Despite speculation that steel cutting for the first Type 31 Frigate has slipped due to COVID19, it has been confirmed that the steel will be cut this year as planned.

Kevan Jones, MP for North Durham, asked:

“To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, pursuant to Answer 5 March 2020 to Question 21163, with regards to the Type 31 Frigate contract, whether his Department still plans to cut steel this year.”

Jeremy Quin, Minister of State for the Ministry of Defence, replied:

“Yes, on current plans the steel will be cut for the first of the Type 31 Frigates in 2021.”

Last year, we learned that that work was being undertaken to mitigate any potential impact from COVID-19 on the Type 31 programme.

Douglas Chapman, the Shadow SNP Spokesperson for Small Business, Enterprise and Innovation, asked via a Parliamentary written question:

“To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what assessment he has made of the effect of the covid-19 pandemic on the timescale of the Type 31e frigate project.”

Jeremy Quin, Minister of State for the Ministry of Defence, responded:

“The Department is working with Babcock and its suppliers to de-risk and mitigate any potential for impact to the Type 31 programme due to COVID-19. Most of the current key outputs for the programme are focused on design, infrastructure development and supply chain mobilisation, and work continues within the Government’s safe working requirements.”

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Captain P Wash

This is great news though…… isn’t it ?

Ian M.

Trouble is, they’re probably using a Junior hacksaw, it’ll take ages.

Supportive Bloke

Great news. the timescales and costs are contracted and they have a state of the art panel line. i think our minds are being focused by Russian and Sino antics. After 25 years of excessive cuts and stretching delivery schedules we are now in a sprint to keep up and get back to where we should be. For once the priorities are driven by the defensive posture required and not just by a desire to spend oceans of money on priorities and chop everything else including Defence. i’m also sure that increased Defence spending is spurred on by CanadIan and… Read more »

Jonathan

“It is Sometimes cheaper to wisely spend money,” never a truer word spoken, in most things prevention is better than cure. That is true in defence as anywhere else. The problem is convincing everyone when you have prevented the issue to then keep spending. The nuclear deterrent is a classic example, we can be pretty sure spending that money prevented the Soviets from invading Europe and triggering WW3, which would have cost a lot more……but how do you really prove that to the bean counter when challenged about the further value of the programme.

Steve

I think we can be pretty sure it won’t have an impact on Russia invading Europe. For starters France and Germany has access to nukes and secondly America has a whole load them of. Additionally it’s not clear if Russia could win a land war in Europe, their military strength isn’t what it used to be and you don’t start a war that you aren’t sure you will win. Finally we don’t have enough nukes to wipe out Russia but they sure do have enough to wipe out the UK and so Russia knows we would never use them. I’m… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Steve
Jonathan

Hi steve i was not talking about Russia, instead I was talking about the Soviet Union which is a different geopolitical beast to modern russia. The Soviet Union from 1945 to around the middle of the 1980s had the conventional forces to eat Europe alive. It was also their recorded strategic goal to do so if they could. The only thing that gave them pause was the west’s nuclear forces. To really understand the importance of the U.K. component to this you need to get into the politics of nuclear weapons and potential outcomes. Now in all this you have… Read more »

geoff

Morning Jonathan. A well written and comprehensive piece(MAD-Mutual Admiration Department) 🙂 There are in my opinion two essential truths in this debate. Firstly, the world is stuck with Nukes. There is no conceivable route through which we can achieve worldwide Nuclear Disarmament. Secondly, it is almost inevitable that at some point, these weapons will be deployed given the fact that they are spreading and in the hands of some unpredictable individuals. The critical factor when that happens is-can such a conflict be contained? So either the world will be chastened and that might give us some breathing space going forward,… Read more »

Andy P

Hi Geoff, I’m with you on Pandora’s box being well and truly opened on nuclear weapons. Until the planet is able to work as a unit there will be factions and if ‘the other lot’ have it then….

geoff

That’s it Andy. The CND are/were noble in their cause but basically wasting their time. What a piece of work is man..NOT!

