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.

cutlass 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.

avengerThe 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.


  1. Yeah just as we expected, they’re using a stretched version of Omani corvette design which is in itself a stretched River class OFV.

    Looks the business if I’m honest!

    • Perhaps. Needs to be able to pack a punch though. The Russians have shown the way with their corvettes and mini-frigates in their Caspian Flottila.

      Future big engagements will be multinational ones anyway even if we had 20± type 26s and built another ten type 45s. Its what each partner can bring to the table..

      • You do forget that modern day weapons make up for size and naval warfare has changed since. Also the Russias are out of date by far.

    • google the river class spec length, width with the german braunschwieg corvette, look at the armament fitted to a ship almost identical in size to a river. maybe the t31 may be used from a river test bed

    • one issue, the companies (venator, stellar systems, submitting designs for a t31 won’t disclose cost, build time or anything to show they affordable, suitable or priced in the areas that matter affordability, capabilitiese.t.c

  2. Peter : i was just going to say the same they are no more than River Class . Perhaps we should have switched the Support Vessels from South Korea to Uk and get South Korea to build the Royal Navy’s new complex warships. UK Government remains committed to utilising the strengths of UK industry in this specialist and complex area. Hardly think they are complex warships bit of copy and paste by BAE Sytems again. These are no more than customs boats

    • The best and fair case is for all these ships to be built in the UK, but I know what you mean. May be they should be designed abroad and all expensive electrical systems purchased from abroad too. If we don’t build them here, why design them here either. Let run the whole industry down and rely on house prices going up and up.

  3. I prefer the BMT Venator ground up design. Although its probably more expencive.

    Cutlass looks ok. No room for strike length VLS tho i notice.

    Lets hope they get their skates on.

    And for this level of capability i would like 8.

    Problem if small ships cost more to run per tonne so 5 it will be the RN cant take the increase in man power for more.

  4. Basically bodged up OPVs, at least they have a small hanger. Too much for police work, easy meat for any serious opposition, so the additional equipment will just end up at the bottom of the sea if anyone is silly enough to try and use it.

  5. The Cutlass gets my vote, if fitted with Artisan Radar system, NSM of LRASM along with Sea Ceptor.
    One question that dose arise would it be able to carry a Lynx Chopper permanently?

    • Depending what is proposed the streched Khareef should be able to embark Wildcat and launch/recover Merlin (original was designed to embark RAFO Super Lynx and land on NH90) The Amazonas derivative will need to be significantly different as the original didn’t have a hangar and the flight deck was sized for AW139 as operated by Trinidad and Tobago Air Guard.

  6. I’d rather they went with another company bae have a bad history of huge cost overuns in both design and building. The Venator-110 is I think a good ship and would suit the needs of the navy.

    • The problem being that BAE have had a stranglehold on our procurement for so long now that the MOD rarely look elsewhere and if they ever object to the poor return we get for our outlay then BAE threaten to move even more jobs from the UK to the US.

    • Facts of history have shown that even the bae yards down south can’t complete a contract .

      Swan hunters . Vospers even Barrow have all started contracts in the past that bae clyde had to bail them out of so not necessarily bae having the monopoly but bae clyde having the skills from design to completion to complete the contracts faster and better than anywhere else in the UK

  7. Avenger looks horrible, Cutlass looks better but I still prefer Venator 110. I think strike-length VLS will push cost up too far, in fact BMT say that explicitly in the Venator 110 data sheet, but with good use of box launchers for stuff like NSM, Harpoon, LRASM etc that shouldn’t be a show stopper. Venator seems to have more topside space for stuff like that plus some configurable module space and from looking at some of the trade offs BMT mentions, e.g. no strike-length VLS and CODAD propulsion, I suspect they have their eye on affordability far more than BAE has. I vote to start building Venator 110s ASAP, maybe with a bit added to the transom if the current flight deck isn’t long enough for Merlin.

