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Good news. Well done royal navy.


And MOD, and associated contractors. Whatever has gone before, this is a team effort to improve it and it seems the team is doing well.

Pete M

What we all want are the new engines, the extra Mk41 VLS it was fitted for but not with, and the AShM replacement! What we get is one of those things nearly fifteen years are the problem was identified


I could understand going without the extra VLS and saving them for the Type 26 if we were to purchase some deck-mounted anti ship missiles, then at least the Type 45’s have some up-to-date strike capability. Though of course arming both classes to the teeth is great but expensive.


I don’t see the MK 41’s being installed due to the cost of correcting the generator issue.
If the RN selects NSM to replace Harpoon though it would add a credible land attack capability.


NSM is not credible land attack capability. It’s far too short ranged for that.


Does every land attack missile need Tomahawk-level range?


Couple of these replacing the Harpoon launchers?

Supportive Bloke

That is very interesting. Thank you for flagging that I didn’t know about that launcher system.

However, how much more vulnerable are munitions when stored like this than in a VLS?

Seeing the gash in the side of Glamorgan made a big impression on me in the mid 80’s.

For those who don’t know this was done deliberately (turning the ship and yaw) to deflect the inbound missile away from the very vulnerable Sea Slug armoury which was at high level in a County and thus not well protected.

Similarly here is having a load of HE and propellant topside a good idea? Ok Harpoon already does this so this must have been risk games.

I get that these could be bolted on UOR style to give a capability.


This launcher can be reloaded at sea as well 😁


To me the key omission is their lack of TBMD capability


Although a welcome move it is not a fix but an expensive work around, the intercooler still does not work correctly. I wonder what this work around does to the noise levels of the propulsion plant? If they are noisy what is the point of spending a lot of money on the T26 propulsion quieting when the T45 might be producing enough noise to be heard miles away? I was watching the second series with HMS Duncan, she had intercooler leaks, engine breakdowns etc. The ships engineers and stokers had a busy time.
I also agree with Pete M that the T45s should be fully equipped with its Mk41 VLS and a harpoon replacement, possibly even stripping out the 4.5in and repalce it with a 57mm and the LMM pack to the 30mm. The RN is not going to use the T45 on the gun line, possibly the 4.5s can go to the T31s if there is enough life in the gun and enough ammo for 20 years of service.

Stray Vector

Totally agree on VLS and like idea about gun swap with Type31. I’d be willing to forego LIFEX on the two oldest Type 23 to pay for it (realizing five 57mm are already paid for).

I wonder if the engine replacement will help address the Type 45 noise issue.


Noise issue? Yes, I was wondering that. New diesels, new mountings and what sounds like the ability for a form of diesel electric drive. Can’t do much about hull shape or propellers but I would think they could engineer some noise reduction.


@SV: Argyll and Lancaster (the two oldest T23s) have already had Lifex, and will not be getting the propulsion system upgrade. Retiring Iron Duke (third oldest) early might have been an option, but when her refit began last year the Type 31 was expected much ealier. There must be a lot of juggling going on right now because of the mid 2020’s frigate number dip. Squeezing an extra nine months out of Monmouth might be the best best for keeping up numbers in 2026, so I can’t see any money saving options from the GP Type 23s.

Rob N

The T26 is quiet so it can hear subs and not be in turn detected by the sub, in a task group the frigates would operate away from the core of the group (including the T45s). I think the addition of the 57mm is a good idea. But as this is an anti-air platform it would make more sense to add extra cells for ASTER 3o. The reason these platforms are noisy is that the money went on Sea Viper not on sub hunting grade quieting that would have added to the cost and we may have ended up with fewer T45s.


‘we may have ended up with fewer T45’s’. I thought we got fewer; 50% fewer. So maybe we would have got 3!

Simon m

Look at horizon & how many the French and Italians got


The Horizon and Andrea Doria class ships are massively more flexible than the type 45 despite the 45s Sampson Radar and the Italians only having 2 Destroyers. Plus the French and Itallian navy hace lots of Frigates to throw around. The Andrea Doria has 3x 76mm Strales cannons which can fire at 360rpm combined and are a CIWS as well. The are fully equiped for ASW and ASuW. The new Italian frigates (Paolo class) even carry 533mm heavy torps.


Yes I like heavy torps. Very good when its too rough to launch helicopter, sink derelicts, war declaration situ, minelaying, surface engagement in awkward seas zone. Think Long Lance surprise in WW2 and Italian attacks on Alexandria.
What’s not to like. Maybe too radical for RN though and think of all that training on a new weapons system; or is it?


