BAE Systems is promoting the Type 26 frigate in a potential deal with New Zealand.

No decision is likely to be made for a number of years for a ship not likely to hit the water towards the end of next decade, however.

Steve Timms, BAE managing director for naval ships was reported as saying:

“New Zealand is clearly interested”, adding that a deal could involve “two or three” vessels.

New Zealand would join the UK, Australia and Canada in ordering the design.

In addition, the Financial Times reported recently that Boris Johnson, former UK foreign secretary and a favourite to replace Theresa May as Prime Minister, told members of the Conservative party in Perth last week that he thought New Zealand would “come in” to the Type 26 programme.

The Type 26 frigate represents the future backbone of the Royal Navy and a massive leap forward in terms of flexibility of surface vessels enjoyed by the service.

The  class will replace 8 of the 13 Type 23 frigates of the Royal Navy and export orders are being sought after by BAE.

The programme has been underway since 1998, initially under the name ‘Future Surface Combatant’. The programme was brought forward in the 2008 budget at the expense of Type 45 destroyers 7 and 8.

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If you read what people say on New Zealand websites, most of them see the New Zealand Defence force as ideally as a search & rescue service for their large rescue zone, a disaster relief organisation for themselves and small Pacific nations, a fisheries and border protection force, and a surveillance force. A combat force is never the highest priority. Many ask why they even need a defence force at all when they are so far away from the world trouble spots. They often say why spend the money when any opponent will have to get past the US and… Read more »

Geoffrey Roach

“brought forward in the 2008 budget at the expense of Type 45 destroyers 7 and 8” Another great bit of planning! We’re two destroyers down and still waiting for the frigates. MOD and ministers please note. Get a move on with the Type 31 or order another block of T 26’s now.


It would not make sense to order another batch yet, we are going to order more, no one really believes we will not order more.

Order at the right time, when its much clearer what the capabilities and costs are going to be in a few years when we know the scale of the program.

As more countries join, the supply chain will get better, cheaper and more resilient, allowing us to get a great price for future batches.

Im pretty sure we will end up with 13 of them, maybe we can get the price to under a billion.


In the meantime, we have to escort our flagged tankers through the Straits of Hormuz. Brilliant government planning….

Daniele Mandelli

Morning Geoffrey.

The MoD love their fiddles. And that is a fine example. Scandalous but not enough of the public care I’m afraid.

Mike O

Very true. It is one of the main reasons I like engaging on websites such as this. Every view, comment or search for defence related material is a reminder that there are at least some of the general public who care and will vote for defence.

Paul T

What’s that saying ‘ A Bird In The Hand Is Worth Two In The Bush’. Yes to sacrifice Two Type 45’s for an imaginary Frigate to me doesn’t seem the cleverest decision made.

Ryan S

I believe the government is in the Process of ordering the next batch now seen it yesterday I’ll see if I can find the link

I agree whole heartedly with this, with the expense of 1.2 billion for the Type 45 we could have got 2 more Type 26 or more weapons on it.


Seems very unlikely to me given the cost. Why would NZ want an ASW asset like the T26 anyway? A reasonably armed T31 perhaps.


Same reason they have purchased the Poseidon aircraft. To hunt submarines in their region, keep their sea lanes open, and contribute to shared naval alliances. I agree that the Type 26 seems too large for what NZ requires, so perhaps they are hedging their bets on what they may require in the future when their 2 recently refurbished (well, 1 done, 1 to go) ANZAC frigates get long in the tooth in a decade or so. If they do seek the Type 26 then, the UK, Australian and Canadian shipyards will be knee deep in delivering their own versions of… Read more »


It will still be too expensive. Their total annual budget is about £3.4bn. I understand why they might want it and why their allies would appreciate the help in keeping sea lanes open, but the cost is prohibitive without a significant increase in spending. I wonder if they wouldn’t be better off contributing to the overall effort in other ways i.e with general purposes frigates / concentrate on the P8s.

