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On Arrowhead 140 design.

What does “FOST endorsed” mean? We all know not only the escorts, but also Wave and Tide-class AOR, River OPV passed FOST. I guess the program shall be “customized” for each class. Is the program for IH-class is the same as those for RN escorts?


The RN provide FOST for other nations and the Over Huitfeldt class has underwent FOST on several occasions.

There is a mighty ships programme on this class and for me its a no brainer, if it comes in under £400m buy it, bargain of the century.

I would go further and order at least 10.

At the end of the day, any of these is ok and will do the job being asked of them.

Simon m

Arrowhead is still the no brainer choice for me I don’t see tacticos as a massive disadvantage as it sounds like it can be customised and the newer generation of sailors will be used to changing technology.
In every other way it seems streets ahead and the closest to provide a proper warship capability I just hope that it can be completed within the budget

Meirion X

The Leander frigate design, which is only 117 metres in length, is Too much like a glorified OPV!
The UK needs credible frigates to fill the air defence and anti-ship warfare role, which the Royal Navy lacks, with only 6 destroyers.
I very much think that a frigate based on the Iver Hutsveldt design would fulfill the AAW role.


What you say above was never the goal of the type 31e program thou the type 26 programs more closely meets the needs you list


The Leander is a stretched Khareef, which in turn is a stretched River. So yes, Leander is essentially a doubly-stretched OPV!


Similarly, Arrowhead 140 is a modified “multi-purpose landing ship = Apsalon”. I see no difference to Leander.

If the design meets the required standard (I guess NATO frigate standard), then I think there is no problem regardless of their design origin.

Blaming Leander as “glorified OPV” is as meaningless as blaming Arrowhead 140 as “glorified landing ship”.

Glass Half Full

You are not really comparing apples to apples though are you? Absalon is irrelevant. Iver Huitfeldt/Arrowhead 140 is a proven AAW frigate platform, 3 ships already exist, in the water and have deployed operationally. Its a known entity and low risk, I’d be surprised if the RN hasn’t taken every opportunity to experience and measure them up.

For A140 there is no requirement to modify the hull or propulsion systems, unless 24 knots maximum is considered sufficient in which case the design reverts to the 2 diesel engine Absalon propulsion system instead of the IH’s 4 diesels. There may only be minimal need to modify any internal systems such as piping and cabling. Its possible there might be some modification between the boat bays, missile silo and hanger to enhance the mission bay but nowhere near the same order of change as Leander.

Leander requires the Khareef design to be stretched 18-20m. There is risk here that doesn’t exist for Arrowhead 140. Also is the propulsion system the same as Khareef? It looks like there is additional electric drive? Maybe its all straightforward for Leander but I wouldn’t assume it.


No objection Arrowhead 140 has less modification in hull design. It is just stripping off ALL of the systems as AAW platform, and adding modest weapon sets as GP light frigate.

I was just worried about the “mood” to claim Leander as an OPV. It is not.
Even if someone call Leander a “streched OPV”, it is of NATO frigate standard = the hull standard will be the same to Arrowhead 140. Of course, modification will be needed. It will be similar amount of work Danish navy needed to design Iver Huitfeldt frigate from Absalon multi-purpose landing ship. It will cost. But the output (Leander) will not be an OPV anymore.

Leander propulsion is using the same diesels as Khareef, and just improving the electric motor power from 250kWx2 (Khareef) to 750kW x2 (Leander). Of course, electric power generation must be increased.

Glass Half Full

Sorry to be picky but I don’t see ANY HULL modification required for A140 from Iver Huitfeldt. Superstructure mods yes, because A140 isn’t supporting the radar suite of IH.

I don’t know what you mean by “NATO frigate standard”? However, if we want to assume that Leander would pass the same shock tests that IH has, then somewhere between the original OPV design, Khareef and Leander there presumably needs to be some extra work done? I say this because I doubt the original OPV hull was designed for shock test standards since it is not considered a warship, and I am skeptical that it was included in the design for Khareef. IH used the same basic hull as Absalon so I don’t think its accurate to assert that the Khareef stretch to Leander is a similar modification.


Thanks. Again, no objection in IH –> Arrowhead 140. (What I meant was RHIB alcove and bridge change, shown in their vid. Yes superstructure).

Leander is desgined to “Lloyds Naval Ship Rules ✠100A1, NS2 Frigate, …” . (see their web). This is what I understand, “frigate standard”. I guess it includes shock tolerance?

As a reference, Damen 10514 is designed to OPV standard, as I understand. So, when I saw the list, I was actually a bit surprised.

Sorry for detail.

Glass Half Full

OK I see now what you’re referring to. Presumably Leander will meet/be built to those standards that it quotes. But the other designs might exceed these standards … or could be lower. There isn’t one overarching pass-fail standard for a frigate, only what the buyer defines using existing standards so that everyone is clear on what is being asked for and expected. Consider as an example HMS Ocean, that was intentionally built to commercial standards and as such is likely to be far less robust versus say US amphibious assault ships built to tougher standards

The Type 31e RFI references a number of ANEP 77 and DefStan standards as desirable in section 6.3.1, but it also states “… deviations from these standards will be considered where it can be demonstrated that these arrangements are appropriate to the anticipated role of the ship.”

So long story short is that each ship candidate could be built to different standards as long as all three can persuade MoD that they meet the minimum, which may be less than what is specified in the RFI, if the trade offs are acceptable to MoD.


Shock testing is a voluntary test unless the customer wants it. You can design for it all you like but unless you actually do it, its all theoretical. The IH hull definately has been shock tested (videos online) for real. I am unsure if a Meko A200 has been, but it is an existing, already in service frigate design, as is its parent design. Leander has been stretched considerably (more than 20 meters) over its parent design which adds a design risk the others don’t have. As an interesting aside, the Khareef class use TACTICOS for its CMS.


