Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

When you consider the time it took to get a Type 26 onto the building blocks the Type 31 programme almost takes your breath away with its progress. Obviously there has to be more to it than just talking about the men and women, the place and the time, and there are still a good few years before all this class of frigate are afloat and at work but the signs are good.
All the more reason to cry shame on the men who really screwed up the Type 26 frigates progress to the point where it will have taken 25years to get the first one to sea.


I will perhaps the mistake was made a little earlier in that the RN should have realised that perhaps one class of escort was needed to replace T42 and T22/23. Of course there is also the argument that without the carriers the escort force would probably be even smaller today.


“One size fits all” has pretty much always been proven to be a fallacy. An AAW destroyer, ASW frigate, and GP platform all have such wildly diverging requirements that trying to get them all into one platform isn’t physically possible unless you’re willing to spend nearly twice as much in the first place and still end up with far too few ships.

Case and point: air defence requires a big ship with powerful radars and lots of missiles, but realistically not much else, while an ASW or GP ship don’t really need any of those. ASW requires the ship to be built steathy from the ground up, not important for AAW or GP. General taskings basically just need the ship to be cheap enough to field in enough numbers to cover patrol tasks, and while it would be nice to have AAW and ASW cheap enough to field in numbers, you compromise their ability to actually do the job.

This is why a development of the T45 wasn’t used for T26, why the GP T26 versions were cut, and why an off-the-shelf design works for T31.


Constantly the term GP is used here incorrectly. All escorts have been GP since T12(M) because the RN realised they could never ensure they would have right the mix of ships at any given point. That is why, for example, T22 went to sea with Sea Wolf and T42 went to sea with 2050 sonar. Each ship had a primary role but they were also able to carry out war in the other sphere. (Never mind surface and EW etc.) T42, T22, and T21 went to sea with basically the same propulsion system too. We don’t have enough first rate escorts for ‘general tasking’ as you call that it why we have sent RFA’s in the past and the B2 Rivers now.

Perhaps you need to tell the Americans they were wrong to build Arleigh Burkes?

I don’t think enemy aircraft or submarines really care whether there target is equipped to fight them or not.



It’s easy to make the argument for truly multirole vessels like the Arleigh Burkes if you are the US Navy or the navy of a nation which hasn’t had successive governments over the past 70 years desperately trying to cut defence spending at every opportunity. If the RN had gone down the multirole route, some bright spark at the treasury would have gone “oh look, this ship can be both an ASW frigate and an AAW destroyer, therefore we only need one of them for every 2 ships we had before” and the RN would have been even more short of hulls than it is already.

Admittedly, I would argue that for any future platform (Type 31/32) to be truly “GP” is should at least have the AAW capabilities of a Type 23/26 and a basic ASW capability which the Type 45/83 should probably also have. Additionally I would suggest that all escorts should really have respectable AsuW capabilities (Some heavyweight AshM and a medium calibre gun).

Meirion X

Totally agree with you!


Take your own advice: general purpose does not mean multi-purpose.


Daniel has already provided a good counter to your point, but here’s another: I’m using General Purpose in the exact same way as the Royal Navy. Do you fancy writing a letter to the First Sea Lord letting him know he needs to “DO SOME READING”?

Your examples are flawed as well, by the way. Throughout modern history, basically every single warship built had systems that didn’t directly correspond. Early dreadnoughts and WWII-era corvettes and frigates had anti-aircraft weapons, did that make them general purpose? Of course not. Warships are equipped for the situations they’re expected to face.

The Royal Navy has a long history of General Purpose warships, which are exactly as I’ve described: ships where the design rationale is cheap and cheerful to boost fleet numbers and do the tasks it’s not worth sending a more expensive specialist to do. In a few years it’s the T31,in the past it was the T21.

Also, I don’t need to tell the Americans they were wrong with the Arleigh Burke, because they’ve realised it themselves. Note my original comment, where I specified that “trying to get them all into one platform isn’t physically possible unless you’re willing to spend nearly twice as much in the first place and still end up with far too few ships” Hence why they’ve spent the previous two decades trying to get cheap, general purpose ships to make up the numbers, and largely failing because they did what you seem to think and tried to make LCS capable of far more than necessary.


In some navies, some form of GP is a basic requirement. In these, it is expected that all escort type ships should be capable of AAW, ASW, & ASuW, etc, to some degree. Type 45 has next to no ASW ability & marginal ASuW ability. Compare with a RAN Hobart class – towed & hull mounted sonar, 127mm & Harpoon B2 AShM. T45 – no towed array & Harpoon B1C AShM (upgrade kits have been available for a decade or so) & is so noisy the towed array (if it were to be fitted) would be pointless. T45 may be a better AAW asset (debatable – lacks magazine depth) but in everything else it falls way short. Even the T31 makes a better ASW asset (& it actually has none as it is almost completely FFBNW).

