BAE Systems Type 26 Frigate design was regarded as the frontrunner, with Fincantieri’s FREMM close behind and Navantia regarded as the lowest risk option.

Three companies were bidding: British defence giant BAE Systems, Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri and Spanish shipbuilder Navantia. BAE’s design was touted as the offering with the best capability for anti-submarine warfare however.

The new frigates will replace the Anzac-class from the mid-2020s, in a project that will create more than 2000 jobs. Production is scheduled to start from 2020 at the federal government-owned shipyard in Osborne, South Australia.

Australian teams were recently visiting the first Type 26 Frigate, HMS Glasgow, in build.


Australia has a long history of building ships domestically, usually from foreign designs modified to the RAN’s requirements. As is the story in many other countries however, the Australian shipbuilding industry’s fortunes have waxed and waned with the cycle between major navy projects. The only export or civilian shipbuilding of any significance in the country being confined to fast ferry specialists Austal of Henderson, Western Australia and Tasmania’s InCat.

As in the UK, local political sensitivities are also a factor. Under project SEA4000 modules for the Hobart class destroyers were built by yards around the country, being consolidated at ASC’s yard at Osborne, near Adelaide in South Australia. Under SEA5000 however it is expected all major fabrication and certainly all assembly will be done at Osborne. The terms of the competition do not compel bidders to work with ASC, but they are obliged to locate the work at Osborne. The decline of manufacturing in South Australia, recently punctuated by the exit of all major car manufacturers, has put immense pressure on all sides of politics to be conspicuous in their support the state’s other remaining major manufacturing industry.

We have a guide on the Type 26 Frigate, available here.

 

92 COMMENTS

  1. Great news, I look forward to an official announcement with interest.

    A potential world beating design and superb ship, I wonder how different the Australian vessels will be?

    The RAN know a good design when they see it!

    • The most obvious differences will be the CEAFAR radar, as well as 48 Mk41s forward in place of the RN’s 24 Mk41s and 24 Sea Ceptors, and Harpoon or a replacement cannister weapon in place of the Sea Ceptors amidships. Under the skin, theres AEGIS and Saab’s CMS.

      Compared to the RN ships, the Aussie vessels are going to have more missile capacity and AAW capability (48 Mk41s would give you 24 strike weapons, 12 SM-2s, and 48 ESSMS, or some variation of that, compared to the fixed loadout of 24 strike weapons and 48 Sea Ceptors). CEAFAR2 is more capable that Artisan as far as I’m aware, although I’ve got no clue on how much of a difference there is in that regard.

      In short, the Aussies are paying for all the optional goodies and turning the T26 from an ASW frigate to a multipurpose destroyer along the lines of an Arleigh Burke. Which kind of begs the question, why haven’t they just done the same as the Canadians and gone for a single class of surface combatant?

      • Callum- surely its a question of timescales,the Canadian’s have the benefit of going for a single Combatant class,the Hobart class AWD were initiated in the early 2000’s,then the GCS was still in the concept and design stage,logicaly it would have made some sense to go for an all Navantia designed fleet but luckily for BAE they have correctly chosen the best Frigate for the job.

  2. YES!!!!

    Steve – There’s an article posted on the FT 59 mins ago – “BAE triumphs in £20bn Australia frigate contract”. This link might be intercepted by a firewall but a free registration gets you to it – https://www.ft.com/content/845e88e0-7ac7-11e8-8e67-1e1a0846c475

    Even if it doesn’t manage to put an extra penny back into the UK defence budget it’s still good news in…

    1 – Giving us a very close ally with whom we can share experiences, maybe economies of scale on spares provisioning, etc

    2 – Must help our positioning for the Canadian bid which would give more of 1 above.

    3 – Although the ultimate proof of the pudding will be when the first vessels go into service the RAN aren’t idiots so I take it as further vindication of the basic design.

    4 – When a QEC deploys to the South China seas and has an international escort group it will be great if any RAN escort contributed to the group was a T26. I know allies are used to working together but being the same class certainly wouldn’t hurt the integration withing the carrier group.