If the Type 45 had tubes on deck for Spearfish 🤤🤤🤤🤤🤤🤤🤤 thats ASuW and a ASW weapon sorted. Plus the Royal Navy allready has vast experience with the sharp pointy fish torp lol


Forget the 30mm canons and lmm just fit bofors 40mm canons greater range and rate of fire probably cheaper to run. QuaD pack seaceptor to replace astors15 in the sylvers and add at least 24 mk 41 vls for land, surface ship, more astor30, and sub sea targets, still allows them to act as air defence but ready to defend from other attackers.

Rocket Banana

Anybody know what power engines are going in to replace the two 2MW engines?

Do we know what these engines will be doing other than providing power for propulsion when the GTs fail? For example, is one dedicated as a compressor to cool the coolant for the intercooler?

Rob N

As far as I understand the new power plants are capable of running all the ships systems. The Gas would be used for high speed propulssion.


3 x 3MW.

Rocket Banana



If it does take to the late 2020s for these ships to return to a normal operating cycle they will be over two thirds through their service lives. Hard to believe how poor this class of ship has been for the RN and the taxpayer. Too few, under armed and unreliable. I am sure they have excellent radar and missiles but that does not make up for the shortcomings caused largely by awful procurement decisions and cost cutting of the worst kind.


They are target practice for DE Subs….the Type 45 needs the Type 23/26 to protect its noisy ass. The type 42 was a better ASW ship than the T45, the T42 wasnt at T23 levels but it was a help rather than a hinderence


The Type 45 was never a ASW ship, but the Type 45 is a far superior AAW ship which is what it was designed to be. According to the NAO it’s as capable as five Type 42’s.

The intercoolers have been a fiasco though, and I hope the MoD has screwed suitable compensation from the suppliers.

But some historical context.
Often ships have had serious issues and then gone on to provide sterling service. HMS Rodney’s 16” guns were notoriously unreliable for her first 10 years of service. Yet they successfully shredded the Bismarck when needed, and she was earmarked to repeat the feat on Tirpitz if it ever left Norway.


You cant really compare the Type 42 to the Type 45 in AAW as the Type 42 was a cut down version of the Type 82 (Which is of similar size and armament with 1x 4.5 and 42 Seadart vs 48 Sea Viper). The Type 42 was actually superior to the Type 45 in the ASuW catagory as Seadart can be used as a ASHM against small targets (Kinetic damage from 500kg missile and any unspent fuel) and used kerosene as fuel…fire damage mainly.

Steve Taylor

The version of SeaDart that went to sea in T42 was the same as that in T82 and was improved as the years went on. The only reason why T42 and T45 can’t be compared is because technology moved on. SeaDart was an adequate system for the day, where SeaViper is world class for today. But an adequate system today would still be better than a world class system from yesterday. Range to one side, SeaCeptor is better than SeaDart.


I compare the Type 82 to the Type 45 as the 82 was what was supposed to be protecting Carriers under CVA 1 which then got cancelled. The Number of SAMs and Ship tonnage are the comparisons I use in this example 🙂 The Type 42 only had around 20 Seadarts and were around 3800 to 4800 tons depending on load and Batch (Batch 3 being the heaviest as there was more hull length – More hull length and displacement = more space for upgrades). Likewise I would compare the County Class DDG to the Type 82 as the Type 82 was supposed to replace it. The Type 42 was in the weight and length catagory of a frigate 🙂 even the Type 22 frigates were longer and slightly heavier than the Type 42. I completely agree with your comment below about having ships specialise in 1 area but to be capable in the other 2 out of AAW/ASW/ASuW. The Type 42 was still a very good class of ships especially after the Type 965 radar was ripped out and type 1022 installed – HMS Exeter kicked ass with her 1022 😁 and HMS Gloucester under Captain Jones nailing that Seersucker that was heading for the USS Might Mo from the coast in 1991 😁😉


The stretched T42 had a larger Sea Dart magazine , thats why the hull was lengthened in the area of the magazine.
The missile that Gloucester shot down ‘with an over the shoulder shot’ in the Gulf was probably flying at 250-300ft

James Fennell

The intercooled WR21 GT design was a high risk and novel powerplant. Originally a 1991 USN project, it became a joint US-French-UK initiative which promised much better fuel consumption and lower emissions/thermal signature at a time of very high oil prices and growing environmental concerns. There are a number of stories why it failed to live up to promise, primarily that the Northrop-Grumman intercooler was not properly bench tested – all testing used virtual modelling. Also because it was a new frontier technology, the customer bore much of the risk. As oil prices fell, France and the US pulled-out, leaving only T45 with the powerplant. The RR core for the WR21 was developed from the RB211/Trent family and subsequently further evolved into the more conventional MT30 series which has been very successful and selected by the US, Italian, Japanese, Australian, Canadian and Korean navies as well as the RN for various designs. So a silver lining in there somewhere.