It would appear Atlas have positioned themselves very well. Size wise, it looks much more like a light frigate (which is going to matter, because uninformed observers need to be able to see that compared to the T26), and the spec offered is generally quite middle of the road between its two contenders.

The biggest points against it are a significantly larger crew complement (based off current spec, but the RN spec could feature far more automation) and their choice of shipyard having little warship experience past blocks for the QECs. Both of those are major points, because crew size is a big issue for the RN, even with current good news on the subject, while an inexperienced yard constructing a relatively small batch of ships presents significant risk and little long term gain compared to Rosyth or Cammel Laird.

I wonder where we’d stand on the legal side if our government did what Australia and Canada have done and mandate a specific yard for the winners to build at? IMO I’d say they had to be built at CL (Rosyth is where the joint UK bid for the support ships is based if memory serves, so as long as the government is smart they’re ok)

Philip Hardy

On the information available the clear leader is the Arrowhead solution. Aside from anything else it is the only one that has the capacity to be significantly upgraded over its life span. It is also the only one that seems capable of going in harm’s way with a reasonable hope of coming back. Whether it can be produced to the specified budget is another matter, but that goes for all three.

That said, I would be prepared to place a modest wager that the contract will go to BAe and the ships produced will be “fitted for but not equipped with” anything more that a small gun and some light armament,


Although I prefer the Arrowhead 140 concept I see difficulties ahead for both the Arrowhead and MEKO A-200. The difficulty is that as far as I remember the idea was to be able to sell these small frigates on the international market. How does the licenses for building these stand. or have we given up on the idea? As for the Leander it does seem to be a glorified OPV, what would be its sea keeping abilities for one of its potential stations that of the Falklands.


Leander has several advantages.
-Its small and slow.
-Its probably the cheapest and least survivable.
-Its going to be fitted for but not with.
-its associated with the MOD’s favourite supplier. BAE.


If the hull is too large, the build cost and operation cost will increase, and then armament cost will decrease. But, if the hull is too small, even the operation cost can be cheaper, future growth margin is not enough.

I am “OK” with Arrowhead 140. But I think, with the 1.25B GBP total cost for 5 hulls, I think Leander 117 is the best balance. With this cost, there is no hope for good AAW nor ASW armaments.

Even if more money is available in future, nothing to fear. It must go into more P-8A, more F35B, CVF (add CAMM), T45 (add CAMM and BMD) and T26 (land attack missile, introducing ExLS to increase CAMM number), more USV/UUV fleet.

But, it can be a well-balanced light frigate = a 2nd-rate escort. Can work as a goal-keeper (close escort), presence ship (e.g. Kipion), and join NATO fleet.

Captain Nemo

A200 must be a non starter for the crew requirements alone, before you even get to the smaller mission bay (I’ve recently become enamoured of mission bays).
BAE are confident with the all British design I expect, I remember at the start of the process they said they wouldn’t even tender. They get a lot of criticism, but they produced world class ships with the T45 and T26, they just expect you to pay for their time. Not happy with the hanger though, we don’t know what we’ll want in there in twenty years.
Arrowhead seems to tick all the boxes doesn’t it, cheap enough to put close to shore for NGS but wouldn’t look out of place in a carrier group, big hanger, big mission space and the navy could throw 32 mk41 on it at the midlife when it thinks nobody’s looking and it wouldn’t even blink.
£250m is still too cheap though, you must be looking at £350m for something credible and I’d really like BAE to offer up a general purpose T26 at say £450m just to be the elephant in the room, I think the Kiwi’s would take a couple of those.

John Pattullo

i think the problem with a general purpose t26 is that it would need a major redesign of the propulsion systems to bring the cost down which would probably need a redesign of the hull at which point its a new ship – not saying ti cant be done but i think it would be a lot of work

Captain Nemo

Makes sense, I’d been working on the presumption that simplifying those aspects would reduce price and build time, but of course everything comes at a cost, even reducing costs.
I’ve been bemoaning T26 hull numbers since the piece on the mission bay.

Cam Hunter

Leander is what our 5 new OPVs should have been equipped like,


Quit;e they could have been built for the money we spent on the 5 most expensive and least capable OPV’s the world has ever seen. As Brexit is showing we are ruled by incompetents. Why build 5 when 3 was enough to fix the BAE stand by deal if the T26’s had been ordered ealier? The mind boggles.

Cape Clear

All you have to do is look across at the Irish Navy’s 4 Beckett Class. They have the same length, and 76MM gun. They have no landing pad though. The Irish got them for a bargin too only 65 miliion pounds each


The P60’s also have other drawbacks, they are an iteration of a late 90’s design that were a decade late into service due to the Crash.


It should be Venator 110 at Cammel Laird, Birkenhead with BAE CMS. The Arrowhead is too big and the Leander too small. A streach of an OPV too far.

Meirion X

Remember the Russian frigate Admiral Gorshkov is 135m in length, and well armed Too!
Maybe the MoD should ask the Russians to design a frigate for them!!! Just joking!!


I think Leander, it will be nice to have an English shipyard building ships for the Royal Navy again, I don’t mind Scotland getting most Royal Navy shipbuilding, but they can’t have every single one, also, very crucially it will best meet the limited budget for what is, after all a light frigate. Also it is all British, the main aim of the National Shipbuilding strategy is to support British shipbuilding and design with Royal Navy work. Also B.A.E. have a huge World-wide network and contacts, they will get us maximum exports.

Captain Nemo

Not a dig at you Stephen, I just don’t see that there’s a strategy at work here, it’s a punt more than anything.
I’ve just had a quick thumb through the NSS and picked out a couple of passages that seem to inspire confidence… and then not so much.