    I confess that I am also a BAE shareholder so have a 5th reason to be happy

    • Also, I won’t quote the article for FT copyright reasons but there is a paragraph in it that says that, even with the actual construction happening in Aus as we all know, “a few UK jobs” will be created (whatever “a few” means) with some onboard systems sourced from the UK. It also mentions that the higher volumes of such systems, presumably due to them now being needed for both RN and RAN vessels, should allow the UK subcontractors involved to cut costs. It also says that it will provide some ongoing work for the UK-based design and engineering teams.

        • Dunno but good point. I was just carefully rephrasing info from a paragraph in the FT article and it didn’t explicitly mention RR/engines.

        • (Chris H) John Pattullo – I have to confess I thought the Aussies were going to announce this at midnight UK time tonight. I hope the FT hasn’t jumped an embargo.

          But yes RR will manufacture the MT30s here and ship them to an Aussie firm Marand who are building the enclosures to RR specifications with special attention to noise reduction. The completed enclosures will then be shipped to wherever for fitting to the hulls.

  3. This should mean that at least some work will come to the UK for spares or ammunition. Great news all round and just shows yet again the UK can design great ships.

  4. Now if Canada decides to buy it then we can rename it the Commonwealth class frigate. Right I’m off to strike up Hearts of Oak once again.

  5. OK. Pop a few corks, lots of smiles and backslapping, and then swiftly on to set about winning the CAN bid 🙂

    The back-slapping and cork-popping is richly deserved though. Many congratulations to the design teams and most definitely also to the sales team that brought this one in.

  6. This is great news – hopefully this means lower prices all round as BAE can order VLS, Guns, Radars, Engines etc in much larger volumes.

    I would even mind if ours had the CEAFAR radar for commonality and agree that it would be great if Canada came on board at which point I think the commonwealth class is a good name.

    Perhaps even the US will consider it – if the Canadians got onboard – at which point it becomes the F35 of Frigates with a global supply chain etc.

    Now for England to win the World Cup and my year is complete….

    • It depends on how the guns, radars and engines are procured. The MK45 MOD 4 going on UK T26 are refurbished ex USN, Australia might buy new, transfer from the ANZAC or also buy refurbished. They might go for a mix. It is not confirmed if MT30 or LM2500 will go on Australian T26. Australia has significant experience with the latter.

      You won’t see CEAFAR on a UK Type 26, ARTISAN is already earmarked for them. There is a possibility that a CEAFAR variant could end up on Type31 if the price was right.

      T26 did not qualify for the USN FFG(X) program as only variants of in service vessels were allowed to enter the competition.

      There is a good chance with the Canadian Frigate programme as BAE Systems have put together a dream bid with large Canadian input and key local systems like the CMS330 from LockMart Canada included in the design. UK T26 already have Canadian suppliers involved so a relationship has been built with Canadian industry.

      • Indeed Fedaykin, but things change

        Canada jumps onboard and trump has a great state visit to the UK and anything can happen.

        It really could swing that quickly, would help if first in class could actually be sped up, so potential customers can see it in the flesh.

      • (Chris H) Fedaykin – The MT30s are the selected power source and are intrinsic to the design as the T26 uses the CODLOG (combined diesel-electric or gas) configuration for propulsion where the quieter GT is used for primary power / cruise / ASW speeds and then the other RR MTU diesels are brought in for extra electric power of higher speeds. It is a simpler version of the CODLAG (combined diesel-electric and gas) propulsion used on the Type 23.

        Hope this helps

        • Well aware of how the T23 and T26 propulsion so don’t need any help in that respect.

          As far as I am aware the decision on MT30 or LM2500 has not been made yet, there is no reason why the latter can’t work with the required setup and Australia has plenty of institutional experience with that motor. On the other hand the MT30 is the superior solution so I see it being the obvious choice.

          • (Chris H) Fedaykin – No need for the sarcasm thanks. My reply was as much for general information as others who read the comments may not know.

            And you are well out of order thinking the LM2500 could in any way be considered or was indeed ever considered. The MT30 is an intrinsic part of the Type 26 design, quietness of the hull and therefore its ASW functioning. As you seem to understand how power systems work I am surprised you think the LM GT meets that requirement.

