Team 31 is meeting with supply chain companies to share the potential opportunities the £1.25 billion Type 31e general purpose light frigate programme

Following on from the first conference in Rosyth, which saw the official unveiling of the proposed Arrowhead 140 design and a tour of Babcock’s Rosyth facility for delegates, opportunities are being explored by suppliers throughout the UK to work on the programme.

The Bristol Suppliers’ Conference, hosted by the Society of Maritime Industries, will provide a platform for SMEs and the wider supply chain to network with Team 31 representatives and to find out more about how their specific expertise could be utilised across the programme.

Committed to developing a genuine UK wide supply chain, if selected, Babcock Team 31’s proposal say the company ‘will deliver UK prosperity as shipbuilding, procurement and support service priorities are reinvigorated through this high-profile contract’.

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

“The Babcock Team 31 Suppliers’ Conference series is an important step in the development of our bid as we grow our already extensive supply chain and reach out to Tier 1 and Tier 2 suppliers. 

Arrowhead 140 develops a proven design that will meet the requirements of modern, global navies and it’s a product the supply chain is already showing enthusiasm to support and deliver for UK and international customers. We are looking forward to welcoming a wide range of companies to the event which has again attracted a high level of interest due to our distributed build and support approach.”

According to a release:

“Backed by British engineering heritage, Babcock Team 31’s programme outlines a proven, capable and adaptable solution – which will meet the requirements of the National Shipbuilding Strategy (NSbS) – and offers full adaptability and customisation for domestic and international customers. And optimising established distributed build methods, the team will utilise its individual and combined expertise to deliver a programme ensured to meet the needs of any modern navy.”

Babcock Team 31 is led by Babcock and includes Thales, OMT, BMT, Ferguson Marine and Harland and Wolff.


  1. The more I hear and see of this babcock proposal the more convinced I am that this T31e should be selected as winner.

    • Yes, but when do we get to know who the winner is? I’d like to see this particular project get some urgent attention and budget, to see them in service as soon as possible.

      • Yes I think so. It would make more sense to build an additional T26, In our ‘fitted for, but not with’ defence culture I can’t see either of these proposals being nothing more than very expensive, large OPVs at the end of the day. A pair of Absalons would make more sense, perhaps even RFA manned would make more sense.

  2. Seriously. Everyone pray to whichever deity you call god or if you don’t have one cross everything you’ve got that these guys win the competition. If BAE wins it we’re flipped.

      • The standard Iver -Huitfeldt frigate has a RAS Station onboard., so I see no reason why it would be omitted from the T31 variant

      • The standard Iver -Huitfeldt frigate has a RAS Station onboard., so I see no reason why it would be omitted from the T31 variant

      • No RAS station that you can see…..because its probably “indoors” like on the parent design. You can see what it looks like in this video, from about 0:20 onward :
        While this shows RAS oprerations on an Absalon Class , the Huitfeldt is similar and so is presumably the Arrowhead.

      • No RAS station that you can see….because its probably “indoors” like on the parent design.

        Copy paste “DEN FLYDENDE TANKSTATION” into youtube* to see RAS operation conducted on an Absalon class ship….the Huitfeldt is similar and presumably so is Arrowhead.

        *For some reason UKDJ keeps eating my Youtube links.

      • No RAS station that you can see….because its probably “indoors” like on the parent design.

        Copy paste “DEN FLYDENDE TANKSTATION” into youtube* to see RAS operation conducted on an Absalon class ship….the Huitfeldt is similar and presumably so is Arrowhead.

        *For some reason UKDJ keeps eating my Youtube links.

    • Babcock has said that it is capable of generating a lot more electricity than it needs for things like laser weapons, so they definitely will have provided space for this. Hell, it’s 140m long, it’d better have room.

  3. I believe the objective here is to deliver the T31E within the cost cost constraints laid down by the MOD.

    That means the weapon, sensor and IT systems fit will be extremely limited. Its just about getting 5 hulls in the water regardless of their combat capability.

    Hopefully in the future as more money becomes available then they will be upgraded.

