BAE video shows Type 26 Frigate customised for Australia

A video shows BAE Systems offering for the SEA5000 programme in Australia, a modified Type 26 Frigate design.

The company said in a statement:

“BAE Systems will offer the Commonwealth the export version of the Type 26 – our Global Combat Ship (GCS). The GCS is the newest, most advanced and most capable Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) platform in the world.

Purpose designed for ASW, the GCS combines superior acoustic stealth with peerless general purpose capabilities, exemplified by the multi-mission bay, which provides unparalleled mission flexibility.”

Recently, BAE Australia chief Glynn Phillips said the signing of the UK Type 26 Frigate contract should provide the Australian government with confidence in the company’s bid.

As quoted in Defence Connect, he said:

“This news is very exciting for Australia as it’s a turning point for the Type 26 Global Combat Ship program. This milestone means the Royal Australian Navy should have full confidence that our offer for SEA 5000 – the Global Combat Ship-Australia – will have the largest growth margins of any ASW frigate in the world and will remain at the leading edge of naval technology throughout its service life.

The potential for concurrent production in Glasgow and Osborne also means the Commonwealth stands to receive full knowledge sharing from a live program through BAE Systems’ best-practice exchange, significantly de-risking SEA 5000.”

BAE earlier welcomed the release of the SEA 5000 Request for Tender for the Royal Australian Navy, intending to offer the Type 26 Frigate as a contender. The defence giant was one of three organisations down-selected to refine their designs for a fleet of nine Future Frigates.

According to the company:

“BAE Systems has offered the Commonwealth of Australia the Type 26 Global Combat Ship, recognised today as the world’s leading design for an anti-submarine warship.
The Company is today already working to deliver the Type 26 to the UK’s Royal Navy and is also engaged in bidding for the Canadian Government’s requirement, using the Type 26 design.”

The other contenders are Fincantieri’s FREMM and Navantia with a redesigned F-100 class vessel.

Commander UK Maritime Forces Rear Admiral Alex Burton said:

“The government has committed to eight Type 26 ships and they will be the mainstay of our anti-submarine warfare capability, both to project the continuous at-sea deterrence and to project what I’ve often described as the strategic conventional deterrence of the carrier task group.

The Type 26 will undoubtedly be the most capable ASW afloat, arriving early next decade. But it’s so much more than an ASW platform, with the ability to take Tomahawk strike missiles, a 5-inch gun and a considerable local area defence capability; and the mission bay, which can take a whole range of mission support packages.”

BAE Systems Australia Chief Executive, Glynn Phillips said:

“We are committed to supporting the development of a sustainable, national shipbuilding and sustainment industry in Australia. 

We look forward to working with the Commonwealth to maximise opportunities for Australian industry, drawing on our existing supply chain and a history of more than 60 years of supporting the Australian Defence Force.”

The Defence Secretary earlier discussed defence co-operation and the Type 26 Frigate with the Australian Minister for the Defence Industry, Chris Pyne.

It is understood that talks on defence ties between the UK and Australia also discussed defence exports and equipment.

According to a press release, as part of the UK-Australia export relationship, the Type 26 Frigate has been shortlisted for Australia’s Future Frigate programme.

They also discussed joint operations carried out by both the UK and Australia and the important partnership the two nations share as members of the Five Power Defence Arrangements and the Five-Eyes Intelligence alliance.

Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon said:

“The UK’s Defence relationship with Australia remains close and strong. After operating together in Afghanistan and Iraq, we are now working together to tackle the threat of Daesh in the Middle East and brutal terror they spread around the world.

Britain’s defence and intelligence relationships with Australia and the close bonds we share support our mutual interests and help make both Britain and Australia safer and more secure.

This Australian Frigate programme is another opportunity to strengthen our shipbuilding ties, as well as greater cooperation between the Royal Navy and Royal Australian Navy.”

BAE Systems recently signed a contract with the Australian Government to further refine its design of the Type 26 Frigate for the Royal Australian Navy.

BAE Systems Australia Chief Executive, Glynn Phillips, said:

“We look forward to demonstrating the adaptability and maturity of the Global Combat Ship design to meet Australia’s requirements for an Anti-Submarine Warship frigate.