  8. BAE still waste so much space (1/3rd) of the entire surface % for 1 helicopter . Why not build up the back end of the ship and drop the chopper down into its hanger with an aircraft hoist/ lift . The current hanger could then be used for further weps systems or even a 2nd chopper?

  9. What’s wrong with a real design like FREMM?

    These are not real ships just expensive yachts.
    Whatever happens, RN will not buy anything cheap.
    The Type 23 was meant to be cheap and cheerful until they sat down and kept upping the spec.

    BTW are these more than 60% designed lol

  10. I’ve never understood why British ships don’t have a raised bow as seen with American & Russian vessels. I would have thought that from a design perspective, they were more capable of riding the waves in heavy swells.

  11. Everyone who is saying its shit or too small etc. You dont need MASSIVE ships anymore. Gone are the days of cruisers and ships with 1000s of men. Something like this fitted with missile systems can do exactly the same job, infact they do a different job completely.

    • Yes agree with you Simon the RN must have real frigates, destroyers and as for cruisers both the Russians, USN and suspect PLAN have them as well. Why not have modified versions of the Tiger class cruisers with twin 6 inch guns forward and missiles aft which can be used either solo or part of a task force.

  12. Facts are a full carrier fleet will be the main carrier a couple of type 45s then a few type 26 and on the outskirts type 31 plus subs and rfa ships do need for full armament on such a versatile ship in the modern navy when it’s surrounded by various other classes

  13. Just build 1 type (26) , and build plenty of em, any cock ups like duff engines, can be fixed in the second batch any big ticket radar or missiles can be left off till we can afford them. designing another ship is bonkers.

  14. As britain is known for good anti submarine warfare give it a captus-4 sonar, camm for protection, a cwis and a gun, use it for asw in the carrier fleet and free up the T-26 to do solo work.

  15. Perhaps we should employ South Korea to build RN Ships they have just launched first PKX-B missile craft
    The 210-tonne platform has an overall length of 44 m, an overall beam of 7 m, and can accommodate a crew of 20. The vessel has been designed by HHIC under a contract awarded by South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) but it is unclear if the shipbuilder will construct all 16 hulls.
    The PKX-B is powered by General Electric’s 6,000 shp LM 500 gas-turbine engines and Caterpillar Marine’s Cat C32 diesel engines in a combined diesel and gas turbine (CODAG) configuration. The vessel is propelled by waterjets and has a top speed of 40 kt.
    Besides an aft-mounted, 12-barrelled multiple launch rocket system (MLRS) for 130 mm rockets, the platform has also been equipped with a 76 mm naval gun and two remote-controlled 12.7 mm machine guns. Looks better than BAE systems can build all of your T45 are in Portsmouth Harbour unable to go to sea due to engine Problems and will not go to sea for a few years

  16. How about 10 Cutlass or Venator 110 for T31 and for the 2 additional River Class OPV’s replace with the Avenger. Pity they could extend the batch 2 River class to Avenger standard, so total of 8 T26, 10 T31, 5 Avenger and keep the current batch 1 River Class OPV,

  17. I can totally see the concept behind the T31 and I believe it makes a great deal of sense. However an inability to defend itself (other than passively) against an ASW threat does seem a little flawed. This could be resolved with minimal outgoings with a purchase (or upgrade) of the dipping sonar fitted Wildcat. The development has been done for the South Koreans and the skill sets are all there in the Merlin force.

  18. This is farcical now – these just don’t cut the mustard I am afraid.

    The Royal Navy may as well take up fishing for all the use these are.

    Either buy more T26 so the price comes down or build something like an Iver Huitfeldt. but not these. Total waste of money.

  19. We should be committing to building a frigate every year indefinitely with a view to an operational fleet of 30 – 10 in Air Defence, 10 in ASW and 10 GP. Price should be fixed at £500m each across the fleet.

    This can be done – other nations do it (incl.Denmark with 3 Iver Huitfeldts) The hull for the Type 26 should be circa £150m so there is plenty left over for fit out. If BAE cannot do this have the full built in S.Korea and shipped over for fit out.