‘A Master Plan for naval shipbuilding that lays out Defence’s procurement plans for each series of naval ships over the next 30 years in order to provide a programme of work on which Industry and the workforce can rely’

‘Type 31e will enable us to grow the size of the frigate force. The Government will set no upper limit on the number of Type 31es that will be introduced to the Fleet; this will be a decision for future Governments’

Regards, Nemo

Bob Wagstaff

My thoughts:

5 x Arrowhead fitted out with a view to creating an anti-air frigate during the first refit. 1 x 4.5 inch, 1 x Phalanx, 1 x 8 pack Sylver 35 (32 Sea Ceptor quad packed, 24 Sylver 50 added at a future date for Aster 30) + deck mounting for the S1850M radar (again fitted later).

If I am remembering correctly the gov set aside an amount for extra anti-sub capability? If this could be upped to 1.25b I think an order for 5 x Leander with a full anti-sub fit bellow the water line and a basic OPV fit above (3 x auto-30mm and a Phalanx only) should be placed.

This would get us up to the 24 escorts the RN needs.

The Arrowhead could be forward deployed and the Leander tasked with keeping an eye on sub activity near our South Atlantic islands (looking at you China).


Why exactly do you want them fitted out as anti-air frigates, and then acquire a second different class of ASW frigates?

The RN has no need for a dedicated anti air frigate, the 4.5″ gun and Sylver VLS are being replaced with the 5″ and Mk41, and a wide area/BMD radar is overkill and too expensive for a low end escort.

£1.25bn is the total budget for the T31 programme, not counting the value of any equipment transferred from the T23s. Realistically there’s no way the budget is going to then double to allow another 5 ships, but it would be daft to order two batches of completely different frigates instead of just one class.

The most cost effective load out would be to standardise as much equipment as possible: Artisan radar, low-cost Sea Ceptor soft launch cells, the torpedo system from the T23s, and either a 3″ or 5″ gun (3″ is cheaper up front, but standardised 5″ guns across the fleet would ease logistic costs). Throw in an SSGW like NSM, that’s a more than fair load out for a GP frigate, and all three contenders are fully capable of being fitted as such.


I agree with Callum, why fit them out as anti-air frigates, we have T45’s for that, a general purpose / anti sub frigate is what is called for, pardon the pun but, Arrowhead floats my boat. If somebody is going to supply a magnificent beast like arrowhead for a stretched OPV money then I say we’ll have 10. Teresa has made us look weak on the world stage, QE, a T45, a couple of T26’s and a couple of Arrowheads, tankers, replenishment ships, littoral support ships, LSD and a couple of full Royal Marine Commandos distributed between the fleet in their now ample accommodation, simply says GREAT BRITAIN IS BACK.

Meirion X

The MoD only procured 6 T45’s AAW Destoyers! It should have procured at lease 10 T45’s for a CREDIBLE Carrier Escort Fleet.
The MoD need to procure 10 CREDIBLE Type 31 AAW frigates, to fill the gap of missing destroyers, Not procured.


I’m not going to say 6 destroyers is enough, because honestly it isn’t. However, the solution isn’t to try and turn a general purpose frigate into a light T45.

T31 has 3 main purposes: to keep our escort fleet at current strength as the T23s decommission, provide the option of export or a second RN batch in the future, and to cover lower intensity operations to free up the actual destroyers and first rate frigates for carrier ops.

If the T45s and T26s don’t have to be used for less critical roles, the lack of numbers doesn’t matter as much because they’ll almost always be available for the missions they’re actually needed for. The T31 is NEVER going to be what Bob suggested and you seem to support, partly because the money doesn’t exist and partly because it doesn’t NEED to be. It needs to be “credible”, yes, but that doesn’t mean give it most of the AAW suite of a first rate destroyer. First priority is to get 5 new warships to keep fleet numbers up, second priority is build enough of them that the first rates are no longer required to cover missions like Op Kipion or anti-piracy.


T31 isn’t meant to be a first rate AAW Destroyer but it should be at least fit to escort a civilian ship on a transit of the Bab al-Mandad Strait.


Which means Sea Ceptor, which doesn’t require a BMD radar or Mk41/Sylver

Meirion X

I agree with you that the proposed Type 31 frigate does not need to be given the full AAW suite of a first rate destroyer. What I propose is the Type 31 frigate’s weapons system is network to the Type 45 destoryer’s Simpson radar when deployed as in a carrier group. Deployments of Type 31 frigate as part of a carrier group will free up Type 26 frigates for submarine hunting, or deployed for standalone patrols in contested waters. A carrier group will require a minimum deployment of one Type 26 frigate. I think the Type 31 frigate should be be fitted with the MK. 41 tactical version, to allow for arming with RUM-139 VL-ASROC if needed.


Cooperative Engagement Capability was dropped several years ago, so that’s extra cost that would need to be funded. It would certainly be nice to have, but I’d question it’s worth on a ship that’s mostly going to be deployed alone on patrols and flag-showing ops.

Why the Mk41 tactical? There’s no benefit to it: it’s heavier and more expensive than the stand alone Sea Ceptor cells, doesn’t hold any more missiles for a given volume, and doesn’t give any more capability

Meirion X

Mk41 tactical version fitted to the Type 31 frigate, will give the new frigates a wider range of weapons to arm with, including LRASM2, 4.2m, from 2024.


It originally ordered 12 , was cut to 8 increased to 10 and then only 6 where ordered due to cost overruns.
Remember that 13 type 26 where originally planned but now only 8 are planned and 3 have been ordered and we will probably only build 6 due to cost overruns.
The elephant in MoD budget is the dreadnought program which is consuming huge amounts of money and is already 13% over budget which will have long term effects on future procurement of equipment for all 3 services.

