Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Where do they test the Towed arrays?

Supportive Bloke

It would be very interesting do a deep dive into the automated plate / panel line that BAE have installed. George, on UKDJ, has touched on it with a few photos.

Supportive Bloke

Interesting to compare it to it’s spiritual predecessor?


If all that automation was there 20 years back, whats happened since. left to rust or the software licenses ‘lapsed’ and no one knows how to run it.


Correction. That was the automation at VT Portsmouth
“. The scale of redevelopment at Portsmouth is impressive. One dry dock has been filled to allow construction of a Ship Assembly Hall (130 m long,52 m wide and 40 m high with a 400 tonne crane capacity) and Unit Construction Hall (130 m long by 43 m wide with cranes of 120 tonnes capacity). The Unit Construction Hall will assemble panels, bulkheads and decks into units,which will move next door to the Ship Assembly Hall where final assembly and outfit will take place (for the Type 45,this will be the forward hull block). “


That was a very tidy and efficient little panel line. The quality of the panels coming off there was very good indeed. Sadly, when BAES exited shipbuilding in Portsmouth, I believe the panel line was lifted and put into storage in Glasgow.

Paul H

T26 feels expensive for Norway.


Price has come down quite alot, but true, they certainly cheaped out on some elements of their current frigates.


Come down A Lot ? The cumulative build contracts are around £9 bill. Could be another £300 mill from the development contracts let from 2009-15
You could say twice that of T31, but not as much major weapons systems


Price has come down from 1.2+ Billion to 800 million in the 2nd batch.
Also the T31 will have less missiles overall than the T26.

Nigel Collins

Missiles are something else worth factoring into the equation, war isn’t cheap!

WASHINGTON — Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro today told lawmakers his service is out at least $1 billion in critical munitions because of recent operations in the Middle East, a shortfall the Pentagon is banking on a congressional supplemental to help replenish.

“We currently have approaching $1 billion in munitions that we need to replenish at some point in time,” Del Toro told the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on defense. “So, therefore the over $2 billion that’s provided for in the supplemental is direly critical to our Navy and Marine Corps to be able to replenish those munitions and continue to provide the types of defensive measures that we have this past six months now.”

The Pentagon’s munitions stockpile, and looming shortfalls, have become a pervasive topic for both lawmakers and outside analysts since last October when Hamas’ attack on Israel led US Navy warships to take up positions in the Red and Mediterranean Seas, while the Defense Department had already been sending numerous aid packages to Ukraine to fend off an invading Russian army.

The question of munitions was top of mind for lawmakers at today’s hearing following this weekend’s attack by Iran, in which it reportedly launched more than 300 drones, ballistic missiles and cruise missiles at Israel, with the goal of destroying F-35 joint strike fighters.

The US, United Kingdom, Jordan and Israel collectively defeated most of the incoming Iranian attacks, but the large-scale assault as well as the secretary’s comments put into stark relief the strain the Navy’s SM-2, SM-6 and, as of this weekend, are under.


They use both the Merlin (newer then ours) and P8, so upfront costs could be clawed back in OPEX costs. Plus they are running a budget surplus!


the AW101’s are SAR aircraft, painted white and red, they are not naval helicopters.


Yes. But they are operated as a squadron of the RNoAF


Nevertheless, it is probably the best and most logical choice for the Norwegians. From what I am hearing, people in the Norwegian Navy fear that the Americans might become unreliable, thinks the Germans are difficult to work with, and the Spanish are right out after the last time.

Norway do have the money for it, and another 5-6 Type 26s with a close ally basically next door should be very attractive to the Royal Navy.


Constellation is a bloated class and I’m surprised they weren’t considering the original Italian FREMM instead, which strikes me as an excellent ship, or possibly even the FREMM EVO, if it’s not too radical a departure.


They may consider it for all I know, but if I were to speculate, I would say it is more about tradition than anything else. Italy is not really considered a close partner by the Norwegians, they are too far away. There may also exist an idea that Italians are used to the Med and make ships for that environment, and that the North Sea have other requirements.

chris de pole

Would make sense due to the fact the Norwegians are going to be operating in the North Atlantic and Arctic, so will need ships built to operate in the harsh conditions of that area. Which aligns well with RN ships

Supportive Bloke

Beat me to it.

Durable ASW operations in those conditions need very specifically designed ships.


Italy are just as far away from Norway as Span, France is closer and can build FREMM.

Supportive Bloke

Is FREMM a ship you’d really want to be on in the High North – is that what it is designed for?


