Babcock Team 31 has today unveiled Arrowhead 140 as its design for the UK Ministry of Defence’s new £1.25 billion Type 31e general purpose light frigate programme.

Launching the new platform, ‘Team 31’ – led by Babcock and Thales, OMT, BMT, Harland and Wolff and Ferguson Marine – underlined  the vessel’s established, ‘at sea’ design baseline which can be developed to meet global requirements.

According to Babcock:

“With UK engineering  at its core, and developing  OMT’s Iver Huitfeldt hull form currently in-service for the Royal Danish Navy, Arrowhead 140 will lower programme risks through its tried and tested  baseline design and is engineered to minimise through-life costs whilst delivering a truly leading edge frigate.

At almost 140m the platform will optimise operational flexibility. This ‘wide beam’ ship is easier to design, easier to build and easier to maintain due to its slightly larger size. And with embedded iFrigatetechnology able to deliver digitally enabled through life support, it offers extensive value for money – all within the same budget.”

Craig Lockhart, Babcock’s Managing Director, Naval Marine said:

“Arrowhead 140 is a proven, capable, and adaptable general purpose frigate design that, if selected, will meet the UK Royal Navy’s and global customers’ expectations both now and in the future.

Arrowhead 140 will provide increased survivability, operability and capability – compared to a standard 120m design. When you consider that this ship can be delivered at no extra cost and that it will support improved radar performance, increase platform stability and facilitate better helicopter operations in bad weather, whilst enhancing crew comfort – we believe it will bring a significant edge to modern naval capability.”

Arrowhead 140’s distributed build and assembly approach,  comprising Babcock Appledore in North Devon, Ferguson Marine on the Clyde, Harland and Wolff in Belfast with integration at Babcock Rosyth, Fife, optimises the partners’ first-class UK facilities, innovation and skills whilst cleverly ensuring capacity for parallel programmes remains say the company. All of which is geared to generate a genuine resurgence in shipbuilding across the UK and when coupled with the virtual design alliance between Babcock, OMT and BMT it squarely supports the intent of the National Shipbuilding Strategy.

Image result for ARROWHEAD 140 DESIGN

Craig Lockhart continued:

“More than just building a ship, Babcock Team 31 offers a unique opportunity for global navies to tap into the complete design, build and support capability for the T31e frigate. Individually all of the Babcock Team 31 members have exceptionally strong portfolios of activity and collectively we are able to introduce to the market Arrowhead 140; a general purpose light frigate package that we believe is second to none.” 

Incorporating the latest iteration of Thales’ TACTICOS combat management system with fully open architecture sets Arrowhead 140 combat systems apart. And with extensive procurement required throughout the lifetime of the project, opportunities predominantly for UK based small to medium sized enterprises will be available to help to meet time, costs and quality standards. Interest is already strong in Team 31’s bid with more than 100 supply companies meeting Team 31 representatives at a Society of Maritime Industries facilitated suppliers’ conference in Fife.

Based on Arrowhead 140, Team 31 can build modern platforms that navies can use to tailor to their own specifications and when you add world leading experience in naval platform in-service support with a deep understanding of support cost drivers, Babcock Team 31 offers a glimpse into an exciting new world of UK and international ship build delivery and intelligent ship support with Arrowhead 140 say Babcock.


  1. Looks amazing but I have a hard time believing we can get this for £250million when T26 is coming in at £1 billion.

    • I tend to agree with you seeing as they have gone for quite a large design (5,700 tonnes which is some 1000 tonnes heavier and lighter than the T23 and 26 respectively) but my guess would be they are going to try and save the money on the armament with the concept video only showing forward naval gun (or guns I couldn’t quite tell) and a small amidships missile silo and anti ship missiles + reusing as much quiptment as possible from the T23 (sea captor, artisan etc).

      However having said that they wouldn’t have bid unless they thought they could do it for 250 million each so I still have high hopes.

      • I’d guess the size is to ensure it is future-proofed – from all I’ve read thus far, it seems that these are being pushed as modern day equivalents of something like the old Tribal-class, so they may end up having a fairly limited weapons fit, but a lot of space on board, and we’d see them on long-term deployments away from Europe – say the Caribbean or the Middle East – to operate as a visible British presence that can be quickly reinforced as necessary. A good size would then (as I see it) allow for any potential future role change that would see them receive a more comprehensive equipment fit to serve as part of a carrier group (for example).

        Anyway, that’s my two cents.

        • It would be very nice if they built in a lot of extra power generation capacity to prepare for Dragonfire, however far off it may be. Wish listing again 🙂

      • That’s much the same plan for T26 weapons and sensors though, no issue with cross decking for T23 good systems than can be updated mid life. T31 should be very much fitted for but not with given it’s limited role. If they do deliver for £250 million serious questions need to be asked of BAE.

        I only hope it’s not the normal BAE selling tactic of they say it has to be £250 million so just go with it until it’s too late then deliver 3 for the same price as 5.

        By tak8ng out BMT they became the only show in town as the MOD won’t give it to a consortium including BAE for sure.

    • As it is based on an existing design we may well be able to get this for around £250m but not with the same armament as the Danish vessels. Expect to see no VLS except for SeaCeptor, a single phalanx, 30mm canon, and main gun – probably 76mm. The embarked Wildcat will provide the main anti-ship capability. I just cannot see the RN getting any more for the price and this is after transferring much of this from retiring T23s.

        • That contract was signed over 10 years ago and they used armament from retiring ships to save money. An equivalent now would be more like £315m.

          • The Danish ships also have significantly more expensive armament and Radars, so 10 years or no 10 years, they should easily be able to deliver these for the £250mm price tag with a modest armament with plenty room for FFBNW VL silo’s.

    • Should be doable if they skip the cumbersome weapons, they only make it more expensive to train the crew and we hardly ever bother using them. Maybe borrow a couple of machine guns from the Marines to look hard and a bull horn to yell at Spanish fisherman and pirates

  2. Two questions.
    1) Have they released any details of its proposed specifications (armaments etc) yet?
    2) Is it just me or does their design look very Type 26 esque.

    • I think just CAMM for the base. There is room for more silos, Harpoon, CIWS and Torpedoes on the design.

      This is a slightly larger version of the Dutch Iver Huitfeldt-class frigates, which cost £243m per ship.

  3. Obviously a good move to bring OMT into the group. The design is now based on a proven hull and providing they can meet the cost constraints I think we have a winner

    • They did re-use a lot of the weapons systems according to the wiki. I wonder how far we could go with that strategy. Sea Ceptor, 4.5″ gun etc etc?

      • Sea Ceptor is an obvious one, and its radar agnostic, I understand, so no need to develop too much to make it fit rather than ESSM.

        Its not going to be particularly quiet as a sub hunter though thats a secondary role – CODAD propulsion gives it range but makes it noisy.

        If they stick with the Mk41, transfer the 4.5″ (plan to upgrade later to 5″ perhaps) and Sea Ceptor, then the only “extra” over the T23 is a Phalanx or two

        Might even get it in close to the £250m for the base spec…..

  4. I was always neutral at best re the concept of reducing the type 26 order and ordering 5 lower cost frigates…..
    However, i’m coming round to this… from my limited knowledge, am I correct in thinking the Arrowhead 140 design is potentially larger than the type 23?
    Sounds like plenty of space on board, to perhaps up arm in the future when there is more money available in the kitty…

    • If we order a relatively large number of Type 31s to bulk the fleet numbers up it will be a good idea.

    • Yep, if Babcock win this you can see the MoD possing the question ‘How much to turn this into a capable ASW platform’ If throwing another 250m per uint at it does the job that makes it almost half the price of a t26, partially built on the Clyde and Rosyth ticks a few other boxes.

      • I am not a naval architect but my understanding is that ASW capability has to be designed in from day 1. It drives both the hull form and the propulsion architecture. The Iver Huifeld hull is, like the T45 an AWD ship and will probably not make a decent ASW ship.

        • Interesting, Navantia are pitching this approach for sea 5000 in Australia, their offering a converted AWD. I’ve read some of the articles on it and most say whilst it may not be as good as the T26 that its up agianst for ASW it would be good enough. We would be making the trade offs more hulls for slightly less capable ASW frigate. We would of course still have some T26 say 6, but could then have 4 more Arrowhead ASW hulls instead for 2 T26.

          • I don’t have the in depth knowledge to say what would be ‘good enough’.
            And it is likely some of the finer points might of submarine detection might not be common knowledge. Type 45 for example has a bow sonar and I would expect T31 eventually to have one too (the adaptable requirement calls for FFBNW bow sonar). So it could ping to do active searching, WW2 style. But with a towed sonar array I think the idea is you are so quiet in terms of both engine vibration and through the water hull turbulence that you detect the sub before it detects you. Then you are the hunter not the prey.
            Add in considerations of temperature inversion, littoral shores and the modern very quiet diesel subs and it is a complex science unto itself. There is a reason Type 26 cost £1billion a piece.

          • Good points Paul, my point was hypothetical. But Babcocks offering my give us more choice in future. I don’t believe it would ever be as good as a T26 for ASW and that’s the general consensus in Australia also.

  5. (Chris H) – While I am very pleased that Belfast would at last get the work it deserves if this is the chosen design then all we will be doing is giving Sturgeon an even bigger lever against rUK with Carriers (mainly Clyde & Rosyth), Type 26 (Clyde) and now possibly Type 31 (Clyde, Rosyth). She will still call it a betrayal of course …

    Can someone please explain to me why 8% of the UK population are entitled to some 90% of new naval shipbuilding while major facilities elsewhere in the UK get comparatively little? By continually giving in to the SNP blackmail we empower them. I was always told to defy a bully not give in …

    For no other reason (as long as designs are as capable) the Cammell Laird bid should now be the choice with Belfast given sub contract work. And this isn’t novel – The US Government regularly demands a winning bidder gives sub contract work to the losing bidder. Its a win / not lose policy.