    • This and also to show that Arrowhead 140 is designed to be competitive for export which is also a key component of this competition. I suspect that the Babcock team expect that the BAe CMS and Artisan radar will almost certainly be required in the final build and Thales is capable of integrating that. However, what they show in the video is the popular-in-export markets Tacticos CMS along with Thales NS100 3D radar.

      In addition any info on weapons fit and additional sensors is likely to be closely held information due to its competitive impact in the bid process. For example just to get a sense of potential costs and why what’s included is not trivial. The Mk45 5″ gun that seems so popular with folks in the comments section looks like it costs ~$60M per based on the Type 26 contract for 3 guns + 1 training system for $245M, i.e. a mere 18% additional cost if added to the Type 31e.–245-million-contract-for-uk-type-26-gun-system.

  4. The more I see Arrowhead 140 the more I see the winner. I’d love to hear more on the adaption options that are and maybe available. I wonder what they have in the pipeline to increase export potential like:

    * Will there be a Absalon variant (LSD/frigate hybrid) of the Arrowhead announced?
    * Will the ships use Stanflex modules?
    * Will the ships have MK41/57 VLS options (combined with sea captor)?
    * Will the “Bridge Wing Adaption” allow for 3×8 VLS (or other weaponry) similar to the proposed/cancelled Canadian variant?
    * What acoustic measures are being used to make this ship a credible ASW platform?

    • Not for the RN
      Yes, at the expense of mission bay space
      No, bridge adaption is for RN standards of command & control.
      Probably none beyond original design

      • for future batch perhaps, the first batch of 5 will just keep numbers to current standards!
        heres me dreaming anyway

  5. I suppose it dangerous to take the the graphic as a formal design but a couple of observations. Firstly no Artisan. Wikipedia says Artisan is currently fitted to 11 out 13 T23, I have not fact checked so it could be wrong. However, it should be reasonably safe to assume Artisan will be transferred to T31 and this would help keep the ultimate purchase price down. Also the gun in the graphic seems to be the OM 76mm which Babcock is the UK distributor for. This weapon has received some criticism over a tendency to jam and as such the US Coastguard chose the Bofors 57mm instead. Given the “policing” role of these ships the sensible, cost effective, way forward would be to retrofit the 4.5 inch gun, again from the T23. T23s don’t have Phalanx, no room? But there should be plenty lying around to fit for say Middle East deployments.

    As an aside RRS Attenborough is due to launch tomorrow. 10,000 tonnes it’s a big beast, shorter but far heavier than a T31.

    • The Mk8 4.5″ gun is being phased out of service in favour of NATO standard 5″ guns like the BAE Mk45 on the T26. The previous Arrowhead 120 included options up to a 5″ gun, so it’s reasonable to assume the A140 can also host it.

      I wouldn’t count on Artisan being a straight transplant, given that the T26s are receiving them from the T23s as well. Availability will mean ordering at least a few new radars. The big issue with Arrowhead is the lack of RN standard equipment, which is almost all BAE produced (Artisan, CMS-1, Mk45 gun).

      Arrowhead is clearly the better design, there’s no doubt there, but the only way I can see it winning is if a deal is struck where Team 31 build the ships and BAE provide most of the equipment fit. That would be the best of both worlds, but I’ve got my doubts over such a complex arrangement being made

      • As I commented previously Thales would probably integrate the BAe equipment such as CMS and Artisan in the same way that BAe installed Thales Tacticos and Thales radar equipment in Khareef corvettes, presumably per Oman/the customers requirements.

        I’d be surprised if A140 wouldn’t at least be designed to fit Mk45, that’s how the Danes did theirs where the Abasalon has the 5″ but the frigates have the 76mm.