Steve

I agree with everything you state other than the conclusion. It was the US and it’s ability to level Russia completely and potentially before Russia could respond that prevented and thoughts of war. I’m sure ours helped but if they were removed I am pretty sure the outcome would have been exactly the same. Really the only question is if the US would have taken us as seriously and if the US would have ended up managing us effectively as a colony like they do with most of the ‘dependent’ countrie, but we have no idea how US polictics would… Read more »

Gunbuster

Only part I disagree with is that I believe it is doubtful that the Strategic level weapons that gave you MAD would immediately come into play. This would probably only have happened at some time after NATO had used its small tactical weapons to break the Warsaw Pact formations as they streamed into Germany and Theatre level weapons had been used against targets in the Europe and Warsaw pact countries. The MAD use of the strategic City Killer weapons or counterstrike/counter force weapons was always a threat but there where a couple of steps to be taken first to get… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Gunbuster
Nathan

These are really good explorations of the nuclear calculus. Thanks everyone.

Jonathan

And the imminent threat of nuclear Armageddon just seemed a safer place than the modern geopolitical map ( you knew that it would take a real cock up to cause WW3, now we just have lots of areas of instability all waiting for a small misstep to blow up in our faces).

Give me communists over gangsters and religious nutters.

Daveyb

Don’t forget during the Cold War, we also had a staged response of both strategic and tactical nuclear weapons. We had both Polaris followed by Trident ICBMs, but also the free fall parachute retarded WE177 A, B and C bombs. In RAF use, this weapon was going to be used against vehicle harbour areas, fuel and ammo dumps etc behind enemy lines but also against mechanized brigades/divisions attempting to push through ours. It was one of the reasons why the Tornado did so much low level flying training, as it was seen to be the only way to have a… Read more »

Andy P

A good read that Jonathan, I hadn’t considered the UK as third or separate player, I’ve always assumed it was just a seat at the big table and wanting to be a big boy. Its an interesting dynamic.

Pete

I assume the need isn’t necessarily to wipe them out. I assume its to make the potential price (consequences) of action too high relative to any prize sought…..enough to deter.

Always worth considering if there are more efficient means of deterence.

Steve R

It’s entirely clear whether Russia would win a land war in Europe; Russia would get spanked!

Meirion X

Are you suggesting that if the UK could promise to keep up F-35B buys, and maybe other purchases too, in return for a trade deal? I wonder if that is possible?
Ho well and good outcome if so!

Last edited 1 month ago by Meirion X
Supportive Bloke

It is all part of the big blender that is international relations.

Joe needs something to take to the audience back home. USA did trade deal because our reliable UK partner is stepping up to the plate and taking pressure off US forces by spending £XYZ on new military kit. Probably dressed up with some fluff about sharing QEC technology as the Ford program is unaffordable. Before someone says it the America class isn’t nuclear.

We need a US or TTIP trade deal pretty urgently.

Rob

Truth is the RN need these ships like yesterday so come on Babcock, put a metaphorical bomb under it and churn them out. Even with the very limited weapons fit they will be useful platforms and, who knows, we maybe able to bolt on a fairly formidable weapons capability later and even get a second batch of five. If Babcock can produce these ships on time and on budget they will have a very marketable warship with proven production and costing to sell around the world. Maybe ongoing development of the design will mean we are able to flog on… Read more »

Ron5

The government set the schedule for the T26 build. Not Bae.

Steve R

It’s not Babcock’s decision on how fast they’re built. They could probably build a ship a year or so if HMG stumped up the cash to do so. Same applies with the Type 26s and Astutes; slow build rate is entirely down to MoD.

Mark

The RN don’t have crew to accept vessels any faster

Supportive Bloke

Babcock are committed to building the T31 pretty fast. Most people question wether the build speed can be achieved! It is T26 that is achingly slow at Treasury behest.

We have been over this on here and SVRN and the consensus was that it was better to build #1 and get it into trials than rush all of them into build such that spiral upgrades were ignored and lessons learned could not be incorporated.

#1 is always a prototype…..

Ron

I just hope that space is left for possibly 24 Mk41s and a further 24 Sea Ceptors maybe even the space and power supply for a container Towed Array. I am not saying buy them now, but just the space to drop a contaier in plug it up and go. Apart from that crack on and get these much needed ships to the fleet.

Steve R

I’d be happy with total 24 Sea Ceptors and a pair of quad canister launchers for Harpoons. (Block II)

Meirion X

I would like to see CAMM-ER procured as well.