    Oh and exports? Yeah right! No country in the market for an advanced Frigate will pay a foreign country to build it. Its really simple. The best we can hope for is maybe if the order won is large enough we could build the ‘First in Class’. So basically any ‘exports’ will be licence fees for someone else to build it and maybe component supply which we do anyway (as in MT30). So of little or no extra benefit to the UK

    Which leaves the FSS ships decision…..

    • “Can someone please explain to me why 8% of the UK population are entitled to some 90% of new naval shipbuilding while major facilities elsewhere in the UK get comparatively little?”

      Happy to try, Chris …..

      The Clyde is the historic centre of excellence for ship-building within the UK, just as Warton & Filton are key sites for aerospace, Derby for aero-engines, the West Midlands for car manufacturing, Port Talbot for steel production etc

      Last time I checked, the Scots were full UK citizens, and entitled to the benefits of UK citizenship – including not being discriminated against for government contracts.

      To put Ms Sturgeon and her party in some context: at the last UK General Election, less than 12 months ago, over 62% of voters in Scotland supported unionist parties. That is considerably more than the 52% of Brexit voters which we hear so much about on this forum!

      • (Chris H) Alan Reid – well first off I never intimated that any Scot was less a member of the UK than anyone else did I? But the fact we are all equal makes the inequality of naval shipbuilding spending even more unacceptable plus I am not sure how giving Scotland some 90% of all available work is somehow ‘discriminatory’?

        As for history well Chatham and Portsmouth were building ships before the Clyde. So much for history when Portsmouth shipbuilding was sacrificed on the altar of devolution and the 2014 ‘Indyref1’. And I do hope you aren’t saying that the shipbuilders in Merseyside and Tyneside are less capable? Or Appledore which is currently turning out OPVs as good as any from the Clyde. Or Belfast which has turned out just as much maritime history and big naval ships (especially carriers) as the Clyde.

        Your explanation seems to start from the premise that Scotland is the nation’s shipbuilder of choice and everyone else has to prove its worth. Well sorry thats just not how it works (IMHO). Scotland has had more than a fair shake on taxpayer money being spent on naval shipbuilding by a very large margin (again 8% of the UK population got 90% of the spend). The only people being discriminated against so far are the other good folk making up the other 92% in the rest of the UK.

        Now Sturgeon has had two hammerings in the last two elections: Scottish – where she lost her majority – and UK – where she lost 38% of her UK seats ( 21 seats). She only represents some 3% of the UK electorate and yet the MoD seem entirely trapped by the little gobshite. But that doesn’t seem to alter her approach. Well she is the leader of the SNP and typifies the arrogance, hypocrisy and ignorance of that party. I suspect she will be history in the next Scottish elections and not before time.

        For the record I detest the SNP and Sturgeon not the Scottish people or Scotland. i argue for equality in all parts of the UK and am a firm Unionist

        • If you take into account ALL defence expenditure, and not just Shipbuilding…

          See page 16.

          However, the NSBS does indicate a need to spread the workload around more yards, so from that point of view, a modular build approach is more in keeping. And final assembly will be at Rosyth, so the ships will be built in Scotland, much like the Carriers….

          • (Chris H) Andy Cee – Yes I saw this elsewhere. But two things: These are figures for 2015 / 16 not today. And can you explain why the ‘South West’ got £810 per head to private suppliers when Scotland got £280 per head and they both have similar populations? or why the ‘North West’ got £290 per head despite high tech and expensive suppliers building submarines and Typhoon fighters (Barrow and Warton)? And of course this doesn’t include funding for places like Faslane pr Lossiemouth which are military bases and therefore not private suppliers. And don’t even get me started on the Barnett Formula excesses or the £15 Bn a year deficit Scotland hands to the UK Treasury every year.

            And no one answers my question as to why the default assumption HAS to be ‘build ships in Scotland’. Taxpayer money should benefit as many people as possible and the 8% of the UK population in Scotland has had an excessive amount of UK shipbuilding. Its time to find a different way and let Belfast, Merseysidem Tyneside etc have a share. Too late for Portsmouth but lets avoid the same fate happening to anywhere else.

          • Not disagreeing Chris…. I think its more a point that statistics can pretty much be displayed to prove anything 🙂

            The NSBS seems a solid approach to me. I see also Babcock are trying to put together a consortium (inc BAES) to bid for the FSS contract as well….if that was to happen, I think it would be a great coup

    • So you would strip Scottish yards of the ability to win the contract for simply being Scottish. Are you racists or an idiot?

      You do know the UK is governed by laws right?

      FYI about 8% of MOD spending is in Scotland, sure they get more naval work but very little in aerospace and nothing in land systems.

      Also it nowhere near 90% of naval work, I’m not sure if you are aware (probably not) but barrow is actually in England (north of watford anyway) by far the biggest chunk of UK ship building Budget is going there.

  6. The MOD need this group of companies to sign in blood that they can deliver this design for £250 million each. Then rapidly order at least 10 ships asap.
    Job done

    • I’m sure they can deliver the design for £250m or they wouldn’t have put it forward (you would think), it just won’t be armed with much!

      • Considering what their role is planned to be, I don’t think the big ticket weapon systems would not be the primary concern. Basic constabulary roles. I am sure that if they were needed to be upgraded in a hurry for a conflict they could be upgraded with an emergency purchase aka the upgrades to the land inventory in Afghanistan or the introduction of the Reaper system. This product seems to be planned to be upgraded in the future. What we need are the hulls in the water. We need to protect our way of life. How many times have the T45 or T23 fired their primary gun other than in testing scenarios? The T31 needs to be able to protect itself (Sea Ceptor) and then pack the punch with an embarked Wildcat and the planned expansion systems in the mission bay like heavily armed boarding teams etc.

        • That’s fine, I agree with you. Mr Bell has listed what he thinks the 31s should be fitted with on numerous occasions, I was just telling him that they will not be highly armed as he thinks they should be. Correct me if I am wrong Mr Bell.

        • Would make sense to have the T26s armed with the 4.5″, same as the T45s as they are likely to be operating together. The 5″ guns could then go to the T31s which are more likely to be risked for NGFS

          However, thats bordering on playing fantasy fleets. If the T26 design now is changed, no doubt it’ll cost millions in redesign work.

  7. I really like the idea of having a general purpose frigate for the RN, but one concern I can see is that this design uses a different command system to that installed on the QEC, T45 and T26 ships.

    From an operational perspective it is is not an issue to have different CMS on the ships. However, the main area impacted will be that of support-ability, training and also the drafting of personnel. This may seem to be a minor point but it will place a bigger burden on training and also the utilisation of the available manpower pool i.e. you cannot easily move a TACTICOS system trained person to a CMS-1 ship if required (and vice-versa) without having to retrain them.

    You only have to look back a few years when we had ADAWS (on the T42, CVS etc) and DNA (on the T23) as we needed two separate streams for training, logistics support and personnel drafting.

    Additionally, as the RN manpower levels are at an alarmingly low rate and the rumours of not being able to fully man the ships, I do question the logic behind proposing a different command system and constraining who can be drafted to each of the ships.

  8. Now this is interesting…ref the construction of the Danish vessels…

    “The frigates were constructed simultaneously in the same dock in a phased manner. The first phase included assembly of all welded steel blocks into a ship platform, while civil equipment was installed by the shipyard and its subcontractors in the second phase.
    Following delivery from the shipyard, the frigates sailed to Naval Station Korsor where military installation work took place in the final phase.”

    So it could be possible to assemble 2 at a time in the dock in Rosyth. Bringing in the fitted out Mega blocks from the satellite yards …stick them together in the Rosyth dock using the Goliath crane. It would be a bit of a squeeze but if the ships where built at an angle or bow to bow they would fit. then you could get 2 ships built at a time saving money and drydock time…

      • quick look at the figures for Cammel I would say no. The dock length and breadth are not large enough for a two at a time build even if you stagger the ships in the dock.

        • What about Belfast? Large building dock, with two large cranes in support.

          Only real trouble there would be that H&W is largely focusing on offshore platforms now.

        • I am not a naval engineer but their web site shows a constuction hall and 4 dry docks. They looked pretty busy when the aerial photos were taken. I wonder that if pushed they could, but not be able to do much else.

          The way they structure their web site they seem set up for refit work and the odd specialist vessel. It might suit them for Babcock to get the T31 order provided they get some module construction.

  9. Wow! A fascinating move by Babcock. Really going for it by proposing a proven ‘foreign’ hull design and a much larger ship. Seems the original Arrowhead US cutter based hull and Venator have been abandoned. Maybe the BAE Khareef / Leander jibes about ‘must work out of the box’ have had their effect. If they can do it for £250m a pop what’s not to like? Masses of future development scope. Gives a whole new meaning to FFBNW.
    That said, what propulsion is proposed? Who owns the intellectual property for the design? Will OMT be able to commission export builds that compete with the UK yards?

    • The danish frigate that is the basis of this design is CODAD, MTU diesels, same as T26 is planned to be, although T26 with have Gas Turbines as well.

        • Yeah, the Danish design is optimised for Air Defence. The T31 will be noisy for a primary ASW role, but presumably that is the T26’s job. Like the T45s, the T31 will have some ASW capability as a back up.
          Its primary role is to operate in the forward presence/flag waving role and able to defend itself until the Carrier Battle Group can deploy.

      • Andy, you are incorrect. The type 26 is gas turbine or diesel electric. The Arrowhead 140 is direct diesel. Big difference.