Meirion X

It looks like peacenik x has had a hissy-fit with you, for the slightest reason?

He is always the same, when he can’t get his way, the problem stems from his self-righteousness!

He would Never advocat that any RN vessel take combat action by firing of warpons!

He is wasting his time on here, if he thinks he convert posters to his ideals!

Last edited 3 years ago by Meirion X

take a look in the mirror
your mouth is big enough to moor HMS QE and back hole for HMS Vanguard

Meirion X

The RN did Not make a mistake of going with more then one warship type.

You are in true form of a peacenik troll today!

Malcolm Whitlock

Can anybody give me the reason why the calibre of the main gun has reduced so significantly in future proposed classes is shore/ship bombardment no longer a consideration I thought we were moving up USA 5” calibre?


It’s what Babcock said they could supply for the price.


I’d say it was more a cost saving measure but there are much longer range alternatives to the 5 inch gun for shore bombardment. TLAM and F35 would do a more effective job of softening up land based targets, all out of reach of anti ship missiles

Meirion X

Don’t forget the US Army proposed long range fires artillery could be navelize?


It was 57mm or 76 mm, from the beginning of the T31 program (see T31-RFI document). NGFS was NOT, have never been, required at all in T31 from the beginning until now.

And, for sure, for almost all the other tasks (except for sinking large ships) and in view of cost/man-power, a 57 mm gun is much much better than a 127 mm gun. I think it really well fits into the task required for T31 = to handle gray-zone (in peace time) and to cover back-end logistic flotilla (in war time).

Neither needs NGFS.

And, “cost/man-power” means, if we make T31 “a bit more powerful”, we will see only 4, not 5 hulls to be built. (Actually, I prefer 4 “real” light-frigate-like equipped T31, than 5 “super-OPV-like” equipped current T31). But, anyway, more punch is not for free, and this simply means less number.

Last edited 3 years ago by donald_of_tokyo

The cost of a 5 in gun module installed is $US 60 mill or so. yes those are BAE US prices.


I would also add, that at the time of the T31’s build proposal, the 5″ gun had reached a plateau. It was only really useful for NGFS within 40km, when using assisted shells. Therefore, as the T31 was being designed to combat pirates, do constabulary duties and provide a deterrence to rogue sates such as Iran, I guess the Navy felt it could do without it.

What has changed in the last two years is BAe’s hyper velocity projectile (HVP). This is a development of the round used in their railgun. It is basically a sabot, so gives up mass for velocity. The sabot is a command guided round built with knowledge gained with the Leonardo DART round that BAe helped with.

The USN have done trials with their 5″ gun and the round reached a terminal speed of Mach 4+, not quite hypersonic, but nearly double the speed of a normal shell. This means it could be used in the anti-air role. The US Army did a combined trial with the USAF where they used a M109 Paladin and a M203 tracked howitzer to target BQM-167 target drones simulating cruise missiles. The HVP fired from the 155mm gun can reach a range of 50nm (93km) and reach a terminal velocity just under Mach 5. The same sabot fired from the M203 can reach a terminal velocity of just under Mach 6 (due to much larger chamber volume), but has a range over 75nm (138km). Both of these weapon systems successfully took out their respective BQM-167 target drones.

Both the US Army and Navy believe the HVP round will give the 155 and 5″ a step change in capability. The USN even mooted that they would look at replacing the 5″ with a 155mm gun, if the HVP can proving it can hit a manoeuvring target. The two Zumwalts have a completely different, with a much larger breech design for their 155 guns, which is why they can’t use standard NATO ammo. So perhaps these will get replaced with a “standard” marinized 155 gun at some point if the technology is proven. The US Army were so impressed with the HVP’s performance, that they have asked BAe for a 105mm version for their light gun.

In time, if the HVP round pans out, it will be a cheaper alternative to the railgun. But, if a ship is fitted with either the 5″ or a 155mm version. The ship will have a number of additional options for not only land targets but also airborne ones as well!


I agree that the T31 is appropriate for anti-piracy and constabulary duties (it’s essentially the worlds largest class of OPV) but in way way would deter Iran?

Iran has submarines, mini-submarines and mines. The T31 has no subsurface detection equipment and neither does it’s Wildcat helicopter.

Iran has SSM equipped surface combatants. The T31 has no SSM’s.

In addition to its ship launched SSM’s, Iran has hundreds of land and air launched ASM’s. The T31 has 12 missiles to defend itself with.

Sending a T31 to deter Iran would be like sending Pinnochio to deter Godzilla.