    Hull – £150m
    Wildcat – £30m
    Otto 127mm – 30m
    Engines – £20m
    Mk41 Silos – £120m (64)
    Missiles – £40m
    CB90 (2)- £6m
    Fit out – £50m
    Radars, Warfare suite and CEC – £30m

    The problem with all the costings we see is that it is total lifetime cost, not the actual build cost. If the RN and MOD budgeted properly then it would become clear that it costs circa £500m to build a modern capable 7000t multi role escort ship and that over its 30 year life it will probably cost 3 times that to run.

    Surely the UK can afford to build one of these every year forever out of an equipment budget of £17bn p.a. but it seems not.. Totally ridiculous that the equipment budget is actually 60% support.

    We are an island nation who like to stick our noses into other countries business – as such we better have a way of protecting our carriers or they will be sunk very quickly.

    • New (reconditioned) 5 inch guns just ordered cost twice that. The other thing people seem to forget is the lack of sailors, we only have 6type 45s and one of those is sitting permanently by the dock.

  20. With Russia and China showing more an aggressive stance globally I can see an increase in ship numbers. Requirements will require more than additional River OPV’s. I wouldn’t be surprised if there is a batch 2 T45’s, an increase in numbers of T26’s and T31’s like after the Falklands war.

  21. Don’t commit to CLYDE building until Scots situation clearer…hold a 2nd referendum or,better, kick it into the long grass (a decade at least). Then push for a commitment to a building plan and stick to it. Cutlass looks realistic – not unlike the French La Fayette and its successors.

  22. The Cutlass Class looks suitable. Cutting the land attack cruise missile capability seems a bit absurd though, it was a fundamental part of the plan wasn’t it? A helicopter launched version of the storm shadow ought to be a cost effective solution. Only magazines and servicing areas needed. Should make for mission flexibility.

  23. I think it’s ridiculous, we are supposed to be a leading power in the world and we haven’t got a proper navy we can afford to build so don’t know why the government won’t spend. We are relying on the usa and france to help us it’s not right when the Russians are doing around our coast.

  24. Every time I look at these I am try to think what BAE are doing. So lets see if we can give a set of requirements to work to.
    The vessel needs to be cost effective so give it a price of 1/2billion£ which is about half the price of a T 26.
    It would work on its own in low threat enviorments but should also be able to act as a convoy escort or fleet escort that means it would need a range of about 5,000 sea miles at 18 knots with a max speed equal to the carriers. With an endurance of 21 days for supplys .
    Now comes its weapon requirements, a 4.5 in gun would be nice but its heavy so a 76 mm would do the trick, 24 Sea Ceptor SAMs and 8 SSMs preferably Perseus, 2 20mm bofer type guns with 2 or 4 7.62 mm miniguns and a CIWS again if possible a combined point blank missile and Gatling gun combo. For anti submarine work this ship would not need its own torpedeos however VLROC could be fitted in the VLS where the Perseus would be giving a 4+4 configuration,its main Anti Sub weapon would be the Wild Cat with hanger but could land a Merlin. A small mission bay for a 10m launch or Mine Seaking ROVs and a towed array (stripped from T23) could be fitted plus a bow array, Artisan would be the main radar. Built into a 3,500 ton ship, an extra 500 tons would be nice but the idiots in Whitehall sees size as cost.
    This would give a useful fighting ship that can defend itself. act as an escort, can be intergrated into a CSG and punch back. However that would be it. where as the T26 appears to have a second postion for 24 Sea Ceptors aft of the funnel, Cruise Missiles, 100 RMs the T31 would not be able to undergo major changes so after 20-25 years they will need to be scrapped or sold on. If this is possible and it should be other countries manage that type of requirement and cost then we could possibly have ten of these ships and possibly sell to other countries.

    • Interesting stuff. How much do we rely on the reports that the contract for 6 ships is £2bn, so £333m per ship? Quite similar to the MEKO price point I believe but a lot lower than the £500m you mention.

      Personally I would rather we spend £350m per MEKO and got what we need rather than £500m to BAE and get a glorified OPV.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here