    • The A140 brochure says medium calibre gun up to 5″, but the baseline Team 31 proposal has essentially zero BAE content, hence the Oto 76 rather than the Mk45 or the BAE (ex-Bofors) 57mm. The Mk8 4.5″ isn’t suitable; it an old design that has a larger personnel requirement than the newer guns. The ammunition is moved manually from the magazine to the gunbay and the feed ring is then reloaded by hand.
      The radar proposed is the Thales NS100 rather than the BAE Artisan.
      With TACTICOS proposed as the Combat Management System the RN are going to have ‘interesting’ support and training issues for the Combat System if this version of the Arrowhead 140 is the chosen solution for Type 31e. Babcock could change to a Type 26 lite Combat System once the A140 is chosen but their contractual arrangements with Thales as Combat System Integrator will probably prevent this.

      • I’d be very surprised if any company would have anything contractual that could prevent a BAE CMS and Artisan fit. I also doubt MoD would want this either as it would essentially force all procurement to BAe just because they are the CMS and radar of choice. BAe has fitted Thales Tacticos and radar in past so I’m sure Thales can do the reverse.

    • Absolutely agree with Wads the most sensible and cost effective way forward is to stick with the Mk8 4.5 inch Mod 1. Whilst it had its teething problems with Mod 0, most notably in the Falklands when Arrow had a stopage during a crucial moment during the battle for Good Green, with the Mod 1 enhancements which include a much higher degree of automation it is now considered highly reliable and popular within the RN. Indeed during the Libyan conflict Liverpool in particular fired off many rounds in the NGS role, and she still had the Mod 0. Whilst I agree in the interest of NATO commonality in an ideal world we should fit the Mk 45 5 inch, this can always be an aspiration later as with the Danes and the IVH. The Mk8 will still be around and supported in RN service for many years to come , at least until the last of the T23 goes out of service (in 2035 ?) and probably later as I don’t see the Mk 45 5 inch ever getting fitted to the T45. Other advantage of course being that we have several in store that came off the stretched 42’s and Batch 3 22’s so won’t have to wait for decommissioned T23’s and integration of the Mod 1 was done by Babcock too. The Mk8 4.5 is now an effective and reliable gun and IMHO given the cost constraints, a no brainer form the T31.

  6. Has anyone realised that we have the biggest defence budget in Europe, but a smaller aArmed forces, because BAE are ripping the MOD off, supporting local business at higher prices. Buy off the self and make it cheaper more equipment for your money

  7. It’s all smoke and mirrors. We have plenty of equipment available if we choose to use it. We ordered another 3 sets of TAS 2087 and Artisan to ensure the transition between ships was smooth so actually posses 16 Artisan radars and 11 TAS 2087. There are also 5 hull mounted sonar 2050 sets which can be recovered from the GP Type 23s as well as 5 sets of decoys, mini guns, ESM gear, DS30mm cannons and Sea Ceptor SAMs. Nothing new or fancy that requires complex integration, just already used systems which should be supplied as Government Furnished Equipment at no extra cost. The budget should be enough as in essence all we should be asking for is hull with diesel engines, a 5 inch gun and an 8 cell MK41 vls then fitting and integration of the GFE.
    Can’t help feeling this is maybe still about trying to punish BAE. It should be a no brainier for BAE/CL to get the contract as the Type 31 simply has to have the same CMS as the rest of the fleet and most of the systems to be fitted including the government supplied ones are BAE built and they have huge experience integrating them all already (even the non BAE stuff) like MK41 vls. This anyone but BAE crap has to stop, its killing our procurement. Warrior CSP is a disaster and might now get cancelled, Challenger LEP went to Rienmetall who are now saying it may need a new turret (like BAE said years ago), Ajax went to a company without a UK factory just so it wasn’t BAE, and that is also armed with the same faulty 40mm cannon that’s screwing up Warrior CSP because we didn’t want to order the BAE parts of the system. Meanwhile the fully working version with BAE parts is in service with the Frogs.
    Build the Leander at CL get BAE to integrate the equipment (mostly their own and supplied free) and give the Babcock consortium the contract for FSS. All the work stays in the UK and we get a properly armed and equipped frigate with the possibility of maybe even squeezing a 6th hull out of the meagre budget.

