The Sunday Times has reported that the Royal Navy is to recieve new vessels as part of the defence review .

An excerpt from this article states.

“The Royal Navy gets new frigates, supply ships and underwater surveillance vessels.”

You can read more by visiting the original source here.

The new frigates are likely to be the Type 32s. The Type 32 was first announced by Boris Johnson in November 2020 as part of a defence investment pledge ahead of the Integrated Review.

What is the Type 32 frigate?

The review’s first conclusions are reportedly related to the restoration of the United Kingdom as “the foremost naval power in Europe” through the construction of new ships.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace subsequently stated that the Type 32 frigate would come “further along from the Type 31”, adding that the Royal Navy “requested another class of ship” in order to increase its numbers of surface fighting ships, destroyers and frigates.

The Ministry of Defence have stated that the concept phase for the vessel had not yet been launched but added that the ship is currently envisioned as a “platform for autonomous systems”, used in roles such as anti-submarine warfare and mine countermeasures.

Like the Type 31 frigate, the ship will be general-purpose in its design

It might also be the case that the underwater surveillance vessels are related to this project.

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Mark F

Old news.

TrevorH

Yes. We already know this. Are the Times just peddling speculation And padding out with what we already know?

Mark F

Have you ever heard the saying “promise them jam tomorrow” its wearing pretty thin now. These vessels are a new concept in war fighting and many of the capabilities are yet to be delivered. So lots of gucci kit, costs spiral along with late changes in design when the planners and bean counters in Whitehall start fiddling about. These people come from the same mold and until you break that mold it will carry on happening.

Spyinthesky

So the Type 32 unsurprisingly hasn’t even reached the concept stage yet and will follow on from the Type 31. So to be frank we are talking well after 2030 as things stand. And apparently this is all part of restoring the RN to the premier navy in Europe. So they are in reality talking about something that is totally nebulous as they have no idea what for example France will have in their navy in the mid thirties and how capable it will be or indeed what the policies of a future Govt that will be taking the real… Read more »

Mark Franks

You have hit the nail on the proverbial head. This is the way UK government’s have played this old tune for years now. I seem to remember when T Blair was PM and the twin towers had been hit in New York. I was on exercise in Oman (Saif sarria) The US Air Force came in on mass and wanted us gone i was on 101 Sqn VC10 Tankers the US Navies preferred tanker, our K2S had been scrapped at St Athens reducing the fleet availability. Not wanting to look like the special relationship false the PM asked the US… Read more »

Nick C

It sounds a bit like April 1982. When Maggie was told the Argentine was about to land on theFalklands she asked Henry Leach where the Ark Royal was. He told her that the ship had been scrapped three years before, and the Conservative party, then the opposition, had done nothing to challenge the decision. Plus ca change.

Paul C

True, but I cannot see how they could have challenged the decision. Ark Royal was in very poor condition and realistically could not have been run on for much longer. Her out of service date had been known for several years. Even if she had been refitted again with millions more spent she would not have lasted beyond 1980.

Nick C

True enough, she was falling apart by 1978. The point really was that no politician thinks ahead to what might be needed, they expect that it will be available. Trying to impress Westminster that they need to think two elections ahead to get programmes completed is simply beyond their attention span. A replacement for Ark and Eagle should have been laid down in 1970, but the legacy of the Healey review coloured everything. The country was extremely lucky that some strong voices spoke up for the Sea Harrier.

Paul C

Agreed, the RN was very fortunate that the Invincibles, Sea Harrier and also the T22s were allowed to reach fruition. Things were bad but could very easily have been so much worse.

Last edited 1 month ago by Paul C
Johan

Youre asking for a MP to plan 10 years before he is even in office on how he is going to spend money on a budget he doesnt have or is not set. no company thinks 10 years. UK GOVs work with the MOD, who every 4 years change there top brass who have a different agenda,

Nick C

My late Father, who served in WW2 and the Cold War always said that you always fight the next war with the weapons of the last war. The aim of any Government should be defence of the country, the trick is to have a long range vision. My point about 1982 is that the focus was solely on the Cold War and the threat from the USSR, for instance if you look at the original spec for the Type 23 it was solely an ASW ship, by the time the results of the South Atlantic were digested the ship was… Read more »

Daveyb

Unfortunately, that is the perennial problem. There are too many defence reviews, which lead to either a program be pushed to the right or cancelled in entirety. Every new Government does yet another defence review, which ends up delaying items coming into service. It would be nice if the defence agenda was a multi-party agreement that was enshrined in some kind of law. Thus making it more likely to be seen through with constant ministerial interference.

