality is that these ships will not fire a missile in anger in their lifetime. Anybody firing missiles at or raiding with planes is declaring a much bigger statement than an attack on a ship. Any nation doing so is likely to find itself with four Nato carrier battle groups off its coast, two of them British. Any attack on a Nato ship is a massive issue. If its Russia or China then global war has been declared, so extremely unlikely. If it’s a rogue state then they would be wiped out. Many people are thinking back to world war two defensive strategies, but we simply are not there anymore. The world is a smaller place. Every nation is interconnected with others. One action has truly massive consequences, that will one hundred percent end in the leader instigating it being removed, likely by his own people.

Meirion X

No such thing as a NATO ship! Their are Countries who are members of a military alliance called NATO. Military assets own by the member countries of the alliance are contributed to tasks in the NATO area.
But if a conflict arises between a NATO member and a non NATO country outside of the NATO area, then that country is on it’s own. The example is the Uk’s Falklands War.

Ron5

No, the reality is that they probably will. Go look at the Royal Navy history. Unlike other navies, they fight on a frequent basis.

Dern

Care to name an instance of a RN warship fireing a Anti-Shipping missile at another warship in anger then?

DaveyB

I suppose technically during the Gulf war. As the Lynx was part of the ship’s weapon system which included the Sea Skua missile. I think and correct me if I’m wrong, this was the last time the RN used anti-ship missiles in anger, when they used it on multiple small craft, landing craft and patrol boats.

Simon m

So you’re are happy to sacrifice 100 lives plus on the hope that they will be a bigger response after wards? And nations who do this aren’t going to claim rogue factions sank the ship or another vessel from another country was in the area etc

Pacman27

I am going to be a bit controversial here, These vessels are fine and can be upgraded. What I will say is that with the British Army buying Boxer if we can secure one or more of these to a deck or even create a module cradle that will hold the unit (cheaper) then we can add MLRS, SeaCeptor, 155m guns, CTA cannon etc etc.

Would it be great to have more VLS and armament – Yes.

Can the UK come up with innovative ways of doing this – also yes if pushed.

Clearly the Army will need to buy these boxer variants but a 155m howitzer with 60 rounds or a 12 cell brimstone or Seaceptor launcher is not to be sniffed at, and there is space aplenty on the arrowhead to put these amidship if we had an urgent need using a simple cradle system.

These are truly great ships, proven by the Danish and the right decision for the UK at this point in time.

Ron5

Army guns on a warship have been tried. They don’t work. Look up German experiments with Pzh2000.

Danny

I take it I am in the minority that think the ships are sensibly armed for the tasks there likely to do. More potent then the opv’s but not squandering money and manpower on over arming a ship that isn’t likely to be involved in full on war fighting. Freeing up our full combat units and rfa ships from some of the low/medium threat operations there on at the moment.

4thwatch

Danny I’m with you. In discussing these ships there is certainly a strong case to building them straight off with all singing all dancing armament. As I understand it these are ships designed for presence, in the same way the county class cruisers were in the 20’s and 30’s. Would you rather we had an OPV on station or a T31? Joe UK Public want the Navy to come and rescue him if he is in the Red Sea and Pirates threaten his cruise ship. Or you are working in Japan and you want to see the Brits in Port more than once every 3 years. In my opinion they are there to fill an otherwise empty horizon, if you look out to sea in your hour of need and in fact they can actually do something about the situation. If the balloon really goes up its T26s or bust.

Ron5

Rubbish. If the balloon goes up, everything painted grey gets sent. The inadequately built & equipped get sunk and sailors die. Read some history for goodness sake.

4thwatch

The WW2 Admiralty deployed ships with discretion after the hard lessons learned in the Far East 1941/42. For that reason we withdrew and couldn’t return till 1944. Of course the inadequately built & equipped ( Flower Class) fought on with great tenacity, courage, effect and sadly considerable loss. They were all there was, due to a lack of naval ship building capacity and money. Few Flower class were ever deployed outside the North Atlantic, that existential threat battlefield. We couldn’t retreat from the Atlantic but from the Mediterranean in large measure and the Far East we did. If you don’t have the assets you try to minimise your risk to life and pull back. Sometimes you cant do that.
If you want examples of the best we had; despite all; still getting sunk, look no further than the Dido Class cruisers and J & K class destroyers. The evacuations from Dunkirk and Crete disprove your argument. We sent everything that floated, grey or not to Dunkirk and succeeded. We sent the best to Crete and only partially succeeded and/but with disproportionate loss. The deciding factor was air supremacy or lack thereof.
That’s history.

