The Avenger, a lower end concept which is essentially a Batch 3 River class, is one of the options touted by BAE for the Type 31 Frigate.

Plans to acquire a new class of “more affordable” Type 31 Frigate were announced as part of the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review.

It is understood that the Type 26 Frigate will primarily support carrier task group operations while the Type 31 is to be deployed for a range of less high-tempo operations.

The original planning assumption for the Royal Navy was for thirteen Type 26 Frigates (eight ASW and five GP), replacing the Type 23 frigate fleet like-for-like. However, it was later announced during the November 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review by then Prime minister David Cameron that only the eight anti-submarine warfare Type 26 frigates would be ordered.

The funding for the remaining five general purpose Type 26 frigates is instead to be spent on developing a new class of lighter and more affordable general purpose frigates.

This general purpose frigate will be designated as the Type 31 frigate.

The Avenger, a lower end concept which is essentially a Batch 3 River class, draws on BAE experience with those vessels and features an enhanced combat system, aviation facilities and more substantial weapons magazines. The design is 111m in length compared to the Amazonas-class/River-class Batch 2 at 90m.

Avenger appears to have weapons cells in the superstructure amidships and a 127mm gun.

Offering a high standard of accommodation, this ship has sleeping quarters, dining and recreational facilities for up to 70 crew say BAE, but is capable of operating with a lean crew of just 36.  It also incorporates additional cabin accommodation for up to 50 other personnel such as trainees, special forces, scientists or medical teams.

There is very little information available on Avenger, however given the negative reception the vessel has had in defence circles, that isn’t surprising.

52 COMMENTS

  1. Now if the type 31 is meant to be a credible frigate why would even look at an extended range OPV…The other options are actual complex viable warships, I’m not sure what the point of this boat ( I’m not calling it a ship) would be… After all it would cost way more to buy and run than one of our lovely new ( very functional and efficient OPVs ) so it’s a duff at that role, it cannot be put in harms way ( unless is somehow got a whole host of hard and soft kill self defence hidden away) so what’s the point. Also it’s got a big gun on it so politicians will think it’s a warship and may be stupid and put the poor sods on it in harms way.

  2. Please no! Let’s have a break from BAE products and give someone else a chance! Venator is probably the best bet at present. With off the shelf/recycled armament/sensors – 127mm, Sea Ceptor/Artisan, Phalanx, 30mm (plus an interim SSM if poss) it should be possible around the 250million mark – just don’t involve BAE!

    • Hi Steve,

      Do you think we can get a viable frigate for 250M? I agree, recycling weapons and sensors as you outlined would make sense as they have been paid for already. I am just concerned at the 250m budget – that’s nothing these days. Considering what we just paid for the new OPVs, we might just be stuck with the Avenger….. defence on the cheap again and as we have come to expect. So much for Fallon’s 178Bn equipment budget!

    • Steve I genuinely hope your right. But don’t underestimate Bae. They’ve been charging Rolls Royce prices for Reliant Robins for 40 years. God knows how they get away with it but they do.

      • Hi, David and David
        That’s my biggest fear – BAE manage to get away with £116 each for Batch 2 OPV’s, so just stretching the ship a bit and charging double makes complete sense – for them! Think of all that design effort they save (but will probably charge for) There are other options which will give the wider shipbuilding industry a chance to break the ‘Clyde Monopoly’ on frigate construction. If Avenger still represents the best option then so be it, but it looks distinctly unimpressive compared to Venator, and the yet unseen Babcock ship may upset the applecart even more! Any details availableanyone?

  3. A definite no to this one. Even the Cutlass type would be preferable, and that would be a third choice behind the Venator and Spartan options

    • Two merits…

      1 – it’s cheap
      2 – because they’ll stretch it a bit vs River B2 and add a hanger they can pretend it’s a frigate and not an OPV.

      If it really does end up being Avemger that would be a tragedy because with BAE behind it and at £250m a pop it will most likely in reality be an over-priced OPV. More OPV hulls wouldn’t be unwelcome but if that is what we end up with then don’t do an un-necessary re-design and over-pay for the extra OPVs, just buy more River Batch 2s and invest a bit of the money saved into giving them the option of containerised drone technology, maybe Sigma mounts for the 30mm to give LMM capability, and there would probably still be enough left over for an extra T26.

  4. Please no…

    I think this is the reason why we actually need a strategy – we need to be able to build a world class asset at a world class benchmark price.

    The SAN Formidable class or Israeli SAAR class are probably the benchmarks at this point in time I suspect, but certainly not this.