        • Hi Ron,
          Sorry, my post wasn’t very clear. The MTU diesels will be used in both T26 and T31, but you’re right, ArrowHead 140 will be diesel only, while T26 will have the much higher end setup of Diesel Electric and GT….

          • Diesels driving a Controllable Pitch Prop. Thats the only way to do pure direct drive diesels. Engines into a gear box with a CPP on the end of the shaft.

        • For comparison Khareef has 2 5.4kw diesels. I am guessing Leander will be similar. Iver Huitfeld has 4 8.2 kw diesels.
          How would the fuel consumption of Leander and Arrowhead compare?

  10. If the Type 31 is going to be this size then they should probably make shore the hanger can accommodate a Merlin. That way if we need a anti sub capacity and have no type 26 available, then a type 31 with a Merlin would make a good stand in.

    • According to the base spec, it can fit a Merlin. All that is needed would be to upgrade the handful of HM.1 Merlins to the current spec and the Navy could pretty much run an all Merlin fleet. Maybe move the Wildcats to the AAC to replace the Gazelles and Lynx that are end of life

      • Err no.

        8 extra Merlin does not replace 28 Wildcat HMA8.

        Do let’s upgrade the remaining Merlin if they have not been cannibilised to bits as we need them, but leave Wildcat/ Martlet Sea Venom as is for our escorts, T31 especially.

        • Apologies Daniele,
          Not sure where my maths went there! You’re right, both the Merlins and the Wildcat HMA2s are needed

  11. My thoughts exactly Paul. Whilst the platform is supposed to be good, and the obvious benefits of additional size is an interesting addition, I am left wondering if in some ways this is an opportunity missed. A primary point of the T31 is exports. We will be offering something almost identical to the Dutch/danish offering on the market.
    In a way, it would have been nice for BMT to produce their own offering. The Venator was something a bit different to the others out there and would have been good to have a third offering. I was hoping that we would get a ship with some real innovative thinking and be mostly uk designed even if we reused a hull form. Also some interesting styling to set it apart would have been nice. I await the release of the weapons fit it will have keenly. I’m hoping they can do something to give us some extra capabilities over the basic required spec as standard. If it has no means of attacking something, and only basic defensive capabilities, then it’s all a bit pointless when you look at what it will be up against from around the world. Every ship must have at least a basic all round layered attack and defensive capability and we just don’t seem to get that, and it will be at the loss of our sailors at some point. Just out of interest, does anyone else think the bow area looks too small for anything but a gun? That says to me a pitiful number of seaceptor and nothing else. In order for a ship to have any chance defending itself and firing back, every single one needs a significant number of cells or its dead. All our ships are under armed for the future saturation attacks that may come. I’m thinking 32 seaceptor and an 8 cell mk41 min. T26T45 level ships should have double to treble this to be future proofed. Let’s see what they come up with!

    • Sea Ceptor can be quad packed into each Mk 41 Cell, so maybe thats the sensible option? Fit the T31 with 16, 24 or 32 Mk 41 cells and then you have the flexibility of Sea Ceptor and hopefully in future some next generation Anti Ship missles for offensive punch.
      Incidentally, Sea Ceptor quad packs in the Sylver VLS on the T45 as well, doesn’t it? Maybe thats a way for the T45s to bulk up their operational defensive capability – run a mix of Aster 30 and Sea Ceptor in place of the Aster 15.

      • I still think the best route for T45, if the design allows it, is to accept that it is a specialist AAW asset, give up on any thought of fitting Mk41 in the FFBNW/gym space, and instead fit some 3-cell specialist LM ExLS units to give a dedicated Sea Ceptor silo thus freeing up the existing Sylver 50 silo predominantly for Aster 30 potentially including BMD variants and maybe still a few Aster 15 since I believe they are more agile and energetic than Sea Ceptor so might still have a place in the mix (not to mention the fact that we have stocks of them).

        Yes, fitting Mk41 in the FFBNW space would give more flexibility, and if Sea Ceptor does quad-pack into Sylver 50 then more Sylver 50 in the FFBNW space would also give more flexibility but, in an environment where we really are trying to work every £1 as hard as we can and have so many other calls on our cash, ExLS seems like the most affordable solution that would give a worthwhile enhancement to T45’s AAW loadout. This is also on the assumption that we are going to be placing some pretty substantial ExLS orders for the dedicated Sea Ceptor silos on T26 and I suspect T31 as well so it might be a good time to add extras to that negotiation.

        • In an ideal world, I agree, Mk41 on the T45 – potentially to provide offensive capability in the form of a future AShM, as well as Sea Ceptor to bulk up the missile count.

          ExLS is a standalone unit, isn’t it – you don’t need it if you have Mk 41? Or have I got that wrong…?

          • There are two versions Andy, one is an adaptor that slots into a Mk41 tube and the other is a through-deck-mounted stand alone unit comprising 3 cells (tubes) each of which can quad-pack Sea Ceptor. If you only want to host Sea Ceptor it’s a bit of a waste having all the cost and complexity of the Mk41’s got gas exhaust venting when it will only ever take cold-launch canisters. The version I am suggesting is the stand-alone 3-cell version that doesn’t need Mk41 to host it.

            Here’s a very good four and a half minute show-and-tell video complete with scale models where a LM guy explains it all at some defence conference –

          • Thanks Julian, thats useful…. seems to be a sensible compromise for T31. That and maybe some scavenged Harpoons from the T23s until a new missile is procured…..
            Its the Skoda version of a launcher rather than the Audi one 🙂

          • If you only plan on Sea Ceptors, ExLs is also a waste of money. It’s value lies in being able to launch many types of missiles.

          • A good point, and no doubt it’d come down to cost, but ExLS gives a cheaper variation on FFBNW – if they are included, then there is an option later to expand the weapons load.

          • Point taken Ron. Out of interest, what else can ExLS fire? It’s soft-launch only I think so, with my very myopic UK-focussed (scant) knowledge of missiles I’m struggling to come up with anything else.

    • Check out the Arrowhead 140 website. It shows the VL is located behind the bridge and mast and forward of the hanger. Not the bow.

  12. I would have preferred if they built the Type 31’s like the Absalon Class Support Ship. The added flex deck would have gave the ship extra adaptability options like a light amphibious vessel, mothership (for unmanned vessels or CB90’s), humanitarian relief, hospital ship or mine layer/sweeper. The design being based on the Iver Huidfeldt class would save on costs for a batch 2 “Absalon variant”.

  13. I would personally like to see Cammel Laird/A & P Tyne get the Type 31s and the Rosyth consortium, with their large dry dock and gantry crane, get the fleet solid support ships. That would really revive shipbuilding around the U.K.

  14. Wow. This is quite a big surprise and a not unsurprising flurry of comments. I’m not sure I’ve seen a comments section grow so quickly so soon after an article is put up.

    This is very different to the Venator/original-Arrowhead that I was expecting and puts real clear water between it and the BAE Avenger/Cutlass designs unless BAE does a bug stretch on Cutlass. Is this a knock-out blow for the Babcock consortium at least as far as the BAE designs are concerned?

    For reference Meko 200 is 3,400t & 118m long with the South African Valour Class variant, a well-respected ship I believe, being 3,700t & 121m long. The Iver Huitfeldt Class is 6,645t and 138.7m long. T26 is planned to be about 8,000t and 149.9m long (all data from Wikipedia and all displacements at full load). One criticism of T31e was, in a marketplace with things like Meko 200 and other credible designs out there, would it be too late into a crowded market. At least size-wise this has now differentiated itself from the Meko 200 pack and if it really can come in at or close to the £250m core price even with a sparse weapons fit that would be impressive. For export orders a sparse weapons fit isn’t necessarily a show-stopper because a country can always upspec it at time of order as long as there is space and power reserve or, I assume, even upgrade armaments at a later date.

    One thing that does concern me if the price point is met is how much compromise there might be on construction standards. I would hate this to be a paper tiger with a glass chin (talk about mixing metaphors!), a sort of floating snatch Land Rover that potentially puts our service men and women’s lives at increased risk.

    • The theory with the T26 being cut to 8 was because it was too big and therefore perceived as expensive because of that. The Arrow 140 design is only 10m shorter. Hopefully this doesn’t become an issue when it is considered.

      And yep, we all know that air and steel are relatively cheap, so size isn’t in fact that important when it comes to warship cost. Hence my use of the word “perceived”.

      The more space in a ship at the start of its service life the better; then it can be upgraded more easily in the future.

      • “The more space in a ship at the start of its service life the better; then it can be upgraded more easily in the future.”

        I agree, and it’s also a good angle for export and maybe something of a differentiator vs competitors for countries that might like to posture – offering something that is big and imposing but still affordable just might be a winner. I do hope we can configure ours to be more substance and less posturing-through-size though, even if that has to evolve over time. I am also still concerned about what build standard compromises might have to be made to meet the price point.

        All in all though I’m quite excited by this development today. Mustn’t get too carried away though, we still don’t know that much about the design and it hasn’t even been shortlisted yet let alone won the RN T31 bid.

        • Hopefully the spec includes a hull mounted sonar (2050s from the T23s?) – the Wildcat has no sonar, so if they don’t have that, their ASW capability will be negligible

          Trying not to get too carried away 🙂

          • Good point Paul, the basic £250m spec is basically an OPV with a hangar, longer range, higher speed and a med calibre gun and a CIWS

    • “One thing that does concern me if the price point is met is how much compromise there might be on construction standards. I would hate this to be a paper tiger with a glass chin (talk about mixing metaphors!), a sort of floating snatch Land Rover that potentially puts our service men and women’s lives at increased risk.”