Jason

Yep, that would be nice. I think that the Bofors 57mm and 2 Bofors 40mm naval guns and 24 (fingers crossed) Sea Ceptor launchers are formidable defences for the types of environments these ships are likely to be tasked to operate in. Realistically I’d be happy to see 2 twin Harpoon (?) launch containers and a couple of the RN 30mm Mk2 guns with Marlet launchers attached positioned on either side of the ship. If they do this then these ships would be well enough armed for the dangers they could face.

Last edited 1 month ago by Jason
ChariotRider

I don’t think the 30mm / Martlet combo will see the light of day sadly. There is an article on Navy Lookout about the 30mm in RN service that suggests that the RN wasn’t that impressed. No indication given as to the reason, but the silence is deafening, suggesting they are quietly letting it go. Sadly. I wondered why and came up to two reasons; 1) the gunners cabin is removed to allow the missile tubes to be fitted, so on mount control is lost; 2) the missiles are currently laser guided so perhaps compromising the gun’s ability to switch… Read more »

Paul.P

I think programmable ammunition and an airburst option are being developed for the 30mm by Northrop. As I understand it that would mean the gun gives better force protection and as a bonus would give the River 2 OPVs some AA capability. If there is a choice on where to spend the money I would go for the programmable ammo.

ChariotRider

Ah, thanks for the heads up I was not aware of that. Guided rounds would certainly go some way to providing a similar capability.

Cheers CR

Ian

Hi Paul B and ChariotRider
would it make sense for the Navy and Army to have some weapons that share the same ammunition ……..thinking costs
Thanks Ian

Paul.P

Yes, that’s one of the links. Has a reference to the Bushmaster cannon. But what I haven’t found is any info on possible applicability to the RN weapons.

Jason

That’s a pity. I was looking forward to seeing the 30mm/Martlet system
deployed on just about everything not classified as a high end warships. May have been good for deployment on RFA vessels, or even River 2 OPVs as a fairly cheap, less sophisticated defence system against all kinds of potential threats. I’m dissapointed.

ChariotRider

Hi Jason,

Yes I’m dissappointed as well as it seemed like a simple and effective idea. Certainly something for developing navies to consider I would have thought.

Cheers CR

Ryan Brewis

Could they not make standalone mounts? Similar to Mistral Tetral (think that’s the quad mount), I would say it might be too much work but it’s a relatively cheap layer of light ASuW capability surely.

Ian

Check out the Israeli Navy Sa’ar 6 for a ship with lots of weapons……and didn’t take 17 years to go to sea

Jason

Nice ships. Sorry I meant to say very well armed nice ships.

Challenger

Looks likely they will get 24 Sea Ceptors and there will probably be 5 interim AShM sets going spare in the early 2030’s to bolt on.

Not exactly anyone’s idea of a fantasy fleet load-out, but no doubt adequate for the sort of roles they will be expected to undertake.

Jason

That’s good news. As you say not ideal but enough to handle what’s expected. Maybe even enough to get themselves out of something unexpected.
Some disagree but I think these ships are gonna turn out to be a good addition to the fleet. I for one would be happy to see more ordered.

John Clark

I would agree Challenger. 24 Camm gives a robust AA capability. I would like to see at least a matching of T23’s 32 outload, but I’ll settle for 24 as a minimum service entry spec. I would like to see Sea Ceptor ER fully developed and brought into fleet wide service, it would give a very useful expansion of the air defence umbrella across the fleet, as we will ‘at best’ only have four T45’s in service at any one time. As for containerised anti submarine warfare systems, forget it, the T31 will generate far too much machinery noise for… Read more »

Ron5

It does look likely at all. A lot of internet commentators saying they should upgrade the numbers of CAMM means absolutely nothing.

AlexS

Correct. The image above is not representative. It even has a RAM missile.

Daveyb

It would be nice to see an image of the T31 instead of the sales brochure image for foreign customers. The above image shows a decently armed ship. If compared to the T31 we are supposed to be getting there’s going to be lots of empty and unused spaces. I am still hopeful that the Navy will increase the SeaCeptor count from the paltry 12 to at least double that. But we will have to wait and see?

Ron5

It’s not hard to google and find the image you are looking for. I first saw it in DESIDER but its been repeated in larger formats since. No surprises.