  5. Are you people living in some form of alternative universe? You do know the country is broke don’t you? You do know there is at least a £20 billion hole in the defence budget don’t you?

    • For once you are right many people are living in some fantasy universe that has correlation with the real situation.

      Defence cuts are coming.

      Personnel recruitment and retention crisis.

      But at least we have two big shiny carriers to play with.

    • TH – the country is far from broke – we choose to have a high governmental spend whilst not raising enough taxes to cover our costs. The economy is actually quite resilient and most people have a great lifestyle.

      I also think the defence budget is adequate for the UK’s needs but needs improved allocation by the MOD.

      • The country has been a deficit since the early 2000’s, despite the promise of a balanced budget over the economic cycle. During that time we have mostly positive growth, of course the banking crisis of 2008 was the exception.

        As government debt approaches £2trillion 80 odd% of GDP, as interest payments on that debt now exceed £40bn and rising we face the turmoil of brexit as fiscal position is weak.

        You can raise tax rates, but they will not raise tax revenue given the nature of global markets.

        So we are in a crisis sooner or later we will face another shock and this time their is no money left.

        • As the man said, we spend too much. The deficit is the difference between what we spend and what we earn. So spend less on things like overseas aid, housing benefit, benefits for people who won’t, bloated central and local government, 42 different police forces, £5 packs of 24 aspirin on the NHS…and billions a year to the EU.

    • Back in the good old days when he was on Tehran’s payroll, Jezza told gave us a clue as to his intentions.

      Vote Labour and there will be no hole in the defence budget, because there will be no defence budget!

      Problem solved

  6. Once again we “a more affordable Ship”. Its just on . Surely its more of a Question, is it capable of doing the job, If thats the Mantra put a couple of cannon on a cross channel ferry and yippee we,ve got a few more ships, Its ridiculous

  7. The country is in a terrible fiscal position, substantial defence cuts are coming whoever is in power. The present government will slowdown the procurement of F35 and cut training, a potential Labour government would decimate the armed forces. No doubt Corbyn’s desire to see our armed forces to be replaced by a Costa Rican style national guard will impact their defence spending plans.

    My guess for the T31 programme is the cheapest option presented with the lowest manning requirements.

      • Definition of defence spending would be helpful.

        I disagree about the t31 project, the ambition of procuring ever bigger and more expensive warships has to be curtailed.

        To be honest given the current fiscal situation and the economic effects of brexit (due to the EU) in the short term we will see big cuts in defence expenditure

      • We do spend 2% on defence. It’s just that some of that 2% includes things like aid to the Ethiopian Spice Girls and food aid to countries with advanced space programmes.

    • That’s quite an attractive option from Babcock, given their track record on delivering OPVs to the Irish navy they should have a fair chance.

      • Yes, I agree their strongest suit is their track record of end to end design and manufacture to an agreed price. But the Irish navy might be an easier customer with whom to manage configuration changes than a combination of the RN and the MOD!

  8. If the Treasury was paying for Trident as it did before Osborne decided that the MOD should be solely responsible for picking up the tab, then perhaps the armed forces would have been better off now and in the future.

  9. Is DSEI going to be a big reveal? BMT have released a lot of info about Venator already and we know quite a lot about Spartan. With the other competitors for the design now needing to pitch quite hard I’m hoping that by the end of the show we should know what Babcock proposes in some detail and perhaps more details on the Cutlass and Avenger designs. It would be nice to at least have a similar level of detail for all the proposed designs so that we don’t have to keep guessing and trying to infer their capabilities from artists’ impressions.

  10. Stuff off BAE We need Steller Systems is Project Spartan, a ‘configurable, modular, survivable, affordable and exportable ship’, to the Type 31 Frigate programme. SPARTAN is the only way to go to stand any chance of the EXPORT MARKET

    • Spartan has a stern ramp. Seem to remember this creates too much turbulence noise for good towed sonar performance, which is ine of the ‘adaptable’ requirements on the savethe royalnavy spec.

  11. Is it me?

    The T26 is going ahead as an ASW. The hull, as I understand it, is acoustically quiet, really very good and frozen as a design.

    Surely a GP frigate based on that hull, fitted for but not with all the missiles ( no need to fill all the tubes) is economically more sensible?

    I like the Babcock and BMT designs (hate the avenger) but a significant part of the costs IS designing them.

    • A big driver of all this is the potential export market for small frigates. Plus I doubt a stripped down version of the T26 would be anywhere near £250m.

