The Government should review whether it has ordered enough Type 26 frigates required for high intensity operations and possible future underwater threats, warns a report.
The All Party Parliamentary Group has launched its report on the National Shipbuilding Strategy, the report can be downloaded here.
“Although new ASW technology is emerging, the best in class for anti-submarine detection remains the Type 26 and 2087 towed array sonar. In planning the future fleet, it is imperative emerging ASW technologies are examined and a balance found. Whilst some argue that developing specialist ASW platforms is prohibitively costly, one developing school of thought asserts that future anti-submarine strategy will centre upon the use of networked UXV’s. These ‘mothership’ vessels would be designed to launch, operate and recover large numbers of small unmanned vehicles for ancillary missions, which may include ASW.
Today, the expansion of ‘big data’, large data sets that may be analysed computationally to reveal patterns and trends, provides the capability to run sophisticated oceanographic models in real time to support submarine detection. As processors continue to shrink, some processors will increasingly be employed on ships, aircraft, UUVs, as well as deployable systems placed on the seabed. Whilst some of these technologies are in their infancy, for the Royal Navy, the Type 26 promises to be a capable submarine hunter and, if adequate investment is made in equipping them with the correct weapon fit, it has the potential to be a global leader in the field of ASW.”
The report adds:
“What is not yet clear is the capability gaps that could be generated by the reduction of the Type 26 fleet from 13 to 8
The report concludes:
“Australia’s decision to select the Type 26 to replace its Anzac-class from the mid-2020s contravenes the assumption within the Parker Report that the Type 26 was unexportable due to its high cost. Canada’s decision to follow Australia selecting the Type 26 to replace the Iroquois and Halifax class warships further questions this assumption. Now, emboldened by the SEA 5000 competition success, the UK has an exportable warship in the form of the Type 26. Even if these ships do not get built in UK yards (some future ones might well be), the economies of scale that the UK may develop in conjunction with the Royal Australian Navy and Royal Canadian Navy, put future per-ship cost of the Type 26 on a more affordable trajectory.
The Type 26’s performance on the export market further strengthened the case for this vessel and weakens the case for
the Type 31e, particularly as Type 26 would have a five-year advantage over any Type 31e design. Further, if commonality is developed between navies purchasing the Type 26, further economies of scale could be achieved. Moreover, if the National Shipbuilding Strategy is to be successful, it must maintain support for the supply chain and skills which underpin the Type 26s success. In the immediacy, this must include domestic construction of Fleet Solid Support Ships, which would maintain the momentum of the Carrier Alliance and a provide a firm base for future refits of the carriers. Building all Royal Fleet Auxiliary ships domestically, would act to preserve on-shore, high-skilled jobs and build capacity and capabilities the UK will need for production of the next generation of Royal Navy warships.”