Here’s one ..comment image

Supportive Bloke

Yup, but it is still a low res render.

It is a tiny bit surprising that a few more firm details are not known given firm contracts are signed.

Unless there is a big reveal of what the eventual full weapons fit will be: post build.

Thinking back to T42, T23 and even County and there were beautiful info graphics produced.

Ron5

What details do you not know? They have all been stated even though a lot of folks are in denial about them (see this thread).

Supportive Bloke

I’m sure you will disagree but it is pretty well known that there are costed plans to up-arm T31 after build so that the build price remains low and fixed. Treasury don’t like upgrade spirals and prefer fixed numbers. Exactly which of the multiplicity of options under consideration come to fruition remains to be seen. Given the mantra of the modernisation fund I think we can all take an educated guess as to what the most likely items in the T31 shopping cart will be. The T31 has got to look credible at shepherding STUFT/RFA in a Corporate type situation… Read more »

Ron5

There are no plans to upgrade the type 31s after delivery. That’s total bull.

Jon

The only options currently are the same as the QE class as various systems and options exist. That are self contained switchable units. And many in development but are now being designed as plug and shoot. In that they only need a power supply and data link. QE class will develop this system but they are likely to be a
Stored item unless conflicts.

Frank62

Can’t come soon enough. T23s rapidly approaching their end.

dan

Is unfortunate this frigate isn’t getting a fixed, multifaceted AESA radar like other NATO and Chicom ships are now getting. I guess rotating radars do save a few pounds though.

AlexS

I really don’t understand that, it is even worse for Type 26 UK..

Gunbuster

There are Pros and cons for AESA panels v Rotating radar and DaveyB has covered them A Rotating AESA does not just look at the environment at an angle of 90 degs from the radar face as the old traditional rotating radars did. The beam is steerable across the aerials face so it can look up, down, scan the horizon, look a large number of degrees forward and back from where the aerial is facing all at the same time. With a 30 RPM speed it covers everything that a flat panel does. In addition the cooling requirements( Chilled Cooling… Read more »

Daveyb

As GB alluded to above, there are pros and cons between the way the radars are used and mounted. The primary pro for a rotating antenna is in general they have a much lower weight, therefore you can mount them a lot higher, on a mast for example, ala T45’s Sampson. A large fixed panel weighs a lot, which is why the Arleigh Burkes (ABs) in particular have their SPY panels mounted quite low on the structure, below the bridge. GB is probably best placed to describe the interaction between the length to beam ratio mixed in with top weight.… Read more »

Ron5

Software controls modern radars and its software that differentiates radar capabilities not top trumps numbers.

NS-100 is a bottom basement radar, hardly over specc’ed. A Thales spokesman has stated the RN would prefer its stablemate the NS-200 but that’s not affordable at the current budget.

By the way, length to beam ratio has very little to do with ship stability.

Glass Half Full

Not so sure S1850 gets an upgrade. Probably not necessary for Aster 30 1NT range (also see below ref Sampson) and I thought Block 2 BMD was going to need strike length cells, so either Mk41 or Sylver A70, I don’t see that upgrade happening for T45 by the time Block 2 BMD is ready for deployment. The Dutch can use SM-3, which has been mooted as a plan for some time, hence their upgrading of their SMART-L arrays. The next T45 radar upgrade might be a Sampson upgrade to BMD around 2023/4. The planned upgrade is shown on a… Read more »

BB85

I was really shocked when the RN did not include artisan on the T31, especially when they are going to keep upgrading it on the T26. Is Thales system better or just cheaper?

Glass Half Full

Well on paper the Thales NS100 is a more modern GaN (versus GaAs) based radar that claims higher specs in terms of range and number of tracks. NS100 is an AESA radar. While Artisan claims to leverage Sampson technology it is never stated to be AESA. Artisan is air cooled while NS100 requires cooling fluid. However, the radar system software capability is also key and only those that have seen both in operation would be able to comment on the system as a whole. I suspect the T31 decision for NS100 was tied to a number of points. Not least… Read more »

David Barry

Well Con hot air has been found to be Con hot air.

Truly hope I am proved wrong and no more innocents have to give up their lives.

FFAW to the dogs knacks, be great to see them doing what the RN do best.