I doubt they are are any worse than a Type 26. Neither advertise a polar classification. The French have no problem when they send FREMMs to the High North. Here’s news of a recent patrol of a FREMM in the High North in January.

FS Normandie, Bretagne and Provence have patrolled High North and ITS Carlo Margottini participated in last year’s Baltops. The Aussies shortlisted the FREMM design and given how much of the Southern Ocean they own, I doubt they’d have done that for a warm water only design. The Americans on selecting it for the Constellation referred to its “robust hull”.


They are building 6000 ton coast guard icebreaker- OPV in their own yards

KV Svalbard incorporates a strengthened hull for ice-breaking missions. It is the first Norwegian Naval vessel to receive the DNV Class notation, Icebreaker POLAR-10. Svalbard is a Double Acting Ship (DAS) type of ice-breaking vessel designed to operate in open waters and thin ice. It retains better open water manoeuvrability than traditional ice-breaking ships.’

I think their Frigates are more open ocean, as of course the Gulf Stream warms even the coastal leads


Svarlabrd was built 23 years ago. The new Norwegian ice Class OPV’s use hulls built in Romania, and are fitted out in Norway by Vard. Norwegian shipyards import hulls and fit them out.


Shipyards that are Fincantieri owned…

Nigel Collins

Posted today.

The French Navy has successfully conducted its first simultaneous test launch of the Missile de Croisière Navale (MdCN) naval cruise missile from a frigate and a submarine.

The test-firing was carried out by the service’s lead multimission (FREMM) frigate Aquitaine, positioned off the coast of Brittany, and one of its Suffren (Barracuda)-class nuclear-powered attack submarines (SSNs), located off the coast of Biscarrosse, on 18 April, the Ministry of Armed Forces of France confirmed the same day.

During the test the two vessels launched a co-ordinated strike against a ground target located at the DGA’s Biscarrosse missile test centre at Landes in southwestern France – with both missiles engaging their target “in perfect synchronisation”, the Ministry of Armed Forces of France said.

In a statement issued the same day the French Navy said the test was carried out in operational conditions to strengthen the operational know-how and combat skills of the service.

Nigel Collins

One down, five to go.

The keel for the guided-missile frigate Constellation (FFG 62), the lead ship of the new Constellation-class of ships, was laid on 12 April, the US Navy (USN) confirmed.

Speaking at the keel-laying ceremony on the same day, USN Secretary Carlo Del Toro noted the need to augment the fleet with ships like FFGs, especially with recent events in the Red Sea.

Constellation and the Constellation-class frigates are a critical next step in the modernisation of our surface ship inventory, increasing the number of players on the field available globally for our fleet and combatant commanders,” Del Toro said during his speech, according to the USN.

“As recent events in the Red Sea and Indo-Pacific have shown, our ships, submarines, aircraft, sailors, and marines are in high demand by our national decision makers,” he said.

Testifying on 10 April before the House Appropriations Committee (HAC), Del Toro noted some of the fleet-relative technological enhancements being advanced in the frigate programme.

comment image

Last edited 1 month ago by Nigel Collins

What do you mean by “Constellation is a bloated class”?

Supportive Bloke

The Italian ships look impressive they are designed for Mediterranean work.

More than a match for the Russian rubbish surface fleet BTW and useful mass for NATO.

Not so sure that they are premier league sub hunters. And that is what the Norwegians want?

T26 isn’t that expensive for a heavily armed and upgradable big frigate with long legs that can do Atlantic ASW work and will be fully integrated with P8 and Merlin.


The FREMM’s have the standard diesel electric propulsion for ASW 1st class escort and the standard CAPTAS4 VDS

The French FREMM have fixed pitch propellers so should in theory a bit more silent while making them more inefficient. The Constellation will also have fixed pitch propellers.

Whale Island Zoo Keeper

I think the Spanish are shoe-in with their ALFA 3000 design.


Aren’t those light frigates/corvettes? I would be very surprised if Norway went with that. There is also the experience with the current frigates to consider, Navantia is not exactly well regarded in Norway at the moment.

Last edited 1 month ago by Franky
Whale Island Zoo Keeper

I meant F110………..


Norway is a very wealthy country, hence they invest in top end kit – P8, F35, Merlin. They’re on the frontline against Russian SSNs and they have massive gas fields to protect.


The AW101 are SAR helicopters, the Norwegians don’t use them for anything else. I can see them training for mountain rescues from where I live.


Norway has a lot of money though. Their sovereign wealth fund from oil revenues collected over the years amounts to over $1.6 trillion. They can definitely afford these ships if they want them.