The Global Combat Ship design is the most modern, adaptable and flexible of all possible options available today, and I am confident that we will be able to demonstrate that it is the best able to meet the requirements of the Royal Australian Navy.

In the coming months, a team of BAE Systems’ Australian engineers will be deployed to the UK to join the Company’s established design team.

To assist this process, the Company has revealed that, a 3-dimensional visualisation suite will be delivered to Australia to help improve understanding of the unique features of the ship design”

This is part of the Australian Department of Defence’s Competitive Evaluation Process for the programme. Australia has also entered into similar agreements with Fincantieri and Navantia.

Last year, a report by think-tank RAND advised that using an existing design, most likely Britain’s Type 26 Frigate, for the warships would be the least risky option for Australia. RAND looked at three design and build options; an off-the-shelf design, a modified off-the-shelf design and an entirely new design.

“Each option would entail different risks and implications for the acquisition process and strategy. The pure military off-the-shelf solution (which most likely would be built outside Australia) probably would entail the least design and cost risk, given that there would be an experienced builder and active supplier base.”

The Type 26 represents the future backbone of the Royal Navy and a massive leap forward in terms of flexibility of surface vessels enjoyed by the service. It will replace 8 of 13 Type 23 Frigates and export orders are being sought after by BAE. The programme has been underway since 1998, initially under the name “Future Surface Combatant”.

International competition to build the Australian frigate fleet started after Australia changed plans for their new frigate ahead of the release of their defence white paper. The original plan detailed by former Defence Minister David Johnston, would have utilised the hull of the air warfare destroyer programme as the basis for the new class of frigate.

Australian Strategic Policy analyst Dr Andrew Davies said:

“It was a sensible decision given the destroyer hull was not really suited to the submarine hunting role of a purpose-built frigate, it was supposed to be a low-risk option but it was also more about preserving jobs than the Navy getting the warship it needs.”


  1. Would love the Aussies to commit to type 26 programme. It might bring unit costs down. Australia would get a world class ASW ship, the RN would have an ally with interchangeable capability. Makes a lot of sense, hope they go for it, although much lower unit cost of FREMM design £600 million vs current £1.23 billion for type 26 will probably swing it in the FREMMS favour. BAE greed likely to put Australia and Canada off.
    Hope BAE see the bigger picture and can qoute type 26 as being circa £700-800 million a hull, then it will have a chance vs FREMM.

    • The Australian defence minister has stated recently that AWS is the primary capability they are looking for with respect to the frigates. The cost of Type 26 fits in with the $35 billion budget for the future frigate program.

    • Dont forget the british defence and foreign ministers was in australia to talk about defence relationship, cyber, and etc, so they might have try to get the australian to buy type 26 frigate, and i think we are base one of our royal ships in australia our protection of trade links

    • Im sure a lot of the £1.3bn price tag came from R&D which would be discounted for Australia. Also the type 26 for the RN hasnt cut corners unlike fremm that has inferior radar and no multipurpose storage area or medium calibre gun. They are smaller less capable ships and id like to think if Australia wanted less capabulity bae could reduce the spec to match.

      • The RAN ships will be using CEATech radar, so whatever the FREMM and T26 have *now* they’ll be the same in the responses to the RFT

    • The reason T26 is so expensive is that the MOD require the yards to produce 1 ship per two years. Others in the know have stated that 1 ship per year would be achievable and it means we’re not paying twice for shipbuilding manpower – the expensive bit!

      I would build 10 T26, and once ships 9 & 10 are transferred to the Navy, sell ships 1& 2 the NZ for a knock down price. NZ would need to be on-board obviously but if they got a fully built and war ready ship for £300 million each, then they would find it hard to resist.

      I also hope that if Australia or Canada adopt the design, a couple of hulls should be built in the UK then transferred to the customer for final fit out of their specific kit. At the very least, we should be building a few blocks in the UK to keep our yards busy.

      Only by speeding up the build and buy building more in our yards will the price come down.

  2. Seeing as construction will take in Australia, the cost for that nation will be access to the design, support during construction and the weaponry, machinery and sensors.

