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Those Type 055s are the best looking ship afloat!

I hope western navies catch up with the number of VLS cells Indo-Pac navies have, Almost double!!


I often wonder why western navies spend so much on stealth when the planet is covered by satellites, perhaps we should just invest loads of missiles and a sound ship, which is what the Chinese seem to be doing.

Stephen Ball

How many time’s do the PLAN fire these missiles?


I don’t really agree with future AAW being defined around ABM as this article suggests – sea skimming supersonic missiles, the key design driver for Sampson/Aster, are not going to disappear with the advent of anti – ship ballistic missiles, surely a future AAW will need to do both? Just because the Americans have chosen a different AAW development pathway to Sampson/Aster does not mean it is necessarily a superior configuration for AAW.

Glass Half Full

I agree. A ballistic missile is becoming only one of a number of different hypersonic class weapons. Others already being developed today include the Hypersonic Glide Vehicle (HGV) aka boost-glide weapon and the Hypersonic Cruise Missile (HCM). The HCM might develop into different variants beyond hypersonic speed through the entire flight profile, such as subsonic or supersonic transit speed weapons providing greater range and lower thermal signature, but with a hypersonic sprint finish for minimal warning. The T83, which really means its weapons and sensors, is going to need to be designed to address these potential threats that are likely to appear over the next 50 years, i.e. through to end of life for the T83 class.


Great article

I am an advocate for a T26 batch 2 AAW and believe we should also alter the batch one with Sampson v2.

T26 has 72 cells as it stands and if we accept that the mission bay could be used for VLS and that we move away from the specific sea ceptor VLS and standardise on Mk41 strike length, then we can increase both the volume of tubes and the number of missiles.

this makes this class affordable to us and creates a clear distinction between T31 and its mission bay holding unmanned assets ( T32 could perhaps add back the flex deck of absalon, which it is ultimately derived from).

then there is dreadnought 2050, which I think has legs and is worth pursuing, a trimaran design c.10k tonnes with everything discussed in this article and more, we should look to standardise the fleet on something like this once T26 and T31 are ready for replacement.

Lord Jim

T-26 only has 24 Mk41 VLS cells as well as 48 individual Sea Ceptor “Mushroom” launch tubes. Mind you if you there is space to add at least a further 16 Mk41 VLS cells forward and if you removed the Mission Bay etc, you could easily install at least another 48 amidships. The T-81 must be first and foremost an AAW platform with ABM secondary.
Land attack should be left to other platforms. However as pointed out the T-26 comes with some pretty expensive ASW features not needed on the T-83 so a fresh start really should be followed with say at least 112 VLS cells.

Last edited 1 month ago by Lord Jim
Meirion X

The ‘mushroom’ launch tubes, were organial Sea Wolf tubes that were extended for the longer Sea Ceptor missle and a smaller diameter.
New Sea Ceptor cells have a lid like Mk. 41. T26 and T31 have the depth to take Sea Ceptor without any parts sticking out.
It would of been too expensive to un-wield the Sea Wolf cells from the shallow T23 silo.

Last edited 1 month ago by Meirion X

So we are looking at over £2B per ship just for a full outfit of missiles. That would put the total for a 6 ship class inc R&D at over £25B all in.
That in anyone’s terms is a LOT of money.


How come some other nations can build destroyers cheaper…

Meirion X

For starters, very cheap labour in China and devalued currency.


Who in the western world is building AAW destroyers including a large load of missiles with the performance of the SM3 much cheaper? I don’t think anyone is. If you want/need to cut the cost you need to either cut the capabilities or the missile load out or both.

Rob N

I am not sure why land attack is given so much space in this article – Bristol was about air defence and antisubmarine warfare. The new destroyer should concentrate on CSG defence that is anti- air, anti-ship and anti-submarine activity. While a next generation anti-ship missile might have a land attack option I think it is distracting from CSG defence. The T26 can do the land attack along with subs.

The author appears taken by all things US. I think the
Uk should protect UK skills and buy buy British were possible. After all T45 is better then AEGIS and only needs a comprehensive update to be a good starting point for a future destroyer. If we go all US we might as well buy something off the shelf from the US.

I think we need a new platform design. One with room for 80 plus VLS possibly MK41 armed with a mix of ASTER 30 block 1NT and ASTER 30 block 2 when that comes out. Some quad packed Sea Ceptor ER could be added for extra missile numbers. A rail gun and directed energy CIWS. Some VLS anti-ship missiles. Add a towed array sonar and a ranged anti-submarine weapon and you have a new Bristol.

We will need at least 2 to guard each CSG so probably a class of at least 8 ships. Thought should be given to restocking the missiles at sea. As this will be a must for combat persistence will a limited number of hull.

Glass Half Full

I agree that we don’t need to overweight the loading of land attack missiles for T83. T26 and perhaps even T32 could support that requirement. We also have carriers that would support that mission with manned and/or unmanned platforms. I would hope that the FC/ASW missile development will produce a single missile for both anti-ship and land attack, i.e. without having dedicated variants for each. Thus a single VLS cell can host a missile suitable for either role for maximum flexibility.

We can separate US radar, software and weapons as being possible options for the UK, versus buying AB Flight III that definitely isn’t. AFAIK the UK doesn’t have any domestic content in Aster, happy to be corrected on that if wrong. But we can certainly stick with the Aster family, even as we standardise on MK41 for the greater flexibility, options and insurance against domestic and/or European missile program failures.

We don’t need to go crazy with MK41 cell numbers, since all AAW missiles we will be using have active seekers, either as Asters do today, or as ESSM and SM-2 will in the near future, SM-6 already doing so. So somewhere between 64-96 Mk41 cells seems reasonable. Allied nations such as US, Japan and S. Korea that use MK41 and ESSM and SM-2 are still stuck with semi-active missiles, which is why they typically have much larger VLS cell capacity than T45, due to the limitations of their system. Sea Ceptor shouldn’t be quad packed in MK41, its expensive and inefficient versus the lower cost soft/cold launch dedicated cells that would be additive to the 64-96 cell numbers above. Keep MK41 cells for hot launch.

A TAS doesn’t make much sense to me for this platform. If we believe a submarine is inside the ASW screen around a CSG then we want to rapidly make life as uncomfortable as possible for them. For me that means weapon systems like Kingfisher using the 5″ gun for sonabouys and depth charges (per recent NL article), along with manned and unmanned air platforms dropping sonabouys and prosecuting attacks, plus the new lightweight torpedo in combination with a much longer range rocket (than current solutions) for VLS launch. We might also ping away with a bow sonar in that situation too, but the T83 will be a high value target in its own right, so a quiet build for the ship (albeit not T26 expensive quiet) along with other the options seems preferable to active pinging except in extremis.

I suspect we’ll be capped at 6 ships and possibly just 5, unless we’re expecting to support more simultaneous carrier/amphibious group deployments than at present to justify more ships. CEC across the fleet will multiply the effect of T83 in combination with T26 and perhaps T32.


Yes. I think Navy Lookout makes the common mistake to call the Australian T26 Hunters as ‘Aegis’
They will use basic software building blocks known as common software library ( CSL)
The US LCS uses ‘Aegis CSL’ as well , definitely not what you would describe as an Aegis system.
Hunters radar will not be SPY and the software is a SAAB development


Aster development, I think the former BAE Dynamics is in there somewhere

mentions also the UK went its own way for Samson because they thought it had ABM potential
In 2013, HMS Daring demonstrated the ability of Sea Viper to detect and track two medium-range ballistic missile targets at the US Reagan Test Site in the Marshall Islands. This was the culmination of a research stream that had started around 2000 and the MESAR research programme., leading into the £10 million Type 45 Science and Technology Programme (TSAT)’

Rob N

I think ASTER 30 is a good line to follow. The basic design is more advanced then Standard. The ASTER 30 block 2 should do the ABM role well.

Whatever VLS we go for it should be strike length to give full versatility.

I think some platform ASW fit should be provided as T83 will in all but name be a cruiser and may act alone as T45s do now, or they may fore the core of a surface action group with no carrier.

Meirion X

What about developing a wider diameter A90 cells for future Aster missiles?


Which version of Standard?

ASTER 30 is more advanced than SM-2 Block II and has more end game manoeuvrability than SM-2 Block III but the latter will be more cost effective due to there eventually being far greater numbers in service. SM-3 has a superior ABM capability to ASTER 1NT and has actually been tested vs the paper capability of 1NT. Then there is SM-6 which was developed with hypersonic AShM in mind and can engage everything from low flying cruise missiles to SRBM at a significantly greater range than ASTER 30…with a eye watering price tag to boot hence the development of SM-2 Block III.

Rob N

I suspect that ASTER is more agile then any member of the Standard family. SM3 and SMa6 should be compared with ASTER block 2 which is the specialist ASTER ABM. The 1NT is a generalist missile with better ABM capability over block 0 and block 1.

Rob N

P.S. if you have an inbound vampire closing on your CSG/ship I do not think you will be thinking ‘cost effective’, you will be looking for tge best chance of killing the inbound…


For the USN cost effectiveness is a very important issue considering the size of their fleet. RIM-116 Block II, RIM-162 Block II, SM-2 Block II, SM-2 Block III, SM-3 Block II and SM-6 Block IA gives the USN a luxurious range of options to shoot off at anything that is coming towards their huge fleet with ill intent…


Hopefully EW would have taken care of it………

Glass Half Full

There was UK involvement in PAAMs by UKAMS, which I take to include system software and/or hardware including Sampson radar and the S1850 changes to the Thales radar. The Aster missile only seems to reference France and Italy as developers and comes from the Eurosam consortia, which doesn’t include any UK companies, hence why it seems unlikely there is any UK content in the missiles. Whether we could, would or should support AAW/ABM missiles other than Aster with the PAAMS system is another set of questions.

David Barry

Great reply.

Your last paragraph is very interesting.

Given, that today both carriers are at sea with QEC taking 2 T45s, POW unescorted and an LSG underway in and around the Baltic, unescorted by a 45 AND availability, is 6 let alone 5 platforms enough?

I’m not Merlin, cannot magic up pots of cash or crew, but, numbers need to go up or ambition be cut.

Glass Half Full

Allies is the answer to augment UK capability. Germany, Spain, Netherlands and Denmark all have competent AAW destroyers, with Germany and the Netherlands starting on their replacements for Sachsen and De Zeven Provinciën-class respectively, that’s before considering US vessels. Its true that those countries might also need to bolster French and Italian capabilities, as both those countries are currently a bit light on AAW defence.