    • Sorry David, BAE have led the high life for too long as a monopoly on UK warship building. It wasn’t healthy, and led to too many political shenanigans. With another player in the game, it will ensure BAE up their game both in cost and quality. I still haven’t seen how they can justify their massive u turn about not even bidding for the T31 as it wasn’t given a big enough budget and was
      Note, I was a big defender of their quality until the problems with the type 2 rivers, which have greatly discredited them.
      Secondly, if politicians try to ‘do a Brown’, the other competitor company will take them to the cleaners.
      I cannot see a downside for the country although shareholders may take a small haircut.

      • No it will just mean another yard will have no orders for several years after Type 31 and is also setting the glacial pace of the Type 26 programme as we need to occupy the Clyde yards until Type 45 replacment. Also the plan is for CL to build and BAE to integrate, since the CMS and most equipment is theirs it would seem to make sense. Certainly more sense than giving the job to an untested consortium who will need to spread the build and do assembley at Rosyth. Do you really think you can get 5 larger ships built at 4 locations cheaper than 5 smaller ships built at 1 location?

    • Agree. To come in within the budget Arrowhead will be no better armed than Leander and I don’t believe we will ever fit the 5in gun and Mk41 VLS. What the RN has asked for is a light GP frigate which is cheaper to man and operate than Type 23 and with growth potential for an ASh missile and a bow sonar, not a potential strategic replacement for Type 26 or Type 45.
      If Babcock get this order it would mean pork barrel politics has triumphed over common sense. BAE are competent warship designers and CL are competent shipbuilders. These are their core strengths. Babcoxk should stick to their core strengths of facilities managment and servicing and repair.

  8. Seriously we cannot give this order to BAE
    Type 26 frigate for £1.23 billion each. Really?
    Let’s get the Arrowhead design and hull but with UK combat management system, drag as much equipment over from type 23s and then the cost works.
    A 5 inch main gun, a large hull with a suitably large wide margin for future upgrades as and when money is available.
    This is about getting a reasonably armed frigate into the water quickly that will suffice for now but can be ungunned later with anti ship missiles, CIWS, dragon fire etc.

    • They are not £1.23 billion per ship, that was for first batch of three plus lots of other stuff like spares and ammunition for the 5 inch guns as well as a full system for training on land. Why is anyone suprised that it costs about a billion pounds to build an incredibly sophisticated world leading ASW ship of cruiser proportions with excellent range and a full spectrum of weapons and appropriate sensors. Or a cruiser sized destroyer with stellar AAW capabilities (remember the propulsion issues are not BAEs fault).

  9. I just wish the MOD would get on with building them & prferably enough to bring the escort fleet back up to 25. Maybe in the future growing to 35 escorts.

  10. I’ll bet for another 50 million, they could build 6 T31s. If there were some export orders, maybe another 2 for a total of 8.

  11. Everyone that just casually adds a 5″ gun to the Type 31e should recognise that you are adding a cost of $60M+, less the cost of whatever other gun might have been fitted and budgeted for in its place. It is not a trivial expense especially at the target price points for the complete ship.

    The $60M+ price is based on the Type 26 contract for 3 guns + 1 training system for $245M. We’re two years later so who knows what its at now.–245-million-contract-for-uk-type-26-gun-system.

    Also for its primary role of NGS it seems you’re either going to be within 20nm of the shore and so well within shore based ASuW range or using expensive Extended Range ammunition which may still leave you well within ASuW missile range. So it seems to me that its worth reflecting on what scenarios today and in the future continue to make sense for the 5″ gun given its costs versus expenditure on other weapon systems.

    • Understand the BAE Inc Mk 45 5″ gun costs approx. $20M each, what makes the Type 26 version so very expensive is that MOD/RN have ordered the first with an automated magazine, presumably design based on the AGS 155 mm magazine as installed on the Zumwalt.

      • Well I guess if its not automated then it means more manual labour so presumably headcount would have to increase to support that capability if not automated? Possibly also other factors impacting effectiveness and efficiency of the gun system? I can’t see paying 2x-3x for something without some significant real world benefits.