    Much of the latter will be a bespoke Australian decision, for example ESSM rather than seaceptor. So should not be deciding factor

    So the cost differences between the various designs should be relatively small and the T26 therefore competitive? Does that make sense or is just a case of wishful thinking on my part.

  3. Mr Bell

    This may even open the door to 13 T26 again – BAE really do have to pull their finger out on this.

    If Canada, Australia and New Zealand all went for this then the costs start tumbling down and we can up the amount we order which will reduce costs even further.

    Time for everyone to start working together for the good of the UK and some of our most loyal allies.

    • Even though the original order of 13 will most likely never be reached I still believe the UK should have taken the lead for hull numbers. It’s our program and therefore we should be seen to take the lead by having the largest order which would reassure export partners that they are investing in a solid platform.

      • Well if Canada select the Type 26 for their frigate program, even the 13 for RN wouldn’t be the largest – they are building 15.

        The RFI submission for the USN FFG program is due at the end of this month – and they require 20. Will be interesting to see which companies and designs respond. I expect BAES to do so.

        • Yes, but if the RN kept to 13 and did what a few here think might be a possibility which is to run the T26 line on after the first 13 to build an AAW variant for 1-for-1 T45 replacement that would have ended up with 19 T26 for the RN. That I believe is the Canadian plan for their 15 frigates, some will be specialist AAW vessels.

          If we got some economies from export orders and could then benefit even further from having the T26 production line up and running and very mature by the time we got to T45 replacement we might even be able to squeeze an 8-for-6 replacement for T45 from a budget that otherwise would have needed to absorb a totally new design rather than mods to an existing design plus starting up a new production line for a new class from scratch.

          • I know what you’re getting at. I’m not that keen on the T31 concept myself – seems like doing something on the cheap. Would much prefer all the frigates to be T26.

            The Canadian plan is interesting as it means the T26 is a potential platform for anything. T45 replacement is still sometime away so will have to see how things go.

  4. i can see uk and australia using these ship in joint operation to hunt down Chinese or North Korean Submarines in pacific

      • You never know Chinese could be helping the North korean to build long range submarines, I just say also expect the unexpected

  5. I hope that the MOD see sense and up the order for the type 26 to say between 10 to 12. With the T45 this should give us enough high end escorts. The Type 31 can then be about fulfilling the Navy’s other commitments – hopefully getting at least 6 but preferably 8 or more. Likelihood? Not much I would wager!

  6. This may be a silly question from a squaddie rather than a sailor, but why the different radar on the Australian option?

  7. Comparing the Australian CEAFAR and CW illuminator with type 997 radar used by the RN, it would appear the Australian radar is significantly more advanced than the UK one.

    I would suggest budgetary constraints would deny the RN the CEAFAR option.

    • From what information and through what assessment method are you able to draw that conclusion? If UK wanted the best radar on Type 26 they would have gone with SAMPSON.

      CEAFAR is a home bred technology and its great for Australia to get in to the mix on these things but I’d wait for this to develop further to make such statements.

        • With respect Mike I think that you’ve just proved Matt’s point. The BAE link provides little more than a few media soundbites as far as information on Artisan 997 performance is concerned and the CEA link actually contains even less information than that about CEAFAR performance.

          Sadly for us lot (or at least for me) military radar specs seem to be some of the most classified of all (not surprisingly) so anyone who is in a position to do an accurate compare-and-contrast would probably get arrested if they talked about it outside of their security classification.

          • Plenty technical information on the internet regarding the superior performance of fixed array radar over the mechanical rotating type.

            As I said the rotating type is cheaper and lighter which is why it was probably selected to equip RN vessels.

        • I may be been a bit to harsh in my response. I’m sure the Australian radar is very good and it’s great for them to have this technology in-house and to be able to evolve this in the future.

          The UK solution is already mature and very capable in tracking small objects – has proven it abilities. I’m not so sure on the cost differences between Artisan and Ceafar however.

          • Matt just having a honest discussion about the merits of a particular radar type.

            The great thing about fixed array systems they give constant 360 degree coverage and target illumination. A rotating type cannot and is limited by the speed it rotates, I believe Type 997 has 30rpm, that means a supersonic sea skimming missile can travel around 50km between rotations. Timing is crucial when faced with these kind of attacks.