The WR21 was bench tested. According to DK Brown in ‘Rebuilding the Royal Navy’ , a prototype completed a 500 hr test at DERA Pyestock in 1997 and a full production engine was due for a 3150 hr trial in 2001 at Indret-Nantes , then the DCNS propulsion centre.
The prime contractor was originally Westinghouse Electric later bought by Northrop Grumman, who remained in charge of the exhaust recuperator , intercooler with their 50% workshare . Because the USN didnt continue its interest doesnt mean the US contractor pulled out. Rolls Royce only providing the Trent derivative marine engine.


The problem is not the intercooler, it is the recuperator. A recuperator works completely differently to an intercooler. An intercooler, as found on supercharged/turbocharged internal combustion engines are used to reduce the air temperature of the compressed air after its passed through the compressor before it enters the combustion chamber. By reducing the temperature it makes the air denser per volume, thus cramming more oxygen into the engine. The recuperator on gas turbine engines takes the waste heat from the exhaust and feed it to the air after the first stage compressor. The idea is to heat up the air, thereby reducing the amount of fuel required to do a similar job. By heating the air up to the required turbine inlet temperature, there is less work required for an equivalent amount of output power, thus increasing the engines efficiency. It is used a lot on industrial gas turbine power stations. However, they have the space to incorporate both an intercooler and a recuperator. In a power station that use refrigerant to cool the air before it enter the engine. But also use it to cool the recuperator. I believe the T45’s draw up seawater as the cooling medium for the recuperator. This has been the problem, trying to cool the recuperator, which is working with 750C+ gas temperatures.

Steve Taylor

So would you argue then we shouldn’t bother fitting SeaCeptor or Artisan to the incoming T26 because it is an ASW ship so therefore doesn’t need any AAW equipment?

T45 should have been a direct replacement for T42 including a decent local or 2nd rate ASW capabilty just like its European and US peers. The reason why it isn’t was for budgetary reasons. The RN didn’t want a ship just to carry SeaViper and only SeaViper with other bits tacked on. Go look at the specifications of the Horizons or the De Zeven Provinciën-class frigates.

What makes an ‘escort’ an escort is the ability to fight off the enemy to some extent in the air, on the surface, and indeed below it. Some classes of escort for some countries will have more capability in one sphere than the other. And in the UK to delineate we call ships with enhanced AAW capability destroyers and those with enhanced ASW capability frigates. T42 went to sea with the 2050 sonar, the same as on the frigates of the time. It was capable ASW platform.

Russian submarines are constantly improving and as time goes that tech will leak to the Chinese.


Precisely…..having no defences in any one of the 3 Naval theatres AAW/ASW/ASuW gives the enemy the opportunity to kill you. Example USS Indianapolis…she had no ASW equipment and no ASW escorts (Despite Captain McVay asking for one) and she was sunk by a Japanese Sub in 1945.

Meirion X

It is a Red Herring to say that the Type 45 has No ASW capability, because it has, using the Type 2091 sonar has a range of 29km, and was developed recently in the 2000’s
Type 2091sonar has Real ASW capability, and can detect mines and torpedoes.


The type 45 needs time to prep and launch its ASW helicopter. There are no fast response triple 324mm torp tubes or ASROC – by the time the Helicopter is launched a salvo of torpedo’s could have been fired (Spearfish can get up to 80 knots) Bow sonars also have trouble with thermal layers of water hence why variable depth sonars drop down threw them to scan for submarines. A lot of heavy torpedo’s have ranges that exceed that sonar range. The big factor with the type 45 is that they are very noisy and this inhibits their sonar and the Sonars of the type 23 frigates operating nearby.


Not understanding the logic of many posters on this topic we have two specialists T45 & T23/T26 which are if not the best then they are amongst the best. But people are pinning for them to be converted to Jack’s of all trades, in some schoolboys fantasy of all ships doing everything. WTF!


T45 is now fitted with a sonar but it is not used. Its been mothballed on T45 . No maintainer, no support, no operators.
Si its now FWBNU


The radar guided missiles have never been tested in a realistic way so that isn’t really known.