Mark Tucker

T26 is an option that is as expensive as they want to make it. If tick all the expensive options, it can get expensive. That said you don’t have too. Even if you wanted to start with say a Type 31, if you tick all the ASW boxes, I doubt it would end up much cheaper.

The big negative of the Type 26 program is how different the systems fit out is for the three navies that will operate it. For example all three us a different combat management system. The program is evolving into three unique classes with very little in common. Thus opportunities for economies of scale are limited.

I couldn’t see Norway purchasing a vessel with British systems and weapons. They tend to want US Systems and weapons.

Assuming they would want the include the aegis combat system and ESSM. The Australian Hunter Class may be a good fit for them. The recent reports of cost blowouts for that program may discourage anybody wanting to buy it. That said once the development effort is finished, it should be possible to control the cost for future production.

Last edited 1 month ago by Mark Tucker
Supportive Bloke



Combat management systems are the last to be fitted out, when all building is done. The radars and weapons systems are most effected not the ship construction.
Australia has changed the ships hull etc for a longer range and US combat systems are very expensive.
Navy Lookout highlighted for T26 3 of BAE 5 in gun system ( including training unit and some ammunition) at £180 mill. Maybe the 5 followup were £50 mill each ?
You will be pulling your hair out for a full AEGIS radar system and CMS, then there is the cost of MK41 launchers plus missiles!

Mark Tucker

The Combat management system is just one example of many.

For those who think selecting a different radar and combat system is no big deal. The RAN is spending in excess of US$1B to set up a test site to test the integration of the SEAFAR radar and the Aegis combat system.

It can all be done, but it takes time and money.

If the Type 26 was exported with common systems, I have no doubt the project would only cost half what is being spent and we would all be getting more ships.


They are building an ‘Aegis library of software’ into a brand new system plus the CEFAR is local radars some of which are brand new capability
Same is happening with Constellation class, starting from scratch
The LCS classes also started with aegis software libraries to build from scratch.
Im sceptical a test site is US$1 bill worth They have recently added 4 ceafar radars to their supply ship HMAS Choules ( ex RFA Larges Bay)


It isn’t just the Hunter class the Constellations are an example too. The Norwegians have made it clear they want an oven ready design especially with the timeline they’re working towards. I wouldn’t be surprised if the biggest change they insist on will be the flag.

Mark Tucker

Totally agree. Both the RAN and USN are examples of picking a reference design with the goal of putting a ship into production quicker, only order so many changes you effectively discard said reference design in the process.

The Hunter class was always going to an expensive redesign because a reference design should have the major elements you want. For example, when the RAN picked the Spanish F100 as the basis for the Hobart class it already had the following:

Aegis Combat system
48 Cell M41 VLS
BAE 5in gun
Phalanx CIWS
Spy-1 Radar

It was a good example of a using a reference design. It was the fact we were standing up a series of shipyards which had been dormant for a decade that caused most of the issues.

The Constellation Class is blowing out because it started being 85% common to the reference design, but in now down to only 15%.

The Norwegians like Australia will want to make changes, more you change the more you add to the timeline and cost. If they can keep the desire to customize under control they can keep the cost under control.


Fundamentally the RAN forgot why they chose Type 26. They chose it because they wanted the best ASW platform available. I think the Norwegians get it.

Steve D

Or the CSC, which will be built with the new SPY 7 radar, Aegis, and Cooperative Engagement Capability. Irving Shipyard in Halifax is expanding their facility to allow for construction of two ships concurrently.


SPY 7 is the dumbed down version of SPY 6 – which the US wont allow for export

Mark Tucker

True and an export program would provide a useful injection of funds.


You can count on the following:

  • AEGIS with latest BMD capabilities
  • SM-3, SM-6, and ESSM
  • NSM
  • ASW helo
  • Towed Array

Most likely a modified Type 26, modified Constellation class or a Spanish design, as all three have derivatives which have accommodated AEGIS.


Constellation like the LCS before it doesnt use “AEGIS” as thought of in US cruisers and destroyers. Its a new combat system Combatss-21 based on aegis software libraries
Canada for instance for its T26 derivative is upgrading its existing Lockheed CMS 330 used in the Halifaxes ( and now used by RNZN). CMS uses aegis libraries as well.

Mark Tucker

Agree, Norway will be looking for design that brings most of what they want already included, which why I think Hunter would make a good reference design for them.

Norway buying into the CEAFAR radar program is not impossible either, given our involvement in NSM. The relationship is there. Missile cell count may also be an issue.