DaveyB

I still find it amazing on the decisions made during the second world war, Crete was one of them. In theory the Commonwealth forces should have had the upper hand. Three airfields equipped with Hurricane fighters, at least one working radar and dug in troops on an island protected by the RN. The lessons from the Battle of Britain were not used, except by the Germans. who used overwhelming air support to neutralise the radars and aircraft deployed around the airfields, then targeted the RN ships. Without air support the paratroopers could then be inserted without much interference. What compounded the issue was that following the fall of Greece, a large number of its troops escaped to Crete. Their weapon calibres were not compatible with the Commonwealth troops. There wasn’t enough time to re-equip them and most only had 30 rounds apiece.

The Battle of Crete proved that any ship was vulnerable to air attack during daylight hours, especially to coordinated air attacks by dive bombers. It also highlighted that the Navy’s carrier fighter aircraft at that time were obsolete and inadequate against land based fighter aircraft, such as Formidable’s Fairey Fulmars. The Battle of Crete was a catalogue of errors ranging from not protecting the airfields adequately, storing ammunition and fuel in a just a couple of poorly defended locations, no coordinated logistics, lack of communications between command and the defending forces and a serious lack of anti-aircraft ammo for the ships. Perhaps one of the biggest blunders was not thoroughly checking on the intelligence from the Ultra decrypts. These showed what troops were to be used as well as when, but command failed to act on the information.

It should have been a watershed moment for the RN, but they were going to repeat the same mistakes of not having air cover to protect its ships, when later that year they lost HMS Prince of Wales and Repulse. It was a defining moment for the RAF, who were told to take over the protection of their airfields from the Army by the construction of the RAF Regiment.

Steve Taylor

Many here would like to see RIBs armed with supersonic missiles…………..

T31 will have a good air search radar and a decent hull sonar (I don’t know whether the donks will be rafted, I hope so) and will be able to keep up with carrier. That’s the bare minimum. It would be nice to know the Mk 57 will be plumbed in. If it can act as another CIWS with the 40mm and Sea Ceptor the ship will have adequate defences sitting with the SeaViper and CAP bubble. I don’t know about EW which is the key to knocking missiles out of the air for the RN in the modern era. Sadly no broad sides of 5in guns or barrages of AShM…..modern naval warfare is very boring.

Shame money can’t be found to fit that sonar set to T45.

Commenters on these sites get very cliquee. I would just ignore them TBH. The comments are open to all.

Ron5

T31 will not have a sonar or rafting. On the other hand, the T45 does have a sonar already. Please keep up.

Paul.P

I think the T31 requirement / spec was FFBNW bow sonar. No requirement for quiet running. How expensive is a bow sonar?

Ron5

You are misinformed.

Paul.P

I think I’m right. Pages 25-26 of the original request for information document read ‘FTR’ for hull sonar and ‘ not optimised for UNR’
https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/645149/T31e_RFI.pdf

Steve Taylor

T45 has what we grown ups call a mine and obstacle avoidance sonar. It is about much use for ASW as a fish finder.

Ron5

Well the Royal Navy Type 45’s have participated in ASW exercises, one last year off Sicily. Please keep up.

Steve Taylor

Yes they did they didn’t? Or to be more accurate we had a ship, submarine, and helicopter available for some picutures………. If MFS7000 could find and accurately place a T-boat then no submarine would be safe anywhere because ASW systems would render the oceans transparent. It would be like when radar was introduced for aeroplanes. There would be no hiding for boats anywhere.

You are a very strange individual. Why do I get these feeling most of your sea time was gained on a boating lake?

Joe16

To quote the UKDJ: “HMS Duncan is one of the high-value targets submarines are after during Dynamic Manta”. Absolutley a T45 participated, as a target…

Simon m

Every surface ship is a target for a submarine? Even T26 will not be invisible or likely to be 100% effective against submarines

I think Ultra electronics the RN or the Brazilian navy would not recognise Steve’s comments very close to liable IMO

Simon m

Sonar fit has not been confirmed or denied as far as I know?

Ron5

What on earth gives you the idea the Type 31’s will never have to fight? Have you no idea of the Royal Navy’s history?

Danny

Razee frigate, flower class Corvette, etc etc, loads of examples of excellent cheap and cheerful navel ships. As long as used for intended purposes.
I would love the navy to have unlimited resources and manpower but it doesn’t. Personally think it’s a good compromise.

4thwatch

I’d agree. With money as scarce as ever its a clever concept. Good hull, long legs, good radar, good close in weapons, ability to upgrade.