If you ask me, it’s border line on criminal negligence for the Navy to be deploying these ships to warm climate regions despite knowing that there is a problem with the propulsion system that could see the entire ship lose power. It would endanger the lives of British service personnel in a threatening environment.

James Fennell

You mean Aster 15/30? They have been tested against sea skimming (UK, France and Italy), supersonic (by France using a US supersonic target system) and ballistic missile targets (using an Israeli BM target system) and performance has been 100% kill and is well known.


The French Navy tested Aster missiles vs a GQM 163 Coyote supersonic missile capable of Mach 2.8 (Mach 2.5 Terminal). The Coyote was Supersonic Sea Skimming as well so reaction time was limited 😉


It’s hard to believe we can’t even keep 6 destroyers active, wish we had 12.


Good news there is a fix but three chugging diesels won’t improve the noise situation I would suggest. Long term the fix should be to transfer the T45 area anti air defence technology onto a new batch of adapted T26. I do note however that nobody has been held to account for the failures, no fines, no legal action. When you buy something that doesn’t work you take it back not fix it yourself – unless you are the MOD….

James Fennell

Its an IEP, should be as quiet or quieter than any other powertrain. Rafting of the GTs or diesels is an issue? Cavitation or hull form? I’m not sure if this is an apocryphal story. Anyone got any real evidence that T45 is especially noisy?


Did the Admiral who left the Navy in 2008 really say so, or might it be between reporting the Independent reporting the Sunday Times reporting Admiral Parry, wires have been crossed? Was he commenting on the Type 45, first commissioned in 2009 when he said

“We used to put little wooden wedges between the hatchclips and the hatches in my destroyer to stop them rattling so we could keep the noise down.”

It’s possible during Daring’s shakedown period when he was Director General, of the Development, Concepts and Doctrine think tank, in Shrivenham Oxfordshire, he might have had chance to spend time aboard, but enough to talk about “my destroyer”?

According to his bio, Admiral Parry commanded the destroyer HMS Gloucester. So when he said “my destroyer” there’s more than a fair chance he was talking about a Type 42.


Fantasy Jon, he’s talking about the T45 clearly. I wish it wasn’t so but there it is.


Perhaps you are right, Rob. The Sunday Times is not a trustworthy source, and uses quotes selectively and sensationally. Perhaps he was saying that the Type 42 was so quiet it was even worth wedging the hatches to stop rattles, whereas on the T45, which always sounds like a box of spanners, it wouldn’t be.

It would be interesting to hear the opinion of someone who actually served on a T45.


Indeed . It doesnt make sense as the RN and its RCNC had been at the forefront for noise reduction for both subs and frigates and destroyers since the 1960s, starting with propeller design to reduce cavitation and development of pumpjet type propellers for nuclear submarines.
Famously a Leander Frigate Penelope was towed at 23 kts so that baseline measurements could be made of hull flow noise.


On every ship you have to use wedges to stop things rattling…even on ASW T23s in fact its encouraged. Lining draws and cupboards with rubber sheet, Hatch wedges, noise short searches. its all basic noise reduction stuff you do on a vessel irrespective of its class or purpose.
Heck I was on an MCMV and an LSD recently…guess what they have on hatches to stop them rattling in the upright position?


I read that article, and it hardly seemed like an objective and unbiased piece of writing. Always be very sceptical when reading pieces on defence in newspapers, because they rarely publish these types of “expository” articles just because they’re interested in the subject, but because there is usually some sort of agenda going on. That could just be wanting a sensational headline to drive views, or else trying to drive opinions.
A balanced piece would have a lot more detail and context, but notice there is practically no context to any of it.

There isn’t even the context of which ship the wooden blocks thing was used on, was the admiral referring to the Type 45’s REQUIRING blocks, or was this an older class and they have since stopped doing it and that’s why he’s saying it’s noisy?

And the 100 miles thing. Well firstly, I doubt that they ask the Russians how far away they can be heard, so is this accurate data based on their own sound observations or is it someone exaggerating to make a point.
And if 100 miles is an accurate estimate, what’s that put into context? How far away are most other AAW ships heard from?
Then there are claims that the RN doesn’t care about noise, when the propulsion systems of both the Type 26 and the QE-class carriers were both heavily influenced by noise requirements (and a large contributing factor towards the Type 26’s cost), indicating that it is still very much on their minds.