Meirion X

The Italian Navy is planning to procure some of the PPA frigates as small ASW frigates of 4500t each, instead of full size PPA frigate of 6000t.

I think, if it is possible to build a ASW PPA frigate of this size, they would be useful for the RN for sub. hunting in home waters.
Minus the Aster of course! See Link below.

Meirion X

A Type 26 ASW Frigate escort would need to be miles ahead to be effective!!

A carrier group will Also need anti air warfare frigates and destroyers, to provide an effective air defense escort for an aircraft carrier., by escorting a carrier close in. A Type 26 ASW frigate will need to escort much further ahead, away from the Noise coming from the hulls of the carrier Group.

The Type 26 Frigate is designed to hunt quiet submarines, or subs. tens of miles away.
The engines of Type 26 sit on dampers and isolators to stop noise from the engine being transmitted into the water, and being picked up by the warship’s very sensitive towed array sonar. If a Type23/26 sails too close to a aircraft carrier, the noise coming from the hull of the carrier will be pick up by the warship’s sonar and be drown out any faint noise coming from subs. not too far away. So a Type23/26 ASW frigate
would need to sail some distance ahead of the main fleet in order for this ship’s sonar system to function most effectively to hunt submarines.

Meirion X

The Type 31 frigates to be procured, do not need a full AAW radar system like a Type 45 destroyer, because the Type 31 could be network to a Type 45 radar system when deployed with a carrier group. The question is what weapon load should each Type 31 be armed with, maybe MK41 tactical version, or just Sea Ceptor?


Looking at the Meko moving the Anti ship missiles from amidship and enclosing this space could give you the desired mission bay with the least modifications and cost.

If you were feeling more ambitious and with further design modifications the mission bay amidship could be connected to the hangar similar to the T26 opening up the possibility of space for a second helicopter. (There is no central funnel in the Meko).

And for a bit of gold plating leave space either side of the hangar for insertion of an 8 cell strike length MK41 VLS for a total of 16 cells. Keeping the forward VLS for a cold launch Camm Mushroom farm.


Regarding the Arrowhead 140, the CMS can be whatever the RN require, because it will actually reduce integration costs for RN specific sensors and weapons, plus allows for commonality with the rest of the fleet. So I think that the table stating that the CMS is fixed and implying that it is a problem is incorrect.


But can you get the A140 with a different CMS and keep the price under £250m. At the moment the max price a yard can bid with any chance of success is £250m as the A140 is already a big ship for the money it may be difficult to replace a discount bit from Thales with a full price one from BAe.


The RN already own their current CMS and can supply it as Govt Furnished Equipment and they don’t have to buy a new one. This reduces both acquisition and whole of life costs.


I agree. I think people are forgetting that part of the T31e idea was ment to be exports & that will require a full kit out example & designs to cover both UK & export. Until someone clarifies exactly what GFE is being supplied, its hard to differentiate between UK & export versions. If the UK version gets its CMS as GFE (or radar or main gun etc) then you still have to list a viable replacement for export. An export customer may well turn up with their own GFE or specific equipment list or nothing at all. If GFE is basically non existant, then considering the UK price point & risk, the full Thales suite makes sense.

As to the list of A140 negatives, yes, the hull may be a bit big to be called ‘low end’. However, I don’t think that is the way Babcock & Co will be marketing it (ie they will be selling it as a ‘gp’, modernised IH, up there with the ‘gp’ FREMM). eg for NZ, they most likely would be pushing SMART radar & 32 mk41 VLS. As to a modern navy running more than one CMS, this is nothing unusual. Australia, Japan & SKorea all run more than one. The effect will be reduced if the numbers rise (of T31).


How does it being provided GFE reduce the acquisition or through-life cost? GFE doesn’t mean that the customer gets it for free, or that the through-life maintenance requirements are any different whatsoever.


GFE is usually of two types – new/used/refurbished that it buys in, or used/refurbished that it already owns. It is obviously much cheaper to supply a refurbished 114mm (4.5in) from a T23 frigate than to buy a 76mm, 100mm or 127mm new gun. The through life maintenance can be cheaper because there is existing parts, knowledge, training, supply chain etc (& eventually 8 spare guns in the shed). The same is true for a CMS which consists of both hardware & software. Hardware also requires spare parts, software requires patches (for errors) & enhancements. If UK obtains a new weapon or sensor, that is not already handled by the CMS, they will have to pay to get it intergrated. If you are using two unrelated CMS, you pay twice.

Phillip Johnson

It will be interesting to see what can be squeezed into the budget. People need to accept that this is a minimum cost operation and it is 1.25 Billion for the 5 ships INCLUDING any extra Government Furnished Equipment that cannot be remove from the T23’s.
In the current situation there is very likely to be no more money and there are plenty of other projects drinking at the trough.
In that regard the RAF seem to have just got their Wedgetails

Bloke down the pub

Any reason why the main gun for the Leander is given as 57mm Bofors, when the Khareef on which it is based is fitted with a 76mm?
As I recall, the main reason for the Type 31 was a desire to build a class that would make a more attractive export option. As the Type 26 has now got more export orders than the Type 31 was ever expected to achieve, hasn’t this become a moot point? It’s not as if any exports were ever likely to be built in British yards.


Yep…and on BAEs Leander web site the CGI clearly depicts a 4.5 Mk 8, quite clearly their pitch for the RN design .

Captain Nemo

That’s an OTO Melara 76mm Super Rapid I think.


Play the video..most definitely a 4.5 Mk 8

Captain Nemo

You’re correct, my apologies, I was looking at the still header image.


– BAE thinks 57 mm is more capable option than 76 mm, and pushing for it to be added to T31e. On 4.5inch gun, it is heavy, man-power intensive, dead-end technology with little more investments (little hope for guided-rounds). I prefer 57mm.