Stephen

I agree Danny, I don’t know where people got the idea that these budget light frigates would be armed to the teeth from. Like you say they are supposed to sit between the O.P.V.s and Type 26/45 and they do that in terms of weapons (2 x 40 mm, 57 mm, 12 x Seaceptor, plus armed helicopter), they will be fine for low/medium threat environments and with said weapons will be a useful addition to a carrier group.

Ron5

The carrier task forces will already be adequately supplied with expendable decoys.

Don

T31 is about getting hulls in the water at a fixed price while meeting the RFI requirements.
The above imagine far exceeds the minimum spec.
The important point is getting five hulls in the water that have the capability to be easily upgraded.
If this is achieved then maybe there is a chance of a second batch.
If we keep adding gold plating them we continue on the threadmill of decreasing escorts numbers at unafordable prices and you can kiss goodbye to any chance of a second batch.
The whole idea of T31 is to break this cycle and increase escort numbers.
The suggestion of cutting hull numbers to add gold plating goes against the whole spirit of T31.
The whole point of T31 is to get as many hulls in the water as possible which are easy to upgrade.
The gold plating can be added when the ships are floating in the water.

Ron5

What’s the point of increasing the number of “hulls in the water” if the hulls are incapable?

Putting ASW capability on a Royal Navy frigate is “gold plating”, are you effing serious??? This Type 31 is less capable than the Leanders & Type 21’s from 40 years ago that were sent to the Falklands.

Are you employed by Babcock’s by any chance? or the Kremlin?

Dern

Because they’re not incapable. There is plenty they can to (and given that the Type 23’s they are replacing where not used in the ASW role anyway adding ASW would indeed be gold plating. ESPECIALLY when you consider how much needs to be done to make a ship good at ASW.)

Simon m

Are these definitely not getting a Sonar? Has this been confirmed?

Stephen

Could a dipping sonar be added to the helicopter?

Glass Half Full

ROK navy added Thales Flash and torpedoes to Wildcat, so yes it could be done.

Simon m

ROK have Sonobuoys as well, has endurance of 2 hrs with one torpedo and Sonar so no Merlin but better than nothing in my view. Ultra electronics recently posted a YouTube video with a Wildcat armed with an underwing sonarbuoy dispenser as well

Paul.P

It’s taken a while but the RN is coming up with a practical strategy to cope with the seemingly inexorably exponential rise in the cost of new warships. Compare with France who had to cut planned Horizon numbers to 2 and Fremm numbers to 8, and use both La Fayette and Floreal class ships as ‘second rate’ frigates. Not to mention zero standardisation of OPVs.
Type 31 is a single hull with lots of growth potential that can be configured as anything from a patrol frigate to GP frigate to an AAW destroyer: any role bar ASW in fact. I think it is an Inspired decision. People should stop whingeing. Published spec is fine for first batch of patrol frigates. Add a bow sonar and a few canister launched AShM and you have a well rounded GP frigate. Add some Mk41 and a 5in and you have serious offensive capability.

Simon m

ASW is possible with raft mounted engines & additional damping. It’s not going to be T26 at any point but could still be a capable asset.

JSCL

The type 31 is designed to grow and adapt and is a great design. But will this additional armament and capability ever be fitted? Judging by the type 45s the answer
must be no. So as presently configured the type 31 is an expensive way to get 1 six-pounder, 2 two-pounders, 12 point /LAD SAMs and a helicopter to sea. They are in effect Blue-water OPVS. Does anyone seriously believe the Treasury will ever fund any additional equipment for these ships? I bet they will be up for sale as an economy measure within a few years of entering service.