Last edited 3 years ago by Sunmack

*what way would it deter Iran


Non-military ships don’t fire on military ones, even if it’s a 50,000 ton cargo ship being pulled over by a 10 ton patrol boat. So a cargo vessel can be easily impounded going through the Straits of Hormuz for purely political reasons. If it’s accompanied by a Type 31 which is authorised to fire, Iran, in particular their revolutionary guard, will be less likely to do that, as they know they could create a shooting incident they don’t want.

Supportive Bloke

I agree with your logic.

The main driver of T31 was an R&D free ship build therefore using commercially available bits.

57mm is pretty potent, with the right ammunition, and will stop most things naval or airborne dead in their tracks. It is probably also the reason for the more limited (in numbers) Ceptor fit as the three guns are seen as part of the AA role.

I do see the 5″ on the T32 as being highly likely given that it has commonality with the T26 – although I will no doubt shortly be told that I don’t know what I am talking about. T26 as an ASW asset has no business doing NGS and T45 is too precious to risk in that role. So T32 is the most likely asset that could provide that and with a 5″ it can provide a very good wallop from 40km so it does not have to get too close in.

These are interesting times and a lot of previous base line assumptions are going to be changing quite rapidly to reflect the changing technology.


This should have been the RN ASW ship with a proper electric propulsion. There is no need for a big expensive Type 26 only for ASW. It is a waste.
Type 26 should should be the RN multi-propose ship.
Basically against the most permanent threat, the air threat RN only have the 2 carriers and 6 T45. Too few.

Meirion X

I respectfully disagree with you, Alex!
The T26 frigate is the size it is, for reasons discussed in past articles on the Type 26 on this site.
The Type 31 Arrowhead is only a few metres longer then a T23.

Ok, the T26 flightdeck could of been a bit shorter, just enough for a Merlin to land, but it would Not have saved all that much money

Last edited 3 years ago by Meirion X

RN Type 26 should have been like Australian or Canadian versions. With proper radar and area AAW capable. Instead it has Sea Ceptor…

Basically only 6 T45 are capable of area protection with Aster 30.

Lets compare with Italian Navy:
2 Horizon.
4 or so PPA – and they are now thinking making mot them all full and they will have Aster 1 NG ABM capability.


Bearing in mind those FREMMs only carry 16 Asters, a T26 with 48 defensive missiles has a clear advantage even if its missiles aren’t quite as good.

The Australian and Canadian versions are being made more capable because, unlike the UK, theirs have to operate basically alone. Ours will be in a system featuring nuclear submarines and carrier aircraft.


That depends. More ships make a fleet more resilient to damage.
Also Type 26 can’t employed in offensive air which is very important for air traps. And not all T45 will be available, probably 4. so very thin.

Now that the mistake cannot be unmade they need to get some
Aspide.NG(CAMM ER)


It’s certainly true that numbers are important, you need critical mass for any capability to actually be credible.

Sea Ceptor might not be suitable for “offensive air” as you call it, but that’s not its purpose. It’s designed to stop large salvos of sea skimming cruise missiles. Meanwhile, F-35s flying CAP with Meteor offer a far better option than ship-based systems for engaging air targets at long range.


The Type 31 Arrowhead is only a few metres longer then a T23.”

But the beam is 19.8m which is 5m more than even T22 and 4m more than T23.
beam is much more important when adding sensors or weapons above deck level.


These are not general purpose ships. They are the world’s largest OPV’s and are a huge downgrade on the ships they’re replacing.

The lack of a sonar and no submarine detection equipment in the Wildcat means zero ASW or mine detection capability. Consequently these ships should never be deployed to the Gulf where Iran has submarines, mini-submarines and mines.

The 57mm gun is of no use for NGS or ship to ship combat against anything other than small vessels.

No SSM’s. And only 12 SAM’s means it should never be independently deployed in anything other than a low threat environment.

The T23 it is replacing has a good quality sonar and a quieter propulsion system for ASW, a medium calibre gun for NGS, 8 SSM’s and 32 SAM’s even though it’s a smaller ship.

The only purpose these ships serve is job protection in Rosyth and keeping up hull numbers.

No doubt folks will reply about the future potential of these ships when some mythical upgrade which the Treasury will never fund occurs.

I’d have spent the money on 2 stripped back lower cost T26’s with no Mk 41 and half the SAM’s to undertake carrier escort duties and put a 57mm gun, hangar and Sea RAM on three of the River’s


Yeah i am afraid that Type 26 (in RN version) and Type 31 are misguided ships.
I mean the what the Type 26 sizes gives that an half size ship does not?

For that size could have been an helicopter carrier for ASW but the frigate design precludes 4-6 EH 101.