            Sampson overcomes this problem by having two antennas back to back.

            Type 997is a cost effective solution to the RN requirement, cheap, light and can retrofitted into existing masts.

            A CEAFAR radar is more expensive, heavy and require a completely new mast to be fited to existing warships.

            You pay for what you get, type 997 is cost effective solution but it is not as capable as fixed array type. If money was no object then the RN would have surely opted for fixed array.

          • Mike,
            did you take into account ;

            1) that ARTISAN sweeps electronically, simultaneously somewhere between 90 and 180 degrees nearly instantly all the time, so a target is UNILLUMINATED for only about half the time maximum.

            2) More importantly, that the radar is lighter, so can be placed much much higher than a fix array, so can see much further in term of the horizon, allowing it to pick up a sea skimming approach far earlier.

            3) And finally our AAW missiles like SeaViper and SeaCeptor carry their own radar, are ‘fire and forget’ unlike the US SM2 and can be fired on a partial contact immediately, and do not require the target to be radar illuminated from the ship at all for them to successfully prosecute the target themselves ?

            All im saying is its a very different concept of operation to the US or Australia,

            Although personally I think ours has some massive advantages.

          • Beno.

            1 yes I did take into account. The figure of 50km was based on the calculation that a target would not be tracked for half the rotation.
            2 yes being lighter the radar can be higher above the ship structure increasing coverage.
            3 no, seaceptor has no onboard radar. Guidance is dependent on a two way data link with type 997 radar and an active RF seeker.

            That is the problem with mechanical rotating radar against fixed array that two way data link cannot deliver data when it is not scanning or illuminating the target.

            With the advent of sea skimming stealth and/or hypersonic missiles time is of the utmost importance.

            There have been claims in the press that the russian Zircon missile is so fast that it an interception by a seaceptor missile is unlikely.

          • May I correct my last statement, that sea ceptor does have active radar homing seeker.

            My apologies.

          • Artisans ability to identify and track hundreds supersonic small targets instantly ( it see’s them), coupled with SeaCeptor having the fastest pop up launch, orientation and enguagement time ( and mimimum range ) of ANY AAW missile there is, makes your calculation a little simplistic. And debate unclear as to which is “better”.

            Reputedly the T26 time to enguagement is phenominally fast, faster than just about anything, allowing it to operate in the littoral waters where ASM can come of the land with little or no warning.

            If you look at an SM2,3 or 6 launch, you have burnt the 1 second rotation time of ARTISAN before the thing has oriented ( about 3 times over at least)

            your distance figure ( equivalent to 1 second ) is obviously a absolute worst case sinario, when the radar has JUST rotated past the target. 50% of the time a track will be picked up immediately. the other 50% it will, on average, be up in 0.5 seconds.

          • War inevitably comes down to the worst case scenario.

            You can offer an opinion on which radar is better, the evidence is that almost every nation that is in radar business is opting for a fixed array in preference to a mechanical rotating one. The sole exception being the UK.

            The UK decision is primarily based on cost, that doesn’t make it the wrong decision it just means that in my opinion we have a radar with a lower capability.

            I think it is unfair to compare seaceptor with SM family, ESSM would be a better comparison.

            How would 997 and sea ceptor cope against a zircon type hypersonic missile in your opinion?

          • Mike, rotating radars can be positioned higher and have more coverage than fixed arrays. The speed at which they rotate doesn’t hinder any detection abilities which is a common misconception. Also you use the term “mechanical radar” in such a way that overlooks its overall capability. Artisan has a computer system which uses 75% of the code as the SAMPSON/PAAMS system – which is the best in the world.

            The method for coping with a Zircon type missile would be to detect it, process its path target, calculate a trajectory for intercept and then launch CAMM missile. It doesn’t matter that a Zircon missile is hypersonic – something travelling at 10 times the speed of sound would still give Artisan around 14 seconds to react if it was picked up 50 kms away.

          • Matt not sure I agree that rotation speed not affect detection, but as for your other points I mostly agree.

            However why Is so much effort being placed by other nations into developing fixed array radars?