Matthew East

True it is a small budget but in the decade leading up to the requirement for a new ship they will have already updated most of the big ticket items via there $20 billion defence increase over the next decade. After that there would be money to spare, Enough to acquire the new ships what ever class they may be.


Maybe they would be focused on joint operations mainly, a great contribution to coalition fleets, perhaps led by a QE carrier, or licensed variant thereof.

With 3 they would be able to have 1 permanently deployed without much trouble.


Their defence budget is 1.1% of GDP. Instead of everyone whingeing about the UK… maybe we should suggest NZ upps it’s level to ours.


Could be they’ll select the Canadian or Australian model of the T26, which is a bit more fleshed out in other areas besides ASW?


Not massively. The changes are really only more powerful radars and complete 32 Mk41 instead of 24 plus 48 Sea Ceptors. Artisan is still more than capable enough though, and the Kiwis already operate Sea Ceptor so the lighter, cheaper, and less maintenance intensive softlaunch system on the RN spec is probably appealing. Combined with the UK built ships being MASSIVELY cheaper largely due to a more established domestic shipbuilding industry (Aus spec has a programme cost of AUS$35bn, which split between 9 ships and converted is £2.17bn per hull compared to ~£1bn for ours), and the RNZN is far… Read more »


I wonder if it would be cheaper for them to lease a few T26s instead?


How come Australia are building these ships at twice the cost we can do? Are they thick? Or are these costs not comparable?


The lesser part of it is equipment difference. I imagine that big CEAFAR2 radar is significantly more expensive than Artisan, plus another few million for the extra Mk41 launchers. The bigger part is because construction costs aren’t the same everywhere. China and Russia build ships relatively cheaply because of very low labour costs, the US doesn’t have those low labour costs but it’s yards are very experienced and efficient. The Clyde yards are also experienced and skilled, although a lot of their efficiency is wasted because of the forced delay in the T26 build. The Oz yards are neither particularly… Read more »

Trevor Holcroft

I still don’t see it.. They are going to be 2ce the cost – this is not taken up by the extra over cost of radar system is it? You suggest in fact that we in UK will not be efficient in building these ships deliberately (I dont not know where there is any proof of that – but lets assume it for the moment) – well you also say the Aussies are not efficient as well. Plus you say that being inefficient and costing 2ce as much is somehow going to benefit their economy and make more tax (!).… Read more »


As I said previously, the more advanced radar is the lesser part of the price difference. CEAFAR2 is a more advanced, higher end system produced in smaller quantities; logically it adds cost relative to Artisan. I’m not suggesting that we in the UK are being less efficient on purpose, I’m stating. It’s old news that the Type 26 build programme was purposefully slowed down because the MoD lacked the yearly budget to pay for them up front. This is quite infamously a part of why the cost of these ships is nearly the same as a Type 45, despite using… Read more »

Trevor Holcroft

The result stays the same. Are these radars costing 1 billion a ship? Fair enough if they are, but that is a huge extra over cost. There can be very little else of significance between them. Both are supposed to be anti submarine ships arent they? We too are building ships which sustains our economy as do Canada and Australia. Are they really sustaining their work to the tune of 1 million a ship? Do they have the money to burn in their defence budget? We are saying their ships are 2.44 billion when a QE class was 3.1 billion… Read more »


I feel like you’ve misunderstood what I’m saying. The radar is the LESSER part of the reason for the much higher price per ship. I don’t know the precise cost of CEAFAR2, but it’s not a billion pounds; an educated guess would put it in the tens or low hundreds of millions, maybe £200mn at most. The RAN and RCN ships need to be more multipurpose than the T26 due to the lack of carriers and other assets. Just because the rest of the ship is the same though, does NOT mean they come out at the price. For example,… Read more »

Bob Wagstaff

Isn’t the figure for the last ship built (around 2040), the high price takes into account Inflation?