      A valid concern, however the Danish ships were not compromised in their construction, and one of the ships took “Peter Willemoes” part in and passed with flying colors, the RN Fost (Flag Officer Sea Training) program, and afterwards took part (as the first Danish ship ever) in a USN carrier fleet, as an escort… If they are good enough for that, then I would argue that the design at least, is solid.

  15. I am not expecting there to be much in the way of armament on these ships, but as many of you have said there is plenty of space for future upgrades.

    That said, can anyone name an instance where something was “fitted for but not with”, then actually fitted for it later?

    • Harpoon on 4 of the T45s… crap example, but it’s there. Taken from the last of the T22s, I think….

      • Bad example. The T45’s were not FFBNW Harpoons any more than the Type 23’s were. The canister Harpoons are designed to be dis-mountable and are installed based on mission.

        And no, I can’t think of any FFBNW that were later installed. I imagine the Treasury saying every time: “you’ve done without it so far, so let’s continue”.

        • As I said – “crap example” – totally in agreement. I can’t think offhand of any other examples

  16. Just as a reality check this is what was being asked for.
    4000 tons, around 115m a crew of less than 100 and a range of around 6k nm. What Babcock are proposing is more like a Type 45 successor; Iver Huitfeld is an AD hull form at 6500 tons with 4 diesel prime movers rather than 2, a crew of 180 and a range of over 9000 miles.
    Has the requirement changed or has the method of contruction and leapfrogging RN and MOD long term strategy assumed a higher importance than what is being constructed?

        • If they can at least hit the crew requirements and the £250m base price without sacrificing too much, this size design might still be a winner.
          In that base was a medium calibre gun (4.5″ from T23 – except they will presumably go with the T23 GPs when we sell them?), a CIWS, hangar and space for a Wildcat and that was about it… sonar, no VLS, no AShM…. they were all to be Nice-to-Haves

          • AH, you got there before me as I was typing my much longer reply. Interesting to see you mention crew as well Andy. That does seem a concern with this big a vessel.

          • Thank Paul P re my comment about the crew. He mentioned it first 🙂

            Type 26, incidentally will have a crew around 118, with room for 208….so I suspect it is doable, just about.

          • And Paul bought it up in the forst place. Paul- Wikipedia (groan – I know!) says complement 165 and crew 117 so I’m assuming the 48 difference is spare bunk space and maybe whether a helicopter is embarked or not and what other Stanflex systems are onboard.

          • Yet more crossed posts Andy. We are all getting carried away. I think I’m going to go and have a lie down 🙂

    • page 24 is the relevant one for armament. So no anti-ship, has hull mounted sonar, limited point defence and main gun at least 57mm. Helo and embarked ribs to pack more punch. Hope the point defence includes Sea Ceptor, which will hopefully be able to target enemy fast boats at some point.

      Yes Paul I am struggling to see how the crew requirement has been met, although the range and tonnage exceeds the requirement so I wouldn’t think that would be a problem.

      The document talks about maximising export potential, but as others have said, how does OMT’s involvement affect this given the design could be competing with the Danish variant?

      It will be interesting to see how this develops.

      • I doubt there would be competition between the designs. The Iver Huitfeldts are a class of highly advanced AAW vessels. T31 is obviously going to be a much more basic general purpose design, so even though they are in the same weight class, their roles vary significantly.

      • Why use a SeaCeptor at say 200k a pop to kill a Boghammer?
        Remote control 30mm guns and Phalanx can do it for a lot less money. Its a lot easier to shoot a boat up and unlike a missile that is radar homing, you can see what you are hitting with a gun.
        A Fire and Forget Radar homer can hit a ferry just as easily as a fast attacker and once it goes pop and whoosh out of the launcher that’s it…you cannot shift target

        • Thanks for that Gunbuster – always nice to hear from someone who knows what they are talking about 🙂

          I wonder why the RN is bothering to look at the anti-ship capability of SeaCeptor though?

    • It’s a very good point Paul (as is Andy’s – I’m getting a bit carried away myself :)).

      Surely though Babcock and BMT have enough contacts and skilled sales people working this very big bid to be in touch with what is going on. Either they think there is scope for the RN to consider this bid seriously or they are getting messages that in what we thought was the previous bid space of 110-120m 3,000-4,000t vessels they have pretty much lost already against BAE and so are trying a last ditch bid to win the deal by redefining the playing field (a “nothing to lose” strategy). I hope it is the former.

      Usually I would read most things in a requirements document as minima where, providing that guideline prices can be met and there isn’t some other bidder likely to come in way below guide price as a bargain-basement offering, exceeding any of those minima would only strengthen a bid.

      One big constraint though that I would think is pretty hard-coded into MoD/RN’s mind is crew requirements since personnel shortages are so acute. It’s all very well proposing something this big but if it adds 50% to the crew requirements then I would have thought that is something that would be very difficult for the MoD/RN to accept. Iver Huitfeldt crew complement is listed by Wikipedia as 117. What was the T31e guideline? About 85 crew or am I mis-remembering that? If my memory is correct then either the Babcock consortium thinks it is OK to exceed the target crew complement or there are some serious lean manning practices and/or technology going to be proposed here.

      • I think you have hit it. I suspect this is a last ditch attempt to redefine the playing field. Leander is wholly British and based on a proven Khareef hull which has an electric drive option for some additional ASW; desirable for the RN and export potential. The combat hardening work done in converting Amazonas into River 2 and the T26 mission bay experience will give a good idea on additional costs of morphing Khareef into Leander. Venator was probably too expensive to build. It was probably neck and neck on construction costs Arrowhead versus Leander so Babcock decided to go for broke and offer a bigger ship for the same money. Leander could well be a tough fighty successor to the name. And the low risk option. CL will get under the £250m by proposing the 57mm or a refurbed Mk8 and a handful of Sea Ceptor cells. No VLS, no AShM. Could even imagine River 2 radar and systems fit.

      • Judging from the marketing departments ..”embedded iFrigate™technology” .. i do hope sales is up to it.

    • Paul, that document is an RFI: request for information. Designed to give interested parties an idea of what the MoD has in mind. Not a specification for bids.

      • Point taken. I accept it was issued I believe in the spirit of ‘ we have £250m per ship to spend and the minimum requirements are…let us know what you think; happy to be surprised’.
        So give or take the use of a Danish hull here is what can be done …if you build it this way.
        I confess this proposal has pressed my buttons. I would have preferred the UK to build a UK designed hull. What happened to complex warships being designed in the UK?
        Why could not Venator be built the same way? Why could not the T26 hull be stripped of its ASW drives and given a direct diesel or diesel electric drive? Why cannot Leander be built by the Babcock consortium? Why have we not established a Type 31 ‘Alliance’ mirroring the success of the carriers?
        This all looks like a politically done deal where basically Babcock have been given the job of finding a (better than the US cutter) hull to implement the national shipbuilding strategy. Basically the BAE Leander won and it was the wrong answer so Babcock were sent back to try again. I would have preferred a sovereign UK design.

  17. In order to keep the costs low for construction will the Type 31 will they be using a Stanflex module approach in regards to the ships weapon systems?

    • Stanflex could be a useful component to introduce with these ships. Potentially then the MCMVs, Survey vessels, patrol boats of the future could be a single design, with StanFlex slots available…

      • It sounds nice but LCS has put me off modularity within warships completely. The US have made the mistake and are spending vast sums of money to rectify it, I see no reason why we should make the same mistake.

        • Seems to work for the smaller number of ships in the Danish Navy…. we aren’t going to have many more than them soon!

          • If the MOD is aiming for 5-10 ships. The first 5 (Iver Huitfeldt variant). The next batch should be based on the Absalon. The added “Flex Deck” will boost (temporarily) the reduced capability gaps with the loss of HMS Ocean (and other fleet losses). The capability of a 24 hour conversion to a personnel/vehicle transport (300 troops/55 vehicles or 7 MBT), hospital ship or whatever is a no brainer. I just hope they have a reduced acoustic signature to make it a capable general/ASW platform.

        • That the USN (or its procurement part) made a mess of things, does not mean that the modular system is bad!
          I am Danish, and served for 5 years, in the Navy, on a number of ships with StanFlex slots, you would be amazed of how much time that system saved us, on a few of the older ships, where we had troubles with old equipment. Take it out, put in a new, send the packed back to base and let the specialist take care of it, while the ship is at sea…

          Upgrades, repairs and time saved in the dock, is so much easier with that system… It is not a be all end all system, and I am sure that with tweeks it can become even better… But fundamentally, the Danish navy has spent 30 years, developing and using this system, it works, and opens up for more interesting setups with the ships, should a specialized mission come up.

          The USN made two fundamental mistakes (as I have heard it)… They did not make enough components (making the idea obsolet), and they didn’t ask the Danes (an ally with experience in that area) to avoid the problems… Something I am sure the RN would not do.

        • M Heron – are the Absalon’s a variant of the same design?

          Only downside I could see is that there would be further design/development costs for a different sub class?

          • The Iver Huitfeldt is based on the Absalon class. The Absalon Class was built in 2003-04. The Iver Huitsfeldt Class was built in 2008-2011. The class is built on the experience gained from the Absalon-class support ships, and by reusing the basic hull design of the Absalon class the Royal Danish Navy have been able to construct the Iver Huitfeldt class considerably cheaper than comparable ships. So hopefully if they go for a Absalon variant for batch two they could do the same but vice-versa.

  18. This probably won’t be popular but my money is still on Leander. Solely British design and distinct in the export market. It also uses the same combat systems as other RN ships. If both designs are similar in terms of cost, armament and flexibility then I can see Leander being preferred.