Then they go on about the reliability, comparing the active service time to time in port of a single month, presumably having looked though the deployments on a calandar to find one where they were in port more often than not to reference, making it seem like a systemic problem.

Then saying that billion-pound warships “have a tended to break down in warm seas” like, first that expensive machines (especially pioneering ones) dont usually have issues like all the rest, in fact the more complicated the machine (hence why it was so expensive in the first place) the more things there are to go wrong… Second that I’m not sure I’d call 4 power losses over 6 years “tended to”… Thirdly, “warm” doesn’t cover it, the Gulf of Oman is one of the few places in the world where water temperatures get hot enough for this to ever be an issue.
But the thing is written to make it sound like any time these ships go anywhere remotely warm they’ll break down.

And then when talking about the “fix”, they seem more preoccupied with the cost than what/why the “fix” is being done the way it is. Again, whats their objective by writing this and focussing on that? It might well be that these are terrible ships, noisy & always break down… Or it could be that there is a lot of out of context info and half-truths being strategically used by a journalist with an agenda to make them seem much worse than they are.


Let’s put it this way, no-one who does know is going to post it on here…..


I feel the T45 procurement encapsulates the problems with 1990s defence spending, after the hiatus that followed the fall of the Berlin Wall.

No clear peer threat meant the existential necessity that dictated what was needed was temporarily missing. Politicians were keen to pursue European collaborations for diplomatic reasons and local job creation. Industry understated the risks, knowing they had a captive customer.

It’s all very well incorporating 80% new tech if you have the money and the time to cope with any unforeseen integration problems which lead to cost overruns and schedules slipping. But if you are on a budget, like the UK is, you need to be more pragmatic about what high risk kit should be adopted, and de-risk the project by using tried and tested systems for subsidiary systems.

Ironically that is what has been done with the T26, where the radar, sonar, missile systems, gun, and propulsion are all existing tech, well understood, while the hard work has gone into the hull design to develop an ultra quiet ship suited for its principal role as a ASW frigate.

Easy to say in hindsight, but with T45 I feel they should have prioritised developing and integrating SAMPSON, and mitigated the risk to the project by incorporating standard CODAG propulsion, Mk41 VLS and SM2 missile.

Mk41 is the gold standard for VLS. It’s been in widespread use for decades, it’s tried and tested and is cleared to use a wide variety of weapons. Plus, there are large stockpiles of missiles available to replenish RN supplies should war come. SYLVER on the other hand was brand new, untried, untested, same with Aster. Plus, there aren’t the stockpiles of Aster missiles lying around because European defence projects are more about making work than making product. So replenishing stocks of missiles will take time while MBDA ramps up production.

Aster might on paper be better than Standard missiles, but ultimately Mk41 and Standard are relied on by the US Navy, and they are much more likely to get into a shooting war than the French or the Italians and even the UK. So if it is good enough for the Yanks, it should be good enough for the RN.

I’m all for supporting UK and European defence firms with contracts, but they should be working on new tech or tech they excel at producing, not trying to re-invent the wheel and produce a European rival to existing US tech just because they can and maybe because they could squeeze a few sales out of it. The licence build of Apaches by Westland is another example of a complete waste of money: we should have bought Apaches direct from Boeing and used the money saved on more Merlins built by Westland. That would have given us the Apaches we needed, plus more utility helicopters that could have been used in Iraq and Afghanistan, saving lives while still protecting UK jobs.

It is also quite frankly ridiculous to be operating multiple VLS across the fleet. One of the great advantages of VLS is that it can launch different missiles, which saves deck space and brings mission flexibility: you can tailor your missile load for the scenario. It is also cheaper to maintain because you have one launching system. Instead, the RN is operating multiple VLS, effectively using separate VLS for different missiles, clogging up deck space and limiting the number of a given type of missile a ship can carry. It is even more ridiculous when one considers how few surface ships the Navy now has, and yet there is a pathological aversion to standardisation.

If T45 had been equipped with Mk41 instead of SYLVER, it would have made kitting out T26 and T31 and any future ships easier as they would be fitted with Mk41 as a matter of course. Now though, we are in this bizarre world where we are fitting Sea Ceptor VLS – which itself was created as a stop gap for the T23s as the ships’ service life was extended while a decision was made on their replacement – to brand new vessels under the pretext that “we won’t have any missiles to fire from Mk41 VLS until the end of the decade”, which conveniently ignores the fact that T26 and T31 aren’t scheduled to be in service until then anyway, and also the first T45s went into service without any guided missiles at all because of problems integrating SYLVER and Aster, and the T45 is an anti-air warfare destroyer, its job is to fire missiles at enemy forces and shoot them down!