If BMD (SM-3) becomes a key requirement, we are starting to talk AWD not ASW Frigate, then we may be talking about a T83 variant. That would require Spy-6 as well. It will come down to just what they actually want in the end.

I can’t see them going with the Constellation class or a FREMM derivative. As Norway rejected the FREMM last time when they picked the Spanish F100 as a base for their last program. The Spanish are definitely in with a shot with the F110, especially if Norway selects Spy-7.

Jim Camm

Norway is pretty rich for a small country. Just increasing their defence spending from 1.7 to 2% of their GDP would give them an extra £1.5bn per year.
Building a type 26 would cost around £200m per year, for 6 years, so they could easily have all 5 frigates being built concurrently within the budget increase we’re talking about.


It would be a huge boost if we could sell the Type 26 to the Norwegians with the build being undertaken on the Clyde. It would allow production to be ramped up further and reduce build times and costs potentially even more.
This might perhaps allow the U.K. to get a couple more but also cover any gap before the Type 83 programme gets fully underway. Please no more boom and bust for the shipbuilding industry because it deserves better as does the RN.
This is a great opportunity for the new Labour Government to be seen to back defence and industry.


Given the T45’s will almost certainly be extended in service I doubt that the build rate will be increased. A Norwegian order would be the easiest way to bridge the gap between the current end of T26 production and the likely realistic start of T45 replacement production.


You could very justifiably argue we need 8 Type 83s so the work could start a bit earlier but unfortunately I think I am in dreamland.


If and it’s a huge IF the RN has the people and money it’d be an question as to whether the RN would benefit more for two extra ASW or AAW escorts.


A lot of people talk about the gap between T26 and T45 replacement, but T26 goes to 2034 and t45 replacements are needed from 2038… so the gap would be minimal, especially based on the 96mths for the first in class build of T26.

What am I missing?


The usual Political procrastination which will push back the T83 dates.


Given the light use so far and the substantial upgrades the T45 is/is about to get I’d be very surprised if the first ship goes out of service before the early/mid 40’s. That’s what generates a potential gap between the T26 and T45 replacement build programs.


For the build trades, the critical date is ~2030-32 which is when all the steel units for Edinburgh and London will have finished. At that point you’ll have 2-300 shipwrights, platers and welders twiddling their thumbs. I would be astonished if FADS / T83 was at a stage ready for build by then, so they’re going to need something. However, that something needs to be at production design stage – which means either something off the shelf, or something new contracted by 2028 or so.

There will also be a lot of design / drawing office staff in Scotstoun with very little to do at the minute, which is another problem.

Supportive Bloke

Exactly this.

The solving the workflow problem starts here and how – people will start toddling off elsewhere if they get bored / get a better offer.


You are right and BAE do seem keen on the MRSS and the potential for foreign orders so this is quite rightly exercising minds at the moment. To be a little optimistic having seen the ongoing investment in shipbuilding infrastructure across the U.K. it will be difficult for labour to oversee mass lay offs more so than the Tories. I have my fingers crossed we see some uplift in personnel numbers for the RN/RM and RFA after addressing retention and recruitment issues to man a slightly enlarged and renewed fleet.


Thanks for the quality answer, very much appreciated.


Calmac may be needing some new electric Ferries by then; who knows.


Calmac now build in Turkey, they have 4 under construction there at the moment.


Sir Simon Lester says currently 8 years metal work in hand for Govan, so exactly as you say. Norway could fit in very nicely


Who is the person of significance after whom the build hall is to be named? Fisher, who showed how to build a Battleship in 12 months, Fraser of North Cape or Flora MacDonald? Since we are on the ‘F’s’ My Favourite is William Fife.


Sir William of Connolly has my vote.


Marie McDonald McLaughlin Lawrie of Lennoxtown and Dennistoun.


Dhansak Jalfrezi Rogan josh Makhani of Rawalpindi and Kolkata

Last edited 1 month ago by Bridlington

On a more serious note I would call it after Lord Kelvin and try to help get Scotland back on track; thinking science and industry.


Perhaps name it after Frederick John Walker, the noted anti-submarine warfare expert.


Antone with knowledge of the subject like to comment on the new 5 inch gun installation? Whale Islander? Gun Buster? etc.


That was very good, thank you.

John Hopper

with whats happening just now, progress may need to be ramped up into top gear


Although the Type 26 will indeed be the first RN warship to mount modern 5 inch guns weapons of this calibre have been fitted to our warships historically – the light cruiser HMS Delhi was certainly refitted with USN pattern 5″/38 DP guns during WW2 for example.