In peace time 12 CAAM is more than sufficient for patrolling tasks. In war time that could be increased to 32 in a matter of weeks, same for off the shelf ASM. I would rather have a large number of modern hulls that can quickly be up armed, than 6 world beating Frigates that we can only deploy 2 at a time.


It’s a fantasy to think that we could bring the ships back from wherever they are in the world, procure the launch systems and missiles (all of which are made to order), fit them, integrate them with the ships systems, train the crews to use them and deploy the ships back to the combat zone in anything other than many, many, many months.

Phillip Johnson

You are kidding yourself. Where are you expecting packs of CAAM and the VLS cells to hold them and the electronics to connect them to appear from?
Going to 32 would take years unless you are planning to strip other vessels.


32 is not possible the modules are 12 so 12,24,36


32 is what you get if you quad pack in a standard 8 cell mk41 or Sylver vls. It is the launch controller (cabinet) for CAMM that can handle only 12 missiles (probably the reason stand alone ExLS is 3 cell which equates to 12 quad packed). 32 requires 3 controllers, as does 36.


In terms of names i’d like to see them return to alphabetical ones again. Perhaps the F class – Formidable, Fearless and Furious are just 3 choices with a lot of history.


Given how under equipped and under armed they are we could have Flimsy, Fragile, Flop, Failure and Flee


They are peaceful warships 🙂


Flower Power Class !


Thinking about T31’s task, I prefer

1: Castle class
2: Loch class
3: Birds class (i.e. Black Swan class).
4: Flower class

All of them has great battle of honors and are good names, I think.

Last edited 3 years ago by donald_of_tokyo

Agree, I’d also add Fortune and Foxhound


Skipped a letter -E


Maybe counting Echo class?


If we’re going to indulge in flights of fancy, then lets upset the wokerati. A return to the Tribal class anyone?




HMS Brexiteer, HMS Chav, HMS Middle England, HMS Hooray Henry, HMS Jam and Jerusalem, HMS Grumpy Oldies?

Last edited 3 years ago by Jon



I can’t recall a single class of post war escorts that were not under armed save maybe batch 3 type 22s. Even the Leander’s, the dutch version was far more heavily armed post mid life refits than ours were.


Really? The mid lifes for Van Speijk class replaced the heavy 4.5 in twin gun with OTO 76mm. Harppon was added , UK used Exocet on its leanders instead. Seacats were retained so nothing like a Seawolf-Exocet combination.
Biggest changeover was more engine room automation to reduce manning by 50 or so.comment image


8 Harpoons fitted, 2 triple seacats , stws compare that with batch 2 exocet conversion . The 3 inch gun far better for AA , whereas no gun on the exocet conversion. On tge seawolf conversions, just one launcher and director.


Its good to see the T31 project moving along at speed, hopefully there would be a follow on build to cover the investment cost of the new build hall.

I have noticed some of the arguements for and against the T31 and the concept of a GP frigate. So I will put in my tuppence worth here.

The idea of a GP ship is not the same as a multi role combat ship. A Multi Role Combat Vessel is designed to take on peer or near peer adverseries in the Anti Air, Anti Ship and Anti Sub areas. A GP vessel is a vessel that can be used anywhere in the policing duties (old fashioned gun boat diplomacy). However the T31 does have the ability when money becomes available to be up gunned if need be. So possible aditions to the T31 could be a containerised Towed array, the five sets of the new anti ship missile could be installed when the T23s are out of service, possibly an extra 12-36 Sea Ceptor missiles could be installed if a threat of war was around the corner. So lets say for example we build 5 T31s and 5 T32s we could then buy 5 sets of conainerised CAPTAS4 compact and install when needed, that gives an extra 5 tails at sea. I’m not sure but these possible upgrades could be done within 30 days if the mounts and space were already there. This would make the T31 a good escort frigate, which again is diffrent from a MRCV or a GP vessel. There is however one major issue with my thinking the T45s, if the T31s were to get the five sets of anti ship missiles then what will the T45s get. The only way the T45s will ever be able to have an advance anti ship missile is if the Mk41s or Sylver A-70s were installed. I would install the A-70s that way the MdCN the naval version of Storm Shadow could be installed, again it is proven technology, we have some experiance with the missile and we know the Sylver VLS systems.

Thinking outside the box, I do sometimes wonder how much life is left in the 4.5inch gun on the T45s. If somone says 20-25 years then I ask myself the question if it would have been better to give the T45s the 57mm and give the T31s the 4.5inch?


Sad that I believe the procurement process won’t provide an in service solution that will be compatible with UK’s PE Strategy and forward basing. Hopefully this has/will change going forward.