 After all T45 is better then AEGIS 

That might have been true ten years ago when comparing the T45 to the then existing Arleigh Burke flight IIA with SPY-1D(V) radar and semi-active missiles. Todays flight III Burkes are equipped with both superiour sensors and missiles. SPY-6 is a much more advanced and powerful radar than SAMPSON and the active ESSM block 2 , SM-2 block IIIC and SM-6 gives the Flt IIIs better overall AAW capability compared to the Sea Ceptor/ Aster 15/30 combo.

Rob N

I agree that the US have caught up in radar technology. I still think ASTER is a better missile then ESSM, SM2 block IIIc. SM6 is a specialist missile and should be compared with ASTER 30 block 2. I suspect ASTERi is still more agile then standard.

The US have caught up – good for them. It is good to see a friend with good kit. My point is that updated T45 technology should put the T83 back at the cutting edge. An updated SAMPSON I suspect would be at least the equal of SPY 6 if not better as it would be more up-to-date. Also the T83 will likely have a second radar this could be optimised for ABM work perhaps like the AESA SMART L. I also suspect that T83 will have a high up main radar like T45 giving better coverage then most of the current crop of AESA ships e.g. China, USN, japan, Spain etc.

Also by using the T45 as a basis for T83 we can retain similar supply and maintenance chains.

The T45 definitely needs an update. The MoD has hinted that a refresh will happen, how extensive this will be is not clear. However it could provide a chance to introduce and de-risk updates/new equipment that could be put on T83, rather like the T23 refresh is being used to put into service kit that will go into T26.


SPY6 not yet in service so no not more advanced


Sea Viper is better than AEGIS. Up to a point. The platform isn’t the weapon system.

What makes the USN coo is SAMPSON.

Supportive Bloke

The effectiveness of the platform is the sum of its parts: taking good account of its weak parts.

Looking at ‘bits’ in isolation is always a mistake.

When you fight a ship the whole system is under test not the bits you would like to be under test.

Personally I think the T45/Sampson/Aster is a great package that the UK should be proud of developing.

I’m not sure why NL keep saying that Sampson has had no upgrade in X years. There have been, I am reliably told, software upgrades. As most of modern radar is in the software this is more important than changing bits of hardware.

I’m also not sure I totally agreed that UK radar is being strangled for want of orders given the upgrades to Typhoon and CrownsNest development. It is not like nothing is going on.

It will be interesting to see which direction the T83 project goes in. If the Sampson project is continued then we will, if it follows the T23 -> T26 pattern, see bits of the T83 kit tested on T45 in the mid/late 2020’s – as was Artisan / T26 power plant etc.

Glass Half Full

To your point ref T45 radar, the Navel News article linked below would suggest that both Sampson and S1850 have had upgrades, based on the included BAES graphic referencing “installation” of latest long range and multi function radars, which presumably means software and/or supporting electronics upgrades.

As to UK radar, it seems to be a mixed bag. Leonardo in Edinburgh seem to be driving ahead with state of the art Typhoon AESA and their suite of helicopter solutions, which seem to be world class and winning export orders. The Thales/Lockheed Crowsnest program hasn’t covered itself in glory, with the poor project management and delays, the latter presumably due primarily or entirely to software development issues. Then there is BAES, who seem to have failed to achieve significant export orders for Artisan, failed to achieve any for Sampson, or for any derivative products from those two. Or perhaps they just didn’t try for exports, instead just deciding/assuming UK govt was always going to buy from them and fund R&D so they didn’t need to bother.

Perhaps the loss of the T31 bid along with the loss of CMS and Artisan radar sales sent a message to BAES? In any event they seem to have a Sampson BMD capability planned for 2023/4 and an Artisan upgrade around 2027/8, according to a roadmap shown on one of their website videos. That same roadmap shows a Future Multi Function Radar around 2038/9, presumably planned for T83.

See the Cowes virtual tour video for the timeline at bottom of following page


There is “nearby” Leonardo Italy with their naval radars

Glass Half Full

There’s a lot of options if we don’t buy from BAES, although software is a critical part of the solution, not just hardware. Not so many options if we want to stick with a high rotating AESA with Sampson’s capabilities though.

But we might instead use high mounted fixed panel X-band and lower mounted fixed panel S-band in order to retain sea skimmer detection abilities. Its possible the USN replacement of AN/SPQ-9B might be a rotating X-band AESA as an alternative.

Supportive Bloke

To be fair to BAES – British ship missile and radar systems still suffer from ’82 blight.

Sadly in the eyes of the world UK ship defence systems were not the best: I don’t agree with this sentiment.

Also some countries won’t deal with BAE due to its approach to costs whereas others have been more ready to give a ‘cost for product approach’. BAE are changing with a welcome kick up the ass from UK PLC.

Unfortunately we ended up fighting the ’82 war with Gen 2 (Dart) and Gen 2.5 (Wolf) missile systems that were not fully out of development so in the eyes of the world performed poorly with ships sunk.

I would argue if you simply took the radar and missiles of then and attached it to the computers of a more recent vintage then the story would be very different, simply given the reliability and robustness never mind speed of computers is now orders of magnitude better. At least one ship was lost to a system crash and long reboot time and another to a lost lock that could have been regained by faster processing of data.

OK, I acknowledge that the 2D radar sets that were on the ’42’s were not brilliant but the real issue was in the inability to post process the data and reset things quickly when they went down.

The view of things UK designed/produced will have been massively improved by the sales of T26 – yes, I know none of the radar fit is UK but the selection of the Ceptor system by the Canadians is a big export success on the road to selling UK missile and radar systems again. Let’s hope BAE can leverage it.

Things are looking up: not least because of a big UK ship building program with a number of ship types all of which appear to be very well received by allies.

Glass Half Full

I wonder how far that ’82 blight really goes though wrt to foreign sales today, nearly 4 decades later versus just a lack of BAES interest to develop the business for export? It seems a stretch, especially with an ability to demonstrate modern systems to correct any perceptions. Its a bit like saying I had an issue with an Apple II computer in the early 80’s, so I don’t buy anything from Apple today because I don’t trust their technology.

Had BAES leveraged Sampson and Artisan technology and invested in a family of off the shelf radars, similar to how Saab, Hensoldt, Thales, Terma and Leonardo have done, then BAES might have won many orders. The USN LCS program immediately comes to mind, which instead chose Saab and Hensoldt. BAES might even have expanded the radar portfolio by acquiring Kelvin Hughes, with its WW sales, but that company went to Hensoldt.

A couple of examples to really ram home the issue.

  1. Hensoldt took the recent Chilean T23 radar upgrades, Lockheed provided the CMS 330
  2. Thales took the upgraded NZ frigate radar, Lockheed again with CMS 330

Both should have been natural BAES radar and CMS options had it invested in these businesses for export. Sea Ceptor was installed on both upgrade programs, so the “failure” of our missiles in ’82 didn’t hold them back on that capability.

Supportive Bloke

As I said we are coming out of the **perception** of ‘82 blight. BAE Nimrod didn’t help BAE trust issues either.

Bear in mind that Wolf is only relatively recently fully retired from the T23 fleet.

The successful T45, QEC, T26 (sales), T31 (procurement hopefully) Ceptor (sales) all have massive combined momentum.

Our sonar has always exported well.

I’d say things are really on the up.

Having a PM who at least talks enthusiastically about rebuilding surface capability is a start at getting things up the running order.

I’d also, in part, agree with Merton X that the T45 is not perfect but is significantly better than anything other than the latest AB’s – let’s see what mid life upgrades T45 gets. Although the per unit cost wasn’t the finest element – but we have been round that house a few times.


Well then if it is the umof parts T45 isn’t better than AEGIS because T45, the bit that gets wet and moves and carries everything is a bet meh…………

Seriously no. You can say Sea Viper is better the AEGIS. And you could be right up to a point. But you can’t say our ship is better than somebody else’s AAW system because it doesn’t make sense.

T45, the ship, is adequate. It is not great. In spite of how good Sea Viper is or is not.

Meirion X

You back again Corbi the Peacenik, advocating that RN vessels should Not be armed, and appease aggressors and Not ssupport our allies, just turn away, its not our concern!
just like he JC said our subs should Not be armed with Nuclear weapons? You are really on the Wrong site again Peacenik x!

Last edited 1 month ago by Meirion X
Meirion X

Some of J,C’s advisors were known Kremlin apologists!

Last edited 1 month ago by Meirion X
Meirion X

You have lost All credibility on this site by your peacenik postions!

Denounced them, or leave!


What makes them coo now is the SPY-6 radar. According to reports, it’s a huge leap forward for naval base systems.


Do not know what to make of this:

The key novelty in Leonardo’s new radar is that the transmitting and receiving signal is already digital at the level of the single radiating element.
“The new L band radar is based on ‘digital’ TRMs hosted into so-called ‘Digital Active Tile’ blocks,” said Tosini.
“Going fully digital means the radar transceiver is thinner and allows the radar system to process more information faster,” he added.

Supportive Bloke

I agree: what he says is meaningless of itself.

I suspect that he actually means is that each sub pulse component is digitally unique (coded): but he didn’t say that!

If I am right: the advantage of that is that each individual area of physical the receiver/ transmitter is unique and so there is a treasure trove of timing and phase information to be harvested giving very precise data returns and possibly quite large sensitivity increases as once the hard return is recognised the past data can be repossessed.


Not sure if this is a GAN based system but the tech seems very similar to what the USN is doing with the SPY-6(V)2 which is also L band and is currently coming on line with the USN LHA ships


Leonardo claims it is the first European radar with this tech so i suppose already exists in US.
It will be first operational in Trieste LHD.


It seems also will be installed in the Horizon upgrade replacing the S-1850


PR spin, as all AESA radars are digital in nature through software manipulation. Behind the antenna element components are not that much different from a PCs graphics card, except they have a more powerful digital oscillator and amplifier.

Codification of a radar’s transmitted signal has been around and used since the late 90’s, so nothing new there either. The majority of radars only use a single carrier wave as it transmission. However radars like the F35s APG-81 also use multiplexing where additional frequencies are added to the carrier wave for identification friend or foe and for digital data-bus networking. The multiplexing is also useful for electronic counter-measures.

Basically by codifying the transmission you can introduce an easier means of discriminating between simultaneous transmissions. As each “beam” has a unique code, it makes it easier to filter out ghosting and multipath reflections, especially useful for operating in very choppy seas or near a coastline. It also helps when using multiple beams transmitting close to each other, when covering short, medium and long ranges. As each beam has a unique code you can better filter out spurious reflections. Codified waveforms such as Barker Codes, Phase coded frequency stepped waveforms (PCFSW), Biphase coding linear frequency modulation are some of the techniques used.


It’s PR spin, much like Thales and their 4D radars. All AESA radars are inherently digital, as they are all software based. Behind the antenna, you will find a board not dissimilar to a PC’s graphics card. The major differences are a higher power variable oscillator and high power amplifiers.