If the Type 26 proves to be too expensive for the Norwegians maybe they could go for an ASW version of the type 31 frigate

Last edited 1 month ago by BLEAKMOUSE

Not if they want a decent ASW performance. The things that keep the cost down on the T31 are also the things that make the T31 very loud. Perhaps you could make major modifications to improve the acoustic performance of the ship but they would need to be so fundamental as to make it a new unique class which is not what Norway wants. There are options for an ASW platform that are likely cheaper than the T26 but they like the T26 come with compromises.

Armchair Admiral

By the same token, to state the obvious…the things that keep the cost up on the T26 are the things that make it very quiet. As per the recent article. Even the plumbing is quiet. You don’t get superior sub hunting on the cheap.
Putting better rafting on the main diesels and generators on a T31 would not make it substantially much quieter (there is probably vibration/noise mitigation in place anyway). The gearbox on the T26 is specially designed for exception quietness and something like that doesn’t come cheap



This is the Norway buying 52 F-35A, all will be delivered by end of year They also have bought 5 P-8.
GDP per capita is 50% more than that of Britain per capita


Helps when you are floating on vast reserves of oil and gas.


If only we had had some North Sea oil and gas….


or even some large areas on land that are shale formations


I presume these reserves are not being developed due to various political issues?


There are a number of small sites in the south of England that are currently pumping out oil. Its not on a huge industrial scale as per Canada. But its there if needed.

Wasp snorter

Yeah I’m in one of those areas, no thanks


If only we had thought to create a sovereign wealth fund to manage some of the profits from that oil and gas, and then funnelled it back into the government’s fiscal budget- allowing greater degrees of freedom in funding social, health and defence budgets, while being able to financially manage responses to crises such as COVID and Ukraine more effectively…
That’s the big difference between us and Norway, not so much the access to the oil and gas, but our approach to how the proceeds are distributed.


It would have been a great idea, BUT, if it had been done Margaret Thatcher and the Tories would have been able to dramatically cut higher rate taxes. Given the choice between longterm financial stability and lower taxes now which way do you think they jumped?


Haha! There’s only one way to jump if you’re Thatcher in that situation!

Nigel Collins

Interesting the part about low yields for manufacturing parts, given that TR3 is a technology refresh to deliver a 35 fold increase in processing power, it sounds like issues with the silicon. In which case the must be pushing to use cutting-edge silicon, 3nm or less, which would also help with regards to the air bleed required from the engine intakes to cool onboard systems. As Block 4 is about software, it makes sense to deliver TR-3 and then break Block 4 into smaller deliverables. Software engineering these days favours smaller frequent updates over large releases.


The hardware side of TR3 is fine . Its the porting over of the existing software onto the new ‘motherboards and processors’ that are the issue.
They wont be using cutting edge 3nm chips as the TR3 refresh- which started a few years back- is to replace chips from around mid 2000s , the number mentioned is 25x more processing power. Its not clear which chips they are using but will most likely be 9nm series.


If they’re using 10nm (9nm doesn’t exist) then they won’t be having yield issues as that’s very mature technology. Unless they have jumped processor architectures then there is no issue with porting the software, and they can switch to relative recent processors at any time.


The software transfer is the ‘major’ issue , as they now have decided to accept TR3 built planes , but not send them to combat squadrons.
Training or something …. its beyond believable

They arent using windows or similar commercial operating systems, who do the hardwork for commercial users
The supplier Harris says the operating system is
Green Hills® INTEGRITY®-178B / MILS

While 10mm is a ‘class, 9mm does exist.
However having a smaller NM isnt the be all

Last edited 1 month ago by Duker
Nigel Collins

This should be perfect timing for the Type 26s.

“Systems Engineering & Assessment (SEA) has been selected by the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) to satisfy its requirement for a new trainable decoy launcher to enable soft-kill protection of Royal Navy (RN) Type 45 destroyers, Type 26 frigates, and Type 31 frigates.

On 26 March the MoD announced that SEA (part of the Cohort Group) had been selected to deliver the Electronic Warfare Counter Measures (EWCM) Increment 1a programme.
Valued at GBP135 million (USD170 million), the contract will see the North Devon-based company supply its new Ancilia trainable decoy launcher system for service with the RN.

SEA was selected ahead of a rival bid from Elbit Systems UK. A total of 38 trainable launchers will be fitted across 19 vessels, with further systems being procured to support land-based integration, testing, and training activity. Deliveries are expected to begin in late 2026 to meet a third quarter (Q3) 2027 initial operating capability.”

comment image


It’s also been announced that Dragonfire will be deployed by 2027. Also good timing for HMS Glasgow’s work up.