Perhaps the reason is that the Aussies are in fact creating a comprehensive indigenous start to finish warship building capability; skills included, such that after T26 they could design and build?
You have to pay to build or regenerate capabilities, as we have discovered with River 2 and Astute.

Matthew East

Point of fact. When we started the Hobarts it was the first major war ship being built in years, By the time the 3rd one was under way we had cut time needed per a ship by more then half. When we acquired the Anzacs by the time we built the last couple they where actually being built cheaper in Australia then similar (actually less capable) vessels built in Germany. Australia’s issue isnt that the workers and yards arent any good but rather government in the past failed to fill in the gaps to keep workers retained and skills up… Read more »


Exactly right,. A very similar thing happened with our submarine production at Barrow: so much dawdling occurred that vital skills and experience were lost between the last Vanguard and the first Astute.

I apologise if it sounded like I was running the Oz yards down at all. I was actually using the same logic as you, that each project was effectively a fresh start instead of building on previous experience.

Mark Keeler

I believe this is being addressed as part of the build program. More apprentices than you can shake a stick at.

Big spending here in Perth for a new training centre.

Glass Half Full

I recall reading that Australian defence program budgets are based on total lifetime costs of a program, not just initial procurement and early years in service costs, so I suspect this may explain the cost differences.


Thank you. Your point is a good one and people need to look carefully when we are trying to compare defence projects from different countries. Assuming this is correct then Canada must be the same. It certainly seems to make some sense of the cost comparisons. It also possibly might mean that NZ could afford a T26 after. It also suggests to me that we ourselves could if needed put an area defence aircraft radar version onto a T26 platform to supliment D45s and leave out the ASW bits.

Matthew East

Personnaly I would keep both the AAW and the ASW bits. The technology is improving so much in both fields and the size of the Type 26 allows us to have both. Australia going to have both.. Maybe not the biggest radar but one that is more then up to the job and only getting improved further. If you can get 80+ % of the capability at a fraction of the cost and not have to give up ASW then that is a win especially if every ship in the fleet as at that level or better.


You are correct, Canada includes lifetime costs in the pricing.


Its not just CEAFAR2 that will add to the cost. There will be a major redesign involved with getting the radar onboard. Look up some of the recent photo’s of the newly refitted HMAS Warramunga that has just had its CEFAR1 upgraded to CEFAR2. The mast for the radar is nothing like the UK T26. RAN vessels are going to get the AEGIS command and control system which is another big ticket item completely different from the UK fit. RAN vessels will use ESSM 2 and not Sea Ceptor so that in all likelyhood means extra Mk 41s quad packed… Read more »

Matthew East

Small correction, The radars werent actually upgraded from CEAFAR1 to CEAFAR2 but rather CEAFAR2-L was added in addition to the previously installed CEAFAR radar’s. The original CEAFAR/CEAMOUNT work in the S/X bands while the new radar replacing the SPS-49(V)8 works in the L band. It is one of the benefits of the CEAFAR radar, They can be modified from factory to various different bands as required by the purchaser. Gives a good insight into the capability of the CEAFAR considering they are replacing a radar with a 250nm range with it. One of the key aspects of the CEAFAR2-L compared… Read more »

Matthew East

Should be careful about comparing costs. If indications are to go by then the Oz budget can very well include inflation, a cost over run safety net (At times as much as 30%) and some programs even have life time costs build into them. Not saying it is all the case but some likely is so comparing prices is like chalk and cheese.


I’d wager that they want them because the Chinese have a truly massive submarine fleet. Having a platform like the 26 would be a very handy for them, especially one that is (more or less) common with the Aussies.

I think they’re angling for a nice little deal here, which they might just get if the stars line up and the winds blow the right way.


There is no chance of New Zealand ordering this. The Anzac class pushed their budget to the limit which they only ordered for commonality with Australia. If they need a long range patrol vessel they should go for the Absalon-class support ship similar to Arrow head 140.