Leonardo cannot claim waveform digital coding as a “new thing” as that has been around since the 90’s in practice, and in theory since the early 1900’s, for example Barker coding and pulse coded stepped linear waveforms (PCSLW). This can have lots of benefits, for example by codifying a waveform, you can now address each transmission individually, which makes digital filtering and processing much easier. It also helps when you simultaneously transmit a number of beams, that are very close to each. As the unique identifier will help the processing eliminate ghosting and multipath returns, which is especially useful when operating in really choppy seas or close to land.

The majority of radars only transmit a singular carrier wave frequency. Whereas, you can multiplex the signal digitally. By adding to the base signal you can add identification friend or foe (IFF) algorithms, but also include data-link coding. These complex waveforms are much harder to copy for spoofing and jam. One of the best examples of this the F35’s APG-81 radar, which can use its radar for more than simple searching and tracking of targets, but also as part of a data network and for electronic attack.

Perhaps Leonardo are talking about digitally multiplexing a waveform, which may be based on their development of the Typhoon’s Radar 2+ capabilities, i.e. copying what the APG-81 can do


When it arrives and if it works I understand that it is due in 2023


Agreed. We’ll know more in a little over a year.

Meirion X

There again Corbyi You would Not arm them!

A total JOKE, from a Peacenik!

Humpty Dumpty

“The new destroyer should concentrate on CSG defence that is anti- air, anti-ship and anti-submarine activity. While a next generation anti-ship missile might have a land attack option I think it is distracting from CSG defence. The T26 can do the land attack along with subs.”

I don’t think dedicated ASW ships like the T26 firing land-attack missiles is very sensible, it would be noisy and draw unwanted attention to them.

What our T45s (and their replacement) really need is:

1) An anti-ship missile that outranges ship-launched Kalibr, Oniks and YJ-18. The only missile I’m aware of that currently outranges them is Tomahawk Block Va. (But when Zircon comes out we’re going to need a new missile that outranges THAT.)

2) A land-attack missile that can reach land even if a carrier group is staying out of range of DF-26 or Kinzhal to target naval bases, air bases, large low-frequency radars, OTH radar installations, etc. And ideally this missile would be stealthy and have a jam-resistant data link to surveillance satellites and/or surveillance drones so that it can target mobile anti-ship missile launchers (and mobile SAM launchers as well). Being able to take out mobile launchers that can fire DF-21 and DF-26 is vital to the survival of a carrier group and means that a carrier group can get closer to land (plus taking out SAM launchers, low frequency radars and runways would make it safer for F-35s to fly in Russian or Chinese airspace). Another way to deal with these mobile launchers would be to target the locations where they refuel, rearm and get repaired and maintained.

3) SM-6 to keep enemy aircraft at arm’s length with its max range of 460km.

4) Anti-torpedo torpedoes (e.g. Sea Spider, MU90 Hard Kill, SSTD CAT) and the Kingfisher system, especially for launching depth charges.


A well written and informative article. My thoughts on the Type 83 are that, it should be a radical design. The UK already has a radical concept design in the Dreadnought 2050 trimaran semi-submersible. A design of 12-15k tonnes with at least 120 VLS is what is needed.

Another design that fits the bill is the USS Zumwalt class. The UK has most of the components to make either of these designs work.

Off course the self healing skin of the Dreadnought 2050 is something not currently feasible but we currently do have laminate armor. All other bit of the design, rail guns, large calibre chemical gun, VTOL UAV pickets and combat drones, hypersonic missiles, super cavitating torpedoes etc. are all available now and will surely be much improved in the next decade when these vessels will start to come into service.

My 2 cents worth!


The US Railgun program (which incidentally was a continuation of an earlier British development program) has stalled and the Zumwalts are now planned to be reconfigured into arsenal ships by taking off the guns and replacing with VLS tubes. The issue they found was the ammunition when you added in self guidance and a limited production run was as expensive as missiles at a lower range. I dont think there is any point in designing the ships around a railgun though it may be a technology thats eventually revisited with more experience gained from operating the troublesome EMALs and when an order of sufficient size can be placed to make the ammunition cheaper. Conventionally fired self guided shells are becoming a big thing in artillery at the moment and adapting a naval gun to use land based 155mm ammunition with a rocket booster attachment may be a cost effective solution.

Glass Half Full

I’d add a caveat around that SM-3 Block IIA cost of about $36M. About 60% of that cost is currently RDT&E based on various DoD budget requests. Still a pricey missile mind.

I’d also argue that aviation capabilities are a critical component in support of the type of ASW role the T83 might play. That T45 doesn’t usually have a Merlin is probably more to do with how many Merlin HM2s we have, than whether it should have one or not.

Regardless, for the future I’d argue we want the option of a large flight deck and hanger capacity for manned and unmanned platforms to prosecute ASW, rather than rely on the carrier or amphibious vessels hosting those assets.


Italians are already replacing the S1805 with Leonardo Kronos,3_id,3954.html

I think going with US is wrong but the big problem is Britain does not have radar and missile capability at this level.

PS: another western country is missing above from those capable of ABM and radar capabilities: Israel

PS2: the Italian DDX have more cell than 48.

PS3: I don’t think that culture that is coming from USA will be good for Freedom in next decades or even longer, Over reliance in any partner is dangerous and Britain is already dependent on their nuclear missiles.


“the 8,000 tonne Type 26” to note the T26/CSC is quoted at 9,400 tonnes FLD.

Agree with your view on the T26 “ASW-related acoustic hygiene measures which while desirable, may be a cost driver the Type 81 can manage without”. Why would look at the Iver Huitfeldt / T31 as basis of T83 as cost becomes the driver, the Danes built three IH for one $billion, the cost of a single T45 was one £billion, gives the option of fewer VLS cells per ship but more ships, a good trade off in my view.
Railguns, would note the USN has in effect cancelled the programme, last years funding figure for R&D was cut back to a token ~$9 million
In the time span of T83 likely there will be Aster Block II, the second stage rocket and KV will be increased in dia from 7″ to 15″/380mm the same dia as its booster stage to double the range of the Aster 30 Block 1NT, for comparison the new and larger SM-6 1B has 21″ dia booster, rocket and KV (rocket and KV increased in dia from 13.5″ of the SM-6 1A).
Expect all the expensive kit for AAW/BMD, missiles, radar and CMS will be foreign reflecting the peanuts UK puts into R&D

Geoff Baker

Design factors for the Type 83 as well as VLS capacity and radar, also requires internal volume and power generation for Energy weapons or rail guns, and obviously they will require multifunction mission bays as per the Type 26/31 & 32 so we may see heavy cruiser sized ships due to the volume.
Anyhow they have to start the Type 32 programme first which might give some clues as to how the Type 83 may develop

James Fennell

The assumption that Type 83 will be single-role AAW and not have ASW capability is probably flawed. The Type number is a givaway perhaps. Expect a multirole vessel designed to escort carrier strike but with significant off board unmanned capacity for ASW too. This is a way to increase ASW capacity without new hulls. I would also expect enhanced AAW capabilites for Type 26 in due course – CAMM ER and better radar anyone.

Last edited 1 month ago by James Fennell
Anthony McKiernan

Whilst by no means an expert, I remain a serious follower of all things military – borne from many family and personal ties. I enjoy being educated by the commentators as well as the articles. Back in the 80’s, I visited a Railgun development site in Scotland to install some cooling equipment. I note from this article that the UK has no railgun development. What happened to that particular installation?

Meirion X

Yes I argee, there’s No development by the MoD, even though a British company has been developing a rail gun for the USN.

Joe Porter

After declaring the T83 to be a cruiser in all but name it metamorphoses into the T81. A typo?


I would prefer it to be called a type 85,with double the displacement ! On a slightly different note, was down at Portland the last couple of days and there were a couple of Tides moored up alongside the Norwegian Bliss, all 170.000 Tons of her, 4 others still in Weymouth Bay.


The cost of a batch 2 T26 should be a lot less than a clean sheet design as we have already paid for the design costs and even adding in a mid section to house more missiles will still be preferable to a clean slate design.

given the proliferation of submarines globally, an ASW friendly hull is a must.

we should standardise our VLS tubes if possible, perhaps even stanflexing them like the danish, which makes it easier to maintain in a similar manner to what we do with phalanx.

not all VLS need to be strike, as I am sure a set of quad packed CAMM, martlet or brimstone to take out swarm attacks will be needed. But quad packing is a must.

what I do see is the need for better smart guns and more of them, I am concerned that the bofors barrels life is 5000 rounds which seems limiting given its rate of fire.

clearly the Rn has made its decision, but realistically a combination of 76mm and 127/155mm is the optimal when paired with phalanx for close in, this combination of fires gives long, medium and close in coverage, leaving the VLS for more critical tasking.

unfortunately all of this costs loads of money and I fear decisions being made now (especially bofors, when the army is going CTA) does not bode well for the future.

Blue Fuzz

I think we should only build 4x T83 – a pair to escort each carrier. BUT, I think we should build an additional 2x T26 (taking the total to 10). That way there would be no drop in overall escort numbers, but after a pair of T26 were assigned to escort each carrier alongside the T83s, there would be 6 T26 left over for other tasks. Under the “Rule of 3” 2 of them would be available for operations at any given time.


Nah we need 8 type 83s.


8 would be good after all, it is a “Growing Navy”.



Blue Fuzz

8 doesn’t work under the Rule of 3. If 4 were earmarked for carrier escort (2 per carrier), you’d have 4 left for other tasks – i.e. one more than is required for the operational cycle. If you wanted to deploy T83 on solo deployments (independent of a carrier) the total required would be 7 or 10 – giving you one or 2 to deploy solo at any one time respectively.


I’d prefer 8 and an argument though !!!!!


T83 shall not be a big cruiser, to build 8 hulls. I think.

In view of “complex ship building program”, T83 must fill in-between T26 hull-8 commission (~2036) and T26-hull-1 decommission (probably ~2055 or even later) = 18 years. Even if the 1st-of-class ship takes longer time (say, filling 4 years gap), RN needs 8 hulls with even a slow 2-years drumbeat build program.

As such, T83 MUST NOT aim at large cruiser, I think. If RN goes that way, the original “planned” hull number will start with 6, and only 4 (or even less) will be there. RN must keep T83 simple, to insist on 8 hulls. Then it may result in 6 hulls at last. Even with 6, there will be significant slow-down of build pace, which will further result in losing more money (= even reduced to 5 hulls?)

We know T45 program had NOT CUT in view of Treasury. The original £6B was allocated and even slightly increased. NO CUT. What reduced the T45 hull number from 12 to 6, is the cost over-run of PAAMS system. (Engine issue is something AFTER the build). Because PAAMS development cost took a significant share, divided by the lesser hull number, the “average cost per hull including development” was doubled (I understand the hull cost itself saw only modest rise).