Johan

Ark would never have made it to the Falklands would of broken down just passed spain…

David

Did we EVER have 30?

Mark Franks

I’m aware of that max fleet on 10sqn 14 but not for long 101 sqn 14 K2,K3,K4. Total 28 Vc10 of all marks.

What I was trying to say was the fools running the country did not have a clue and were promising the US assets we simply never had.
Hope that helps?

Last edited 30 days ago by Mark Franks
Paul C

The usual story, cuts today for jam tomorrow and lofty promises for the next parliament or the one after that. What I want to see is a firm commitment to build more T31s now rather than a pre-concept design that is many years away from build and could be canned at any time. It will no doubt be repeated with Tempest. Destined to be the next big thing for a decade until the project is dramatically pruned back or cancelled altogether when everything unravels.

David

Judging from the amount of time taken up with “concepts”, design and endless reviews, any Type 32 is probably 15-20 years away. This is just a way of putting things off almost indefinitely….

Levi Goldsteinberg

I think they’re quoting all sorts of ‘anonymous sources’ and rehashing old news to farm anxious clicks ahead of the SDSR release. Likely all that has been released has very little if any bearing on reality, such is the state of modern journalism

Mark Franks

They should be ashamed to call themselves journalists.

Johan

its the Modern Jorno print something anything i can claim my expenses for the week. TIMES says cut cuts cuts, then is saying new ships new ships new ships. look @ all the awarded contracts within the last month £ms of orders.

i fear the American orders F35 and Wedge tail, bearing in mind the Surge fleet of A330s are parked and not earning rent. Airbus were working on a AWACS/Tanker for the french…

Geoffrey Roach

Probably as expected but good news all the same. Presumably the UAV is the Manta…MSubs of Plymouth.

James Fennell

It might be useful to see cyber warfare as a little like the battle of the Atlantic in 1939-43.The information highways use several critical convoy routes: undersea cables overland cables space (sattelite networks) – increasingly important electromagnetic spectrum (short and long range radio / mobile networks / WiFi) there are also specific nodes, networks, software and servers that can be targetted for maximum disruption Protecting and defending this infrastructure is vital. Taking it down will win you the war before a shot is fired. Since we are having this debate on the internet that point should be non contraversial. This… Read more »

Gavin Gordon

Just started ‘British Naval Intelligence through the Twentieth Century’ by Andrew Boyd. By all accounts a thorough resume.

Daniele Mandelli

And the main nodes of the undersea cables cross the Atlantic connecting the USA to Europe, via us. We have a massive stake in it, and the ability to both interfere with it ( which we already do ) and protect it.

Levi Goldsteinberg

Very interesting take, cheers

Gavin Gordon

Two GP frigates and the OPVs? Like to see the rational, since we’re apparently struggling to arm what we got to a degree that most navies consider prudent. No real inkling of what this T32 is and, as an aside but unusual, no names yet for the T31s first of which due cutting this year for initial launch 2023. Strange times.

Supportive Bloke

Look on the bright side.

The buy of T31 is now contractually locked in.

It is a big platform capable of a lot of upgrading.

Mark F

Mum! Okay so UK PLC are committed to building them. It doesn’t stop the bean counters selling off cheap.

Gavin Gordon

Indeed, S. Query primarily over the apparent disconnects in what is being ‘released’, of course. The Review will be the definitive, maybe, but so far real coherence is difficult to ascertain.

ChariotRider

Hi Gavin,

Same question occured to me as well.

I am uncomfortable with two different classes of GP frigates, assuming they are different. We could end up with 4 different escort classes in a fleet of about 22 to 24 ships. The costs of the running such a diverse fleet, spares, maintenance procedures and training would potentially be unnecessarily high.