David E Flandry

They might participate but purchase a bare-bones ship. Their ANZAC frigates were less capable than the Australian ones at first, taking years to add other capabilities. With only two frigates they need capable ships.

Paul T

BB85 – I’m not too sure,i might suggest that Commonality might be a (very) high price worth paying.If for example they did order 2 Type 26’s it would be logical to me to have them built in Australia as was the case for the ANZAC’s.With its geographical position an order for another Absalon/Arrowhead class of ship would surely put any major works /maintenance and upkeep well away from the likely build location in Europe,although I accept that their ANZAC upgrade programme is being carried out in a Canadian shipyard.


There should be a few countries interested in 2-3. These ships are unlikely to be built in those countries so the question is.. where would they be built?

What countries do you think might be interested is small batches of 26’s, especially if there is a global support infrastructure and huge economies of scale.


Assuming this happens, it makes eminent sense to have common naval vessels in what will potentially, become the most disputed waters in the World. RN operations in the area would also benefit from the commonality of components across the multi-national Type26 fleet?


Indeed. China is very active in the Asia pacific region and undermining NZ and Australia influence. They dont need massive volumes but they need robust kit



They’d definitely benefit from a huge spares pool, and there is of course the huge benefit to UK industry.

Somehow, and God knows none of us expected it, but BAE have actually designed the next MEKO by accident


New Zealand has a smaller population than Scotland and spends well below 2% of GDP on defence. Would love to see this happen but this seems like a stretch


1.1%, which equates to about £3.4bn. Agreed, it would be a huge stretch and is highly unlikely.


I’d happily allocate some of the foreign aid budget to subsidize T26 for RNZN.

Would benefit everyone! Except the liberals who’re hell bent on insisting on what is basically a huge vanity project for disconnected politicians.


Before anyone comments that the foreign aid budget is needed – I do agree – but not to the extent that is currently enshrined in law.

For example the defence equipment budget for our entire armed forces over the next 10 years is £189 billion. In that same time period the foreign aid budget will have spent circa £144 billion… Let that sink in for a while…


It’s ridiculous isn’t it. Particularly when you consider that all of that will have to be borrowed and adds to the (already huge) national debt.


For one of the worlds wealthiest economies seems fair to me. 0.7% was target set by UN in 1970, we only met it in 2013. Only ither countries to do so are Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Luxembourg and Germany. On the whole a fairly progressive group I’m happy to see Britain part of. The money also isn’t necessarily just given away and can be given in the form of low interest loans. Yes there are flaws with the distribution of aid and who receives it, but the principle and commitment to what the UN has agreed should be the target for… Read more »


A good proportion of the money would be better spent at home. Being proud of foreign aid when homelessness and mental health issues to name a few, are as prevalent as they are now in this country, is not something to be proud of. never mind defence matters.

Also I think the majority of the countries you noted are currently running a budget surplus. Not something we are any where near achieving. Hence Rob’s point of borrowing to give away. it is utterly ridiculous in my opinion – but then again opinions are like arseholes.. Everyone has one!!


I dont see you advocating aid to be spent on homelessness.

Why cant people just accept this is the right and decent thing to do for all countries.

If we want more defense funding, then allocate more budget. Its got nothing to do with aid money.

Get over it already.


I think you need to get over yourself, Andy. The default position of immediately resorting to insults in the face of a differing opinion is becoming more and more common place. It’s very tiresome. You do see me advocating that a portion of the foreign aid budget be spent on more pressing matters at home such as homelessness because I said it. The country has a finite amount of financial resources and an increase in ANY budget will be at the behest of other government departments and their budgets. As I said before, I agree that it has a place… Read more »


I haven’t read any comments stating that we shouldn’t give foreign aid. I think you have made some assumptions. I have no problem helping those in need. It is the arbitrary way this is funded which needs addressing in my opinion. Fixing an amount then trying to work out how to spend it is the wrong way round. Yes we have many issues that need addressing in the UK too, the fact that we concentrate on defence is rather due to the theme of this site. It isn’t the last place to debate all the other areas that need more… Read more »