  19. Thinking exports for a moment; T31 will be up against Belharra, the Navantia F110 and Finnmeccania PPA. And possibly more. All these are what you might call ‘intermediate’ frigates i.e. 4000 ton class. I would be a bit worried that a 6500 ton T31 would be a Morris Marina in a world of Ford Escorts ( showing my age ). DCNS will be first to market, as usual. There is an old saying you need to be first or best. Arrowhead would be a marketing gamble.
    The BAE alternative I suppose is the 90m River 2/100m Khareef/ 115m Leander ‘family’. Bit like son of Meko.

    • Paul P – without wanting to muddy the waters (no pun intended lol) I think the PPA will be the first to commission ,construction started last year.

      • Thx. I stand corrected. The main point of my argument stands though. In the export market T31 is not first to market so needs to be ‘best’. Arrowhead 140 is a distinctly different offering in that its shear size gives it a lot more configurablity than Leander. Its advantage export advantage is likely to be non UK systems and radar and faster build with more yards involved. I’ve not seen any proposal from CL regarding modular build i.e. Realising the national shipbuilding strategy. Funny old world, we will probably achieve a national shipbuilding strategy by building a Danish hull, Thales CMS and maybe even Terma Scanter radar. Still complex warships are designed and built in the UK right? Lol.

    • Not a proven design, is my guess? Thats why they got OMT on board, it meant they could match the Leander claim to be based on an existing design…..which of course means lower development costs (until MOD gets involved!)

      OK, maybe slightly cynical!

    • Venator was the independent BMT design and now they’ve decided to consortium up with Babcock etc so have gone with a new design, hence Arrowhead 140.
      There was nothing wrong with the Venator design just the consortium decided not to go ahead with it.

    • I think Venator was a bit of a concept, but had elements of modularity that could maybe be including in this Arrowhead design. But I could be wrong.

  20. If what MOD and RN really favor is a British-version Absalon (a large hull similar with type 26, good for RN), Arrowhead 140 could be a good choice. But choosing Arrowhead 140 suggests that a stripped (general purpose-version) type 26 is not a good choice really, at least means type 26 is a less effective and finance-friendly design, even unacceptable for RN. (Type 23’s way turns to 8 maybe the best but definitively super expensive type 26 + 5 cheap hulls) This may shadow type 26’s export on market further, even in the CSC and SEA 5000 bids. After all, potential buyers afford and need 6000+ tonnes warships like Canada and Australia are too few.
    I think what is really needed is an effective, modulus and flexible design covering 2000~5000 tonnes like PPA, type 23-sized as type 31, 3000 tonnes~type 23 size for export as their first class ships, 2000 tonnes as patrol ships. For RN, 127 mm gun, 24~32 CAMM, 1+ CIWS, Artisan radar, at least hull sonar, BAE CMS, Merlin hanger, mission bay. That is minimum for releasing type 45 & 26 to QE and vanguard, peace time deployment and war time usefulness at second-line.

  21. Ok, so we have two solid, if slightly ‘safe’ options. Both with pros and cons. I am waiting on the following to pass judgement:
    •confirmation on required crew sizes for arrowhead. It’s vital these can be leaned manned to staff the numbers we need.
    •survivability and fire protection levels for each design.
    •confirmation of what weapons fit we get for the basic price, but also ffbnw allocations for future upgrades. Although they are lower threat environments they must offer space for a credible number of cells and box launchers.
    •potential levels of asw capability. We know Leander has electric drive option, but what will arrowhead offer? Will they be on par? This is an important one as we will need this capability on the next batch for sure and must be reasonable, and export customers will want to see a decent capability too.

    I wonder how long before we get specific details or will they play their cards close to their chest until the last minute? I want to see a light frigate that can be easily upgraded to a decent medium frigate for around £350 million, then we may sell some abroad. Part of the decision may come down to what potential buyers are more likely to need, a smaller concise package of the Leander, or a larger platform with more growth potential and versatility to be used in different ways.

    • Solid and safe seems the way to go…kind of like the original plan for T26 – reuse existing tech to reduce costs. Interesting how that worked out!

      The devil will be in the details as your bullet points show

  22. Well, I wish my memory was perfect, as it seems to me the Danish presence was more than usual in the recent JW18 (the only JW tghis year), end of April. I did see the Esbern Snare, and it may have been her that was mooching off Ayr for a time, but I could be remembering wrong. Anyways, perhaps it’s coincidental, but it would have been a good opportunity to have a few show-off parties on-board. Sadly I wasn’t invited.

    Very impressive, and though this whole T26 thing is a betrayal of the Clyde workers as from the above comments, 100% of the posters agree, if this design of T31 turns out to be as good as it looks like it could be, sadly it would have been the right decision from the point of view of the RN, rather than a GPFF derived from the T26 and built by BaE for about £35 billion each.

    But don’t tell anyone I said that, more than my street cred’s worth.

  23. This looks like great news and although I was dubious on the cost at first looking at wiki it states that the danish ships reused parts from a corvette and patrol vessel I am no expert but neither of these previous vessels had what I believe are very expensive radars? Apar and smart-l which if included in the danish price would mean these costs wouldn’t be included in the Babcock design and could go on weapons etc. (obviously not if Babcocks from hull up design is more expensive although I would have thought aaw design would be more complex?)Also in terms of complement these ships have 118 but Babcock have said they are reusing the hull form not the entire design? So presumably complement woul be closer to the arrowhead 120 design as my guess is the 120 would just be enlarged to fit the 140 fingers crossed but hopefully good news

  24. This either highlights that we are over paying for the T26’s or that there is much not included weapons and sensors wise. The increased size is not going to drive the cost – steel and higher rated propulsion is not the expense – that is standard merchant ship stuff.
    Not sure I like the rendered graphics however as the silos seem to be sitting over the midship hangars with nothing under them…?

  25. My understanding is type 26 design costs are all about making the ships super quiet extra damping etc. But no doubt as most have stated and hmg seems to be realising we have overpaid due BAE having a monopoly of course more steel costs more but steel is cheap compared to combat systems and it seems asw measures I am not sure about propulsion as wouldn’t the mtu be standard choice it could mean they are slower though?

  26. The news we have all been waiting for. This is a world beater and will revive our entire navy and ship building industry. We are going to be churning these out by the cusomised blocks.

    Manning is going to be crucial, can automation get us to a crew of 100? I believe so.

    Surely there is room for 100 marines too?

    • Thanks for the link.

      So, they say provision for up to 32 strike length mk41, tick. Space for up to 8 asm launchers, tick. Crew of less than 100, space for up to 160 if needed, tick. ASW ‘can be easily added either during the build phase or during refit’ and a towed array can be added. That would say that it has reasonable inbuilt ASW performance, tick, but it doesn’t state any details on quietening methods. So in sure on the last point then, but overall things are looking good. Would be good if there was a aaw version with the Ceafar mast integrated, I think that could make it look quite a serious ship.

  27. Rob mentioned further up that he thought Leander was probably the likely winner and I also speculated above that Arrowhead 140 might be delivering so much more than the RFI guidelines, at least in size terms, because the Babcock consortium sales people are getting messages coming back from RN/MoD contacts that Leander has it in the bag and this might be the consortium’s last-ditch attempt to redefine the playing field to avoid An Arrowhead-120/Venator-110 class design losing to Leander.

    Given the above I had another look at Leander from the video of a presentation on YouTube ( The initial things that struck me were…

    1 – The BAE guy talks about a hangar for Wildcat and flight deck able to “land and service a helicopter of around 10 or 11 tons, something like NH90” (time index 9:41 in the video). If that is accurate then that precludes a Merlin, or at least one that isn’t at or close to empty weight.
    2 – The forward missile silo is odd with very sparse packing, it almost looks like the temporary Sea Ceptor fit on T23 or even the original Khareef Class VL Mica silo. Maybe BAE didn’t have time to update that bit of the render. I really hope they could host more than 12 Sea Ceptor there.
    4 – There is a midships silo that seems similar to the Arrowhead 140 one but there are some inconsistencies in the Leander video. The renders and cutaways sometimes shown a full (probably strike length) depth because there is a box around the silo that penetrates right through the mission bay area but in other renders the bay looks open with things like containers in it. Maybe that’s an either-or option for the Leander design, a strike length silo amidships with compromised mission bay space or an uncompromised mission bay space with non-strike length or even no amidships silo.

    Anyway, that’s my brief comments on the competition. If it can come in on price without unacceptable compromises being made on construction quality (e.g. only to commercial standards and a long way off military standards) then Arrowhead 140 looks a real winner but I’m afraid that I’m with Rob on this one, I would be slightly surprised if Arrowhead 140 beat Leander to win the bid. Happy to be surprised though.

    • Thanks for posting the link. Personally I think the Leander will win hands down unless the Arrowhead 140 is able to use the BAE combat system.

      I would certainly hope that there would be more than 12 SeaCeptor silos though, the render shows the soft launch cells, whereas quad packed VLS would surely be better even if there are only 6 cells. That might even mean money for VLS midships for ASM or more SeaCeptor depending on mission.

      A ‘family’ of ships R2, Corvette(Khareef), and T31 Leander with common systems would surely be better for the RN and export potential, with CL building all 3 types.

      • No problem Rob. I think as we (or at least I) get carried away with Arrowhead 140 it is worth comparing and contrasting with the BAE competition.

        Like you, the thought of the RN introducing a new combat system seems to me to be a bit of a stretch hence for Arrowhead to have a chance I would have thought that the consortium has to find some way to work with BAE to use their combat system. Then again maybe Gunbuster will wade in here to explain to us the issues (or perhaps non-issues) around multiple combat systems. It’s something I know nothing about.

        One thing that struck me as odd in the Leander clip was the BAE guy’s reference to 10-11 ton helicopters on the flight deck but on reflection that must have been a mistake on his part or him tailoring his comments for a more NH90-focussed audience. River B2 can already land a Merlin so surely Leander, which is to a large extent a stretched River B2 at heart, would not have a flight deck with lesser capabilities. The silos as presented in the renders are a bit of a worry though.