Nevertheless, I am pleased to think that the fleet is going to be expanded and the T32 will perhaps see new technology introduced as well.

Interesting times.

Cheers CR

Mark Franks

I think the plan is for a common hull and propulsion. Its all in the modular build plan.

ChariotRider

Hi Mark,

The original suggestions were indeed additional T31’s or variants there of. All very sensible. However, there appears to be a shift in the mood music recently, hopefully it will shift back again as a variant of the T31 would be the most cost effective way forward.

Cheers CR

maurice10

If evidence were needed, the bulk of UK military (immediate and mid-term) spending is going to be centred on the RN. I believe it makes eminent sense to head in this direction as the World’s trade routes become the future friction zones.

Geoff

Yep. We are an island nation after all. And now an island nation with limited overseas territorial commitments compared to a century ago. Makes sense the RN is prioritised over the Army. Not too confident the RAF is being supported enough though, and least for the next 10 years until Tempest comes on-line.

Mark Franks

Yes we a going back to what the military doctrine was pre WW2. Less the gunship diplomacy though.

Challenger

The T32 looks likely to indirectly replace the Hunts and Sandowns so ship for ship it will represent a reduction.

Coupled with the rumours of reductions in T23’s, subs and the F35 purchase it looks like the same old pledges of Jam tomorrow but gruel today!

James Fennell

The T23s retired early are not ‘a reduction’ just cheaper to gap a few hulls and put the money into faster build times for T31 and T26. This will allow us to speed up the in service dates of new hulls and avoid the inevitable obsolescence issues with very slow builds.

Currently MoD balances its books by slowing down build times for new kit and drip feeding it into service – this both inflates purchase costs and creates a culture of permanent obsolescence (look at Typhoon, Astute, CVF, Ajax or Type 26 for example). This is a key NAO observation.

Last edited 1 month ago by James Fennell
Supportive Bloke

Now that T31 is being procured on a fixed price basis then it mean that BaE are going to have to emerge from the shadow of TOBA which has been a productivity nightmare.

Challenger

If that was the case then fair enough but I’ve not seen or heard any evidence to suggest the T26 or T31 build schedules will be accelerated.

I hope they listen to the findings and learn by past mistakes too, but I’ll wait until I see some proof before assuming.

Glass Half Full

I doubt a speed up will occur because it risks gapping production and we’d be back to feast and famine ship production, given no one has developed a commercial market for British built ships and we have no foreign sales yet for British built military vessels.

However, the important point is how many vessels we have that are actually capable of putting to sea. The link below while a year old excellently illustrates this point over time.

https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1229857912903872513.html

ChariotRider

This confirms what we have already been told, but is still good news.

One concern I do have is that an expanded surface fleet will need effective air cover, which does not appear stack up with the reported cut in F35b numbers.

Cheers CR

James Fennell

The idea is to have more UCAVs – say 2-3 ‘Loyal Wingman’ working with each manned platform. And also more emphasis on swarming weapons delvered by these platforms. For that CVs need catapults.

ChariotRider

Hi James,

I think the Loyal Wingman and UCAV’s will likely go into service with the RAF first as this would be the more cost effective way to develop the technology, doctrine and operational experience.

I would be surprised to see cats and traps on the QEC before a major midlife upgrade so 20 years to go at a guess.

Cheers CR

Glass Half Full

Hi CR, I think midlife timing is/was the popular assumption for supporting manned jets, if it happened at all. However the just released RFI linked below suggests a much earlier timeframe, but the maximum loads suggest UCAV, unmanned tanker for AAR and perhaps manned AEW, not manned twin engine combat jet. From the RFI (bolding added by me) – “The Ministry of Defence (The “Authority”) is currently seeking information in order to qualify requirements and develop our understanding of the potential for the market to provide assisted launch and arrested recover for a range of air vehicles, which would be… Read more »

RobW

Take a breath everyone. The review is published next week not today. Even if all of these articles end up being accurate, the success of the review depends on the whole. What is being acquired to replace capability and crucially why are these decisions being made. We cannot continue to have world leading capability with the mass of days gone by. If we are bringing in force multipliers in the form of autonomous systems for all 3 services then great. That is the future, not rows and rows of purely manned fast jets and tanks. Let’s see what happens before… Read more »

Glass Half Full

But … but …but where’s the fun in that when there are inumerable opportunities to stamp our feet, throw a hissy fit and chuck teddy out the cot in the interim! Indeed given the age of many commenters I imagine there are countless angry letters winging their way to the Times as I write.