Joe16

I’ve got to go in the neutral camp with this one- of course 24 cells is better than 12, but I don’t think this is a deal breaker.
One of the primary purposes of the T31 is as part of the NSBS, ignoring its combat capabilities for a moment; it is there to ensure that UK industry has a suitably complex warship design that can be turned out quickly and regularly, with room for development, to keep that “steady drumbeat” going that will ensure value for money down the line. I see this as more about the long game than anything else. Considering the country’s financial situation since 2008 and Brexit, building a solid industrial base to diversify the economy is a good thing so I support that. The export success of the T26 was a surprise win, and hopefully other countries will see the value in T31 once some more concrete specs are made available (potentially NZ and South America?). With the price and speed that the RN reckon they can get them (first vessel commissioned 2027, but ALL the rest of the batch commissioned 2028), UK yards may even be competitive to build for others.
Obviously, it’d be a mistake to bring vessels into service that aren’t fit for purpose and I’d agree that the current fitout on T31 is borderline. A GP frigate is supposed to do the stuff that the T26 and T45 are too expensive to do, while those vessels are supporting our carrier group and hunting Russian subs in the Atlantic (i.e. high end warfare): “maritime security, maritime counter-terrorism and counter-piracy operations, escort duties, and naval fire support.” (from Janes). From the inference in the article, by escort duties they’re basically talking about what the RN have been doing in the Strait of Hormuz recently. Aside from the naval fire support, the current spec of the T31 can easily carry out any of those tasks. With containerised/cannister launched surface weapons such as NSM, they can do them all.
Would it be nice to have a bigger main gun for NGFS? Yes. Would it be nice to have ASMs that can also do land attack? Yes. Would it be nice to fill them out with VLS? Maybe, if you want to add hot-war surface warfare and land strike to the UK’s surface fleet, which is a mission that it really hasn’t had in a long time. Would it be nice to have ASW capabilities? Aside from a dipping sonar for the helicopter, no, it’s a waste of money on a non-optimised hull.
For the record, I’d like to see all of those capabilities except for ASW on the next batch of T31 that are built, and yes I do expect that they’ll be built; they have to be if the NSBS means anything at all, and to give the government their due they seem to have been following it so far, more or less at least…!

donald_of_tokyo

Uhm, but we all know T31 budget came out from T26’s one, and there was no item named “T31” until recently.

So, it is natural to assume any money to buy more T31 comes from cutting something else in future. Cut T26, cut LPD-R, cut SSS.

Other than that, how can RN squeeze out the money from already 5-10% short equipment budget of MOD?

In short, I do not believe in NSbS. No reason to believe it. It states “export before mid-life refit = 15 years” to continue building. The “15-years old (young) short life” sees no mention these days.

And, even if it is as short as 15 years, very hurried build of T31, 1 hull per 1 year, means, it is only if Babcock can find 15 T31 in RN service, and another 10-20 in second-hand export, they can keep the drumbeat.

Almost zero probability.

Joe16

That is a fair point, I mentioned a batch 2 as I’ve seen a couple of mentions on here and UKDJ about an intention to increase hull numbers in the 2030s, I assume via a real terms percentage increase in the defence budget or an expansion of GDP. Smacks a bit of counting chickens before they’re hatched, but still.
I do take your point, although I’d respectfully suggest that a hull every couple of years is more realistic? I’m not aware of many places that could turn a 6,000 Te frigate around in 12 months… If we consider that, we’re talking about 5-7 vessels, still a lot but nowhere near as fragile a build schedule. If you were to (for example) build 2 for NZ (I don’t see them buying anything as expensive as T26, but maybe I’m wrong) following on from the end of this batch 1 from 2029, and maybe another 1 as an RN extra from 2032 then you’re already half way there. That’s 10-12 years from now, and at that point a number of other European nations will be looking to replace their frigates I’d imagine. We’ve got no hope of winning a French or Spanish contract, but the Norwegians need 4 and are a lot more neutral, and they’re actually 1 vessel down at the moment; there’s an opportunity there that I hope someone from Babcock is following up… A high-spec Norwegian T31 might be an opportunity to build them out a bit? Then there’s the Danes who operate the original class (3 of them). They got the hulls built in Poland or somewhere last time, but if we’ve got an active production line going then we may be able to tempt them. That’s not to mention any of our old friends among the gulf states, they’ve bought British before and I’m sure they could be encouraged to do the same again in the face of a resurgent Iran. Anywhere within that mix we could get another RN vessel in to make it up to 7 GP frigates in the later half of the 2030s.
At that point, in the early 2040s, you could start looking at Brazil or someone similar for the first lot of RN T31s second hand, replacing them with higher spec ones with development paid for by Norway and the Gulf states.
I know that’s the “everything works out perfectly” point of view, but I don’t think that any of it is completely unrealistic; the British government will have to get behind British industry, and they’ll have to work together to sell their product hard. But that’s the whole point. Besides, my reading of the NSbS was that the military orders should almost supply a baseline of income and work for the yards, which would then allow them to compete more competitively on commercial/civil contracts. Particularly for higher spec vessels, like research, oil field support, that kind of thing. There’s also the T4X to consider, which I guess will be up for early phase competition sometime in the late 2030s, so the NSbS doesn’t just hang everything on the T31…

Glass Half Full

It may depend on what you term a cut. For example the current MCMV fleet might be replaced by T31 with MCM mission modules versus limiting the RN’s options by selecting something like a BMT Venari or what the Dutch and Belgians are selecting. Not replacing on a 1-for-1 basis of course but the mission modules would be capable of operating off other platforms too, including shore based operation and commercial vessels. The same hull might be used for Echo-class replacement. Then ultimately we might see a reduction on River-class with T31 replacing sometime in the 2030’s.