        • Mike, actually you are right – there is a speed of rotation where the ability to react is affected, but in terms of Artisan, this is adequate for missiles that exist or have been projected in future. I’ve not doubt ballistic missiles would undo Artisan as these go at 25 times the speed of sound – but that’s a whole different ball game.

          Essentially the whole end to end capability includes the radars ability to detect, the battle management systems to quickly identify risk and create a reaction plan, for a missile to be launched quickly, for that missile to be advanced in a way that can overcome the threat, and for guidance updates from management systems to the missile to the point of intercept.

          Radar is one element of this and even with the best radar in the world, if all the other parts are bottlenecks or not up to task, then the outcome may not be as expected.

          Typhoon jets are such an example. The radar is a brilliant mechanical radar but not the best in the world. All the other systems though are at the forefront technologically and therefore it can undo a lot of very advanced threats.

          • 997 was chosen because it needed to be retrofitted on to T23. The radar and stabilizing system needs to weight equal to or less than the 996 radar to avoid serious top weight issues. Cost was important but weight was the driver.

            As stated a lot of the tech developed from SAMPSON went into Artisan. It a bloody good radar set. Beam steering across the face gives it the ability to look left and right of the direction that the antenna is facing. It can also look up at air targets whilst also looking down for surface targets using beam steering and forming.

            Hypersonic missiles are a threat but there are other factors to consider when countering them. Things like killing the launch platform or mid course guidance platform before launch.
            Hypersonic and Supersonic missiles are basically straight line bullets, they don’t do turns very well. If you can get out of the seeker head cone you can avoid it. Early detection, Engines with quick reaction boost speed , tight turns, off board jamming, low RCS and decoys all help make it difficult for the missile to get to you.
            Anti missile warfare relies on a lot more than a radar set

  8. BAE Systems has in practice primarily adopted a rotating array as a compromise solution driven by cost, and that the weight argument in favour is offset by the added structural weight of rotation-proof housing and, of course, drive motors. If phased arrays had zero cost, a multi-face fixed set-up would surely have been preferred be preferred as the advantages of a fixed set-up are so significant.

  9. Not taking anything away from the offerings from Fincantieri and Navantia but if the Australians decided to go with one of these two companies then they would end up kicking themselves as soon as a Royal Navy Type 26 arrives at their port wondering what could have been.

    The Type 26 has been designed for noise reduction from the outset. The pipes carrying air and liquids have been designed to minimise noise. Even the flushing of toilets.

    The Australians would not only get a top of the range ship in the Type 26 but knowledge transfer, the opportunity to export the ship and the possibility of increased exports of defence products to the UK in future.

  10. Who actually owns the design, BAE or the Royal Navy / MOD?
    IF Australia was to select the Type 26, could we spread the research and development costs over a larger number of hulls thus lowering the effective per unit cost for the RN? Or would BAE simply increase their profit margin by selling the design?

  11. Dreaming a bit here, but wouldn’t it great if the US decided the T26 was the answer to there ASW needs…….

    • The USN FFG(x) RFI submission is due at the end of this month and I expect the Type 26 to be put forward by BAE. The range of designs that will get submitted by industry will itself be interesting.

    • I think the Type 26 would be ideal for the US Navy’s frigate requirement. The US would get a top of the range stealthy and silent sub hunter and save millions in R&D trying to build their own. The Australian version could be used as a template. It could be built in the US under license with US radar, Mark 41 VLS and Rolls Royce MT30 gas turbines. Any modifications to the design would need to be carefully considered due to the noise reduction requirements.

  12. The UK has missed a trick here

    In the same way that the US has set up the F35 fleet – we should be doing the same for our allies with the T26.

    I believe the RN is the pre-eminent ASW navy in the world and we should be using that to get buyers for T26 – we should then look to spread manufacturing across all partners.

    Would it be so bad if all the hulls were made in each individual country but that the engines come from RR (all of them) and perhaps we standardise on the US combat system and VLS systems. Missiles and Radar are then at each country’s discretion.

    Seems to me that would be a win / win all round. Taking this to its conclusion though a single country producing all the hulls would be more economically efficient – but politically out of order.

    I think the T26 BAE team need to do what LM do so successfully and spread the manufacturing load across partner countries but skew certain items to one manufacturer (RR for instance) to provide a really efficient global support network.