Other 1990s projects followed a similar path – hopefully we have learnt the lessons from them and once these legacy projects are finished we can move forward. But looking at the state of Army plans for CR2 replacement, Ajax and Boxer, not to mention the state of the RA, I doubt we will.


Great post. Worse still, SYLVER was more expensive than the Mk41 but was ordered for political reasons because it was European.

The average cost per ship for the Dutch, German and Norwegian AAW ships is around £725m. They did exactly what you said about designing and building their own ships to preserve jobs but buying existing radars, launchers and missiles.

The T45 cost £1.15bn per ship because we designed our own radars, missiles and bought untried engines and a more expensive and less flexible VLS for job creation and political reasons.

T45 is the better AAW ship (though the lack of TBMD and CEC are weaknesses) but is is far less capable in the ASW and ASuW roles than the cheaper European ships.


UK cost per ship based on development , build and in service costs plus Treasury capital cost levy doesnt equate to any other countries ‘ build cost’.
You can see clearly even when they buy a US system such as P-8 which the Boeing contract which is around £125 mill per plane turns into an announced ‘project cost’ of £3 bill for 9 planes


I am quoting build costs and the generator repair costs plus development costs. Same for the European ships. If anything I’m being kind to the T45 as I’ve excluded the Aster development costs.

It’s clearly going to cost a lot more per ship if you develop a novel engine design, your own radar and new missiles than if you use equipment which is already available.


That may be so . But Im pointing out your T45 ‘build cost’ is nothing of the sort, when you start comparing with other countries ‘build cost of £725 mill’. Ive shown how the UK inflates the program cost to include many other costs other than the actual contract build price.
I read the Commons PAC report from 2008 and it was obvious that a whole lot of flannel was given even after all the problems of just building the things. Who even knows what the build price was ?


You’re assuming that the UK specification is the same as the FR/IT for the primary weapon system. You’re also assuming that the US Mk41 / SM2 /AEGIS combo is of equal or higher performance than the UK system.

What if those assumptions were incorrect?

You are further assuming that the “vertical launcher” on the T23 is actually a launcher. It wasn’t for GWS 26 and it ain’t for Sea Ceptor.


Hi N-a-B, I wasn’t assuming or suggesting the UK spec is the same as the FR/IT, or that the Aegis system is better than the UK system. I suggested it would have been better to focus development of the new radar system, SAMPSON, as that is the core of the air defence system, and mitigate the risk by integrating it with the Mk41 launcher and missiles that are cleared for Mk41 (i.e. SM2), rather than the new SYLVER VLS and Aster missiles. Mk41 has been successfully integrated with other radar and fire control systems besides the AN/SPY-1, so it should not have been a problem mating it to SAMPSON.

SAMPSON for me is an example of British/European defence equipment that is worthwhile developing, as it isn’t replicating existing US tech. SAMPSON is AESA vs the SPY-1’s PESA design, so it is a fundamentally different approach and worth going for, i.e. we’re not duplicating effort for the sake of it.

Perhaps SAMPSON+SYLVER+Aster is better than Aegis, or indeed the SAMPSON+Mk41+SM2 set up I was initially advocating. Perhaps not. My point wasn’t which one was better, but what was cost effective and less risky. Aegis has the confidence of the US Navy, they have a much wider presence than the Royal Navy, and, due to their country’s foreign policy, are more likely to be involved in flashpoints, so they wouldn’t risk using substandard kit. In addition, they have the money to get the best on offer, by and large. If they are happy with Mk41 and SM2, then I think it should be pretty good for the RN’s purposes.

The MOD doesn’t have all the money in the world, so I think we need to be practical about what we invest in, and how we do it, so we get good equipment in the numbers we need and we avoid having to continually cut numbers because they become unaffordable due to unrealistic planning in the design and development stage.

I didn’t understand what you meant by “You are further assuming that the “vertical launcher” on the T23 is actually a launcher. It wasn’t for GWS 26 and it ain’t for Sea Ceptor.”?


See if you can guess which navy actually has the most operational live fire experience in using guided missiles? Including the only operational shootdown of an anti-ship missile. This may have coloured the derivation of the UK requirement for what became PAAMS – which is the combination of radar, combat system and missile.