As to the 15 year life cycle. Maybe that doesn’t survive as the T31 is a much more capable platform than the bare bones RFI spec. In addition the parent IH class can cruise at 18 knots on a single engine while trailing a prop so the propulsion system at least may have a much longer life than originally envisioned. On the other hand a used T31 at 15-20 years would be much less expensive and probably more capable than what many countries could build new. For many it might be their capitol ship.

Don

Good comment @Glass Half Full. I agree you could see things evolve this way.

Joe16

Yeah, I certainly think that the 15-year mark would be a point for removal so that we can get good value for money on them, and keep workforces busy with new RN vessels. It’s good to know that the IH class has lasted well for Denmark, it’s a good sign. Hopefully that’ll encourage them to order replacements from our (hopefully) still active production line in a decade or so!
Fully agree that the hull could be used for different applications; Sorry for the lack of knowledge: What’s the Echo class?

Glass Half Full

Echo class are two primarily hydrographic survey ships. Current vessels are 90m, 3,700 ton class with similar range to T31. Also support MCM. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Echo-class_survey_ship_(2002)

Glass Half Full

I agree with most of your thoughts but you are perhaps being a tad harsh on the T31 re ASW, especially in noisy littoral environments. Even if we discount T31 already meeting NATO noise requirements for an ASW vessel, it still has the option for operating remote sensors from USVs as well as lower cost solutions such as Captas 1 and 2 or Sea Krait to move sensors away from the ship. I’d say the largest disadvantage of a noisier ship is of becoming the hunted rather than the hunter. Sure it won’t be T26 capable but not irrelevant either and not likely to be discounted out of hand as a deterrence.

donald_of_tokyo

Sorry from aside.

USV for ASW or MCM is very important, I agree. On that regard, I fear Arrowhead’s Boat Alcove is not large enough to house Atlas ARCIMS (11.3m long) not to say about ECA’s Inspector 125 (12.3m long). Actually, T26’s mission bay being 12 m long is much better to carry them.

Among a few things Arrowhead 140 design shall be modified, the boat alcove size is very important I think.

Glass Half Full

A boat bay modification to fit ARCIMS, which seems likely to be the default choice for MCM/ASW USV operation, may only involve increasing the size of the access doors, at least on the starboard side, which seems to be a continuous bay. Port side may have issues, so all bays may not be 11m capable. Probably wouldn’t want to spec a slightly shorter ARCIMS vessel variant, but I suppose that’s an option too. The latest renders do seem to show larger access doors than earlier graphics, but who knows at this point, they are just renders and the doors as shown don’t seem to have anywhere to retract into.

Simon m

The pacific 950 is also being developed as a multirole USV and there is no reason it couldn’t be developed to have a launcher for something like a bluefin 9. So other options could be available. My understanding of the arrowhead design is you can have 4x 9.5m bays or 2 x 9.5m bays plus 1 x 11m+ bay.

In one of the interviews with Babcock they seem to hint that there maybe some wiggle room in the bays anyway. So I think there are options

Simon m

There’s also the possibility of deploying larger UUVs such as bluefin 21 directly from the Warship itself

Joe16

Another fair point, I didn’t really have mission modules in mind at the time, but I am a fan of them.
I’m a little wary of them, due to the USN’s issues with the LCS’ ones, but I think there’s plenty of scope to be successful with slightly less ambitious ones. MCM would be a great mission for this, seeing as we’re going that route anyway. I imagine that the disaster relief mission could be augmented with some kind of hospital facility one too, especially as the design has a Chinook capable back deck and space for 40 additional crew- they could be medical staff rather than marines. Not sure if side-launched ASMs or land attack missiles could be loaded into a “surface combatant” module and fired out of a boat bay? I guess it depends how imaginative you wanted to be…!
Having modules that could also be loaded onto an RFA vessel, one of those new sea bases, or even the helideck of a B2 River would increase utility, but sometimes overspecifying them in size causes limits in what they can do / cost overruns.

Donaldson

Hi Joe, Could you explain the difference between non-optimised hull and T26 hull for ASW?