TrevorH

The UK built a 66000ton aircraft carrier for £3.3 billion.
This Canadian paper is saying that 15 frigates are going to be $60 billion. $4 billion a frigate…. £2.5 billion pounds sterling.

Really?

Supportive Bloke

Makes the UK T45 and T26, never mind T31 and QEC acquisition look positively bargain basement.

At this rate it would be cheaper to get the UK to build them for them……

D J

Both Canada & Australia tend to use whole of life costings when it comes to defence. ie if you don’t think you can afford to not only buy the asset, but run & support the asset for the time you expect to have it in inventory, then perhaps you should not be buying it. They tend to include both staffing & the asset itself & all expected maintenance, running costs & normal upgrades for a peace time asset. So Canada has allocated C$60 billion to build & fully support 15 high end frigates for something like the next 35+ years.… Read more »

TrevorH

Thank you. You have reminded me of that. In other words this 100,000 circulation newspaper is making mischief.

AlexS

“In other words this 100,000 circulation newspaper is making mischief.”

Not correct.
The biggest problem are the delays since the Halifaxes are from 90’s. Second, the delays will certainly will impact cost.

TrevorH

But – even if that were true – there are no unfair comparisons between the RN type 26 and the FREMM ship and the new proposed Canadian frigate.

What happened or did not happen in the 90s is not relevant. What has happened is that military and strategic needs for Canada gave changed and it’s determined it needs 15 frigates. And it’s chosen a good one.

AlexS

And the point is that will only get the first in earlier 30’s if this is the only delay until then. Type 26 is said to need 7.5 years to be build against the expected 5. So the Halifaxes will have to soldier on until 2040 by which time they will be almost 50’s old, and spend money in them to be updated. I suspect the report that is about to come out will advise to get a mix of Type 26 and maybe lighter frigate – Type 31 for example – the later ones to be fast build in… Read more »

Jon

A new type 45 would cost £1.2b How are the costing 4’times the price Canada needs to order hulls from elsewhere.

Gunbuster

When asked by the SNP Spokesperson “To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what assessment he has made of the effect of the covid-19 pandemic on the timescale of the Type 31e frigate project.”

He should have replied

“We would be much further on obviously if you bunch of clowns had sorted out the Covid vaccine Program and where not lagging behind the rest of the country. “

Wont happen though…Bare faced Honesty just isnt the done thing!

Herodotus

Though offering military assistance in rolling out the vaccines has really rattled Nichola!

Paul.P

I’ll bet Alex Salmond is enjoying her discomfort 🙂

Herodotus

Yes, and it looks as if Alex is intent on her downfall. It’s going to be an interesting fight to watch!

john rogers

Why would the Russians wish to invade Europe as a nuclear desert with no economy. Russia is loosing around 100,000 citizens every year, it would be best for her to build a real economic base The only place i can see as a desire for them is Kalingrad and the baltic states but that involves NATO.

Paul.P

Russia is dying. There is a reason they have approached the UK with a proposal on joint development of covid vaccines. I suspect they fear China more than we do. Russia will turn to the West for allies.

Supportive Bloke

I’d see this as being a pretty cynical Kremlin ploy.

UK has some of the best medical research in the world.

If we cosy up with them it will be spun back as how weak the UK is and how much UK needs Russian ‘expertise’

It is also classic Putinian divide and poison relation with post truth, truth.

Paul.P

Agree. Probably a ploy to divide UK from both Europe and the US by appealing our ego which could get inflated by our covid vaccine success if we are not careful.

Supportive Bloke

A ploy I don’t think we are going to fall for: judging by the cool response it has got so far.

There really is no advantage to us trying to work with Putin: he will just game it however he sees fit.

We are in a good position to use vaccine aid with all the extra doses we have bought.

Why get muddled up with Russian propaganda when we can given millions of doses to poorer countries funded by our foreign aid budgets?

Paul.P

Sell at or below cost I think. Even poor countries have their pride. But yes, the Oxford Astra Zeneca vaccine enables us to exert real soft power and can be a real counter to the huge amounts of
cheap Chinese money and aid flowing into Africa.

Alb

Cutting first steel is a trivial activity in the ship build process.
It’s normally a staged event and completely disconnected from the real production schedule.

Ron5

But hugely symbolic, yes?