        • I don’t think Leander has this anywhere near in the bag.
          With Babcock spreading work across 4 locations (including Belfast) it will be much more appealing politically, the defense secretary did not Visit H&W for the first time in 20+ years because he wanted to go site seeing.
          Now that the Babcock consortium has offered a credible and in my opinion superior design it has a very strong chance.

          • Right. It has been a political done deal from the start. And when in the first round the Leander hull beat the US Cutter based hull of Arrowhead Babcock were given time to submit son of Arrowhead. T31 is less to do with the ship and more to do with the ship building industry.

        • The RN has run many combat systems at the same time on different ships.CAISS( T22) CACS( T22 B2), ADAWS ( T42), ADAWS 2000( LPD), DNA (T23) , CMS (T45)…
          Finally someone thought hang on…why not specify a single combat system for all future designs that is modular, uses COTs components and has easy upgrade paths… hence we have CMS specified for future use on complex warships.
          Using one system means operators, maintainers and spares support is simplified and you get cost savings over the mid to long time frame.
          Using a different combat system from Thales will mean a new system to be installed in Collingwood for the maintainers and operators and at Portsdown Hill for the tefal headed system engineers and integrator’s.
          You will also not be able to move from the T31 to T26 /T45 system without doing additional training so you will lose out on interoperability.
          However the Thales system is used on a lot more vessels than the BAe system so that will help with export potential for the ships.

          • Thanks. Is it possible to say whether the BAE or Thales system is better or is it too complicated with so many different aspects to consider with one system better in some areas and the other system better in other areas such that it’s not really possible to call a clear winner?

      • Standards reduce cost and improve reliability. I can’t imagine the RN agreeing to a fleet of 5 ships with an orphan CMS. As I see it BAe would have to be part of the Babcock consortium to do the systems integration. Not to mention Artisan which is also really the RN de facto standard large ship situations awareness radar.

        • Perhaps they’ll pretty much lift and shift all suitable technologies from teh GP T23s? 4.5″, Sea Ceptor, Harpoon, Sonar (do the GPs have a hull mounted Sonar?), radars, etc etc….

          Essentially use a new hull and cannibalise the older T23s. Instant(sort of) refresh of the fleet…

          • If the RN are happy with the seakeeping, stiffness and resilience of the hull and economy ( 4 big diesels! ) and there is an electric drive option for ASW export customers and it has Mk8 gun, BAe CMS, Artisan and Sea Ceptor and the Rolls Royce (Leander/ T26) mission bay and this can all be done for under £250m a pop then I would swallow my objections to it being a Danish hull. The core T31 RFI calls for FFBNW bow sonar. Nice to have though.

  28. With OMT in the consortium what do people think might be the commercial arrangements there? How might that affect export potential? Will the Babcocks consortium be licensing full rights to use and resell their derivative design(s?) for export purposes? Might rights on the original design plus any derivative works be being negotiated? Something else? What would the likely money flow be regarding OMT flows in both the RN case and if any export sales were made?

    I’m hoping Skeptical Richard is reading through this thread since he has so much experience of high-value commercial military contracts albeit in the aviation domain. I have experience in this sort of stuff as far as very high value software deals are concerned but that’s a bit different and I’m not sure if military contracts and technology cross-licensing deals tend to do things the same way.

  29. The CGI for both Leander and the 140 , look just what they are a sales pitch. The unanswered question is what is the weapon and sensor fit, build quality etc for the budget £250 million? Which one will deliver the better capability and capacity? These to me are the unanswered questions. Along with how does all this fit into a National Shipbuilding Strategy?
    Personally I would also like t see 5 to 7 SSKs built to supplement our SSNS, so that the hi cost low cost strategy applies to submarines as well. And the RN copy some of the RAFs successful reenlisting of ex personnel to ease the manpower crisis.

  30. If you want to break into a new market as Babcock does then you have to undercut the monopoly supplier and over-deliver on the specification. That it what Babcock and Thales and possibly Leonadro are doing. To break the BAE monopoly on Royal Navy supply is a big deal for these companies.You would expect them to price competitively. For the Royal Navy the weapons fit looks minimal and barely more than an OPV. However, depending on the gun it will match the GP T23, which is really all that has been asked for. Also when the T23 was first introduced the weapons fit was also very minimal. Tacitos is open architecture and new fits can be added under refit. Doesn’t seem to using Artisan? Remember these ships are due to be sold in the next 15 years under the NSS, So which will have the better resale value this or Leander?

  31. Babcock have obviously done the maths and feel the extra tonnage can be offset. I would kinda agree. You pay more for the steel and a small % more to process (cut and weld) it but if you have more space in the vessel is easier to work on, making fit out easier (quicker). Extra space may also allow for more off the shelf equipment non combat , ie galley, waste processing, laundry etc.

  32. Would be great to get at least a bank of Spear 3 included in the fit out. Ability to take out corvette craft (common in Asia pacific region) disable frigates or strike coastal sites)

  33. Interesting point is Babcock, OMT and BMT have taken a capable existing full blown
    frigate design and been able to remove cost to get what looks like a very good t31e design.

    Whilst BAe have upgraded an OPV, why have BAe not looked to down spec the t26. The cynic in me suspects BAe could have done this but it would have exposed them to too many questions about what we are getting for 750m more for a t26.

    • Expat – was going to say something else but your post touches on my thoughts- to me the T31 is something of a Red Herring,i can understand the concept of it and it could (should) provide opportunities for exports but is it really necessary ? To me the simplest solution would be to let BAE build the 8 ASW versions as planned,then as you say down spec the design for a GP Variant and let the other Shipyards work together to build the other 5.If they can do this quicker and cheaper per ship than BAE then surely questions then can be asked.

  34. The Danish “Thétis” class frigate (Thetis, Triton, Vaedderen, Hvidbornen), 3500 tons, commissioned 1991/1992, are due to be retired around 2022, and very likely to be replaced by 2/4 much bigger ships.

    The original Iver Huitfeldt hulls were built in sections overseas and assembled in Denmark.

    Might be an opportunity to export 2/4 ships to Denmark around 2022.

    Keeps the costs down and the Royal Danish Navy will have 5 to 7 Iver Huitfeldt class frigates in service so better commonality.

    The sections could either be built in the UK and transported over to Denmark for assembly or completely built in the UK.

    Just a thought.

    • The Thetis class is built for fishery patrolling in Arctic waters, though, with a very different and very strengthened hull design and less armaments. Not sure a Ivar Huitfeld hull would work for that mission.

  35. BAE are expensive but there are mitigating circumstances, namely:
    1) A lack of long term planning and strategy by government Which means companies can’t plan ahead.
    2) A slow and small order rate,, which leads to high unit costs
    3) The insistence on a slow build rate, which means a low annual cost, but over the period of a build more expensive
    4) R and D costs

    BEE being a monopoly doesn’t help, but successive governments have brought it about. In order to overcome this there has to be more orders.

  36. Having compared what we know about the designs I am behind the Babcock design. The extra size is key for me with all the upcoming off board systems we will need plenty of space. The space for 32 strike length cells is also key and looks more than the Leander and will be key to future export success.

    Batch one: make them as multi purpose as possible, no strike length cells, just some seaceptor and reuse 4.5” guns. Have as big as poss mission bay.
    Batch 2: asw focus, towed array, underwater drones in the mission bay. Small number of strike cells with anti sub missiles, torpedo tubes and a reasonable number of seaceptor.
    Batch 3: now in dream land but hey! Full 32 strike length cells and rounded compliment of missiles. 16 quad packed with seaceptor and the rest Lrasm and a long range asm. Ceafar radar and new 5” gun.

    5 of each type, GP for patrol, disaster relief and flag waving. ASW North Sea to support any spare T26 not on carrier duty: Aaw general fleet escort for amphibs and carriers in lower risk environments.

    Would that not offer us a well rounded fleet for all tasks? One a year for the next 15 years. That would take us to the 30 escorts we need with only 1500 sailors per watch.

    • I admire the ambition but at the moment we cannot afford the current equipment plan for 5 of these, let alone another 10. Batch 2 and 3 would likely be considerably more expensive too.

      Still, I hope it comes true!

      • If we could build a asw or aaw version for £350-400 million I think it would be highly popular and a great sales success. With our budget we should be able to afford this, we are talking £2 billion every 5 years. It looks like we will only get a T26 every 3 years or so. That means around £3.5 billion each 5 years to renew our primary surface vessels. Astute builds are coming to an end so after the next 3 are finished no costs there for a while, carriers built, only small low cost vessels to renew on top of that. So in say 6-8 years we could fully commit and gives us time to recruit sailors to man them. The navy should be our primary focus I believe.

  37. This is excellent news in my opinion. I am a massive fan of the Huitfeldt class it really is impressive.

    There is a mighty ships programme on the Peter Wilmoes that should be available on the internet and I recommend people take a good look at this

    Agree that 250m is a stretch but if we can pull this in at 400m I think it is a bargain.

    I do think however that they need to add some British design character and hopefully the Stan flex modules will keep cost down per unit as the can move missiles etc from ship to ship. Perhaps that is how they intend to do it

    Great news and an excellent ship in my opinion

  38. In a world where most major nations & most 2nd rate ones too fit their warships with every basic capability, it seems bonkers to carry on with FFBNW when past track record shows they may never get the kit needed & intended. MG, SAM, CIWS, AShM & some ASW are essential for any DDG or FFG.

    One day we’ll be caught out playing Russian roullete with our surface fleet assets & personnel. Will any hostile warship/sub/aircraft say, “I can’t attack that-It’s not equipped for what I’m going to fire at it!”-No! Give our people a fighting chance rather than gambling with their lives & our investment in costly platforms. Maybe Parliment should be FFBNW bars & resturants.