Dreaming is good, but if not being modest, T83 will highly-likely destroy UK complex shipbuilding capability (or T83 will be simply cancelled).

Blue Fuzz

Don’t forget that the first T26 replacement also has to be built during that 18 year period. So 4 years to build the first T83, then one more every 2 years for 10 years (5 ships), followed by 4 years to build the first T26 replacement, covers it.

Glass Half Full

Eight hulls would be a nice uplift, but I don’t agree with the rationale you apply to justify this number, i.e. to keep BAES in the shipbuilding business. It certainly doesn’t make sense to compromise the T83 platform capabilities required to perform the role, just to provide increased numbers for BAES.

Here’s a radical thought. Perhaps BAES could sell more UK built ships to foreign customers to bridge the 18 year gap? Perhaps by using some of the profits derived from foreign built T26’s to cross subsidise UK built exports in order to keep the BAES UK manufacturing skills base in place? After all if BAES didn’t have the RN T26 program it wouldn’t be benefiting from the Australian or Canadian programs. And/or maybe BAES might build replacement OPVs for the B2s, without a TOBA this time, somewhere in that 18 year gap you identify? The idea that the RN is the only customer BAES UK build vessels for is what is fundamentally flawed.

Additionally, the expense of building a 160-170 metre ship of similar size and displacement to Maya-class or Sejong the Great-class is going to be in the weapons, sensors and systems software, possibly also in quietening the ship, depending on how far that is taken. Its not going to be in the steel, and probably not in the IEP system that might just leverage that used in the carriers.



1: Building ships in UK for export, the market is narrowing rapidly. Many of the proposal these days are “to support build locally”, as I understand? For example, Babcock CEO clearly stated so. Chili, Brazil, almost all ASEAN nations are capable of local build. Remaining export-capable market is the Gulf, and possibly NZ. And of course, there are severe competition there.

“The idea that the RN is the only customer BAES UK build vessels for is what is fundamentally flawed.” is a statement I cannot easily agree. Not zero chance, but not easy in any sense. Also, France and Italy doing so is achieving it by bargain sales. It is very good to keep the workforce active, but not sure any good profits are expected.

Also it is subsided strongly by its government and its navy itself. For example, building 5 FDI frigates would have been costed the same as building at least 4 more FREMM (because initial cost is already payed). FDI is a good ship, but is it better than FREMM? I do not think so. French navy lost (at least) 4 FREMM in place of 5 lesser capable FDI. Very good to sustain Naval shipyards design team, and also FDI is a very attractive ship for export. But, can you expect the RN to follow the same approach?

2: As you said, main cost driver of modern complex ship building is not on the steelwork. But, it is also not much in the systems themselves. Majority of the cost comes from “Systems Integration”, which is the main job of the workers of (complex)-shipbuilders. So, the cost you stated is exactly the cost BAES Clyde has its expertise on.

Two years drumbeat is states as minimum to keep the workforce well trained to each task. Longer build makes it less efficient and then result in higher cost. Very natural results.

Are UK going to lose/damage it?

I am not talking about how to keep BAES’s profit. I am talking about how the UK to keep this workforce.


Glass Half Full

I agree its a tough export market, with increasing desire for local build. Its a bit broader than you list though, you might add Norway and North African nations like Egypt, Algeria and Morocco for example.

However, as I pointed out, BAES will enjoy significant financial benefit from the Canadian and Australian licensed builds. That benefit should help support UK manufacturing capability, because if BAES don’t build UK ships in future then they won’t enjoy the licensed build market either.

The problem, at least historically, with the BAES approach to Scottish ship yards seems to be that its either RN builds or nothing, with the latter resulting in layoffs and/or a TOBA subsidy to prevent. That’s what a historic monopoly on RN shipbuilding enabled.

Compare that to other UK shipyards, including BAES at Portsmouth, Babcock at Rosyth who also do RN ship maintenance and refits. Or Cammell Laird that also do commercial work in addition to RFA/RN work. Look at how Infrastrata are currently building up their business with cruise liner work and offshore wind turbines, while planning on tendering for the FSSS.

I know you favour a “national champion” shipbuilder from previous discussions around T31, but I believe that approach is bad for the RN due to increased costs, and ultimately bad for skill retention and bad for dockyard employment, as it disincentivizes investment in the business and its workforce when its guaranteed for you.

Ref FDI example – “But, can you expect the RN to follow the same approach?” I suspect that’s what T32 will be, an intermediate frigate, optimised to support UxVs.

Ref your point 2. Not sure I agree with that. For T45 PAAMs including Sampson development was reportedly a major part of the cost. For T83, the main CMS option might be Tacticos or BAES INTeACT, which illustrates another BAES issue. Other companies have successfully sold their CMS, including Lockheed with Aegis and the related CMS 330 and obviously Thales. Has BAES even made the effort, or does it just assume all development costs plus profit can be covered by its only customer, the RN? The same observation is true for BAES radar. Sampson is reportedly a great radar, so why hasn’t BAES been able to commercialise this and sell to other navies, either in rotating or flat panel form?

For me, the BAES naval businesses grew to be non-competitive and/or greedy, I hope that is changing. I suspect the TOBA was the straw that broke the camels back at MoD and the RN. We still have to live with the BAES monopoly on submarine building. The BAES aerospace business seems to understand that if they don’t drive down fast jet cost with Tempest, then they’ll be largely or completely out of the fast jet business, regardless of how strategic that business currently is to the UK, because the RAF will have to buy something less expensive to increase numbers.


Thanks. We just differ in standpoint, but the same in wish to support UK ship industry.

For me, UK government is NOT supporting the ship export business enough, compared to France, Italy, and Spain. (Dutch Damen is interesting example, worth analysis).

For example, UK ship building industry lacked proper light-frigate/corvette design, which is/was the main product in export market. Venator 110 was neglected, Al Khareef was fooled, and neither had any investment. I think Venator 110 was exactly to be the French FDI counterpart, but HMG nor RN had ever put any interest there.

What if HMG spending a few million on promotion of Al Khareef (for export) in late 2000s? I think the “five River B2 OPVs” built to save the day must have been “three Leander-like light frigates”. Note that I support TOBA. It is HMG’s fault UK could not find good export chance. If we compare what France government is doing to support their shipbuilding industry = selling ships in bargain price with leasing French money, it is crystal clear. (I regard that is exactly the counterpart of TOBA).

Recent Ukrainan missile boat export proposal announcement (yet to become a firm contract) is a good move. Let’s keep on track. I also think HMG MUST push NZ to be involved in T31 or T32 program, even proposing share work (say, appoint NZ naval dock (owned by Babcock) to be used for “final workup” of T31/32 if NZ join), and as such invite them even in the design phase.

Anyway, fingers crossed UK can export complex ships, not only the design, but the hull.

P.S. Actually, we were “crossing fingers” several years ago, that UK can ever export ship design. Now, look at T26. At least in the “ship design export” market, BAES is the world leader now. (Great success, so that UK ship design team was “proven” to be world beating.) So anything can happen, I agree.

Glass Half Full

A differing perspective no doubt but I do enjoy the debate, thanks. Damen is an interesting example.

I wouldn’t blame HMG so much. I’m pretty sure export loan guarantees etc would have been available to support foreign contracts. Remember, BAES saw the T31 competition as a race to the bottom, which IMO speaks volumes as to how hard they have in the past, or want in the future, to compete outside the highest tier warship market. This approach/attitude is not entirely surprising given their size, but no reason for UK taxpayers to subsidise BAES contracts. This BAES approach is almost certainly behind the corporate pivot to the US.

T32, if an intermediate frigate, would probably be a good fit for NZ, and the timing is right; or T31 built to intermediate frigate equipment levels. Work share doesn’t seem very practical though, given they off-shored their current frigate upgrades. In any event, an intermediate T31/2 platform would make them a useful escort working in combination with other nations, which may be an important political component given NZ defence capabilities, and without jumping to T26, Hunter or CSC level expense.



Note on NZ.

The Babcock dockyard in NZ actually did all the ship propulsion system and control system upgrades. It included power-up the diesel generator, electric charts and others. Impressive work. They also overhauled a French Floreal class. But, installing combat systems and integrating everything (= the most complex part), is beyond their capability and thus it goes to Canada.

If T31 is really “an easy to install” ship (IH-class’s catch copy), and if the NZ’s T31 will be as simple as those for RN, some significant part of the NZ’s T31 could be done in NZ. This is my suggestion (or hope).


“Remember, BAES saw the T31 competition as a race to the bottom”

On this.

I am (a kind of) an engineer working on complex something (not a war ship). For me, this argument is “understandable”.

When I am to order something very complex and has some risk (= unknowns) in the design, I will order it to Fab-A, a highly skilled factory.

When to order more simple and/or well-known (e.g. repeat) something, I will NOT use Fab-A, but use Fab-b, which lacks high skill but can go with only a half of the labor cost of Fab-A.

Even if the work is simple, Fab-A’s labor cost will not go down significantly. This is because Fab-A has been paying a lot to train their worker, set up their certificate system, and currently continuing such training/set-up for future.

Thus, for BAE to bid to “race to the bottom”, they need independent shipyard to handle it, other than Clyde or Barrow. French Naval group has Kership for such simple works, in addition to their Lorient yard doing complex business.

This is the reason BAE came back with Cammel Laird.

For me, this is a very understandable and normal approach. Nothing to blame.

Add: BAEs had had such simple yards, ex-VT yards. Al Khareef was very cheaply ordered. But, I understand BAES struggled with that contract and I guess it finally gave almost no profit to the company, so they shut it down. What if UK HMG had some push on selling yet another Al Khareef-based corvette? May be BAES was continuing the yard?

Add2: Cammel Laird had a big difficulty with RV Sir David Attenborough. The ship was claimed to be very cheap, phrasing CL as a “good competitor”. However, I understand the ship costed more than 50% more than expected, and CL was almost bankrupt because of big deficit with building the ship. But, I think its original bid was too cheap. The final outcome was correct. But, if the contract bid was with the actual cost, the bid may not fall into CL, I’m afraid. Ship building in UK has many difficulty (inefficiency with lack of scale, too strong GBP, and too strong Unions), especially in its simpler ship sectors.

Not an easy business.

Last edited 1 month ago by donald_of_tokyo
Glass Half Full

Your last line sums it up, its not an easy business. CL may have bitten off more than they could chew with RRS Sir David Attenborough. They are certainly not the only ones, Ferguson were apparently over ambitious with, and also mismanaged, their ferry contract.