            And why would the Aussies ditch the industry benchmark MT30 already designed into the Type 26 to re-engineer for sub standard equipment. Thats not my view but the views of many and increasing numbers of navies and shipbuilders across the world.

            There was an excellent Podcast from Australia a few weeks back where the Head of RR Australia (a 20 year RN Dolphin) was explaining how the whole design is integrated, why CODLOG was developed for ASW, the role of Marand and how RR have been painstakingly bringing on high quality suppliers and contractors in Australia.

            The RR MT30 and MTU diesels are the power units of choice by the people who won the contract (BAE) and not the other two. The LM GT was the power unit of choice for FREMM and GE for Navantia (as they offered a Hobart hull). The Aussies chose the MT30.

        • “And you are well out of order thinking the LM2500 could in any way be considered or was indeed ever considered. ”

          Well out of order in my thinking?! Where do you get off saying something like that! You ask for no sarcasm in response to your comments then insult me…take a hike if that is your attitude! It is not an out of order idea as it IS A SOLUTION being considered! The T26 is intentionally designed to be able to take different power plant solutions including the LM2500. The MT30 is not so integral to the vessel that another Gas turbine could not be considered.

          “And why would the Aussies ditch the industry benchmark MT30 already designed into the Type 26 to re-engineer for sub standard equipment.”

          Firstly because they have significant experience with the LM2500 as it has powered their Adelaide Class frigates for years and now powers their Hobart class. There are significant synergies in operating a common prime mover across a fleet. Secondly the LM2500 as a solution is in no way or form ‘sub standard’ it is one of the most successful and reliable Gas Turbines on the market and powers a great many vessels globally. The latest variant LM2500+G4 has a similar power output to the MT30 and would be perfectly viable as an alternative.

          “There was an excellent Podcast from Australia a few weeks back where the Head of RR Australia (a 20 year RN Dolphin) was explaining how the whole design is integrated, why CODLOG was developed for ASW, the role of Marand and how RR have been painstakingly bringing on high quality suppliers and contractors in Australia.”

          Great you enjoyed a Podcast, nevertheless you seem to be operating under the false impression that CODLOG is unique or special to RR, the MT30 and the T26. I hate to break it to you but it isn’t, CODLOG is used on French built FREMM with a single LM2500+G4, two electric drive motors and ironically four MTU Series 4000 diesels the same as will be installed in T26.

          “The RR MT30 and MTU diesels are the power units of choice by the people who won the contract (BAE) and not the other two. The LM GT was the power unit of choice for FREMM and GE for Navantia (as they offered a Hobart hull). The Aussies chose the MT30.”

          I have seen no evidence yet of what Gas Turbine the Australians want to fit, personally I would prefer the MT30 as it is the home product but the LM2500 would be a perfectly valid choice. The MT30 was designed from the beginning to go into the same space that an LM2500 can and conversely the base T26 design was intentionally adaptable to accept the LM2500 depending on potential export requirements.

          • (Chris H) fedaykin – Telling you that you are ‘out of order’ was not intended, nor was it in fact, an insult. I could have been far more direct I assure you. It was a simple statement of fact. ie you are very wrong in your persistence with this ‘LM2500 is an option’ story. Even after more detail is supplied. It is not. Its really simple.

            You then add more sarcasm to project some false idea that I believe CODLOG is unique to T26. I never said that, inferred that or let alone believe it. No thats your confirmation bias kicking in. I just explained for other readers the difference between the two power systems and how the T26 is way ahead of the other two ship designs because it uses the Gas Turbine first. Arleigh Burkes of course have no diesels just 4 x LM2500 GTs …

            Its a shame you didn’t take enough interest to listen to the Australian Podcasts about this ship (as I have) and find a source of amusement for some reason or read industry briefings. Like this one from June 18th which states VERY clearly its the MT30n that will be used in Aussie T26s. So take a few minutes, grab a coffee and chill out:

            https://www.defenceconnect.com.au/maritime-antisub/2436-rolls-royce-lauds-ultra-low-maintenance-mt30

      • If the commercials are acceptable, the Lockheed Martin Canada proposal based on the T26 design must now be the front runner for the Canadian Surface Combatant contract. It would be great to see New Zealand then follow the “old Commonwealth” pack – but the design is probably just too expensive and complex for the RNZN.