James Fennell

“[China will deepen military-civilian science and technology collaboration and innovation and strengthen the co-ordinated military-civilian development in maritime, space, cyberspace, biology, new energy, artificial intelligence (AI), quantum technology etc to promote … the transformation and development of key industries.” https://www.janes.com/defence-news/news-detail/china-outlines-technology-priorities-for-new-era

Billythefish

So from what I gather on the wires…

Reduction in numbers in the Army
Reduction in F35 (by up to 60%?) commitment
Tempest forges ahead to make up lack of F35
Extra frigate type – how many? 5?
Extra UAVs
Assume new supply ships are the FSS vessels (x2?)

Is that about right?

James Fennell

I think its also worth reading Carter’s Integrated Operational Concept to read the runes:. ‘systems not platforms’ he says. Expect ‘Tempest’ to be Tempest + UAVs + swarming weapons, also expect F-35 to also include a Loyal Wingman on carriers (and cats and traps for them). So an air wing could be 18 F-35 + 32 UCAVs in manned-unmanned teams. Which is powerful. Fast jet squadrons could include only 4-6 manned platforms in future.

Steve

I can’t help get concerned that the focus on global Britain and having platforms dotted around the globe flying the flag, is distracting from the real role of the armed forces of actually being able to fight. Modern navies are now too small to be able to protect shipping lines and so would be focused on getting the army to where it needs to be. If we keep cutting the army to pay for glossy kit, they won’t actually be able to do anything once they are delivered.

ChariotRider

“protect shipping” The key role for the RN in two world wars was the Battle of the Atlantic. If we had lost that (and it was a close run thing in both wars) we would have lost either war. Our current political leadership seem to have completely forgotten the lessons of history. There are not enough escorts in NATO to protect the Sea Lines of Communication across the Atlantic and do all the other things that would still need to be done. I know the technology has changed and that defending merchant shipping could / will look very different from… Read more »

Steve

The issue is you have to compare number of merchant ships around in the modern world and the tiny navies. Protecting shipping lanes is just not possible unless its a very specific part of the world and even then it would be a struggle.

Glass Half Full

I grant you that the US has highlighted escort issues for North Atlantic sealift of troops and equipment, but you’re leaving out a lot of other NATO allies that would be likely to prioritise supporting that reinforcement. What about the Danes, Norwegians, Germans, Dutch, Belgians, Spanish, Italians; with that I’m still leaving out the Greeks, Turks, Portuguese and other smaller nations. Then look at the new submarine and high end warship programs being undertaken by many of those nations. BTW you also have a core assumption that the UK would be dependent upon N. Atlantic supply of goods and materials,… Read more »

Dern

Then again, if we’d had a properly funded army in 39-40 then the Battle of the Atlantic would have been a non event, and the UK probably would still have an empire because we’d not have blown all our money on a second world war.
Same goes for 1914.

Last edited 30 days ago by Dern
James

If this is all true then it’s disastrous! F35 cut to 48 that’s goodbye to second carrier which may confirm it may be sold. The numbers confirmed for type 31 are small and should be 10 at least and be better armed . The type 32 should be 10 frigates to make any difference if the second carrier is sacrificed and the F35 numbers . Countries like Turkey ULAQ fast speed autonomous boats have anti ship missiles and searches for subs and works in coordination with naval air drones that hunt subs and ships too. They work with frigates too… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by James
Phil Chadwick

Look, forget the press, wait for the review to be published!!!