I also have an engineering background and appreciate your Fab analogy. However, it is perhaps worth making a distinction between BAES characterising the T31 competition as a race to the bottom, and whether that is actually the case, or just not offering the revenue and profit margins BAES wanted. We are probably going to have to wait to see the outcome of the T31 program with Babcock to know for sure.


We do seem to castigate BAE, but compared to US defence contractors they appear to be a bargain!


All good fun to speculate, but we can be sure of one thing. Whatever the RN comes up with the treasury will fund fewer numbers of a less capable design.


Although I do not like Treasury, this argument itself is not fair for them. In many cases (of course, not all), Treasury is not cutting money, they just refuse to increase it. It is the inflating program cost cutting the hull numbers. If the program cost is well controlled, including proper level of margin, no hull will be cut.

So, RN/MOD must really think of its cost estimation accuracy. Any program is cheaper in its initial consideration. Cost increase comes with detailed design and “real work”. So, adding proper margin is essencial. I’m afraid it is as much as 30%, though.

The SSBN program had very large margin. Many here was saying it is too much = SSBN program prediction eating too much money and harming other programs. In reality, SSBN program is almost eating-out it margin. So, they were correct. And, because of this, the program proceeds without significant Treasury interrupt, even with some cost over runs.


It’s not really fair to compare other ships with SSBN’s as they are more “political” beasts, less likely to fall foul of the bean counters.

I am not only blaming the treasury, it would help if BAe would try to meet deadlines, but they hold a lot of the blame.

captain p wash

12 Hulls of this type should be the aim if you ask me. 12 is what we should have got for T45 and 24 T23’s too. What we have now is too few and too thinly spread around especially when considering Re-fit and maintenance. Hello BTW, not new here but might just stick around as the UKDJ place seems to be full of Trolls and Racists.


Good to see if still about Capt, welcome back.

captain p wash

Hello mate, it was nice to see you on the other place….Funny old site that isn’t it ? Got a few right Trolls on there truth be known …….that Herodotus chap was just so Racist, hates Scotland and Israel and Americans too not to mention what he said about my Sister………. Fecking raging mate.


I too looked in there at times and I’ll agree about that Hero poster, nasty little Troll and I saw what he used to type about stuff and then delete or edit to suit. There are a couple more on there too, Ron5 and Nigel Collins but Ron5 is on here as well, not sure about Nigel or Herodotus though. Went on there couple of days ago to post just what I thought, not that it seemed to make any difference.

Andrew D

Agree with you captain on 12 Hulls,sadly never happen for the T45s and yes much to thinly spread ,nice to see picture of HMS Bristol from 1991 that’s when we had some size 💪


A remarkable degree of hyperbole in this piece but it does score highly in the buzzword bingo stakes. We got hypersonics, anti ballistics, rail guns, UAVs and all manner of wonderful acronyms.

Just as a reminder no one has seen a hypersonic sea skimmer with a made in Russia sticker on it. The air launched hypersonic they’ve shown is a modified Iskander and little more actual threat than the 30 year old Kh-15 was. In fact that missile, every bit as hypersonic, might have been a tougher proposition. No one has seen the Chinese AShBM hit a moving target either…or explained how they reliably target at A2AD range?.

What I didn’t see in the piece was any conceptual sketching of how the ship is intended to be deployed. What you want the ship to do is the first step in defining what machinery fit it needs, for what sustained speed vs sprint speed, what number and type of VLS cells are needed, how much commonality with existing designs from a training and logistics standpoint.

The other thing given scant attention, that is a key element of the RNs future direction, is offboard effectors. UxVs are massive multirole enablers. The Bristol had to have big sonar and Ikara to justify its ASW qualities and its 8x prefix.

The new ship needs 12m davits or a gantry crane in a mission bay and a big hangar/flight deck. How so?. Because you have 11-12m USVs towing lightweight reelable arrays from a couple of credible manufacturers. You have big quadcopter drone looking things that can lift a Stingray out the few thousand yards needed to keep SSKs nervous about an approach…..and you can stack these drones on shelves 4 deep in the corner of the hangar. Bigger UAVs like Airbus VSR700 can carry sonobuoy pods and multi mode AESA radar and will fit 3 in the footprint of a Wildcat!.

A ship can now be multirole without the legacy trappings and ship impact. Some element of the Type45 replacement will be this optimisation to deploy offboard effectors and likely they will be common between Type 26, Type 32 and this new hull.

That is a significant element for the design of the ship as well. The T45 replacement has to be heavy on area AAW naturally – HVU consort will be a primary tasking. If it’s carrying half a dozen medium RUAVs each carrying a SeaSpray 7000 AESA x-band set able to build, and link, a local air plot to the ship does it need a huge radar mast to see over the horizon as much?.

If that UAVs radar can update a missile seeker OTH so we can shoot at maximum SAM range, even at targets below the ships horizon, do we need hundreds of missiles in the VLS farm?. It’s better to shoot the archer than try to shoot the arrows after all.

Why are we focussing on rail guns for a ship that will not stray far from the side of a carrier or amphib it’s escorting?. Is a 57mm with guided ammo and deep magazines more useful for that goalkeeper function?.

Maybe a bit more focus on what the ship needs to do should come before the top trumps list of systems it ‘needs to have’ to keep up with the Chinese.

Last edited 1 month ago by Jonesy
John M

Best post on here by a mile… touches all the necessary points…. I don’t think most people realize how deeply UxVs are changing the way ships operate and their capabilities, including the amount of organic capabilities that is going to be transferred to said UxVs, from ASW, to MCM, SAW and AAW. Warships will become more and more like motherships for unmanned effectors and even the missile loads can and will be be partially supplemented by missile barges… T26 and hopefully T32 are the first step in that direction and T83 will no doubt take it to the next level…


Interesting point regarding UxV, I agree.

My question is, if it is UAV, T83 (and T45) will have a huge flat-top located very near. We all know “large flat top” is the best way to handle your “half a dozen medium RUAVs” regardless of its size. Therefore, I am not yet convinced in the “large helicopter deck” on T83.

On USV/UUV, it could be interesting.

# As I personally pushing hard to propose “at least 8 hulls planned” (to actually build “at least 6 hulls2), I am not opting for any assets making T83 larger/expensive. For example, T32 can handle them?

But, for example, having 4 boat bays on a T83, two for 7.5m normal RHIBs, and two for “up to 12-13 m boats” will be an attractive solution. As the ship shall be 10,000 large at least, this “4 boats bays” shall not be a big issue. (Note that T31 only has three (not four) boat bays, all capable only up to 9.5 m boats. It is not good at boat handling, actually).

Glass Half Full

Don’t overlook a T83 escorting something other than a carriers, such as an amphibious group, that doesn’t have the large QEC deck to host vertical lift options.


Thats exactly it. It may not always be consort for a UK HVU – in a coalition framework it may be tasked to cover anything. We made the flight deck mistake, based on the deck alongside, with the T82 I cant see us revisiting that.

Last edited 1 month ago by Jonesy

Jonesy excellent critique. A very woolly article with lots of buzzwords and deference to USN. Let’s have a reality check. US shipbuilding is in a mess, the Arleigh Burke class is a dead end, jack of all trades master of non. The Zumwalt’s a disaster, the LCS an equal disaster. The Ford class ditto. Latest news buying frigates from Europe. Not much to follow there.
The much vaunted radar SPY6 to match or exceed Sampson, scraped for Zumwalt/Ford not due until 2023, if F-35 Block 4 is anything to go by, don’t hold your breath.
So where are we now? We have arguably the most capable, best value for money aircraft carriers afloat and T45 the most advanced AAW Destroyers protect them, with the most advanced T26 ASW Frigates being built and all purpose frigates being built to relieve high end assets of low end duties. A logical and sustainable portfolio.
Why should T83 stray from this model? There is no reason to suppose that a BAE upgrade of Sampson and an upgraded S1046 will not deliver best in class capabilities at less cost than a US system as the RD costs are now sunk and these systems derisked.
No doubt drones and DEW systems will come into the picture, but Russian/Chinese fantasy weapons pleeese.

Glass Half Full

I agree with much of that. I would differ on hypersonics though. Not because they are a threat to a naval force today, but because they are likely to be a threat during the life of the T83 fleet between the late 2030’s and 2060’s.

We don’t need to get crazy on the number of missiles, but when attempting to shoot the archer an OTH view from a UAV doesn’t address submarine launched weapons or those launched from long range by air assets, or even longer range land assets. It might not even address surface assets if far enough away.

If the main gun is limited to programmable rounds or even MAD-FIRES, then 57mm would be fine. NGS has a very limited application in future conflicts, especially for such a vessel, due to shore based ASM, or even shore based tube and rocket artillery threats. A 5″ gun might make sense though for the type of ASW role a T83 might have, operating inside the CSG ASW screen, if the BAES Kingfisher program develops into a practical solution to deploy sonobouys and depth charges.

Its worth pointing out that a large flight deck and aviation capability will support the organic AEW you suggest in escort roles where a carrier may not be present, such as an amphibious group.


Respectfully, I’m afraid you are doing the same thing you accuse the writer of doing. USVs carry enormous potential but that’s mostly all there is right now, potential. The USN which has the largest fleet of these just finished a large exercise experimenting on which is the best way to incorporate these into the service fleet.

Some basic things still need to be worked out with USVs. What is the concept of operations for these? How do you defend these things? What’s to stop a fishing both from an adversary country from approaching one of these and simply tow it back to shore? What’s to stop their special forces from quietly boarding these and doing all manner of things with the electronics aboard? From disabling, to interfering with the transmission of the electronics to send bad data back to the rest of the fleet.

In terms of hypersonic, western analysts and the US military don’t seem as dismissive about what of hypersonic missiles are capable of. Gen. John Hyten as recently as two months ago stated that the US is not in a good position when it comes to defending against these. What seems to often get overlooked with hypersonic weapons is not so much the speed but the ability to maneuver around, under and above defenses at these terrifying speeds.

So yes lots of potential and hype surrounding both of these technologies but one could argue hypersonic missile technology is more mature as a weapon system than USVs.


Fair comment….but not really. The systems we’re looking at aren’t the same as the USN is. We’re looking at circa 12m USVs for MCMW or modest RUAVs or, to exteme, cat-launched fixed wing threatre range UAVs. Nothing there is revolutionary per se. Nothing is so untested as to bring it into the scope of the kinds of risks you outline. We’ve been doing MCMW with ARCIMS for a while. The MQ-8s and similar have been doing local coverage for years. VIXEN is something a bit new and different but were nowhere near it yet.

The point I was making was that these kinds of systems will be a core element in T83….because we know they are going to be a core element of T26….and supposedly they will be a big part of T32.