    Good opportunity this to do something ground breaking and exciting for all our partners

  13. On the subject of Radar I believe the RN could and should put Sampson on the T26 fleet – at which point they are better than a T45 (72 VLS, acoustically quiet hull, similar size). I have read that BAE themselves have said that Sampson is so good it does not require the 1850 radar, but this may also need to be added to an AAW variant of the T26.

    The Artisan radar is not as powerful as Sampson and as far as I can see the Radars are not as expensive as you would imagine (Artisan circa £5m each) so even if Sampson is £20m each that is a drop in the ocean for such an expensive asset.

    We can and should replace T45 with a T26 AAW over time – but in the meantime we need to up arm and man the current T45 fleet which are just being under used – it is waste on an extreme level I am afraid.

    There are difference in what a rotating and fixed panel array offer – in the end I think Sampson is the equal if not better than any other Radar in its class and the artisan is similar by all accounts.

    If there is an occasion where an artisan needs to track more than the 400 tennis ball size objects travelling at Mach 3 than it can already then I think we are already in trouble (by comparison Sampson can track 1000+ similar objects).

  14. Hi Pacman, you raise some very good points. It is highly likely that the Type 45 replacement will end up being a Type 26 AAW variant as it will be quicker and cheaper to build more hulls as opposed to designing, building and testing a new quieter Destroyer from scratch.

    The Type 26 AAW variant could be designed to accommodate the Sampson radar or a fixed radar (provided by BAE) in future.

    If the Type 26 AAW variant is chosen (to replace the Type 45) then it will mean BAE will be the supplier – again. In my opinion, there would have to be an agreement with BAE to allow ships to be built outside of BAE yards if the Type 26 AAW variant is chosen.

  15. My final comment on rotating versus fixed array radar.

    Extracts from the ECN magazine dated 2014.

    “Phased array radar is now widely used in military environments because they are able to track hundreds of targets — typical in a saturation attack — and because they are not susceptible to mechanical failure such as when the motor in a rotational radar malfunctions. A phased array system is comprised of several antennae spread evenly apart in a panel to send out RF signals in all directions and angles. These signals incorporate a phase shift to change the effective radiation pattern to point to a specific direction, bypass other directions, and to change directions in just a fraction of a second.

    By relying on electronic signals instead of a rotating sweep, phased array radar is able to send out different sized beams to perform specific functions such as an individual search beam, and others for object tracking and altitude – all in one system. Therefore, it can track multiple targets and perform multiple tasks at the same time.

    Rotating the radar faster decreases the range its signals can cover since those signals would only be able to travel a shorter distance to and from the target before the next sweep, resulting in a smaller range in which to detect an object. If an object is indeed detected, radars often wait an additional second to perform another sweep and correlate the two echoes while processing information about that target. That reduced range to detect an object coupled with the added time to verify the target results in less time to respond to threats and less-detailed returns for stealthier or more sophisticated targets.

    The goal for radar system designers is to enable operators to see in all directions and to counter attacks instantaneously. Today’s power dividers provide fast, efficient signaling necessary for fixed array radar to efficiently scan multiple targets across an increasingly longer range with the resolution that is needed to reduce the chance of penetration by an otherwise overwhelming, coordinated attack from the sky.”

    • Mike, I posted this above, but was getting very crowded up there!

      Actually you are right – there is a speed of rotation where the ability to react is affected, but in terms of Artisan, this is adequate for missiles that exist or have been projected in future. I’ve not doubt ballistic missiles would undo Artisan as these go at 25 times the speed of sound – but that’s a whole different ball game.

      Essentially the whole end to end capability includes the radars ability to detect, the battle management systems to quickly identify risk and create a reaction plan, for a missile to be launched quickly, for that missile to be advanced in a way that can overcome the threat, and for guidance updates from management systems to the missile to the point of intercept.

      Radar is one element of this and even with the best radar in the world, if all the other parts are bottlenecks or not up to task, then the outcome may not be as expected.

      Typhoon jets are such an example. The radar is a brilliant mechanical radar but not the best in the world. All the other systems though are at the forefront technologically and therefore it can undo a lot of very advanced threats.


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