  39. In the midst of all the Arrowhead adulatory posts I will make a heretical comment.
    How does
    not choosing a UK warship hull design;
    not choosing a UK combat management system;
    not possibly even choosing a UK radar
    support UK hi tech industry but putting moribund Belfast shipyards on life support does?
    The national shipbuilding strategy is distorting common sense and national self interest.

    • When you lay it all out that’s a pretty good reality check there. Also a pretty depressing one – thanks for getting my Saturday off to a gloomy start Paul 🙂

      I’m still not understanding what the commercial and future exploitation rights might be for the consortium as far as the hull is concerned. If the commercial terms and conditions are such that the consortium gets full rights to create and resell derivative works and the deal includes all the necessary design data for that to be done then I’m less concerned about the hull, apart from my general concern about that bit of the technology itself regarding whether it will be built to high enough survivability standards, but for the CMS, radar and who knows what else it really is depressing from a UK industry perspective. I also suspect there might be issues with the hull because buying the sort of re-use rights that I mentioned above costs money and I struggle to see where that would come from on the basis of the overall tight budget for the T31 project.

      Ultimately this is a matter of money and risk and HMG has made life difficult for UK industry on both counts. We all know about the funding squeeze meaning that off-the-shelf solutions from wherever we can get them become pretty much essential for affordability reasons but also for risk reasons. HMG has also exacerbated the risk environment due to delays in getting programs underway that have resulted in new planned assets only coming into service at the last minute and hence the desire to avoid any unforeseen program delays. For example, had we got the T31 project to this stage 10 years ago it could have been a vehicle for developing a next generation mini son-of-Sampson radar (in the 997 Artisan area of the market but full AESA to compete with CEAFAR etc) which could then have been developed further to scale up into a full no compromise as-good-as-it-gets next generation full-blown Sampson for our next generation AAW assets.

      Sadly, we are where we are. It will be interesting to see whether MoD procurement and HMG take a similar view however. I can’t imagine that the soundbites in your summary above Paul have gone unnoticed by the BAE sales teams trying to push Leander and I’m sure this angle is being exploited by them.

      • Well Julian, one view would be that we are where we are. But you could also say we are where we chose to be, in a hole; and still digging.
        I cannot for the life of me imagine France, Germany, the US, Italy ‘ doing an Arrowhead’ when there is a very decent UK alternative. No disrespect to the Danes but you don’t strengthen your economy or the UK’s reputation in competition for exports by promoting foreign products.

  40. I agree with you. The “we are where we are” comment wasn’t meant to imply Arrowhead, it was meant to mourn the fact that we have got to a stage where one of the bidders felt the only option was to buy in overseas technology because there wasn’t enough de-risked UK technology available to them.

    I still suspect Leander will win this in one form or another. This is a £2bn deal and there will be some seriously good sales people working every angle of this deal and very much exploiting that betraying-UK-industry angle as well as working out what tweaks to the Leander offering might be possible to combat some of the negatives vs Arrowhead 140.

    Like others though, if an off-the-shelf big hull is viewed as the breakout opportunity to redefine the playing field and win the bid, I do find it interesting that BAE either haven’t been able to or haven’t wanted to take a variant of the T26 hull as the basis a big but, at least initially, presumably relatively sparsely equipped hull. I assume a lot of value-added cost in the basic T26 hull package is in the quiet propulsion and the acoustic isolation of noise-generating components. Maybe that is so extensive and in some cases has structural implications such that it is a quite big redesign job. If that is the case it wouldn’t really act as an effective counter to the Babcock consortium’s “the hull already exists” sales pitch which is maybe why BAE haven’t gone that route. Just looking at it from a sales perspective the consortium have a rock-solid message on hull risk, they aren’t even envisioning any shrinking or stretching, so actually a more proven hull than Leander.

    Let’s see what happens. At least one good thing about this is that the whole bid and selection process is on quite tight and well-defined timescales so we will know soon enough.

    I do think you’ve opened up a good area of discussion in this comment section. I hope others join in with their views on the betraying-UK-industry vs best-frigate-for-lowest-risk debate. (I’ve simplified and polarised that summary for effect, I know it’s more nuanced than that.)

    • Well, it is more nuanced. But in another way it is simple. The RFI para 6.1 says

      6.1 Capability Context
      The T31e will be a general purpose light frigate, providing an enduring and continuous
      worldwide maritime security presence in several forward operating areas, releasing other,
      more complex warships to their primary roles.
      The T31e will carry out various maritime interdiction tasks, such as counter drugs and
      counter piracy. It will also carry out defence engagement activities, such as port visits and
      official entertainment, demonstrations of military capability and participation in allied training
      The emphasis in on constabulary work and flag waving. Likely deployment roles would be the Caribbean, Somalia, Fleet ready escort, Nato task force membership, enduring Gulf presence, plus I would say sales promotions in places like Brazil, Chile, Malaysia, Brunei, Colombia. A 6000 ton hulls with 4 engines is surely more than required and more expensive to run than a stretched Khareef.
      The UK has world leading industries in combat systems, radar and naval architecture and the RN T31 needs to showcase these. Which is not to say modular build should not be a norm nor that alternate systems fits for export should be usual. But charity starts at home.

  41. Are the Absalons and children thereof built to commercial or Naval standards?

    B2 Rivers incurred costs on making sure they were at Naval Standards…. that adds costs.

  42. I am all for British companies and British design and actually a T23 hull is good enough for this particular asset and should be re-used, as I suspect the MOD own the rights to it. It should have been given to the companies as the basis upon which to build a modern T23.

    Having said that I have now got to the point where there is so much mismanagement in all of this that I just want really good equipment in the hands of our service people and it looks as if BAES really doesn’t care about its home market (maybe wrong, but that’s what it looks like)

    The graphic is interesting as they have removed two ESM silos for the additional 2 Bays on the side and also have put what looks like 24 sea captor in the centre instead of a 32 cell Mk41 silo which would be a game changer for this asset.

    This is a great ship by any standard, it has passed FOST, taken part in BMD trials and may even be BMD certified and just because part of the design is non British doesn’t mean the product as a whole is not British. As for the other items unfortunately I suspect that they have had to go down foreign suppliers route as BAE has the home market sewn up and will not price competitively until they are forced to. As for survivalbility, it is far better than what we thought we would get, so ticks all the right boxes for me.

    So I do think this is a good decision, but would have preferred some common sense and for the MOD to have the T31 based upon the T23 hull form and let the designers work within a known envelope. This may have helped spartan systems and BMT come up with siomething truly original, but another missed opportunity, or something to do on Batch2.

    The Arrowhead though is a combat ship that can be dramatically upgunned if needed, so all good as far as I am concerned

  43. We now have an interesting situation where the best hull for the RN is Arrowhead and the best Combat System is Leander. For export its the other way round.
    Arrowhead hull: meets Naval shipbuilding strategy of block build in several yards and built by anyone but BAE.
    Leander Combat System: variant of T26 system minimises training and support costs, WE and Ops people can move easily between ships.
    Leander hull: based on ships with proven export record, BAE marketing support.
    Arrowhead Combat System: latest variant of widely used export system, including use on Khareef.

    • Indeed. Interesting is one way to describe the situation. There are other less complementary adjectives. Time for the RN and MOD to show their cards re preference for the radar, cms and gun.

  44. Marcus, I think the best hull for this class of ship is actually the T23.

    It is proven
    It was cutting edge and for the intended purpose – almost certainly good enough.
    It is the right size.
    It is British owned (probably MOD owned)
    So inexpensive

    Given the cost constraints, the MOD should have stipulated that this hull form was re-used and that the design and loadings were done from this.

    Having said all of the above – I think we are well past that now, and I am very satisfied if we end up with a Huitfeldt class ship, they really are good ships that have been well thought out.

    • There is no flex or margin left in the T23 design.
      Compare how a T23 looked when built to what it looks like now. It used to have fairly clean low radar cross section …not any more.
      The upper deck has bolt on systems all over it. As for the below decks there is no space left. The crew Accom is poor and its a complete nightmare if you have to change the Fwd DG sets out. Top weight is an issue with the new fits on the upper deck.
      The current hulls are not in a good condition. Lots of inserts and new steel required all over the place to keep them going post update. They where not supposed to have a 30+ year service life and these defects indicate why.

    • The T23 was originally designed for an 18 year life, most of it to be spent stooging around the Atlantic pulling a towed array. The basic hull design has proven to be very good, although it has needed strengthening. It is very quiet for ASW. But its now an old design. As Gunbuster says the accommodation is nowhere near T45 standards. It would need a complete new main machinery design, it isn’t big enough for a Mk41 VLS or a mssion bay. It was a stealthy design in its day but the Huitfeldt and Leander look better (although only model measurements can really tell.)

      • Sorry Gents, I don’t think I have explained myself well enough here.

        I am not proposing re-using the T23 – I am simply saying that the size and design of the hull is good enough for what is required of T31 and that the rest could be re-designed based upon the known values of the hull, thereby reducing cost substantially. We don’t need a cutting edge hull design for T31 – we need a proven design which the T23 is.

        Given that the crew size of a T31 is circa 100 or less surely we could have made this work.

        So what I am saying is we use the T23 hull design as the basis to build the new T31 class, thereby saving money as everyone keeps telling me the hull form is the most expensive part of a new class. New engine room layouts a massive flex area etc could all be designed around a much lower crew size.

        The layout and top design would need careful consideration, but I think if done properly we could probably have a lighter frigate than the T23 with more utility.