Hypersonics are manoevrable on what system?. The air launched Iskander is the only demonstrated hypersonic and, while the advertising brochure says the land based version has got terminal phase evasion, its not been validated anywhere and doesn’t look particularly credible based on the configuration of the weapon. The US military are very happy to talk up hypersonic threat systems…..the ‘missile gap’ funding allocation technique worked well last time.


Watch for an avalanche of hypersonic success stories over the next few months.

Andrew D

Interesting to see what Displacement Type 83 destroyers will be ?


Over 10,000t if you want and can afford 100+ Missile cells on a multi roll hull.

Andrew D

If that’s the case could get away with calling it a cruiser.Not that I think this name will ever come back for the RN ,I don’t see a problem really .If it’s 10 000 plus ,but in the West think there will still class them has large Destroyers.


I would join the Italian DDX programme.
comment image

Meirion X

You would opposed any ammo aboard, Peacenik!

Meirion X

You are A JOKE!

You have been exposed as a peacenik posting on a Pro Royal Navy website, a totally dishonest position to take!

Either denounce your peacenik positions, or leave!!

Last edited 1 month ago by Meirion X

I thi k you will find that @X is ex military fella!!!

Meirion X

I have doubts Deep32, that he is ex M.
Ex-milltary don’t usually want turn their back on allies like Ukraines, and even Australia is not NATO but a close allie, but we fort with them in WW2 shoulder to shoulder.
There is a lot of expat and descendants of Ukrainians living in the UK and they been loyal citizens, and had served in UK Armed Forces.
He has very much Peacenik positions, or put another way ‘head up in the clouds’!

Last edited 1 month ago by Meirion X
Meirion X

Here is an example of peacenik positions here:

As you see Britain is always to blame, from them!

The writer has certainly got his head up in the clouds!

Last edited 1 month ago by Meirion X

Merion X is very young and foolish. Just best let him be.

Paul T

I would seriously consider the DDX as an option but the article suggests a possible slant to an American Weapon Fit Out – if we stay ‘European’ with Aster etc it makes sense.Also the timescales might not match – the Marina Militare is looking to have 2 Delivered by 2030,the Type 83 will be entering service nearer 2040,how much will Technology have Progressed by then ,obviously you don’t want a Class that is Old Hat when pretty much new.


The Italians will keep continuity with the Horizons. When the procurement timetables have slipped we will be in the window. When is Edinburgh going to commission? I would start decommission T45 early to be honest if need be.

Meirion X

So scrap T45 in true form of a Peacenik!


Yes, they will get some great ships! It’s a shame that there will be only two of them.


I have something to add:

Yes, they will get some great ships! It’s a shame that there will be only two of them. But the first ship will join the Italian Navy in 2028 an they are an evolution of the Horizon-class. If the Royal Navy would join Italy, the Royal Navy could also build an evolution of Type 45. Please don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of these ships. But maybe it’s just not that kind of evolution that a “type 83” sounds like.

But I have another idea: Germany and the Netherlands already started planning their future AWW-Frigates. The UK left the Horizon-Project because it requested for a ship much bigger AWW-screen. I think in time of hypersonic missiles that is more up-to-date than ever. I really hope Germany and the Netherlands have that in their minds. The German Navy already speaks about an “BMD Upper Layer” for their 6 future Frigates. So I would stand up for jointly upgraded PAAMS-Block 2 with an SAMSON Block 2 and an national designed ship. For 16 ships (6 UK, 4 NL, 6 Ger) that sounds possible for me. And a European equivalent for SM-6 should also be possible so. An on german Bloggs i read some rumores about Aster on future F127…

The German programm:

Last edited 1 month ago by Sebastian
Meirion X

Peacenik x would want the Royal Navy to procure Horizons with No warpons whatsoever!

A Fake poster, but who is really a Peacenik, and Putin appeaser!




They procure a small number of ships every so often keeping their yards and designers in work. And that isn’t a bad thing. Perhaps the RN’s trouble is that it still thinks it is a big navy when it isn’t.


I’d have thought rather than completely reinventing the wheel as was done with T45 leveraging as much as possible from T26 to go into a slightly larger and simpler derivative hull would be a good approach.

T26 itself may be a ASW specialist but with a mix of 72 VLS, the Mk45 gun, a large flight-deck/hangar, mission bay and tall radar mast it’s a lot more general purpose than it’s predecessors which seems like a good starting point for any future surface vessel.

An evolutionary process that produces sub-groups of the same basic design that specialize in anti-submarine and anti-air roles but also have a much broader and more flexible set of capabilities to compliment each other would be good to see.


We have two hulls in development Type 26 and Type 31. Type 26 is a very expensive hull with a complex and specific power train designed for ASW discretion and sprint availability.

For an AAW ship that will mostly do its work sat next to the freight train racket of a carrier or amphibious hull what is that, costly, specialist power train needed for?. Why add millions in cost to the T8x hull for no mission benefit?.

The Type 31 is derived from an actual AAW hull already….the Iver Huitfeldt. The basic arrangement of the design that Babcocks have bought from the Danes is sailing with an AAW configuration right now. Making an AAW version for the RN would be simplicity itself.

Maybe, to get a true T8x, we modify the design somewhat….add in a hull plug aft to put in a mission bay or put back in the Flex Deck and dual Merlin hangar from the Absalon hull. Stop the flex deck at the missile deck to permit strike length modules and you’ve still got a huge space aft for UUV/USV/LCP embark and deploy. Still be hugely cheaper than the billion a shot T26!.

Essentially opting for the T26 as the baseline looks like having a Rolls Royce and a Transit van in your garage and, wanting to convert one to a camper van, choosing the Rolls!.

Meirion X

The Type 26 will Not provide close in escort for CSG unlike T45s which will provide close-by protection.
T26 will operate on the periphery of CSG to hunt subs laying await ahead, or following CSG.


The comment I replied to was saying that the T26 should be the baseline hull that the T8x was developed from.

My suggestion was that this was not the most logical or cost effective proposition!. Mostly for the reasons you indicate that I described myself.


I think a modified version of the type 31 would offer an alternative aaw hull and would be easily extended to have an battery of missile in front of the hanger section to increase missiles to upward of 80-90 good mix of camm, aster 30, aster BM, new cruise missile, what we do need is a type of asroc to keep subs at distance


To count the CAMM-cells as normal VLS-cells is misleading. The 48 of them are equivalent to only 12 “normal” VLS-cells with quadpacks. That give the type 26 an VLS-equivalent to 36 cells. IMO the type 26 is still heavy armt for western ASW-frigates and a very god general purpose frigate. 

Phillip Johnson

Up to this point the RN has always produced warships which are pretty much unique to the RN. With Major combatants (T45’s and T26’s) down to only a little above single figures you really have to question how much longer that can (or should) continue if you are going to have halfway efficient use of taxpayers money.
If you look honestly at the string of joint developments with Europe you have to question whether they have ever represented more than a heavy dose of politics..
Maybe it is time for the UK to pick sectors of industry where it needs to (and can) maintain a world position and buy the rest.
Probably very long range AAW/ABM capability isn’t one of them.

Tim Stentiford

How many will be built? Only 4? Cost will be high! As each new class arrives, their numbers always drop, sadly think the type 83 will follow this pattern


The big mistake here is we should have ordered (and still can) 25 x T26 hulls, at which point they are not £1bn each (which is TCO – not build cost) but closer to £750m (similar to FREMM) or less.

spread over 25 years we could have build a “flight” every 5 years, replacing the current 19 escorts and increase the fleet inline with current plans.

BAES would have built their frigate factory, we would have the required drumbeat and skills in place and the cost will be stabilised over the 25 years of the programme. crucially this would need to be ring fenced in order to ensure the drumbeat is always maintained.

We always look at doing things cheaper in the short term (partly due to previous ineptitude and rising costs), but economies in scale are not achievable build 5 ships.

The key here is £1bn pa is needed for the escort fleet, how the RN then spend that is up to them.


True. If you look what the RAN and RCN getting you will see that we are getting another under equipped hull in T26. The RAN are heading towards 12 AEGIS hulls which will be tied into our main ally’s main development thrust. We will have 6 OK-ish hulls with a good AAW system that is cul-de-sac and will age, and 8 ASW escorts that though may be good at the primary task will be lagging behind in an ever more complex air threat environment. Continue to build T26 yes, but lets build the RAN version.

Meirion X

Australia version is Not needed for the RN and too expensive. I would Not want the T26 getting X-band radar either, just extra cost across the whole fleet.

Anyway you would Not want them armed!

Last edited 1 month ago by Meirion X

Is the RAN version back under topweight control yet?. If we’re concerned about the heavy nature of the future air threat for that hull where is the VSR?. On USN ships its on the nearest orbiting Hawkeye no problem….for the mob its on a T45 or perhaps a Crowsnest Merlin….for the RAN?. MFRs can do volume search….been doing it for years it could be said. True…but while its doing the VSR job its reduced in performance at other tasks.

What’s the point of that additional AAW capability as well?. Self defence?. Goalkeeper?. Local area cover?. The T26 isnt going to be in-close in a formation its a sub hunter. The close consort is an AAW ship….why would you waste a TAS and a skilled ASW warfare team putting the ship on a station where it cant use them?.

If its self defence how much ship impact are you giving over to self defence with all of the radars and VLS cells tied up with quad ESSM cannisters instead of offensive weaponry?. What detriment does that place on the primary mission…..apart from ramping up costs.

What does the RAN version give us that fits our use case?.

Last edited 1 month ago by Jonesy

Why extra air defence for RAN? The PLAN with its growing fleet of aircraft, drones, missiles, and other assorted goodies. Or do you think the RAN are just buying AEGIS for giggles? The same PLAN that the RN will probably have to go up against. Why do you lot always assume AAW or AEW has to be centred on carriers?


I haven’t assumed that as evidenced by my comments further up.

I am asking where the long range air detection comes from, in the RAN, that cues these super-T26s?. Or is that whole, heavily ship impacting and cost driving, radar suite just a really, really good ASMD system?.

If it’s just ASMD is gold-plating like this really the answer?. The U.K. defence forum community rail against such practices here often enough?. In this case is ‘best’ absolutely necessary against ‘good enough’ when these things are expensive enough already and we have plenty of other stuff to spend the money on.


So the RAN are buying AEGIS for a laugh then? And the Royal Navy which aspires to be global force facing an increasing air threat environment too and the same (hypothetical) enemies doesn’t need comprehensive AAW for ASW hulls? Or indeed we are seeing the end of that arbitrary nomenclature? Somebody perhaps should tell the Italians that they don’t need to be to shoot Aster 30 from their FREMM’s? Perhaps somebody should have told the USN they should have built two Burke variants one for AAW and one for ASW……..