Nigel Collins

Hello Jon, That appears to be the case. I posted a link to that effect in an earlier thread.

Some positive news on up-arming the fleet and possibly Ukraine if all goes to plan.


Yes, very interesting about shipping it to Ukraine- although would be one hell of a risk of it being nobbled by a Russian missile- I doubt they’re as mobile as even a Patriot system and they don’t have the range to be far from the engagement zone.
Maybe the defence minister getting a little over-enthusiastic?

Supportive Bloke

I would suggest that it means that there is a generational leap of technology in the works – we have something that works perfectly well and they want to stress test it in a battle space.

Mr Putin will provide the targets FOC and Mr Zelenski the test data – I am sure there will be enthusiastic local assistance with the project?


Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s great that it’s being sent; even if it does end up being blown up it’ll be a great statement of intent and will give us some priceless real world data. The US will be asking us very nicely for that, while reminding us how special our relationship is.
I’m just saying, working out where it will make an actual positive difference, while surviving for as long as possible, will be a challenge.

Nigel Collins

I’m guessing that it will be stationed well away from the front line and situated somewhere around the capital.


Makes sense- a lot of drones still end up there. Odessa or Lviv in the west might also be suitable places for them.

Supportive Bloke

It all depends if a few more units can be put together to get even more test data!

Given that a lot of the drones fly real slow the idea of using cheap leasers or even a lone of 40mm cannons to taken those out is not far fetched. Particularly if you are talking of defending the capital.


I doubt that the components are cheap, but I certainly hope that they will- would be very valuable in terms of test data, even if they turn out to be rubbish (which I obviously hope isn’t the case).
Are the beams visible, out of interest? Would be amazing to see them firing into the night sky.

Supportive Bloke

The beam itself won’t be as the essence of a laser is that the light is coherent.

However, as it hits dust particles etc and burns them, then that will emit visible light. So you will be able to see the location of the beam by virtue of that indirectly.

Nigel Collins

Indeed, with some very useful data to be collected and refined if necessary before sending our ships into harm’s way.

Airfields would be another option.

comment image


Nice photo!
All this talk about it, probably won’t happen now, but I suppose we can hope!

Nigel Collins

We constantly live in hope when it comes to our armed forces and the equipment they need!


Export orders would be great, but it would be even better if more units were built for the Royal Navy. If not the high end and very expensive T26, then certainly the general purpose T31.

Supportive Bloke

Today’s Telegraph Co firms that BAE / MOD / RN / Norwegians are negotiating over T26 but that involves one of the first four hulls going to Norway.

I think this is a good thing as this would increase premier league sub hunting to 13 units in our back yard with a close ally who already uses Merlin and P8.

This will cut manufacturing costs further per unit and sustainment costs as the Norwegians will probably want a common training pipeline.

I would suggest that the saving made a ploughed into T32. I can see this saving close to £1Bn so that would be a substantial part of T32 manufacturing budget and would mean both facilities are safeguarded with real work.

T32 would take crews from River B1s.


I’d agree that it’s worth giving one of the first batch of T26s to Norway. Belfast perhaps.

I don’t agree that any volume savings should go to a batch of new T32s. The crew for a batch can’t come from the B1 Rivers; there would only be enough to crew one frigate (about 130), and it would lead to the Navy bringing back the useful B2s for UK patrol. We need something smaller like 4 Evolved Capes to replace the B1 Rivers (and more to add to Border Force and Scotland’s patrol ships).

Because the delay to T26s will diminish our ASW capability even further and we can’t rely on even as close an ally as Norway to fill the gap, we must prioritise uncrewed multistatic ASW, and that’s where the money should go: USVs and UUVs for find and target, aslo UAVs (Proteus) for destroy. All carried by civil-conversion motherships and protected by the GP frigates, ideally with Merlins if we have any. UUVs and USVs would be cheaper to quieten and would use number and distance from the T31s/Motherships in lieu of single exquisite ASW frigates. We’ve already seen the start of this with Manta using a thin-line towed array. I’m sure Cetus will be trialled this way too. We should look to Atlas to develop equivalent quietened USVs as soon as possible.

Supportive Bloke

T31 will be doing the Rivers jobs anyway.

What do you want a large enough navy to fight or a navy that is a place keeper?

Rivers are place keepers. They preserve spheres of influence and prevent others moving into them. No use in a fight.

Budgets are finite so something will have to give to grow the surface fleet.


If the T31s do the Rivers job, we have wasted our money. The T31s will cost twice as much to run and will be available half the time of the B2s. Why get a £300m ship to do a job that a £120m ship does better?