        I am also a massive fan of the Arrowhead, btw but see the above to producing a cost effective British product. We need to cycle our intellectual property through the range of ships we build, instead of starting from scratch each time and costing a fortune.

        • Pacman

          Maybe the best idea is to build a new hull (Leander or Arrowhead 140) and then cannibalise the existing T23 GP variants:

          4.5″, Sea Ceptor, Harpoon, Sonar (do the GPs have a hull mounted Sonar?), artisan radars, etc etc….

          Essentially use a new hull and cannibalise the older T23s. Instant(sort of) refresh of the fleet…

          (yes, i know I’m repeating myself!)

  45. So we have a competition between 2 philosophies. In the blue corner we have BAe, expert engineers and naval architects ( complex warships are designed and bult in the UK) but mediocre builders and project cost managers. And in the red corner we have Babcock, expert project managers and cost control merchants who assemble ships and project manage teams for design and architecture skills. Would Arrowhead with the Iver Huitfeld hull, Thales cms and Terma Scanter radar be really kind of saying that frigates are now a commodity rather than a circus act. Are we ready for IKEA frigates? Are BMT or OMT the chief designer for Arrowhead? Were Babcock the inspirational leaders of the successful Aircraft Carrier Alliance?

    • Indeed, a good summary Paul. On your question about who are the chief designers look at the quote I pulled up from Babcock that I posted in the comments section of the other article running here about Arrowhead (copied below for convenience)…

      … an interesting quote in the Jane’s Defence article on this (…

      ““We see opting for the Arrowhead 140 as a proven design gives us the advantage of not having any design costs to put back into the process; we don’t have to go through first-of-class trials and we don’t have to prove the hull again. So we can replicate that recycled cash back into more capability for our customers,” Craig Lockhart, Babcock’s managing director, naval marine, told Jane’s.”

      … I read that as saying that there is so little new UK design going into it that it is basically an Iver Huitfeldt and doesn’t need any significant design budget or first of class testing, it’s essentially a run-on from what the Danes built with some different systems integrated.

      On the basis of my reading of the quote that I explained above it strongly suggests to me that OMT are (or rather we should perhaps say “were”) the chief designer for Arrowhead. All the Consortium is doing is some very modest superstructure changes (e.g. bigger wings on the bridge) and system integration.

      I’m still anxious to know where in the commercial to military build standard spectrum the hull lies though (I know – I’m beginning to sound like a broken record). From the Babcock guy’s quote it sounds as if Arrowhead is not going to get any significant hull changes so presumably the RN would get whatever standard the Danish ships were built to.

      • Good morning Julian. The only folks who can make this decision is the lead customer, the RN. The Babcock video talks about a wide ship hull being easier and cheaper to build and maintain. And I accept that. But if we went Arrowhead would that not (ironically given all the comment re Leander being a jumped up opv or corvette) give us basically 5 large civilian standard OPVs? T31 is not meant to be a larger version of the Irish navy opvs. A narrow hull is indeed harder to make and maintain but a warship needs speed, manoeuvrability and strength and it requires a higher level of naval architecture and design skill to mount top weight sensors and weapons. These skills cost and construction costs are higher too. Look at the job BAe did modifying the RAN Anzac ships to carry the additional top weight of the CEFAR Aussie radar. A [email protected]@dy miracle of naval architecture. Of course you can make a great looking cgi ship for £250m. For me Leander would be a pugnacious fit for purpose medium sized GP warship. But it would be good if they could squeeze a Merlin into the hangar. Folding blades perhaps.

  46. Julian, Paul.P

    Can I remind you that many of the conversations over the past 2 years on T31 have been around how it will be a poor effigy of a true warship, with poor survivability.

    The one thing I am pretty confident in saying is the Huitfeldt is a top class warship and an equal to many that cost far more.

    It has successfully passed FOST.
    It has underwent a shock test.
    It has the ability to have 32 Mk41 strike VLS (perhaps even 64)
    It is built using commercial standards but these are enhanced where necessary. Please remember our own T45 is built to commercial standards (Lloyds registry).
    It has high levels of armour where it needs to and cutting edge design picked up from Maersk.

    If we look back at some of our comments from 18-24 months ago on the subject I think we would all be delighted with the outcome if Arrowhead is selected. I certainly will be.

    This is far in excess of what we thought we would get and in my opinion far in excess of the BAES proposal which is lazy in many respects.

    If we can make this work, and there is nothing to suggest Babcock can’t make this work, given the disparity in the price of the Irish and UK OPV’s. Then I am all for a massive fleet of these, even at the cost of T26 (there, I have said it)

    • “Can I remind you that many of the conversations over the past 2 years on T31 have been around how it will be a poor effigy of a true warship, with poor survivability.”

      Indeed you can. I am delighted to see discussions around hull survivability and you make some very specific arguments, e.g. past practice such as T45.

      I am only asking questions by the way and hoping that this sort of detailed discussion/debate might arise. I have no expertise in these areas but Paul.P maying statements such as the RAN Anzac modifications being “A [email protected]@dy miracle of naval architecture” makes me think that he might have (personally, I wouldn’t know a “[email protected]@dy miracle of naval architecture” if it hit me in the face) so I will leave it to him to, if he feels it appropriate, engage with any of the specific issues you raise.

      If Iver Huitfeldt is a great and survivable ship (and as mentioned above I leave others to debate that as) then yes, there seems little denying that if the Consortium can deliver it on budget it gives us a lot more carrying capacity than I was expecting. How much of that capacity is utilised initially depends on weapons fit and we are all guessing in the dark on that but I fully accept that knowing it could potentially get to a very credible fit is a huge plus.

      My remaining nagging concern would be the lack of UK technology in it. Even the radar for instance. The UK is so strong in radar that I think it would be a huge blow to not be advancing UK radar development with T31e. Let’s throw CEAFAR into this bit of the discussion by the way. The UK has promised to evaluate CEAFAR for the RN, perhaps as a sweetener to get the RAN frigate order. If T31 goes Terma Scanter then where would CEAFAR ever fit in? (Admittedly CEAFAR adoption would also feed my concerns about support for UK radar technology going forward but I wonder whether the CEAFAR discussions might evolve into using CEAFAR front end (the fixed panel arrays) with evolutions of BAEs Artisan & Sampson back end (compute architecture and analysis algorithms).

      Maybe lack of UK technology development is the price we have to pay if we want to get such impressive ships but I think it is worth remembering there is a price to pay, a big one with Arrowhead as currently proposed. I wonder whether there might be some evolution over the next few months where at least the radar and CMS might be of UK origin. Is that practical/possible?

      I’m not dismissing Arrowhead 140 or questioning any of your claims Pacman27, neither am I siding with Paul.P – I lack the knowledge and expertise to do either of those things. I am simply passionately interested in the T31 project so am acting as an agent provocateur to keep debate going so that people who do actually know about this stuff can air the issues in more detail, as you yourself just did re your comments on T45, armour, etc.

    • Hi Pacman,
      Well as I wrote in one of my other posts I hold my hand up and admit this proposal has pressed my ‘sovereign design skills’ buttons. Certainly it is impossible to ignore the possibility of having ships at 140m 6000 ton for the same price as a 120m 4000 ton ships, assuming running costs and combat suitability are the same. Re your point on having more Arrowheads in place of T26 I would actually see Arrowhead as a potential T45 replacement. It is after all an AWD hull. And in this context I suspect Babcock is playing a long competitive game. If they get this order then they will have displaced BAe as national shipbuilder for fhe T45 successor warship.
      Also as John Cruikshank points out in his post the Danes are looking for something like Arrowhead in the near future.
      But I cannot see it is the national or the RN’s interest for the RN version to have an NS100 radar rather than Artisan and Thales CMS rather than BAe CMS. You don’t make Brexit a sucess by promoting the competitions products. Hopefully it is just a case of my overreacting to this notion rather than it having any chance lf happening.

  47. Julian

    always a pleasure to have your input on these things and I am not having a go… it would be nice to have had an all British design and I personally think the hull form of the T23 should have been the base platform (built new of course) and that would have saved money and for a T31 is good enough, given it is still a Avery good ASW platform. My personal preference would have been for spartan systems to have done something with it as I think their design was very “british” and also had a lot of positives, it also takes the heat out of the hull maturity argument.

    My key point is that we were all concerned about where this was heading, even recently and I think the Huitfeldt is a super ship that definitely fits the criteria and surpasses it.

    I think the lack of UK radars etc, is probably as a direct result of commercial agreements with BAE (and their not wanting to provide a competitive quote to a competitor)

    It is now up to the MOD to pressure the winner to have the right systems etc. but ultimately this may cost more. Certainly an artisan radar at £6-10m isn’t going to break the bank, but its £50m over the 5 ships and as you know, compromise has to occur on both sides of these big deals.

  48. Surely the simple option is to transfer Artisan and Sea Ceptor from the T23s.

    Ruins the resale value though!

  49. Using the StanFlex approach to these frigates seems to be the best for increasing chances of export. With new and up and coming technologies such as hypersonics, harpoon replacement, laser defence (Dragonfire), rail guns, etc.

    Though the Iver Hudfelt class withdrew from the Canadian Single Surface Combatant programme the images of the concept (AAW/ASW platform) shows the versatility & adaptability of the design.

    Using Stanflex additional armament can be added on the upper “gun” deck (below the bridge/above main gun) it can be fitted with either MK41 VLS, Bofors 57mm or a phalanx/dragon fire. This would be a key selling point IMO.

  50. I like BMT and they held the flame with Venator, but they seem sidelined now. The hull is being touted as de-risked precisely because it is an OMT standard Ivor Huitfeldt with likely only minimal changes to the superstructure. What are they actually adding to the bid, or have they been suckered in by Babcock to avoid a competitor offering?


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