Then have a little think as to whether SM2 and Aster perform in the same way, against the same target sets. The Mk41 vs Sylver decision is harder to justify – but if you understand the costs involved in qualifying missiles for a particular launcher, it isn’t cheap and if you’ve decided on the missile on performance grounds, sometimes you just have to grin and bear it. I’d be careful about glib assumptions regarding accessible stockpiles of weapons as well. SM2 is actually a very old missile design and while updated in blocks over the years is far from homogenous.

The T23 comment is because you’re assuming that there’s some sort of Sylver / Mk 41 style system that launches those missiles. There isn’t.


Ah right, I understand now what you meant – to confirm, I wasn’t saying the Sea Wolf/Sea Ceptor launchers were a system as such, in the style of Sylver and Mk41. What I meant was that T26 is being fitted with Sea Ceptor launchers and Mk41 – which takes up twice the space as using a single, multipurpose missile launching system for all your missiles, and limits the weapon load out. The T45s would suffer the same problem, if they were fitted with the Mk41 they are provisioned for alongside the Sylver VLS.

A key advantage of Mk41 is being able to have one launching system that fires all missiles, so you don’t take up deck space with multiple launchers, regardless of whether they are twin arm launchers or vertical launchers. You are then able to pick your missile inventory for the likely missions you will undertake.

I’m not saying anything against T23 and its Sea Wolf or Sea Ceptor fit out. T23 was fitted with Sea Wolf for a specific purpose. T23 was supposed to be decommissioned and replaced by now, but it wasn’t, which resulted in Sea Ceptor being fitted. The decision has been taken to remove Sea Ceptor from T23s as they go out of service and fit them to T26 so the new ships have AAW missiles as they enter service. My point was that if a decision had been taken in the 1990s to use Mk41 instead of Sylver on T45, it would be easy to roll out T26 with just a large Mk41battery as well, which would have given the ship more flexibility. We would probably fit Mk41 to the T31s as well. Instead we will have Sylver on T45, Mk41 on T26 and Sea Ceptor launchers on both T26 and T31, as well as a few legacy Harpoon launchers dotted about.

I’m not trying to belittle RN experience and I’m not underestimating the cost of qualifying a missile for a particular launcher – my argument is about de-risking large, expensive projects, so they actually get built when they are needed and in the numbers they are needed.

The ideal would have been to build the PAAMS system around SAMPSON, Mk41 and Aster, but if there were problems, then integrating SAMPSON with Mk41 and using SM2 would have been a good baseline for point of entry, with an intention of qualifying Aster missiles at a later date/future batches. It would also offer up the possibility of selling Aster missiles to Mk41 operators, of which there are many around the world.

Glass Half Full

You may be overlooking a couple of factors wrt to Sea Ceptor.

1. It is a cold launch missile with no requirement for the “launcher” to handle rocket exhaust, this allows the “launch cell” to be inexpensive versus a hot launch capable MK41 cell. How much? Well take a look at Sky Sabre, basically a few bits of welded angle iron (OK exaggeration but you get the point) holding the CAMM canister. Why quad pack CAMM into an expensive hot launch cell when you have a low cost alternative? Especially if that hot launch cell never gets used for any other missile, which leads to …

2. T26 has 48 CAMM launch cells plus 24 MK41 VLS. Since Sea Ceptor has an area defence capability its probable T26 would always have this many CAMM missiles, especially if maxing out population of all the ship’s cells. Say instead T26 was 12 Mk41 + the existing 24 Mk41. Under what circumstances would we populate the 12 Mk41 cells with less than 48 CAMM? What missile would we choose to give up AAW capability for on a 4:1 basis?


One of the down sides of dedicated launch systems is that everyone knows what is possibly in them. What else can the CAAM launchers utilise? Can they fit the CAAM-ER for example? You definitely don’t have a Tomahawk or LRSM hidden away in one of them. The CAMM launchers to be utilised by Canada’s T26 are 2×3 quad packable ExLS. They can actually fire several other missiles, including Nulka decoys & RAM missiles.

There is considerable difference in potential between 48 CAMM & 48 CAMM-ER.


Excellent reply. When you look at the mess which is the US navy’s procurement I do wonder how UK commentary sees then through such rose tinted glasses.

Meirion X

SM2 is a simi-activate homing missile , which is not compatible with Sampson, without a lot of modification.
I very much think N-a-B is right.


Ah that is true, but it could have been used with the S1850M as an interim measure while Aster was integrated into Mk41.

An alternative would be to double down on Sylver and integrate strike and anti ship missiles with that, and then roll Sylver out across the various types, rather than mixing and matching across the board.