Joe16

There are probably people on here that could give you a better answer, but I’ll give it a go:
The shape of the hull has a significant affect on performance, but the way that the water moves over the hull surface can also create turbulence in the water, which transmits as sound that subs can hear. The more turbulence, the less efficient the hull (as a general rule I believe), but there is a bit of a law with diminishing returns when it comes to getting the hull as efficient as possible. On the flipside, for an ASW vessel, putting that extra effort in for an even more efficient hull is worth it.
There is the type of prop, and even the manufacturing finish on it- again this has a bearing on transmitted noise which is worth addressing for an ASW hull but not really otherwise. Even the form of propulsion has a bearing; T31 uses a pair of diesels directly connected to the prop shaft via a gearbox (CODAD), while T26 uses diesel gensets and a gas turbine to provide power for electric motors which drive the props (CODLAG). CODAD is cheaper and simpler, but noisier because the diesels have to operate over a broader range of revs for the different speeds and because they have a direct mechanical connection to the hull via the prop shaft and gearbox. CODLAG allows the noisy reciprocal engine to be completely mechanically isolated from the hull on a raft with rubberised feet (I think that’s how they do it) and means they can stay within a much narrower range of revs because they only generating electricity. The electric motors are much quieter and smoother across their rev range. This matters because the mechanical vibrations also transmit through water as sound that subs can pick up.
There’s probably other stuff too, but I imagine that these two things are the most significant in making a hull optimised for ASW. I welcome corrections from anyone more knowledgeable on the subject!

Paul.P

Adding to joe’s post. The propellors churn the water creating turbulence if they rotate too fast as will the hull; if its moves too fast there will not be frictionless slipping through the water,
But also every object vibrates with a natural frequency. Think about violin strings or the soprano who sings the right note and shatters the champagne glass. Ship hulls vibrate too, with their natural frequency plus harmonics of that frequency and send those vibrations out for subs to detect with their sonars. The ‘singer’ , the source of energy is the engines and transmission.
Optimising the hull for noise reduction requires quiet engines, insulating mountings and anechoic construction of the hull….no echos in the hull spaces. The T26 hull will be a masterpiece of acoustic design, very stiff, and require a team of master welders to accurately make the panels so that sound is created is not transmitted but cancels itself out or is absorbed by dampers.

Simon m

I think there is an article on this site about T26s hull – which shows the level of dampening and demonstrates the reason for the expense. It is impressive stuff as both Australia and Canada will testify, however those at HM treasury are not so.

James Fennell

They look like ‘mushroom farm’ Sea Ceptor silos cross-decked from T 23, not the same as the high density silos BAe have for T 26. This old piece of kit (modified 1980s Sea Wolf silos) is most likely space hungry, limiting how many can be slotted in and leave enough room for some AshM boxes. Probably part of the story to keep them in budget so the RN can ask for more. If I recall Sea Ceptor and any AshMs are to be Government Furnished Equipment. Originally Artisan was to be cross-decked but that seems to have gone by the way (Thales probably made a good offer, and the cost of integrating with the new CMS outweighed the benefits). Lets see what happens on Sea Ceptor and whether the interim AshM will be cross decked too – five sets are to be ordered, can’t be a coincidence.

Simon m

Unfortunately, according to the plans it is a coincidence, if ISSGW makes it to these vessels it will be 2033 to 36 at the earliest if the future weapon is not delayed, seeing how long sea venom a much more simpler missile has taken I think it will be more 2035-40.
The ISSGW is for the towed array ships which the RN estimate only 5 of the 8 will be deployed at any one time. Considering the rapid pace of technology calling a missile that will be in operation for 16 years + interim is rubbish, especially as it won’t get any development in that period.
I think we’d be better dropping the subsonic requirements of the future weapon & purchase LRASM. We could continue to develop a high supersonic maybe hypersonic with the French especially as we are already behind in this area and the weapon is at least 10yrs away.

maurice10

In an earlier post, I suggested the idea of progressive service ramp-up to enable an earlier ISD for these frigates. I was pleased to see that a partial take up of this idea is being adopted in regards to the number of Sea Ceptor launchers, though I don’t claim any credit for that! The inordinately long build and ISD schedules are too extended, and must be addressed by the MOD. The progressive launch would offer a timely ramp-up of crew capability, and at the same time, expose the ships to operations considerably quicker than waiting for the completed vessels to be released from fitting out? As long as provision for phased upgrade is designed into the basic structure, a Type 31 could, in theory, be commissioned with say, 60% of its weapon suites installed with a three year period for final installation?
The prospect of supporting a carrier task group with elderly Type21 frigates is a risky policy, and in some ways, a betrail of the promise to deploy only the best support vessels to carrier operations. Okay, I know the latest Type21 upgrades allow for maximum support effort, but just how good will these improvements be in five years? Are we heading for a period of reduced frigate capability before the first Type31 takes to the water? Another potential area of concern must be the capability of the Type45 by the end of the decade? Currently, I’m not aware of a replacement programme for the 45’s, but if it’s anything like the Type26/31’s they could also be too late to give the carriers the maximum support. Some rumours are talking about stretched Type 26’s being a quicker way to achieve a timely delivery to replace the 45’s? Whatever, the direction the MOD takes in addressing the current hiatus in new warships, the carriers must not be compromised in any way, and that should be the prime mover in resolving the situation. If I were in charge of Carrier operations the notion that all new frigates to provide the most modern of protection, are ten years from entering service, I would be of gravely concerned for the medium to long term protection of my vessels.