Thats what I’m asking you. If you believe gold-plating is necessary?. Its not the conventional wisdom.

As stated the USN have a VSR – its usually attached to a carrierborne twin turboprop.

The Italians have AAW destroyers that would, presumably, be present in a high air threat scenario and they bring along long range radar. The same one we have on our AAW ships oddly enough.

We have comprehensive AAW for our ASW hulls. Unless Sea Ceptor is somehow not a viable system. To use your faux-hyperbole perhaps ‘you should tell someone’ if that is the case. Be prepared to support your assertion though.

So your statement is, and you reiterate it, that the ship impact and cost of the AAW modifications for the Hunter class are justified with ‘only’ an MFR fit for area coverage?. Going to have to alert the Canadians…they don’t seem to have got that memo either and, to be honest, I dont think they’d take you any more seriously than I would.

Last edited 1 month ago by Jonesy

I don’t think having a good AAW in Type 26 is gold plating when the ship size is double the size of a T 42.

The T45 number are relatively small and after that UK type 26 is weak in AAW. While iot is true they have 2 Horizon vs 6 T45, the Italian FREEM have Aster 30 and their radar has ABM capability. Even the PPA now with more modern AESA have ABM and the full versions will have Aster 30 and be capable for Aster ABM.


Scrapped this post as I’ve just noted that CEAFAR do indeed do an L-band VSR now that I’d not seen before.

The T26 is more of an AAW ship that I’d given it credit for before.

Doesn’t change the fact that its more than we need in an ASW ship seeing we have more AAW ships then the Aussies and, presumably, we’d like to maintain their numbers.

Last edited 1 month ago by Jonesy

I disagree, you don’t need a large expensive ship like Type 26 for ASW, a Type 31 with proper gas-diesel-electric propulsion would be enough.
Type 26 should be multirole.


One thing on the list of issues that you’ve missed.

Propulsion – or more precisely energy storage. By the time these ships enter service, back end of the 30s, there will be some very interesting challenges in that respect. The RN – like every other shipping operator – is going to have to make a choice, whether to stay with F76 or derivatives, move to an alternate fuel, or do something else. The current alternate fuel options (LNG, ammonia, ethanol, hydrogen) are fairly unattractive for military ships for a range of reasons including toxicity, storage and handling requirements and energy density.

T83 is likely to be the first RN class to have to truly confront these issues – not least because the electrical load required for the ship function will be high, which also means the total energy stored will be high. All the Swedish Doom-goblin approved measures (sails, solar panels, burning more capitalists) won’t get close to the energy levels needed.

It is not beyond the realms of possibility that a nice little tea-kettle set might suddenly become a relatively attractive option. For which the thinking and engineering R&D needs to start now.


Not a fan of the Swedish Doom-goblin then!!!
A really interesting point, can’t say that I had considered that angle beforehand. A small pressurised kettle would certainly solve a lot of those energy requirement problems you have raised, whilst creating a load more no doubt.
We have always strayed away from this form of propulsion/energy generation for the surface world, so yes, it will be v interesting to see how that develops, especially if energy requirements are going to be so large given what appears to need to be fitted on said warships.


Ahh the ‘Swedish Doom Goblin’ with her carefully managed image to make her look 6 years younger than she actually was when she went (conveniently) viral in Social Media and the Mainstream Media. The real fun thing is to watch her try and respond to an unscripted question when she doesn’t have her scripted answers to hand…


Great Idea that, we can recycle all the Water Boiling Vessels from all the CH2 and Warriors that are being scrapped.


THIS ^^^^^^


Are you saying we should start to dust off the plans for that nuclear T4x that was floated in the early 70s?

I think we are seeing a shift on ‘environmental issues’ and common sense coming back. I don’t think such issues will bother the PLAN or the Russian navy.


Go nuclear and add hugely to the cost and create a manning issue. Nuclear engineering is I understand already one of the shortage trades in the RN.


Possibly. However, a large chunk of the manning issue is related to the current location and employment of those plants. Scale may actually work the other way – particularly if there is take-up in the wider maritime industry.

The alternative fuels are not exactly low-cost or benign. Their energy density is significantly lower than F76, which means you’ll actually need vastly more bunker space (highly pressurised and/or very low temperature for some), which has its own cost impact – as yet unquantified.

Like it or not, unfettered use of F76 or similar may not be sustainable in the long term. There is not enough arable land in the world to make biofuel viable – at least while feeding populations is a consideration. Will mass production of F76 remain viable in the long-term? Will the adherents of the SDG mandate that hydrocarbon fuels are banned?

Answers to these questions are not yet known, but it’s a big issue and one that needs the right questions posing and being answered sooner rather than later. There is no real consensus in the commercial marine industry as yet and their problems are less demanding than naval forces.

Last edited 1 month ago by N-a-B

There is lots of oil left to extract, it’s just getting more and more expensive.
I suspect that for lots of specialist military and civilian tasks fossil fuels will still be in use in 50 years. Where energy density both per m3 and per kg are vital the technology is still nowhere near replacing them.
When you include the decommissioning and waste management costs nuclear is only going to make sense when it offers huge operational benefits. Otherwise in total it’s cheaper to buy lots of diesel.


Exactly. And as I said above attitudes my shift back again as the realities of ‘renewable energy’ come home,


If you are allowed to. It’s nothing to do with how much oil is left and everything to do with emissions.

Absolutely agree that neither proposed alternate fuels are palatable or even feasible, but never underestimate the effect of political pressure and small autistic scandinavian schoolgirls.

The answer may end up being retaining diesel for military use – but until the alternatives have been definitively proven unsuitable, it’ll be a hard argument to win.

Meirion X

Don’t forgot, a new proposal to capture solar blue light from space and beam it by microwave to Earth receivers.

Last edited 1 month ago by Meirion X

That’s still almost in the realm of sci-fi. If it works in a real way it’s still 30 years from mass adoption.


I always thought for large ships that the total space for propulsion varied little between the various systems more it is just distributed differently through out the hull.


Propulsion and generation, generally yes. Bunkerage – particularly when some alternate fuels have ~ 33% the energy density of diesel oil – is another story. A story complicated further by it’s mass and usage (affects trim and displacement), potential for pollution (tank location and protection) and compatibility with other ship board facilities.


I would also include intakes and uptakes, which, for example for gas turbines as you know better than I, takes up a considerable volume within a hull. And I should have said bunkers too………


For something like a T21 or a T42, with two sets of turbines, plus DG, they did. Once you get to T45/T26 size, up and downtakes much less significant.

Last edited 1 month ago by N-a-B

Which takes us back to for larger ships the propulsion system takes up much the same volume just that that volume is distributed differently in the hull.


No, but clearly difficult to explain.


Then which is the most efficient in terms of volume?


Depends. What we’re discussing here is bunkers. For the same calorific energy as a cubic metre of F76, a fuel with one third the energy density of that will require three cubic metres of bunker.

But – it may also need compression and/or protection, which means it’ll require special tanks which will further impact on stowage efficiency. So that three metres may end up being five. Plus any compression plant required, plus lagging for liquefied gas fuels etc.

When you consider that bunkers on a frigate take up hundreds of cubic metres, trebling that in a fixed volume ship is non trivial.


I think you have gone a little further than was needed. We are going to move a 10,000 tonne destroyer at up to 32kts for a range of what 8000nm at 18kts. Of course nuclear that doesn’t………

I am not interested in these fancy ‘new fuels’ for a moment.

Thanks anyway Not A Boffin. You are my naval architecture guru! 🙂


Which is my point. 🙂
comment image


“…the latest SM-3 Block IIA missile cost about $36 Million each.”

Just checking this isn’t a typo… $36m each?


About $11 million a bang I think

Glass Half Full

That’s correct for the single digit numbers of the IIA variant of SM-3 currently being purchased according to DoD budget figures, but includes 60% or more RDT&E costs. The IB variant is closer to X’s $11M.


“doggedly persist with traditional ship programmes….”. Parry is expecting some radical new approach but doesn’t set out what this might be. The article and many of the comments are focussed on upgrades of what we have now. But what might the ” Dreadnought moment” be? USN attempts to be radical – LCS, Zumwalt- have not lived up to the hopes for them. The original Dreadnought made all existing battleships obsolete by its size and firepower. What could have a similar transformational effect in the near future? It’s hard to see that it would be a platform rather a capability. Long range semi autonomous drones might make surface ships impossible to defend driving more of the future battle fleet under water. Surface vessels might become much smaller, accompanied by unmanned platforms.
Given these possibilities, spending ever greater sums on a diminishing number of high end destroyers might be a mistake. If we plan to replace 6 with 6, recent history suggests we might get 3 or 4. Better to keep the costs affordable by using one of our existing platforms as a starting point.


Except that’s a fallacious assumption. The cost of designing a surface platform from scratch is in the low hundreds of millions. However, a large chunk (the majority) that would apply whether you were starting from scratch or modifying an existing platform. The actual cost of early stages of design that get you to the same start point as where you start to modify an existing design is in the high tens of million for the overall class.

For that relatively small amount you get to avoid compromises forced by constraints of the existing design, optimise the basic design itself for the role you want it to perform and retain the design skills that allow you to do this in the first place.

Last edited 1 month ago by N-a-B

And yet the USN continues to build and enhance Arleigh Burke destroyers at the same time as every newer platform goes way over budget and fails to deliver the capabilities expected.
It isn’t just the initial design costs that matter but the impact of a brand new design on the whole manufacturing process and supply chain.


Simply because they have actually lost the skills to do so. They’re not doing AB IIII through choice. It’s a measure of desperation, particularly if you understand what they’re having to do to the hull to make it work.


“And yet the USN continues to build and enhance Arleigh Burke destroyers at the same time as every newer platform goes way over budget and fails to deliver the capabilities expected.
It isn’t just the initial design costs that matter but the impact of a brand new design on the whole manufacturing process and supply chain.”

Arleigh Burkes have aobsolescent propulsion with too short range…and they had to go to Italy to have a frigate design


Totally agree. Don’t really understand the desire to spend larger and larger sums of money designing smaller numbers of larger and larger surface ships. It may be that with advances in technology such as missiles and drones, the vulnerability of surface ships continues to increase and their actual usefulness in any kind of a conflict diminishes – it becomes too dangerous to put them into harms way. Agree that submarines are likely a much better investment. Focus should be on developing a cheap diesel-electric submarine rather than focusing so much on huge surface vessels.


Not sure what you’re agreeing with? Nothing in your post tallies with the discussion. SSK are good for sea denial only.


A ship can only be in one place at one time. And if a ship’s systems are at a given level of sophistication then a peer’s systems will be at the level too.