        • if the arrowhead 140 gets chosen as the type 31 they could go with it – seems like a capable ship at reduced cost – not as good a asw platform though

  7. Great news IF true I will wait for the official announcement

    If true why is Australia buying more than us?

    Could they, like us purchase less the required 9 and make up the number with T31?

    Could it be possible that IF true cost come down and we could purchase our original target of 13?

    Canada?

    • Australia has a larger coastline and arguably greater need than the UK considering China’s military expansion and unlimited resources. Russia’s military threat is still some way off challenging Nato

        • You could argue that now we have spent a fortune on the QE class coupled with the need to protect the SSBN we need more than 8 and more than 9 the RAN is looking to purchase.

  8. so if that means the costs of the type 26 come down due to economies of scale, do we think there’s any chance of us getting the other 5?

    • I wonder what the commercial relationship is between the MoD and BAE for the RN T26 at the moment. Is there only a contract for the first 3 or is there a contract in place to cover costs for all 8 with only 3 underway at the moment, or maybe a contract with a commitment to only 3 with an option for the other 5 possibly on sliding prices based on how much of the option is exercised?

      Either way, if I was BAE management then, once any effects of cost savings were well understood and quantified I would definitely be at least running some numbers to see whether those cost savings could be used to structure an offer to the UK to increase the T26 build from the currently planned 8 in return for keen pricing on the extra vessels. I would certainly, in my imaginary BAE senior manager role, prefer to go that route rather than reducing cost on the currently planned 8. If that scenario ever panned out there might also be some interplay with T31e. If the mood music being heard from the BAE’s T31 sales team is that the Babcock Consortium is looking likely to win with Arrowhead then all the more reason to try and use cost-efficiencies on the T26 builds to upsize the RN T26 buy potentially at the expense of the T31 project if that is thought to be going to the Babcock Consortium anyway.

      All total speculation but it’s great that this good news has been thrown into the mix and might just shake things up a bit.

  9. Various news items now appearing with confirmation. Absolutely fair dinkum as my Sydney based brother in law might say , particularly as he supplies the R A N……….and for all the critics,welll done Bae….again !!

  10. It’s the first time in years we have sold a major warship design, it’s great news, something positive for UK Plc and hopefully the start of a brand new trade agreement era with our Antipodean brothers. The T26 will be a real game changer for the RN and with its US systems, an excellent asset for the RAN with an increasingly assertive China to keep an eye on.

  11. The first export win for a RN designed warship since we sold T42s to Argentina in the 70s.

    This is very good news, if you have any negatively comment to make just wait 24 hours so those of us with a more positive attitude can enjoy the moment.

    Hopefully we can expect more export wins in the near wins in the near future.

    • No negativity here. The only thing I will say though is that if the competition had been based solely on looks then ….

      …. – T26 would still have won it by a mile. I think it’s such a beautiful looking ship.

      • Well said Mike and Julian……I picked up the news on the way home and I’m not sure I quite believed it until I logged on. Brilliant news. Well done Australia and well done Bae.

  12. Good news for UK business and employees. Noting the cost of Brexit is likely to increase to £50 billion, we shall need every penny that can be raised.

    • (Chris H) TH – see there you go again just as I said the other day – A Troll making a totally irrelevant comment that you know will cause offence to some of us. Its why you do it. This has N O T H I N G to do with Brexit and where do you get this dumb notion of an extra £50 Bn from? It has bee agreed that our separation will cost between £35 Bn and £39 Bn with £15+ Bn spread over 30 years to cover pensions etc. Once we leave of course we will save some 313 Bn every year ….

      and once we leave we can enter into a great new trade deal with Australia which we can’t now of course. Maybe just maybe our leaving the EU might have swung our bid against the other two EU based countries…. Just saying like.

      Go peddle your Remoaner rubbish in your Momentum echo chamber …

      • You really are a prick aren’t you Chris? Your concept of finance is that os a child. Stick with playing with your Airfix models dreaming of an Empire that will never again return.
        BTW – the dumb notion is from the Bank of England.

