BAE Systems has revealed two potential designs for the UK’s General Purpose Frigate programme, known as the Type 31 Frigate.
Plans to acquire a new class of “more affordable” general purpose vessels at the expense of five Type 26 frigates were announced last year as part of the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review.
It is understood that the Type 26 Frigate will primarily support carrier task group operations while the Type 31 is to be deployed for a range of less high-tempo operations.
The original planning assumption for the Royal Navy was for thirteen Type 26 Frigates (eight ASW and five GP), replacing the Type 23 frigate fleet like-for-like.
However, it was later announced during the November 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review by then Prime minister David Cameron that only the eight anti-submarine warfare Type 26 frigates would be ordered.
The funding for the remaining five general purpose Type 26 frigates is instead to be spent on developing a new class of lighter and more affordable general purpose frigates.
The two designs are pictured below.
The Cutlass design, pictured above, is a significantly stretched and enhanced derivation of the Al Shamikh-class corvette design and sits at the high end of the cost/capability spectrum.
In Omani service, the vessels this design is based on carry one 76mm Oto Melara cannon, two 30mm MSI DS30M 30mm cannons, eight MM-40 Block III Exocet SSMs and twelve MBDA VL Mica SAMs.
The Avenger design is a modified Amazonas-class/River-class Batch 2 offshore patrol vessel, similar to the currently in-build OPVs on the Clyde and has been offered to fit the low end of any potential cost and capability options.
Due to an expected lower cost, the government suggested it may allow an eventual increase in the total number of frigates in the Royal Navy. This general purpose frigate will be designated as the Type 31 frigate.