Send T31s to the Red Sea. Send them to Hormuz and Somalia. Not the Falkland Islands or on goodwill trips to Tonga.

Last edited 1 month ago by Jon
Supportive Bloke

You have to make choices about how many platforms you can crew?

T31 can fight a B1/2 can’t.

So do we want to be able to fight and do diplomacy or to get the white awning out and hope that keeps the bad guys away?


It won’t work like that.

If you use a T31 to do the tasks of an OPV, eventually (and it won’t take that long) that’s all it will be able to do. Just as the T45 can no longer use sonar or AAW gunnery, and five T23s became “GP”, the T31 won’t be able to fight. A capability that isn’t constantly exercised gets cut. The T31s must spend their time exercising warfare capabilities, not doing presence.

There are maybe 130 crew on the B1 OPVs. You release these and you can crew one extra T31. So you now have six rather than five. You bring Tamar, Spey and Trent back to the UK to patrol, leaving Forth and Medway in situ. You lose maybe 750 active overseas patrol days a year and you put three T31s to replace them, which can manage maybe 450 active days. The other three you task to exercising fighting roles, going to places like Hormuz rather than doing constabulary and presence engagements. You have immediately lost 300 patrol days a year, and if I’m right there’s a good chance that, rather than gaining one fighting ship, within a few years you’ll lose two. I can even tell you how it will start: while the three fighting T31s will get their Mk41 “capability enhancements”, the three patrolling ones won’t.

Even if it worked the way you think, you are assuming that the Rivers don’t do a valuable job in their own right. Less than ten years ago, the Navy would have agreed with you about them being placeholders. The B2s were forced on the Navy unwanted. However, in the interim, “persistent engagement” has become a doctrinal response to grey zone informational misrepresentations to neutral countries. That isn’t something that goes away when a war starts up and T31s go to fight. In fact it becomes even more important.

The dependence on crew numbers is why I said we need to concentrate on uncrewed systems for our warfare. I still hope that the budget will increase enough to let us crew a full five extra Type 31s, but if not I would gladly sacrifice that one extra T31 for a chance to get more sovereign ASW capability sooner.

Last edited 1 month ago by Jon
Whale Island Zoo Keeper

I wouldn’t worry too much about Mk8 Mod 1 on T45 not having an AAW mode. It was never much good for that when new.

And T45’s ASW kit wasn’t much cop either being a breathed on mine and obstacle avoidance sonar.


There are maybe 130 crew on the B1 OPVs. You release these and you can crew one extra T31

This is what the RN says about that

The Royal Navy’s OPVs typically has a compliment of 28, but can accommodate a crew of 30 as well as a marine boarding party of 18.


Rivers have around 30-35 crew not 130 ! …. according to the RN when I checked


He was talking about all three B1s, and they are on 3 watch rotations, so they should release 40-45 each, even though only two thirds are on board at any time.


Agree that it’s a good thing, although it may be tricky to take savings made with BAE and spend them with Babcock instead. I’d probably rather see that go into investment into T83 (almost certainly a BAE product), or into personnel retention measures across the RN (better facilities, accommodation, training, pay, etc.). No point in having ships that are cheaper to produce if they sit empty alongside.

Supportive Bloke

The problem is taking from one budget line / grouping to another – it would go back to pool and be reallocated.


I take your point. My thinking, though, is more that BAE will be less generous with whatever negotiations we may have regarding savings if they know it’ll go to a competitor product. If they see that money being fed back to them, or at least towards crew for future BAE vessels, then headline numbers may get bigger. Win win, for them and the RN.

Supportive Bloke

BAE will ultimately have to make concession cash/kind to get RN to OK with MOD and MOD to OK with HMG.

BAE will understand this as commercial reality. You want something you put some*thing* on the table.

If there *thing* isn’t big enough or the risks too big the conversation does not progress.

Commercial negotiation……..


I agree it’s all about the commercial wrangling. All I’m saying is that BAE will be willing to concede a larger number if they see a lot of that money coming back their way down the road.
The MOD procurement budget is held captive by the headline numbers of the procurement programmes- if they can’t fit those in their budgets then something else has to go. Benefits to the economy, treasury income from taxes, greater savings from long term investment in skills and facilities and other things are not considered (as far as I’m aware).
If we can work with BAE to make the reduction on the T26 programme as big as possible (by, for example, promising that it’ll go onto T83, rather than to a competitor’s product), then it benefits that balancing exercise. Budget money that may have been for T83 is replaced by real T26 cost-saving money (good for BAE); Budget has more headroom to commit to properly/better fund T31B2/T32/T83/ upgrades to the carriers to allow CATOBAR/STOBAR drone ops / Loyal wingman/AEW/refuelling drones / heavyweight ASW-capable rotary UAVs / whatever.