        • (Chris H) TH and Fedaykin – Good to see Remoaners proving their usual qualities that add so much to the discussions. For which read consistently superior, ignorant and abusive.

          Fedaykin – I challenged TH’s statement because it was a) irrelevant to the topic and b) incorrect. Did we get a detailed reply with facts and figures from either of you? No of course not we got crude, personal and Ad Hominem abuse, name calling and childish comments. Indeed the irony of him then calling me childish is really quite amusing

          TH Sweetcheeks – the actual departure costs were agreed by the EU and are between £35 bn and £39 Bn. About half of which will be spread over many years for pensions and costs the rest is to honour our commitments to the remaining months of the 7 year EU spending round. So no its not the Bank of England its the EU. But i am sure you will have a source for us to check to see where the B of E disagree with the EU …. or maybe not

          And here is a thought for you two: We leave the EU on March 29th 2019. Its now an Act of Parliament. Get used to it, it will happen and so maybe start to support and work for our future as a free nation. if not then there are 27 other nations within the EU that I am sure would love to give you a wonderful life and have your thoughts shared with them.

  13. The great thing about the T26 design is inherent flexibility, the customer can make the choice as to which weapon, sensor and computer systems they wish to fit.

    Gone are the days when the supplier tells the customer what he can or can’t have.

    Matched with superior ASW capability, makes T26 a winner.

    Probably too much to ask the USA to reconsider the T26 for its FFG(X) competition.

    • The Australians will have to pay a fee for the design.

      The UK MOD paid BAE systems to design the T26, no internal funding from BAE was used.

      So HM Government will receive the funds, so no direct fall in the unit price of T26. What HMG does with the money is anyone’s guess.

      That is my understanding, quite happy to be corrected.

    • Possibility, if the UK and Australia (and maybe Canada) purchase the same or at least some common components, e.g. RR GTs, bulk discounts might apply.

  14. Great news, the first time a British warship has won export orders in decades, it is always other European countries that win these with us left to pick up the scraps (o.p.v.s), for once it is the other way around. Great news, and long may it continue with the Type 26, Type 31 and even that Wyvern SSK.

  15. The only negative comment I have about this is I think they have got the number of strike cells wrong. I’ve heard there are 24 Mk41 cells, not 16

  16. Great news, the first time a British warship has won export orders in decades, it is always other European countries that win these, for once it is the other way around. Great news, and long may it continue with Type 26, Type 31 and even that Wyvern SSK.

      • (Chris H) Ian – Yes very true. the people making sure we can afford whatever it is we do buy. And they didn’t have Blair and Brown making the crash of 2008 10 times worse than it should have been. They inherited a surplus and we are only now getting to withing a few £ Bn of one again …..

        And how many 65,000 ton carriers and nuclear subs have the Aussies got?

        • None, but between 2007 and 2030 almost the entire RAN will have been replaced

          – 2 LHDs (Navantia, hulls built in Spain, assembly of rest in Aus, both in service)
          – 3 Aegis Air Warfare Destroyers (Navantia, built in Aus, 1 in service, 1 in trials)
          – 12 OPV (Luerssen’s OPV80, to be built in Aus from next year)
          – 2 AOR (Navantia, currently being built in Spain)
          – 9 T26 (BAE, construction in Aus from 2020)
          – 12 Barracuda Subs (DCNS, non nuclear, to be built in Aus from 2023)

          These tenders have now all been awarded.

        • i mean 10 years(give or take) for 1 frigate to enter service is beyond a joke more than the carriers, now it could be a monetary constraint, not enough to build it quick enough, thats understandable, but if its BAE, then its unacceptable, Im not complaining about the numbers really, but something needs to change in the RN, MoD or HMG to fix this, although we are getting tremendous capability, the carriers, f35s, astutes, t26 etc, but when you look at HMS Forth and such, something has to change!

        • Your comment implies I support the other side Chris. Either way, IMO the response to the crash was wrong and current spending priorities I think are out of kilter but that’s a whole other debate. I remain of the opinion that defence is being fatally undermined by this Gov to their shame. They are the Gov and thus responsible. Labour are not in power and unlikely to do so under current leadership. As for the carriers, I can tell you for a fact they were a hair’s breadth from being sold off by Cameron who kept them not from any sense of conviction or strategy.