Simon m

I think T45 could have a longer life especially as a number have been sat in port due to manpower issues & time in refit for propulsion issues. I personally am unsure as to whether using T26 as a starting point is the way to go I think BAE are pushing this now so they can maximise profits charging a new design price for modification of an existing design.

To be honest any design that should be modified is T45 which starts bigger & was purposefully built for Sampson which still seems to be the benchmark unless something like ceafar comes to something. Considering the number of years the USN is getting from Arleigh Burkes maybe money would be better spent on stretching & lifex of the T45 & building 3 or 4 new builds. Alternatively if a new radar is not a limiting factor to the design a development of T31 would make sense and any savings to build more T26.

Mark

If I was a naval type responsible for the programme (which I am neither), at this stage I would deliberately show a light weapons fit until designs have been completed and budgets signed off. The final design might have more weapons than this render and cause less comment

Pacman27

Not sure the guns are right for this.

CTA 40mm has a naval variant, surely we should standardise on this and then maybe go for the 76mm OTTO or stick with the 57mm

Just another example of a lack of joined up thinking. We will soon have 2 40mm gun types in operation across 2 services, is this wise?

Donaldson

Unrelated to this post:

Can someone explain why today’s warships are only armed with 8 AShM when compared to 32+ AA missiles? I understand AShM are much smarter than they were 20-30 years ago but being armed by a ratio of 3:1 doesn’t make sense, What happens when you expend all your AShM in a surface fight and the enemy ship shoots them all down?

Simon m

To be honest I think there are many reasons
1) SAMs have multiple targets: helicopters, fixed wing, anti-ship missiles, UAV, ballistic missiles etc. Anti ship have one
2) anti-ship missiles on a vessel are somewhat not an ideal weapon as if you’re in range so is the enemy with their own missiles
3) over the horizon – anti ship missiles are limited by the horizon and need aircraft etc. to provide the targeting information, so in that case you might as well arm that aircraft.
4) anti ship missiles come in fast and have sophisticated reattack modes etc they are designed to survive and whereas if the SAM misses another SAM can be launched quickly whereas anti-ship missiles will be far away.
5) Anti ship failure is not as instantaneously disastrous as SAM failure
6) size due to the distance required for Anti-ship missiles they are significantly bigger and heavier than SAMs probably more expensive as well & therefore less can be afforded or installed
7) the assumption is that it is unlikely a war/conflict will be a 1 on 1 ship engagement & both sides will have multiple assets capable of destroying ships such as subs, aircraft etc.
8) also only 1 missile needs to hit & critical, damage of a major asset could result in defeat.
BTW many navies equip with 16 plus missiles I think ironically Iver Huiltfeldts may!

Karl

Why a bofors 40mm as apposed to a CTA 40mm mount? wouldn’t it be cheaper to adopt a gun already in service with the army?

Simon m

Bofors Probably cheaper, higher rate of fire, 3P ammunition if smart guided rounds are likely to be developed it is more widely used in the naval sphere. It is also tested and proven, whereas naval version of CTA is in it’s infancy. Also unsure how CTA rounds may fair in naval environment?

Simon m

Can we not just lower the number of cells on T26 to 40? This should equal the same overall amount of cells but ensure the 5 T31 get 24? I don’t think the T26 would miss 8 cells? At least not as much as T31 would mass 12

Hugh Jarce

Where is the Type 31 going to be used and what for? AIUI it won’t be used as an escort ship as part of a carrier group, so what’s its purpose?

It it’s going to be used for fisheries protection in UK waters, it’s ridiculously overarmed. Surely a River-class OPV and a few armed sailors would be plenty good enough for this mission? And arguably even the OPV is overarmed with a cannon (and miniguns on the Batch 2s), plus is a helicopter even needed for this mission?

As for maritime anti-terrorism, is the Type 31 overarmed for this mission? Depends on the specific threat I suppose, but for many such threats I would have thought that a River OPV with some Royal Marines or SBS could carry out this mission perfectly well.