Commonwealth Loyalist

Good article as usual, but as common nowadays ignores the imperative to increase defense spending to at least 4% instead of the falsely claimed 2% that includes pensions, intelligence, and other stuff not really part of a real defense budget. The 2% (really closer to 1%) is so inadequate in the new world we live in. Soviet Russia spent about 40%, no idea what China spends nowadays as like during the Soviet era one can’t believe any of its official statistics, but if the West wants to survive as the dominant force in the world it is going to have to wake up its act more than a little bit,




Really interesting article, thank you! Well argued, and good points, although I personally disagree with some of the conclusions.
I agree that it makes sense to upsize the T83 from what the T26 could provide, my (limited) understanding is that stretching the hull is only good for so much- and increasing the beam is more hassle than it’s worth. For a vessel whose capabilities and mission have not yet fully been defined, with so much time between in service date and now, I’d rather not be tied to an existing hull that’s already at the lower end of displacement for most “destroyer” vessel types (from the USN and Chinese fleets, particularly).
As far as ABM goes, I do agree that the T83 is where to focus (as well as AAD). AShABMs (?) will likely have become far more common by the late 2030s, along with hypersonic weapons. I don’t see much point in spending too much money on the T45 for this function.
I also agree that trying to make it an ASW platform is a bit of a waste of time. My understanding is that the missions are really quite different when it comes to position of the vessel; you aren’t necessarily going to be properly placed to provide AAD to a fleet as well as be well positioned for ASW.
These are fleet protection vessels, I don’t think land strike should be one of the three core missions of the type- I think surface warfare (i.e. ship vs ship) should be. If the AShM in question happens to have a land attack capability then so much the better, but we’re beginning to see real possibility of fights between other surface combatants again, in the form of swarms (Iran) all the way up to peer/near peer (Russia, China). To me, the frigates (more specifically GP frigates, who in theory roam everywhere and are not necessarily a part of the CSG) make more sense as our primary carrier of land attack missiles- as they aren’t going to be tied to a fleet and would in theory be more immediately posted to potential hot spots etc.
I also disagree with the pick of Mk41 VLS (and by extension AEGIS), both hypothetically for T83 and for the T26. For starters, my understanding is that it’s pretty old these days and has been superceded by the Mk57. But, ignoring that, I really don’t think we should move to AEGIS and the SM system. Our advanced missiles projects and products are some of the real successes in our military acquisition programmes and provide a lot of good jobs. Maybe we’d get some kind of work share in the AEGIS eco-system if we switched, but that’s not the same as designing and building it. I don’t think there have been any really good comparisons between the Aster and SM missiles, and the SMs have certainly conducted more test flights, but specification-wise I believe the Asters are just as good (if not better) in the AAD role. No reason to expect them to fall down in the ABM role. Given that FC/ASW (one or two missiles) will be developed for Sylver, I don’t see much point in paying for separate MK41 qualification when we can split it with the French. We don’t currently use any of the weapons that are qualified for Mk41, and none of them are ones we’re likely to buy either. The SM-2 is fairly analogous to Aster, SM-3 is the one to beat for Aster30 block NT, ESSM is Sea Ceptor, TLAM isn’t going to be in service in the 2030s, ASROC is redundant now, let alone in 15 years’ time, and SM-6 is a very expensive golden bullet and competitor to FC/ASW. None of the in-development US surface launch weapons that I’m aware of offer anything that the current or in-development crop of Sylver weapons do. Protect British jobs in a sector that has proven to be successful, and save our US purchases for places where we don’t have market share.
Same with the radar and other combat systems that make up AEGIS, we have made our own and they’re good- why buy elsewhere?
One thing has not been covered, and that’s unmanned systems. Not in the context of ASW or mine hunting etc. but in terms of surface warfare (and maybe air defence?). It’s not talked about much, but I’m guessing that will come. I imagine T83s might/will take on a cruiser role in the command and control of multiple unmanned combatants, UAVs, USVs, and UUVs. The vessel will need the room and comms to handle a lot of operators and data traffic.
Disclaimer: I am a keen amateur, I know some stuff, I think I know other stuff, and I know I don’t know more. Happy to take correction on any of the above!

Glass Half Full

Joe, I think you’re getting confused on some points.

Mk41 does not imply Aegis. Many countries including Germany, Netherlands, Norway and Denmark use Mk41 with other CMS and radars other than SPY-1. In fact Germany and Denmark use Mk41 with Tacticos, for their AAW destroyers, i.e. the CMS selected for T31. It seems rather likely the joint german/Netherlands future AAW destroyer will also use Tacticos, while sticking with Mk41. Japan and S. Korea also use Mk41 on their non-Aegis ships.

SM-6 is first and foremost an anti-air warfare missile. It also has capability against ballistic missiles. It is now being developed for longer range and faster speed as a hypersonic missile. An anti-ship and land attack role has been added. Its not really just a competitor to FC/ASW. Were the UK to select it then it would probably be instead of Aster 30 Blk 1NT and possibly also instead of Aster 30 Blk 2 BMD as SM-6 has demonstrated capability against medium range ballistic missiles.

SM-3 is a step up again and intended to counter IRBM, i.e. between medium range and intercontinental range.

We’ve debated Sylver vs Mk41 on future platforms before so I won’t re-hash that.

As for ASW. T45 does ASW, its just not optimised for it like T23/26. If a submarine gets inside the T26 screen for a CSG or amphibious group, then T83 is going to have to do ASW. A combination of solutions such as BAES Kingfisher, VLA based on new lightweight torpedo, manned and unmanned vertical lift for deploying dipping sonar, sonobouys and torpedoes and USV with TAS, would all make a T83 a much more capable platform for this type of ASW role than T45, without the expense of the T26 optimised platform.


Hi GHF, I thought I might get a response from yourself (always welcome), apologies for the late reply- was working on site all day yesterday.
I’m not
confused, although may have done a poor job of showing so. I know that the Mk41
doesn’t require AEGIS, hence I tried to treat them separately in different
paragraphs but also together because of the context of the article- Navy
Lookout are certainly considering them together. What do you think of Mk57 by
the way, I’ve heard some people on here and elsewhere tout it as the future?!
Thanks for the extra info on the SM series, I’ve kind of read SM-6 as being a bit of a wonder weapon that ticks all boxes- rather than an AAW missile with other functions. I think it’s a little too expensive to be considered as anything else, isn’t it? Will be interesting to see how they use it in practice (if we ever find that out).
As you say, we could go round the houses again on Mk41, but I’m not sure we’ll ever manage to convince the other- both arguments are reasonable conclusions of the situation (I like to think!).
As far as ASW goes, I agree with you. What I meant was that it shouldn’t be one of the three core functions of the T83- surface warfare would be a better fit for that, for the reasons I mentioned. Having a secondary ASW role makes a lot of sense, especially considering that we’re using a lot of unmanned stuff for that these days. A VLA based upon Stingray or the new future lightweight torpedo is a no-brainer, although it would need a range of at least 20 km on the rocket motor I think. It could even be used to carry other warheads, like EW loads, some kind of hard kill anti-torpedo system, the unitary munitions that are supposed to take over from cluster bombs (great for boat swarms and unmanned systems?) and maybe even Brimstone and Spear 3 (no idea on relative sizes and utility of all of them, just wild conjecture at this point).

Glass Half Full

Hi Joe, I’m certainly no expert on this but I suspect Mk57 is at something of a dead end for the following reasons. Apparently it can support a missile 18″ longer and about 3″ greater diameter. But there are no known missile programs that need this increase in size, everything known including the once discussed SM-3 Blk IIB would fit in a Mk41. Mk57 can also handle more powerful rocket motors, but designing such a missile would immediately restrict that missile from being used in Mk41.

Lockheed advertises lower costs on Mk57 for new missile integration and there seem to be some operational benefits. But there are also some gotcha’s.

  1. Arleigh Burke Flt III aren’t using Mk57, which would have been the obvious point at which to at least start using some Mk57 cells, even if not for all of them. So outside Mk57 use in Zumwalt, there doesn’t seem to be a US platform to use this new VLS, until they eventually design their future large combatant and who knows when that will eventuate, or if they will even use Mk57 when they do.
  2. Mk57 may be backward compatible with existing missiles but its a different system. Which would suggest it will require a separate qualification for any existing missile using it. Going forward any new missile capable of use in both Mk41 and Mk57 would then double the qualification burden.

SM-6 is expensive, but I suspect we’re going to see all high end missiles at this level at similar price points. If SM-6 is capable of doing all the roles using a single variant, i.e. just s/w programmed for the mission, then it provides a significant level of flexibility against a range of threats, without having to populate a VLS with a number of different variants.

The new lightweight torpedo is interesting because with advances in technology it could be smaller and lighter for similar effect to Sting Ray. If so then that would more practically support a longer range VLA. Regarding other options, it may be interesting to take a peek at BAES Kingfisher concept and other videos at link below, if not seen already.


It’s interesting that the Zumwalt class don’t seem to have gone very far, considering how long ago they were launched. The AGS, Mk57, even the tumblehome hull aren’t really being reproduced or specified anywhere else.
Thanks, I haven’t heard of Kingfisher, I’ll check it out!

Glass Half Full

Zumwalt has had problems with the primary mission of using guns for land attack, both in the overall concept, the custom gun and especially the special ammunition cost that killed the program. Compounded by radar issues in cost and capability, that mean that SPY-6 is the future for the USN radar systems, instead of SPY-3/4. All wrapped up in a an unnecessarily stealthy and expensive platform.

Meirion X

How about developing a Sylver A90 cells, of a larger diameter cell like Mk. 57?

Last edited 1 month ago by Meirion X

I’d be all for it! At the moment not sure what we’d put in there, but anything hypersonic may well end up being pretty chunky. It leaves scope for the quad packing (or other multiples) of larger missiles if nothing else.

Trevor H

Isn’t the important thing to design a “platform” that can adapt to the changing or evolving needs for its weapons.

Surely it should not spend time or money designing the T83 that is suitable just for a railgun, or other specific for that matter, only to find it cannot be made to work.

Likewise, what is the point of say a 5″ gun just to bombard the shore? But new more flexible guns, with smart shells, with more than one if needed after an upgrade, might be catered for.

It should not be designed to be obsolete as soon as it hits the water.

Humpty Dumpty

Giving ships a way to take out ballistic anti-ship missiles and hypersonic anti-ship cruise missiles is vital, but what we really need is a way to take out mobile anti-ship missile launchers and/or target the locations where they’re rearmed, refulled, repaired and maintained. We also need to target air bases that aircraft carrying Kinzhal would otherwise take off from. Doing this would enable a carrier group to get closer to land and then the F-35s would have enough range to reach land, which they wouldn’t if a carrier group is staying out of the range of DF-26 and Kinzhal.

Last edited 1 day ago by Humpty Dumpty