– T26 is design export and none of the RAN and RCN hulls will be built in UK. But, NSS is aiming at build export. Two different points.


Simple, BAe own Bofors so would prefer us to by the 57mm. As money is very tight on this project and the Gov is offering 4.5 for free me guess this that’s the way we will go. The 4.5 is planed to stay in service on the T45 for a long time to come.


The 57mm Mark 3 Bofors and the 76mm Oto Melara are both very good choices. The 76mm beats the Bofors in firepower as I recall during a Sinex the 57mm couldnt sink its target (Of the top of my head so I could be wrong). The Bofors hasnt been tested against a 76mm with STRALES to my knowledge as DART is an Anti Missile steerable round to deal with Supersonic Missiles


The 57mm is of very limited NGS use. It basically lacks weight against bunkers, reinforced concrete buildings & the like. The 76mm is often considered the minimum useful round against such targets.

Bloke down the pub

It seems a bit arse back’ards that the T26 is fitted with the 5″, capable of firing guided rounds which makes it an ideal weapon for NGS. Bringing a T26 close inshore is an unnecessary risk, when the T31 should be able to perform the task.

Captain Nemo

Janes is reporting that Indonesia may be taking two Iver Huitfeldt for $720m (£550m), given our pricing I’d guess that’s before any stanflex modules.

Also that Thales is opening a UK facility in support of its T31 bid.

Apologies if links violate STRN guidelines, not sure of your policy.


John Clark

Arrowhead is the clear front runner, a proper warship design with the space for future growth potential.

Anything else is selling the RN down the River in my opinion.

It also has the advantage of breaking Bae Systems monopoly on warship construction.

The RN clearly needs 10 of these to bring the escort numbers back to an absolute minimum level 24.


1: No big objection for presenting the merit of Arrowhead 140, but I think Leander or MEKO A200 is also “no problem”.

– All 3 designs will be built to the same NATO frigate standard.
– With the 1.25G GBP total cost, the armaments will be the same (I even fear, Arrowhead 140 will be the least armed, because the hull is large, needs 4 diesel not 2, and CMS differs = need introduction cost).
– One big difference is the future growth margin. And here, Arrowhead 140 is the largest, I agree. But, Leander and MEKO A200 have enough growth margin.

The problem is, will T31e “grow” so much in future? For example, if you have “another 1B GBP” in future, will you invest it on up-arming T31e?

For ASW, I will buy more P-8A (now only 9).
For AAW, add CAMM to T45 and CVF, or increase the number of P-7 AEW (now only 5).
For strike, more F35B.

Yes, up-arming T31e is on the list, but surely not at the top of them. I’m afraid T31e will not see “huge” up-arming in future. In this case, large growth margin will just be a dead space, wasting maintenance load and fuel.

2: “breaking Bae Systems monopoly on warship construction” is OK. But, how can Babcock survive as a “warship builder”, after T31e program ends on 2027?

If it is RN for more escorts, I prefer more T26. And I am not optimistic to see such increased money to come.

If it is for export, how can UK shipbuilder export a ship designed and promoted by Danish company? I agree there is a narrow nitch. But, OMT is already directly contacting with those countries years ago. For example, agreement between OMT and Indonesia dates back to 2016 or so.

This problem is the same for MEKO A200.

Overall, I am pretty much “flat” among the 3 proposals. I can see merits in Leander, as well as in Arrowhead (but not much in MEKO A200, partly because of lack of information).

Timothy Sinnett

I also feel ‘flat’ about the three options. I know money is tight and really rules out development of a true new design, but this is supposed to be one of the national ship building strategies key programmes to boost exports. To be successful, it’s needs to offer something new, fresh and a bit different, not a stretched corvette or slight modification of an existing ship.
Also some on here have said ‘we don’t need it be a mini AAW or ASW platform, we have t45/t26 for that. Point is, it has to have the potential to be modified for that to be truly successful in the export market. Leander will only ever have room for a pitiful number of cells, and in a world where increasingly winning a fight will come down to who runs out of missiles first looses, this option is a non starter, even a lower end platform. Fine for what we need of it, but unlikely to win any foreign orders. IMO no warship should go to sea without a minimum of 32 cells. Our first rate ships, current and planned really don’t have enough to face up to a Chinese or Russian destroyer, and we need to wake up to this fact. Our whole philosophy around arming ships is badly flawed and we will end up being caught short. second rate ships such as T31 should have 24 seaceptor AND 8 mk41, 8 asm and a medium gun but with a lower end radar and modest survivability. Our first rate ships should have 72 plus cells, 16 asm mount, multiple CIWS points including for lasers, 5” gun and top end radar, Elint, survivability etc.
For what we need of the t31- patrol and flag waving etc, just stretch a river class and add a hanger for £150 million and use the money saved to design and develop a proper modern light frigate with high levels of automation, innovative propulsion, low radar x section, and give a potential weapons fit to make it credible for a cost of about £350 – 450 million depending on options.

Captain Nemo

Hello Donald, I think we need to keep growth potential in mind because I suspect this is another fudge and that we’re going to have these ships for quite a long time, T31 is simply a budgetary response to spiralling T26 costs disguised as coherent policy. I’ve written before on my doubts over how an order for five ships is meant to kickstart a revolution in British shipbuilding and added a couple of quotes from the NSS somewhere above illustrating the apparent contradictions in that document. Also, would the government be so deluded as to think that other navies are sitting on their hands waiting to see what we do next (well, possibly some with popcorn) and that they’ll beat a path to our door? As you point out, industry is already out there doing its level best to sell ships without our help.
I get the impression that the NSS is meant to be some sort of perpetual motion machine and that we put nothing in at one end and get ships out of the other end. Order the ships we need and create the capacity.
Totally agree with Timothy on the cell numbers, not just from an operational standpoint but from a PR one, our ships have to stack up against their peers if they’re flying the white ensign, it’s not like it goes unnoticed. Look at the T26, it’s almost crying out that it was meant to have forty eight Mk41, but that someone cut twenty four of them to save thirty million quid a ship. We’ll do it again outfitting the T31, we’re sending all the wrong messages right across the board.
Also agree that we should really be presenting something with a little edge, I was looking at Damen’s Omega frigate yesterday with just that in mind, it has something of the Romulan Warbird about it I think, can’t quite place it.