As for drug smugglers and gun runners, I’d have thought they’d use the fastest boats they can get their hands on, so the Type 31 wouldn’t be fast enough to keep up with them.

As for humanitarian aid and disaster relief, Bay-class dock landing ships could carry out this mission far more effectively and far cheaper than the Type 31 could.

So what’s the Type 31 going to be used for?

For home waters defence (as well as the Falklands) I’d say the Type 31 is underarmed. I’d fit it with at least 24 Sea Ceptor cells, although Mk41 cells would be better imo because then Sea Ceptor CAMM missiles could be quad-packed in the cells. Also this would give the Type 31s the ability to fire LRASM as well as VL-ASROC (to complement the anti-sub capability provided by the Merlin). I can’t see any need for TLAM for home waters defence, but the option’s there. The TEU containers and boat bays would give the Type 31s the option to carry aerial drones (e.g. the Schiebel Camcopter S-100 which can fire LMMs/Martlets) and surface drones like Arcim (to detect subs and to detect and dispose of mines). I don’t know much about the Bofors guns (40mm and 57mm). From the little I’ve read, I understand they can use smart airburst ammo. These would be good to deal with fast attack craft, but are they capable of taking out anti-ship missiles and aircraft?

I’m concerned about the lack of decoys in the image. Surely at the very least the Type 31s need SSTD (Surface Ship Torpedo Defence) and SeaGnat?

If these improvements were made and if the Type 31s were accompanied by diesel-electric/AIP subs, then I’d say they’d provide a very credble level of defence. Of course, we’d need to build these subs first, but for home waters defence I’d say such subs are a no-brainer, especially when it comes to the GIUK gap.

Also, in UK waters, Poseidons, AEW aircraft and Typhoons would provide additional layers of protection.

Humpty Dumpty

A few things I’d like to know:
– Do either of these Bofors gun types (40mm, 57mm) have auto-reloaders? If so, how quickly can the guns be reloaded?
– If not, how long does it take to manually reload them? Can this be done at sea?
– What types of anti-ship missiles have either gun been tested against? e.g. Harpoon? Exocet? Anything faster or stealthy? How effective are they against the missiles they’ve been tested against?
– Up to what altitude can these guns effectively engage enemy aircraft?
– Which ammo type is best to engage missiles and which is best to engage aircraft?

Humpty Dumpty

What is the point of the Type 31? It’s purely diesel powered and noisy, so it can’t be used anywhere there’s likely to be subs. Even if it had CODLOG propulsion like the Type 26s will have (and be made quiet in other ways), it would need bow sonar, towed array sonar, VL-ASROC, SSTD and a Merlin HM2 to deal with subs.

As for dealing with anti-ship missiles, just 12 CAMMs is a pitiful number and the Bofors 40mm could be out of ammo in just 20 seconds. Plus worryingly there are no decoys shown in the image above (e.g. Seagnat, MASS, IrvinGQ off-board floating decoys). So basically sending a Type 31 anywhere where there will be subs or anti-ship missiles would be an idiotic idea. So where’s it going to be used? Does it even have a realistic role?

The Type 31 is mainly equipped to deal with fast attack craft. If that’s all you want to do, stick a couple of Seahawk Sigmas on River-class OPVs and job done at a fraction of the cost. Well assuming there are no subs or anti-ship missiles about. In fact, also stick a Bofors 40mm and 12 CAMMs on a River OPV and you’ve pretty much got a Type 31 for a fraction of the cost.

Wouldn’t it make more sense to scrap the Type 31s and use that money to upgrade the Type 45s instead by fitting Mk41 launchers? CAMM missiles can be quad-packed in Mk41s to greatly increase the number of missiles carried by a carrier group plus that would also mean a carrier group could have VL-ASROC, LRASM and TLAM now instead of having to wait for the Type 26s to get that capability. Plus having those 3 missile types on Type 26s makes no sense to me, since they’ll be sub-hunters and will need to be as quiet as possible. It would also make sense imo to buy surface sub-hunting drones like Arcims or Seagull to accompany Type 23s to enhance their sub-hunting capability. SeaSpider anti-torpedo torpedoes wouldn’t go amiss either.

I’d also replace some of the Phalanx guns on the frigates, destroyers and carriers with a gun that can use smart airburst ammo, so the Bofors 40mm, the Oerlikon Millennium Gun or the Thales RAPIDSeaGuardian since I think they’re more likely to hit incoming missiles (compare using a shotgun to a rifle). In fact “hit” is probably the wrong word, since it’s more a case of putting up a wall of shrapnel and letting a missile fly into it.