Supportive Bloke

“ If we can work with BAE to make the reduction on the T26 programme as big as possible (by, for example, promising that it’ll go onto T83, rather than to a competitor’s product), then it benefits that balancing exercise. Budget money that may have been for T83 is replaced by real T26 cost-saving money (good for BAE); Budget has more headroom to commit to properly/better fund T31B2/T32/T83/”

The only ones if those that could have budget lines and contracts are more T26, T32, T31B2 or Mk41 for T31.

If it is ‘allocated’ to a future budget line in the basis of a ‘political promise’ the money can and will disappear at change of political priorities.

That mistake was make with CGS funding from the end of T45 disappearing in a puff of Osbourne’s smoke.

RN won’t make that mistake again and so the money will have to be contracted into something with a budget line and contract on the table as we are getting close to an election.

This would be a lovely positive defence / jobs / industrial message. And it really is good that UKPLC is designing and building top end warships that everyone wants. So there is some functional industrial strategy that can be pointed to.

The last time UKPLC sold a *new* full fat frigate or destroyer to anyone was in the 1970’s when T42 was sold to errrrr Argentina?

I’m not counting the small frigates/corvettes that VT sold so well all over the place.

Given Westminster mood music on defence I expect Hunt to do what he internally wants to do and give defence a 0.1% uplift. That has cross party support as Starmer has said the same as Sunak on this. He will give the same amount to NHS so Labour cannot object and an identical amount to a small tax adjustment. He has fiscal headroom to do that.


Are we really that short on RN budget lines right now?! That surprises me, but I take your point- it mustn’t be on something that hasn’t been committed to.
Interesting point about selling high end warships- hopefully we won’t end up in a shooting war with Norway over the Faroe islands..!

Richard Beedall

Speculation in the newspapers that BAES could land an order for 5 T26’s for Norway, but only if the RN agrees to hand over an early build unit (Belfast?) to meet a 2029 delivery date.


France has done this on combatant programs with generally good results. The key is to make sure a replacement gets ordered for the RN…

Supportive Bloke


Given how burned RN were when they gave up funding for T45 #7.5 to accelerate GCS (T26) then I don’t see RN giving anything up unless there is a solid contact in place for a replacement at a lower price.


The RN will do as they are told. The new government will be deciding what does and doesn’t get ordered. That’s not to say a replacement won’t happen but the RN has no “veto” on this potential deal.

Supportive Bloke

That isn’t quite the way things work.

The T26 are part of an agreed and resourced plan that is a massive game of TETRIS / chess.

You can’t move bits of that round and change a decade of planning and resource generation without serious knock on effects.

RN have a seat at the table in this.

There is no point in granting services budget lines and letting them control them and simply taking that away when it suits.

There will be a mature negotiation on this – BAE want something – RN want something. That could be ARTISAN integration into TACTICOS (they have spare sets) or a reduced price for the replacement hull(s).

RN have a negotiating hand here with BAE.

Don’t forget it suits RN to have these extra five as it reduces their own ongoing costs if they are identical.

I see good coming out of this for everyone. By everyone I mean RN, BAE, Norway, UK Shipbuilding.


I think the mood music is changing even in Westminster and in my opinion there is no doubt a replacement would be ordered and for that reason making this deal work is a no brainer for the U.K.
In the medium to longer term it would be great news for the RN as it gets us a volume production run, which will bring costs down. Could we up our own order and take advantage of a cheaper unit cost whilst perhaps ordering another 3-5 Type 31s (batch 2s) possibly lengthened with enhanced AAW capability. We could consign the Type 32 to the bin and focus design efforts on MRSS and the Type 83.


only if the RN agrees to hand over an early build unit (Belfast?) to meet a 2029 delivery date.’

I dont see a 2029 delivery date in the official government announcement : the summary or the detailed pdf

Considering the existing frigates are all under 20 yrs old since commissioning- one sunk- I would understand the orders will be made by 2030
Their current focus for new build is the submarines


This will not be a cost neutral equation for the RN since the life of the Type 23s and all the costs of that will need to be extended to compensate. If BAE really want this deal with Norway we can push them for something. Maybe the cost of an additional Type 31?

Supportive Bloke

It will be to throw something in for RN that BAE can do as a sweetener FOC for RN.

Whale Island Zoo Keeper

It wouldn’t surprise me if Norway end up with two of them.