    • Whole thing is a management snafu really. Type 26 is a fabulous ship but at a fabulous price. Started life as a 4000 tonne frigate concept and finished as a 7000 light cruiser; BAe seemingly unable or unwilling to push back when its customer asks for more functionality and doing its image no favours in the process. Its primary ASW escort job could be done by a much smaller ship without the 5in gun, the Chinook flight deck, the large mission bay, the Mk41 tubes and probably the 997 radar at a fraction of the price.

  12. The Type 23 design has proven itself during its lifetime, if the weapons and sensors are going to be ‘recycled’ then we can surely recycle the existing hull and general layout design, modify it to bring it into the requirements of a GP frigate; I should imagine this would reduce the cost of the design and procurement stages. Making a £250 million pound frigate more realistic.

  13. Babcock Arrowhead design or BMT venator. I know these vessels can be built for the £250 million price tag. After all the French are doing it with their new light frigates.
    Lets give someone other than BAE a chance. BAE have fleeced this country for to long.
    modular construction with final assembly at either Appledore, Belfast, Portsmouth or Liverpool somewhere non BAE.
    If we can get a credible frigate for £250 million we can rebuild RN fighting power around a polyvalent hull and order them in batches of 5 at a time. Great news. Fingers crossed for a successful outcome. We really need it.

    • How do you know they can be built for £250 million? If they do come in at that, what armaments, sensors and build standards would they have?

  14. Not popular by the comments, but the positives are:
    1) familiar design and commonality with River B2s
    2) based on a design already exported (Thailand, Brazil), perhaps they might go for T31s given they have Rivers?
    3) likely to be cheapest per unit, maybe we could get 8-10?
    4) least demanding in terms of manpower, running costs could be a factor?
    5) Definitely capable of forward basing
    6) can pick up many of the roles people envisaged that the River B2s would, before it was announced the B1s, then Clyde, would be retired

    • Those are all valid points but, taking all your points on board, then why not build a few more more River B2s and use the money saved for an extra 1 or 2 T26?

      £2bn budget could give 3 more River B2 at about £350m(*) and a couple of extra T26 at £825m each(**)

      (*) Assuming a similar price to the initial order on the basis that mature design and these being a direct production run-on from the final hulls currently in build will offset the inflationary increases that should be applied to the £348m original cost for 3 due to that order being a while ago.

      (**) It’s still not clear the actual unit cost because we don’t know how much one-off cost is in the initial orders. I don’t believe the £1bn per ship figure, maybe £850m is closer to the mark, and if the extra Rivers and T26 were negotiated together and BAE saw the chance of killing T31 and the possibility of BMT/Babcock/Steller getting in on the act then I think they might come up with a compelling price.

      Alternatively we could keep River B1 in service and use all £2bn for T26 which just possibly, again dangling the carrot in front of BAE of killing off Babcock/BMT/Stellars prospects at the first hurdle, might even stretch to getting us 3 extra vessels. Even the River Batch 1s have enough deck space at the back to embark, launch, recover and maintain a containerised drone which would add significant capability.

      In the cynical is-it-really-a-frigate-or-an-OPV world of the government either approach would at least maintain hull numbers, option 2 increase them, and I would argue that either would be an increase in total capability

      1 – Current 19 escorts + 5 currently planned OPV = 24 hulls now going to 6 T45, 10 T26 and 8 OPV which gives the same total 24 hulls. If Clyde is intended to be retained anyway it makes no difference since it adds 1 to both sides of the equation.

      2 – Current 19 escorts + 5 currently planned OPV = 24 hulls now going to 6 T45, 11 T26 and 8 OPV which gives a total of 25 hulls. Again, if Clyde is retained it simply adds 1 to both sides.

      I’m still not a pessimistic as some about T31 being a decent light frigate so am not dismissing T31 out of hand, I’m just saying that if it does end up being a pimped OPV then buy or retain more OPVs and put the budget saved into more T26.

  15. Don’t like it, except instead of the OPVs, or a future replacement. and even then – no.

    Of all so far I like the Arrowhead.

  16. So, the T26 hull is fully capable. The current 4,5″ inch gun covers GP frigate requirements. Take it from the T23. Delete the towed sonar. we have an upscale frigate with the potential to be a cruiser/destroyer. All the work has been done. Yes, it is a gold standard hull. But that gives us massive possibilities. ANY T26, even basic spec, can be upgraded to full ASW spec if needed. This has to be long term cheaper.

    • I thought (logically) the same but Type 31e project has clearly acquired a missionary life of its own: the regeneration of a national warship building industry, export marketing confidence and an increase in size of the Royal Navy. As such the project must have its own brand symbol, a new ship design which breaks the link with Type 26 psychology of delays and increasing costs. This change of mindset in my opinion also rules out both BAe designs.

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