  17. All the fear that T26 was “too expensive for export” – our first warship export design in decades!

    Please God, let this mean all 8 UK T26 orders are safe. Better still, put the order back to 13.

  18. Actually, I’m going to go further.

    Build the best, sell the best. Rolls Royce, Aston Martin, Maclaran.

    UK Gov – have faith in the areas we realy are superior. Everyone wants the best.

  19. Fantastic news, huge smile on my face

    This surely must pretty much guarantee the Canadian order as well, no?

  20. Great choice by the RAN! As noted above, if the RCN selects the design then you would really have an interoperable common design among some very close naval establishments. Wonder if the RCN would go with Aegis or Artisan if they select it? I also agree the T26 is probably too rich for the RNZN, hope they go with the T31e.

    Cheers!

  21. This is great news for UK shipbuilding, even if they will be built in Australia. There’s always the hopes of other sales. I can only hope we get a few more here for the RN as in war we’d need as many fully capable ASW frigates as we can get & the escort fleet has never been smaller, though type 31s will be considerably better than nothing. Major conflicts usually expose the folly of cheap short cuts to defence.

  22. A quick calculation of the change in tonnage, obviously not the best way to judge the difference, but gives an idea of the future potential.

    Current 8 Anzacs, total tonnage approx 28,800
    Future 9 hunters, total tonnage approx 79,200

    The old adage steel is cheap and air is free still has relevance.
    As an ex plymouth boy now living in Australia, it’s good to see that Britain is back in the export game.

    I’ve watched the RAN (in fact the whole defence force) transform itself over the past decade, from a well equipped outfit to a well thought out, integrated and larger outfit.

    Canada can learn a thing or two from this, buy off the shelf when you can, and tweak only what you need to.

  23. I think the Australia order should drop the unit price down to £750-800 million each for ASW version of type 26.
    So I think a 9th hull should be shoehorned back into the programme.
    The type 31 design unless it is a capable frigate or at least able to be progressively upatmed into a capable frigate is vital to return numerical hulls and a polyvalent unit capability back to the RN. Arrowhead is a better more future proof design bigger wide margin, larger more hull, but I would go for the Leander class as it already has all the common components fitted as standard for interoperability with other RN warships. Whoever gets type 31 order has to sign in blood to the build at the cost outlined. Any cost overturns at the expense of the builder.
    This is how all defence contracts should be run. You bid for the work and programme at the set budget, if you want the work you get the build done on time and on budget.

    • Unlikely, that would only be the case if these vessels were being built in a UK yard. As they are being built in Australia the economy of scale from a greater build number in a single yard is not going to be evident.

      • From what i can tell they are just taking the design and then building and sourcing most of the parts in Australia, meaning there will be very little impact on the UK versions.

        If i read correctly they stated approx 65-70% of the parts to be sourced from Australian suppliers, meaning somewhere between 0-30% will be from the UK, guessing closer to the 0 than the 30.

        What we might benefit from is Australia building theirs faster and so ironing out some of the design issues for us.

        It’s a shame Australia didn’t go for our combat or missile systems, but maybe in the future we can see some common R&D for future upgrades and benefit from that…assuming they don’t just buy American again.

        • “What we might benefit from is Australia building theirs faster and so ironing out some of the design issues for us.”

          There is an irony in there somewhere that is not lost on me…

          “It’s a shame Australia didn’t go for our combat or missile systems, but maybe in the future we can see some common R&D for future upgrades and benefit from that…assuming they don’t just buy American again.”

          It makes little sense for Australia to adopt UK missiles or CMS on the Hunter Class. They already use US missiles and the AEGIS CMS/BMS on their Hobart Class Destroyers. Utilising the same or similar on the Hunter Class makes training and through life support cheaper and easier.

          What is impressive is that the T26 base design can have such a change in systems if necessary and shows that the work put in earlier in the programme to allow adaptability into the design has paid off. The UK has suffered exporting its designs due to the inflexibility of fit out in comparison to foreign designs.

          I was saying years ago back on the Think Defence Website that the T26 needs to be flexible in fit out if we were ever going to see the design exported!

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here