Apologies meant to respond sooner as this is an area I’m interested in, unfortunately family matter came up. So because I seem to have nothing better on a Saturday lunchtime looked up the following. You’re correct in that in 2016 the other 5 were in surplus or close to. Defence spending for all was significantly less. Also included global soft power position. Budget Surplus [1] Defence [2] Global Soft Power Position [4] Norway +4.01% 1.55% 15 Denmark -0.07% 1.16% 13 Lux +1.63% 0.39% ~ Germany +0.91% 1.20% 3 Sweden +1.11% 1.03% [3] 9 UK -2.9% 2.18% 2 For me considering… Read more »


Germany do not meet the 0.7% target.

In fact they’re way off…Germany is at 0.49%, France at 0.36%, Japan at 0.21% and the US at 0.15%.

Personally I think the 0.7% target is ludicrous. It dates back to 1970 and does not reflect how the world has changed. I’d bring the UK’s back to c.0.40% and re-invest the remainder in UK education, R & D and a small amount to defence that could be dual used.


The official target for developed countries is 0.7% of GDP for aid. NZ only spends 1.1% of GDP in entirety of defence. So its NZ we should be looking at first. It’s only a guess but I would have thought it should concentrate on maritime defence procurement. Our own equipment budget is half the whole defence budget. I am not sure it helps to try to compare it to anythi g else.

Whether we should spend that 0.7 on aid or get better value for it is a different matter.


New Zealand like Australia has comparatively a low GDP to Debt ratio circa 20% where as the UK has around 90%. I’m sure they can find the money down the back of the sofa to buy 2-3 Type 26’s if they really wanted too.


Would be great, especially if we built them but it’s unlikely. Too costly for a small nation. On another note, both candidates for uk PM are now saying extra for defence potentially. Let’s say the RN gets a boost of around 3 billion over the next few years, should we go all out on additional platforms to get the size (bearing in mind manning them) or would it be best to get a small number of new assets and upgrade what we have so we have a more rounded fleet? Based on us only operating one carrier group, this is… Read more »

Geoffrey Roach

A thought occurred to me watching the news this morning about the gulf….I’m sure many of you ship enthusiasts out there will remember the Brave, Dark and dare I say it, Gay class FPB’s of the 1950/1960’S. a modern equivalent for service in places like the gulf. Inexpensive to buy and crew but powerful enough to do some real harm to a potential attacker.


Interesting discussion Geoffrey. I still think there is potential to reap a big economy of scale with a less capable vessel based on the Type 26 hull to replace the T31. Such a vessel might be affordable for the Kiwis and attract interest elsewhere. The added advantage would be widespread commonality with our Commonwealth allies. Surely tooling up for such a small run T31 frigate cannot be all that much cheaper than a stripped down T26 in a potential run of 30 or more hulls. The production run is up and producing already so ratcheting that up now will deliver… Read more »

Geoffrey Roach

Thanks Geoff..we are obviously of a similar mind and I like “Admiral Hunt” although I can’t vote.
Any Tory voters?
So far Jeremy Hunt has talked about increasing defence spending constantly but I don’t think Boris Johnson has mentioned it once. If I could vote I know who it would be for.


Perhaps another alternative for the RNZN would be a heavily UPARMED T31? Really pack the design with everything it’s capable of. The Kiwis could get several for the price of 3 T26. It would be a better fit for their limited manning as well.


Paul T

Geoff – id agree,im not convinced the T31 will ever see the light of day,but a T26 ‘Lite’ ,with fewer Bells and Whistles makes more sense to me.An order for 5+ from Admiral Hunt (or Johnson) would be the best case scenario with NZ having a further 2.