Kind regards, Nemo


Thanks Nemo-san

I agree growth margin is needed, we only differ in how much margin we need.

For example, I think T31e Leander (if selected) will carry only a simple gun, 12 CAMM, two 30mm gun, and a Wildcat with minimum sensor kits. No Mk.41 VLS, no CIWS, no sonar, no torpedo, no SSM, simply because of its cheap cost.

Then, in future with more money, they can “grow” to have; a guided round for their gun (both AAW and anti-surface), a hull sonar, CAPTAS4-CI astern, torpedo-defense kits, replace 12 CAMM mushroom tubes with 6 (or even 12) ExLS for 24 (or 48) CAMM, 8 SSMs, as well as a CIWS.

Even here, I think still Leander is not “full”. (If more money, I will replace 2 of the RHIBs with ARCIMs ASW version, add 8-cell Mk.41 to carry VL-ASROC, and replace Artisan 3D with full AESA. )

This is why I think “even Leander has a good enough growth margin”.

Timothy-san, I agree more CAMM is needed. And to do it, I think we need to adopt ExLS. It is very compact. With ExLS, T26 will be carrying up to 192 CAMM (!) (or 96 CAMM and 96 SPEAR3). Utilize the merit of CAMM, compact and cold-launched.

Isn’t it nice?

Captain Nemo

CAMM-ER and Spear 3 would complement each other well I think, both going out to 40km from sea level, that and guided 5″ would open up a world of possibilities in the littoral zone.


Really good article, thanks for putting it together.
Only question is whether the HMS options are correct? Seems like you might have swapped the boxes…


I think we should see this for what it is really
If the government can call a £200 dinghy a warship they will, always have done always will.
The Iver is the best but that’s not the aim of the programme unfortunately jobs and exports for minumun cost is.
If we can get these built and sold then that will be a result as the builder can then lobby the government for more and they can claim more warships. Unfortunately and predictably the government will only commit to spending after the wheel falls off (Falklands AEw and Iraq snatch Land rovers and helicopters/weapons and kit… The list goes on.) I would prefer C and L to maintain British jobs and to avoid another yard closing.


Thanks for another great article. .

In terms of how to make trade-offs in the design: I’m very much an armchair Admiral but as a keen reader of military history, I’ll hazard an opinion that if it comes to a choice between armament and sensors, I’d go for sensors every time and why? Because in every form of confrontation I’ve ever read about or been in, if you can deny your opponent the element of surprise, and ideally even get the drop on him, it seems that you are likely to create a decisive advantage.

So for me it’s Leander all the way. Prioritise sensors (incl towed array), Keep it small, keep it cheap, keep alive the chance of more than 5 and keep it British.


Then you must be a fan of the old Salisbury Class Frigate ? 100m long with a twin 4.5 and 40mm Bofors/Seacat but with its type 965 radar (Which even the Type 42 DDGs had 20 years later *Facepalm*)but also with the Type 982/986 air control radar ? which would have certainly helped in the falklands as it kicked the crap out of the 965s in capability over land tracking. Salisbury was a Sensor ship with a few guns lol I like that class if you havent figured yet ??? lol


Had to look them up.. The last of the class HMS Lincoln was even built at Camel Lairds. It’s a sign!


The Salisbury class still has a serving Ship in Bagladesh ? I would like to see a Modern Version with a Sampson radar ?

Meirion X

Leander is a Corvette Only! OK for Home waters ASW, but Too small for World wide ops.
It is a Disgrace of BAE Systems proposing this vessel as a GP frigate for World Wide Ops!
The Leander is a Down-grade of the existing 5 GP Type 23 frigates(Non-ASW).


If they TPTB go with a 76mm main gun (Oto Melara) they could always look into STRALES with its DART ammunition. Italy has 3 of them on their PAAMS Destroyer as they can also perform CIWS operations and Gun Fire Support with a far greater range than the 20mm Phalanx. Raytheon who make Phalanx upgunned it to an 11 Cell SeaRAM launcher with the Phalanx mount to deal with the guns obsolescence. The Oto 76mm guns also have a high rate of fire and can be mounted without deck penetration at a cost of Magazine size if needed ?


The brochure for Leander says
“12+ CAMM missile launchers”
Does the “+” suggest their may be space for a modest increase in the number of CAMM missile launchers? Perhaps if the customer wishes to pay for more.

It also says that a
“Vertical Launching System (Strike length) can be fitted midships”

Glass Half Full

A couple of thoughts on Arrowhead140.

There are many shipbuilders already offering corvettes and small frigates, its arguably a saturated market with some very competent designs from suppliers with significant relationships and supply history. If the UK offers a large frigate at a low entry price, such as A140, then perhaps it is a positive differentiator, rather than a negative as often presumed? Indonesia’s interest in 2x Iver Huitfeldt class frigates to complement their smaller frigates would seem to support a market for larger vessels. Where countries with smaller budgets increasingly seem to want to build their own corvettes and small frigates, building a larger frigate, particularly at low cost and lacking experience may be more challenging for them, assuming they have the dockyards for it, and might actually support an increased possibility for exports?