  12. It seems like the experience of buying a BMW: to get what you really want/need costs twice the quoted price 🙂

  13. I must admit to having mixed views on this: It is fairly obvious that the MOD struggle with contract negotiations, leading to BAE and others running rings around them at times. The lack of any long term strategy for any of our public services is always going to lead to , episodic and expensive procurement projects.
    While I don’t think the T26 is unreasonably expensive, I do hope it is fully armed and not fitted for but not with. This includes ship based weapons to deal with a wide range if sub surface, surface and Air threats both manned and unmanned. It would be ideal to have 11 T26s.
    On the T31 it’s a great concept a modern day Tribal class Frigate and like the Tribals armed with csnabalused systems. The Arrowhead has much to offer, especially it’s Merlin capability.the challenge is I think the RN is 25 Merlin HM2 shirt and need more. Also the Arrowhead has space for expansion if weapon and sensor fit and that flexibility is a good thing to have. I also think that the SSS order should be UK based and the losing T31 consortium get to build it.

  14. I see no big difference between Arrowhead 140 and Leander. Current budget for T31e is exactly that for a heavy corvette, so hoping more is just a fantasy. No matter they look like, they are actually just a so-so large ship armed as a typical heavy corvette.

    Arrowhead is an imported design (non British), has only a little “British” equipments onboard, very lightly armed as the size and has large future growth margins (= ship is vacant), larger helo hangar, higher speed, with larger operational cost (simply because it is large). The worst thing is, it “looks like” a proper-frigate, but it is surely not.

    Leander is of British design, has so-so “British” origin equipments, has smaller hull, still lightly armed as the size with small but non-negligible growth margins, with smaller operational cost (smaller hull). Looks like an enlarged heavy corvette, which is exactly what it is.

    Future growth margin to make T31e a “proper frigate” is just a dream, I think. MOD needs more money to “fill” the T26’s VLS and mission bays, add ABM capability to T45, add British weaponary to F35B, add several more P8As to make the fleet more efficient.

    • You are aware that the armament is effectively irrelevant in terms of classifying modern warships? Corvettes are short legged coastal water vessels, a frigate is generally bigger, with the endurance to operate abroad or as part of a task group.

      The Type 31 clearly falls into the second category. Good endurance and range, with a level of armament appropriate for its tasking. The budget is enough for a frigate, although it’ll be tight. Your assumption of higher operational costs based purely on size doesn’t take into account that 1) Arrowhead actually has a smaller crew requirement of 100 vs Leander’s 120, and with the space for up to 160, so lower crew costs with the added benefit of better conditions for sailors, and 2) the bigger hull actually lowers costs across the board, as it makes design, construction, and maintenance easier.

      • I see your way of thinking differs to me.

        French FTI is 3.3B GBP for 5 hull. T31e program is 38% of this cost for the same number of hull. Romanian navy is spending 1.4B GBP to get 4 Damen Sigam 10514 light-frigate (or heavy corvettes), which is 10-15% more than T31e’s 1.25B GBP for 5 hulls.

        I understand “ship building cost” is not easy to compare, but we also know T31e’s “average” cost 250M GBP is a quarter of T26’s average cost. In place, FTI’s average cost is 60-70% of that of FREMM.

        Both of these 2 point of view say, T31e is only spending a cost for heavy corvette. Yes, it has large hull and long endurance, which is not for free. This means, the fighting power of T31e will be naturally quite limited: CIWS or CAMM (may be not all hull?), no ASW, a 57/76 mm gun and some 30mm. Not bad as a presence/flag waving, but it is much less than FTI and very similar in class to French Floreal class. (Note, I like Floreal-class).

        On the equipment density and its integration cost, you are right. But, I think even Leander is very lightly armed (typical armament for 1800t corvette on a 3700t hull), so the difference will not be so large.

    • The reason Arrowhead looks like a Frigate is because it is a Frigate and is based on a very successful in service Frigate too, and that is precisely what the RN wants. If the UK MoD had wanted a Corvette they would have called it precisely that, the T31 Corvette.You are correct however that that is all that Leander has to offer it is nothing more than a stretched Corvette with little or no margin for future growth , however you try to cut it up it has no space for a Merlin, our primary ASW tool , carries an insignificant number of CAMM , and from what you can tell from the graphics no room forward to mount a 4.5 or 5 inch gun. The RN want a Frigate – not a Corvette.