Callum

Playing fantasy fleets for a moment, a reasonable and fairly realistic option for T32 may be a platform somewhere between T31 and T26. Lets say £500mn a pop in todays money instead of £250mn + extras for a T31. Given the time frame, designing a new, better optimised hull fits under reasonable, as the vast majority of expenditure comes from the equipment fit more than the actual design phase or hull itself. I’d say a new ~150m hull is needed to optimise the ship for offboard systems, with 4 enlarged boat bays in a shared mission/hangar space. Taking the T31… Read more »

Pacman27

Perhaps callum we should consider adding back in the flex deck from the absalon and updating the hanger facilities to create a mission bay. given that the T31 is a derivative of the absalon/ huitfeldt classes. I think this is probably the most effective way of achieving this capability at an acceptable price point. likewise we should consider an updated version of the G-LAM Karel doorman class vessels and build a class of 11 to replace all non Tide RFA vessels and the bulwarks. May not be to everyone’s taste but offers a lot of flexibility in a changing world… Read more »

Steve

No chance they will be more expensive than the t31. I am expecting an even more cut back platform sold on the basis that it is a mothership for future unspecific drones etc.

Last edited 1 month ago by Steve
Andrew

New ships are great but the government most put investment into the kit and weapon system .The type 45 has a good AD ,but in some ways it’s under Armed when it comes to surface to surface weapons not all of them have Harpoon fit ,and no ASW weapons.Can’t always rely on wildcat with weather and serviceability time.

Callum

I’d argue investment in extra offensive weapons on the T45 is a waste, given our circumstances. It’s an air defence escort, and while versatility is valuable, the money would be better spent on other options.

Nick C

I think what you are starting to describe is close to the Danish Absalon class, which is first cousin to the T31. The ship is very flexible, with a good sensor fit and the ability to add modules under the Stanflex system. Why not it leave out the complication of IEP, stretch the ship enough to duplicate the engine fit of the T31, so you have a ship that can maintain fleet speed. The stretch will allow you to increase the accommodation if required, with more stores space and fuel. The ship has a built in vehicle deck, so you… Read more »

Glass Half Full

Not sure I’d agree with all of that but I agree T32 is an opportunity for a new modern optimised design, something that wasn’t possible for T31 where timescales meant it had to leverage an existing design. The French FTI and Italian PPA Full might be reasonable proxies for what the design might look like from a capabilities perspective. An advantage for the MoD in this scenario is that it has established base line pricing with T31 and will do so for high end pricing with Batch 2 T26, so it should be able to accurately specify to a desired… Read more »

Callum

Out of curiosity, what parts of the above do you disagree with? I feel like I’ve covered all the bases for an affordable multi-role frigate of the future.

Agreed, now that we’ve got active shipyards again, prices should come down. I’d probably order an additional 3 T31 anyway, as £750mn plus extras is such a fantastic price for 3 frigates

Glass Half Full

Probably not a significant disagreement if some of what I anticipate comes to pass, but my take with rationale as follows. I think the RN needs an intermediate frigate sitting between T31 and T26. It needs reasonable air defence and a strong ability to defend against submarines, without the expense of the T26 platform. For me that’s 2×8-cell Mk41 plus 24x Sea Ceptor, the latter seems a more balanced load out than 36, although I wouldn’t turn down the latter. The extra Mk41 cells might support a VLA capability based on a new lightweight torpedo that BAES seems to be… Read more »

Glass Half Full

Sorry meant to include link to Kingfisher in case you hadn’t seen it. Concept shown in videos on this page
https://www.baesystems.com/en-uk/productfamily/underwater-weapons

Stephen Hamblen

I see………… The M.O.D sort of announce some fancy new frigates (which haven’t even been designed yet) for the Royal Navy to probably slowly do away with the expensive Type 45’s and in another article they sort of announce a reduction in manpower…… which is chuffing ridiculous in my opinion. I know fancy new technology costs a lot of money but who’s going to crew these new frigates? I really don’t like what’s happening to our Armed Forces, the smaller it gets the more difficult it will be to properly deploy on operations……. and that’s a fact. The other thing… Read more »

Last edited 30 days ago by Stephen Hamblen
Andrew

Agree Stephen there need a strong coffee and wake up

Steve

With our national debt and the associated interest costs, it would be interesting to see how much money there really is available (net tax income after debt repayment).

Switzerland has a very low national debt, and much higher taxes, which would give more avaliable cash per person. Whilst I doubt we would be net below Switzerland I suspect we would be a lot further down than 6th/10th (depend which data you choose) that we are based on gdp.