The National Ship Building Strategy suggests the T45 replacement decision point is around 2022/23 with IOC in the mid- to late-2030’s. If MoD want to get the best value for the replacement then a competition between a BAES T26 based AAW platform versus an Arrowhead140 AAW platform might be the way to do it, given Iver Huitfeldt has already established itself as a capable high end AAW platform for the Danes. If both platforms are already in production in the UK, which would of course mean that A140 would have to be the winner of the T31e competition, then both would be credible competitors.

Wilhelm Beller

Design wise I would go with the Leander. It looks far better than the rest. BUT when it comes to being a good and effective frigate it would be Arrowhead 140. Better weapons, design, systems, etc.


Overall, I agree to your point. But, from where “better weapons” comes? (# argument on design and systems is OK for me). I see no information of weapon sets proposed for any of the 3 T31e candidates yet.

Leander brochure is the export version (= I do not think Mk41 VLS nor SSM will be included in the “1.25B GBP”). Arrowhead 140 webpage is very vague in its capability, just listing options. MEKO A200 has no information.

Actually, I am (we are) very “hungry” for more information… Are there any?


Soft power +flag waving =teddy bear holding union Jack
Anti piracy anti drugs = river class, ideally with hanger
Disaster relief = reefer
What do we actually want this ships primary mission to be?


ASW please

Meirion X

The RN could procure OPV’s or corvette’s configured for ASW, for sub. hunting in home waters and fitted out with 2087 TAS etc.
Releasing the Type 26’s for further afield.

Meirion X

To do missions that do not require a specialist submarine hunter frigate, but require mainly air/missile cover. Like the present Non-TAS(2087) Type 23 frigates. Also with light ASW as well.


Yes, but what are those missions?Specifically what is its primary focus.


I’m no expert here, but wouldn’t the A140 be seen by the RN as a potential threat to the T26? The A140 is getting on for the size of the T26, and if it can really be built for £250m (or thereabouts), wouldn’t the bean counters start asking questions?


T26 is an ASW specialist & was designed as such from the start. A140 is not & can never be an ASW specialist (not without complete propulsion redesign just to start). Thats not to say it is useless at ASW (A140 will be better at it than IH). If you look at the Italian FREMM, it comes in GP & ASW versions & there is considerable difference (& price) between them. GP basically means reasonably good at everything (a bit like your family doctor), without being really good at anything. Some navies like their specialists to also be GP to a considerable extent. Compare a RN T45 to a RAN Hobart, RN T26 to RAN T26.


Thanks DJ – I didn’t mean to imply that the A140 would be a match for the T26. I was merely speculating that the RN might fear that those holding the purse strings would see it as a less costly substitute, and that this might lead to the RN preferring one of the other two designs as being a safer choice. Probably just me being cynical.


Dan, yes you can never rely on governments when it comes to money. Especially if governments change (which happens fairly regularly in most democracies).

I am told the RN on mass, vastly favours the A140 in they hope that if they get the A140 hull, upgrades can be obtained over time (much easier than getting new hulls). The other two are already pretty well maxed out. Unfortunately, its the UK MOD not the RN that decides.

In other words, I wouldn’t worry too much. UK can’t bail after Australia & Canada signed up for the T26. To do so would not go down well (& as you no doubt noticed, both are building more than the UK). Its not going for the A140 for T31 that is a bigger worry.


Why does the MOD decide? Do they go out to fight and besides I thought the new idea was that the Admirals are given a pot of money and they decide how its spent (within reason).


Believe it when I see it. Military tend to want the best they can get & ignore the politics. Lives can depend on it. However the real world does not work like that. There is domestic jobs, there is domestic sovereignty, there is foreign policy, there is commercial & industrial policy, there is national security, there is export, there is foreign exchange, there is elections, there is party policy, there is the odd (potential) bribe etc. 1.25 billion is not small change. Thats not to say the military will be ignored. Nothing will end your career quicker than a line up of body bags.

Problem is, in the end, for that amount of money, it will be a political decision. MoD is where the military & politics meet. Sometimes the stars align & sometimes they don’t, but hopefully they will at least be in the same picture frame.

Captain Nemo

Does anyone else have the feeling that treasury mantra has become pretty much ingrained and accepted across defence forums? I can’t place the exact tipping point but we’re actively discussing how to keep within an absurd budget guideline for a major Royal Navy warship rather than challenging its existence.
The five ships were meant to stabilize Frigate and Destroyer numbers at 19, but Type 31 as it stands is actually going to cause those numbers to decline because unless we spend more at fit out we’re buying corvettes, big corvettes admittedly… Thus freeing up warships for carrier escort, etc, etc, I know the argument, it kind of proves my point.
Industry has demonstrated it can deliver a basic platform for £250m (the budget audibly creaks at that point), not a general purpose warship, so aside from chasing Peter Pan what good are these ships actually going to do us? £250m is a lot of money to move a flag around.

Phillip Johnson

Budget guidelines are not absurd. They are what you have got to spend. If the planned budget is inadequate it is up to the Service to say so before the project is approved. You would save a lot of trouble that way and stop wasting peoples time.

Meirion X

Maybe RN/MoD Procurement Board should be independent, like the Bank of England MPC?

Meirion X

I meant, a Defense Procurement Recommendation Board should be set up Independently of the main MoD and the Treasury. A Service (RN) could make direct requests to the DPRB(New Board).
DPRB also open to submissions of ideas from other org’s like STRN.

Captain Nemo

With respect, I’d say a budget is absurd if it is.
The proposals go no way to sustaining frigate numbers other than existing as hulls and tonnage, we’re probably looking at ‘fitted for but not with’ as I suspect the intention is to upgrade them with different money during refits, but out of the gate effective frigate numbers decline in all but name.
The Sea Lords won’t say anything until they leave the service and there seems to be an expectance that we’ll sell these so we should be keeping our numbers down.
It was recognized as a lowball figure from the start, they probably need toward a hundred million on top to be general purpose warships, buying four might fix that. or merging in another budget, such as MCM.