Er no …SM2 does not work like that.
You require separate illuminating trackers to light up the target prior to the missile hitting. So to get a semi active homing SM2 on a T45 or a T26 you will need to find deck space, spares, maintainers, cooling systems , power supplies and then conduct combat system integration, mutual interference testing. You will have also screwed up the stealth characteristics of the hull by placing a couple of huffing great trackers on the upper deck who’s dishes act as radar reflectors.

This is why the USN is now just starting to get SPY 6 which does most but not all of what Sampson and Aster have been doing for years and years.

Dont think of individual systems. Its a system engineering game. You need to be able to integrate lots of diverse and disparate systems to make a whole.


Here, now, today in 2020 surely you would buy SM-6 and not SM-2? Although even the old SM-2 is a reasonably flexible missile, there are fire control options other than Mk 99, APAR for example (which is what I think the_marquis was suggesting). That said you’re dead right about it being a systems engineering issue and frankly not worth the effort, once a course was set on Sea Viper it pretty much had to be followed through.

Meirion X

Mk. 41 air defence missiles(ESSM), only use simi-activate homing radar, which requires X-band radar, the RN does Not use X-band radar. RN use fully active homing missiles. I am not going into detail on here how it works!


This is only true of ESSM block 1. ESSM block 2 has both a semi-active & active seeker (ie you can either guide it all the way or not, as the operator sees fit). This allows those with relevant radars to operate as before if they want or not, if either they don’t have the radar, or don’t want to, or no longer can.


Correct, the Block 2 ESSM can be compared with Sea Ceptor, as both have active terminal guidance. Both S1850M and Sampson have the capability to illuminate targets for semi-active homing missiles. The problem is the operating frequency is not the same for ESSM, i.e. L and S band not X band. Also the missiles that would be guided by these radars would be huge due to the required antenna area size to match the frequency, but we’ll not go into that.

The USS Mason, is currently the only ship to have used vertically launched air defence missiles to protect the ship from anti-ship missiles. Mason’s AN/SPY-1D radar detected two incoming missiles launched from a site in Yemen about 30 miles from the ship. The Aegis system fired three missiles ( 2 x SM2s and 1 x ESSM) in response. The Mason was not hit by either missile. The USN is not certain whether its defence system stopped the first incoming missile or it just fell into the sea about 12 miles from the ship. The second missile fired at the Mason fell about nine miles from the ship. The Mason was again attacked 3 days later by another anti-ship missile, where the the ship’s SM2 knocked it out. Two days later, she was attacked by five anti-ship missiles, where the Mason launched chaff, IR decoys, SM2 and ESSM. All five incoming missiles were neutralised, but there are few specifics on the how? The USN then followed up by destroying the radar sites used to search and guide the anti-ship missiles.


Although I agree that the carrier’s do not require missile systems, 4 flaky t45 without a full compliment of missiles they were built for is not enough. We should have built cheap autonomous sentinal missile boats with big fuel tank for range , probably a catermaran or wavepiecer trimaran with helideck for maintainace, 16 mk41 with mix of quad pack sea ceptor, Astor 30, anti ship, sub and probs Bofors 52mm, should be capable to have mission bay for covert deployment, MCM, asw, usv, etc, these will be autonimous navigation but fire control from t45, t26 and or the carrier. 4-5 of these along with 1 t45,& 1 t23/t26 plus support ships should suffice. The sentinels can be crewed if required by crew of 6 for short missions. A 50m boat should be able to cope with the sea states required. Cost should be kept to a minimum as these are just defensive platforms first a secondary function of minor missions.


I can see there may be longitudinal stability problems if you fit and load up any new weaponry forward. Maybe once Dauntless has her heavier engine fit aft, they will bring her in to fit the mk41 tubes.
The way things are going this would be a good time for a midlife SLEP.
Diesel cruise, that will make a big improvement to their range.
They do remind me of the Deutschland Pocket battleships with that foremast and their fine lines.

J Palmer

Hi all, Well after so many years of worship designing we still cannot create something that works first time every time. Aluminum ships that burn, modern all singing and dancing ships with engines that don’t like the heat. We get rid of the best “Harriers in favor of some US F35b’s with borrowed harrier Technology “yes they are good but. There is something that’s missing in all of this. All the RN boys and Girls that have to sale and fly in them never get to ask what they would like. My old ship “Typ81 ” was a happy ship, the G6 seemed to go wellish The Wasp flew wellish, the Sea Cat well it was nice to look at, as for the 4.5s I would say that they made her look good.
again not designed by Operators. oh well maybe one day.