    • Having worked in ship repair on ships that have been built in China there is a reason why they can knock them out quickly and cheaply.
      Water tight bulkheads that are welded for only 60% of their length to the deck was one classic find…equipment such as electric motors that last 6 months before burning (literally) out…mechanical bearings and seals that where all cocky copies of the original manufacturer and lasted less than a year…

      • But no glued on bolt heads 🙂

        It is frustrating though building ships at a snails pace to save money in a single fiscal year even though it costs the treasury far more in the long term. The chancellor really is a moron if he thinks that makes sense, we could have had Astute subs for a small amount more if we had not have reduced the lead times to as far as they could stretch, only in the government do you see such incompetence.

  15. Nothing is being said about the CEFAR tie in with the Aussies. The Artisan is old hat by comparison, surprised it’s being used on T26, as there are better systems out there.

  16. I was looking more into OMT capabilities, this service struck me as a possibility as to why team 31 feel they can give more for 250m

    Not sure they are providing this to Team 31 but if they drive 10 to 15% efficiencies our of the build then that easily pays for the extra tonnage.

    I also think that team 31 with the larger design will be able to take more off the shelf non combat equipment or look at more alternate suppliers as they are less restricted by the parts geometry.

    We also have to remember what this program is all about. Recently an F22 was used to take out a Drug Lab in Afghanistan. A ridiculous use of a high end asset. The Type 31 is there to pick up the low end missions and take the stress and cost off the high end assets like the T45 and T26. They can also play another role as we develop unmanned systems, they can act test bed and as a mother ship.

  17. Ref 4.5 Mk 8 gun, the link that i intended to post was here;

    Hard hitting, reliable and combat proven it will in any case remain in RN service and be supported until at least 2035 – IMHO most definitely the best way forward for the Arrowhead team. Get the ships in the water within £250m, and then who knows if funds come available and there is a need fit the Mk 45 5 inch at the mid life point when we do the same to the T45?

  18. I’ve looked at all the comments and it seems that either we do not believe that the Type 31 will be built or we are going to have an unarmed Arrowhead or a stretched Corvette.
    Well I hope that it will be the Arrowhead due to the reasoning of the available space to upgrade as money becomes available.
    Then again, we are building the type 26 and although many people suggest that this vessel will use a lot of parts from the Type 23s I do not see that happening. First the main gun, that is not coming from the Type 23 so in reality the 4.5in gun which has a lot of ammo flying around and is a useful tool could be used on the Type 31. There should also be some spare 30mm hanging around.
    The hull mounted 2050 sonar and VDS 2087 sonar suites, the Type 23s sonar suite is some of the best in the world, but as far as I am aware they will not be installed on the Type 26 as they are to get the new hull mounted 2150 design. The VDS I think is to be transferred, but when that is upgraded then the Type 31 could get the 2087 VDS as a container installation. So again they could be transferred to the Type 31.
    The Artisan radar and electronic suite of the Type 23s is at the moment up to date and will continue to be updated until these ships are decommissioned. But do you really want to have a system that has been updated and with bolt- on adaptations in a new ship, possibly not as they would have the new radars with all the updates built in. So I think the systems in the Type 23s will become surplus, if so then these could be installed on the Type 31, if not the the spare units could be used.
    Sea Ceptor installations on the Type 23s could also be transferred over.
    Eventually with some clever usage of available material and future test equipment we could create a new hulled, new power-plant Type 23, with a CIWS and possibly a 50 man RM detachment. The T23 is still one of the best ASW platforms still today so why re-invent the wheel. It does mean however that the Type 23s after being brutally cannibalised will have no re-sale value except for scrap.

  19. Really surprised there’s no comments that the MoD has halted the CDP competition as of Friday. Re-compete due in 4-6 weeks


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