The thing is, this isn’t anything new though, the RN has struggled to find the balance between high/low ships IOT get enough balanced fleet units on one hand and enough hulls in the water (and headcount) for more mundane patrol (and in the immediate post WW2 period convoy escort) duties on the other since at least 1946.

Type 12 was too expensive to buy on mass so Type 14 was built to supplement them.

Type 15 conversions were too expensive for all of the war built ships the RN wanted to keep so Type 16 conversions were carried out.

Although Type 21 was built as an interim type and not specifically as a “low” end ship to supplement the Type 22, in practice it was used past it’s expected out-of-service date as the low end to compliment the 22s until the 23s joined the fleet (and incidentally as a mental exercise, if you substitute 1970s/80s sensors and weapons into any of the ships we are discussing here and had to sail to retake the Falklands in ’82 I suspect you would rather be in any one of the Meko 200/A 140 or Team Leanders over a Type 21).

By the 1970s even the USN with it’s rather larger budget needed to go high/low with the Spruance/Perry mix to get enough hulls (and the Perry, for all it’s faults, is probably the best “low” ship ever designed, or at least designed since WW2 – small size, mostly straight flat panels – both so that smaller yards, not accustomed to building to naval standards could be used to build them should WW3 have broken out. The remaining compromises, that were made, were made IOT get a second helicopter, and the weapons/sensors were then put on the helicopters to increase the versatility of the hull. They gave good service in their day and are all out of service now, but like the Type 14s and 16s would have been appreciated had convoys needed to cross the Atlantic under Soviet fire.) . On a side note the lack of space for a second Merlin on a ship that size is my only real criticism of the Type 26.

So really the only new part of this isn’t the debate about the fleet’s balance of Type 26/31 hulls as it is the Type numbers we are using, oh, and the fact that we are using the internet and not the letters to the editor section.

I feel a word ore two should be said in the defence of the Treasury at this point. As D.K. Brown pointed out in his book “Rebuilding the RN”, the Treasury gets the best and brightest civil servants in the country – they know all these budget tricks like dragging procurement out in smaller numbers over longer time periods are not really going to save money in the long run without having to read case studies about how the Americans made a hash of F 22 Raptor procurement to know that they won’t save money that way. They know (probably better than we do as they have the exact numbers to plug into their spreadsheets) the exact costs of bringing multiple weapon, sensor and computer (combat) systems into service are (by the time you add up the training and logistical burdens that are being added). Brown in fact makes mention that they were usually quite helpful!

So why do they get the blame ever time the RN, or any other branch of government gets told they can’t have something, and why should we be careful not to fall for it? Because like the uniformed members in the RN they go where their political masters tell them to go, and do and say what their political masters tell them to do and say. The beef is not with Treasury, it’s with the elected members of parliament who are appointed as secretaries of state and ministers and who are the ones who control the budget, it’s convenient for the politicians in the cabinet to blame a nameless and faceless body of people “the Treasury” as said nameless and faceless body doesn’t have to face the voters.

Captain Nemo

I thought The Foreign Office got the brightest and the best?
I think ‘The Treasury’ is best viewed as an encompassing term for the decision making process as regards budgeting, I wouldn’t see any more sense in berating civil servants than I would the building they’re sitting in.
I should perhaps say Hammond, we’ve been asked to tighten our belts so often I can’t believe that constipation hasn’t been identified as a national health emergency.
We were told that a spiralling number of warships was acceptable because each vessel was more capable than the last, yet now here we are attempting to stick so rigidly to budget guidelines that we look like producing a vessel less capable than the one before it (or perhaps equal to, possibly with the same gun… the actual gun), which I think exacerbates the problem.
In my humble opinion doing Type 31 right is now pivotal, because with no further T26 on the horizon it is these ships that would provide the critical mass for the UK to be able to act alone, as per Operation Corporate. It’s also a false economy to undermine money spent on amphibious capability and carrier regeneration for what is a relatively inconsequential sum when viewed as a part of that whole.
I realise that Corporate was probably a once in a lifetime event, I’ve certainly only seen it once, well, so far…

Kind regards, Nemo

Glass Half Full

Some more food for thought. How might seakeeping vary between the three hulls and play into selection? In theory the longer, broader beam, larger displacement A140 should provide the more stable platform, so might be the best choice for a frigate that is going to be heavily reliant on its helicopter, boats, and perhaps in future UUVs, USVs and UAVs for many tasks. The original T31e RFI called for Wildcat and boat launch and recover operations in conditions up to sea state 6, what if IH could do better than this?


Also from the crew prospective it would be lot more comfortable in rough seas and it should be large enough to have good size spacious accommodation for them also. This would be a good bonus for moral etc


The A140 also has room for considerably more troops or medical personal etc. which can be usefull if you wish to deploy to ‘police action’ scenarios without sending amphib ships etc. Especially as a frigate has considerably more speed for faster response. Also the A140 has the ability to be upgraded to be some form of fill in replacement for a T45 or T26 should one or more be lost (think Falklands mk 2). While it definately won’t be in the same class, the upgrade will be a lot faster than than the replacment new build will be. Something like the Leander can never get close to the potential A140 missile loadout or carry the Merlin helo, or handle a bigger radar etc.


Big is usually best in warship terms because topweight is usually the cause of limiting developing a design. Hence the Colony class cruisers were reduced from 12 x 6″ down to 9 x 6″ main guns because of the wartime requirement for additional radar and 40mm AA armament.


Is there any chance we could have a reprint of the table, but with extra columns for Type 23 and 26? That would be an interesting read