I’m sure I recall in the early days of T26 BAE saying something like ‘ some customers will choose s cheaper all diesel option’. What killed off T26 lite as a contender for T31, the £250m limit? Events and defence budget thinking have moved on. Is this limit still valid? There must now be a case for BAE to propose growth in T 26 numbers based on a cheaper hull even if this does mean a rethink on T31 size and growth potential. How would 25yr costs of ownership for an all T26 fleet compare with s mixed frigate fleet… Read more »

Paul T

Paul. P – perhaps once the Type 31 programme was initiated it all but killed off any need for a more Austere T26 version.There has been many threads on here regards the T31 and most are in agreement that the £250m limit is pushing the boundaries of what is actually possible.I believe the T31 makes a lot of sense but seeing as the T26 has scored major export sales perhaps a change of PM will see more than 8 ordered for the RN.


NZ could get half a dozen heavily armed corvettes for the price of one 26.


Good point Cam. Maybe a route for the RN instead of the 31. Numbers are important-as has been pointed out, even the most capable ship can only be in one place at a time! There are of course downsides to smaller vessels. The SA Navy bought modified strike craft from Israel in the 60’s and 70’s-well armed, fast and agile but very uncomfortable in the blue water of the SA coastline! From memory, under 1000 tonnes


Which would be useless. Look at NZ on a map. They need range, endurance and good sea keeping.


‘Hit the water end of the next decade’ ? All accounts I have read put it ‘hitting the water’ 2025 latest.


According to NZ defense capability plan 2019, RNZN ANZAC replacement will see investment decisions after 2030, to replace them around mid-2030s. T26 hull-1 will hit the water 2 years from now (say, 2021), fitted out, tested, certified and then delivered to RN on 2025 (and then commission on 2027). The last hull is expected to commission on 2035. If ever RNZN could adopt T26, it matches well. RAN’s T26 is basically planned to be delivered on 2026, with the last hull on 2042 (in 2018 BAE Australia brochure, not Australian government official doc.) So, in any case, T26 production will… Read more »

Geoffrey Hicking

Cooperate with Canada and Australia on the Type 26, and NZ on the Type 31e. Possibly?


i thought having the 2 extra T45,s would have been more beneficial than bringing forward the frigate build,as the build is that slow the first one might hit the water when the T 45 is passed its sell buy date

Levi Goldsteinberg

I’ve just spent the last two weeks gallivanting around NZ by car and it didn’t stop amazing and delighting me how strong a connection Kiwis feel to the UK. It’s a kind of far-from-home connection I’ve only experienced before in places like Falklands and St Helena. Only partially related, but thought some of you may find that interesting


NZ has long been our closest ‘kith and kin’ cousin. During the Falklands War they sent one of their few Frigates to the Middle East to cover the necessary departure of the on station RN Frigate. By contrast, although where I live in KZN was often dubbed the Last Outpost of the British Empire, some locals delighted in Britain’s troubles in the South Atlantic. A local customiser even produced a version of the Cortina dubbed (E)Xocet after Sheffield was hit!!


The reason that there’s as strong connection is that close to half of all white NZ’ers are either UK born or first gen Uk expats. It’s one of the really annoying things about living there. The cultural cringe of NZ’ers doffing their caps to the UK is nauseating.

Douglas Lindsay

The UK should increase defence spending to 3 per cent of GDP.Give the RN what it needs and restore its strength to Cold War Levels and we should invest to build fighting ships for export.We may no longer be the biggest and most powerful navy but we have the knowledge and experience second only to our greatest Ally the USA.Douglas Lindsay

Chris J

I could certainly see the NZ case for the Type 31, but I don’t see why NZ would need a high-end ASW frigate like the Type 26, unless they’re developing plans to become more engaged in the SW Pacific?


I suspect as others have suggested – the same reason they’ve bought the P-8, China’s getting closer, NZ have a strong interest/need in keeping the sea lanes open and this would be their level one contribution to a future coalition. Also in the 2030 timeframe other equipment needs have been covered, its time to invest in their Navy.


Would something like Damien’s crossover vessels not be more suited to NZ’s needs: