Thales, as part of Babcock Team 31, has been selected to be the mission systems integrator for the Type 31 programme, delivering the combat system, communications systems and the navigation and bridge systems.

Tacticos is the mission system and Thales say it has been designed from the outset to be open and provides access to the core data model via open published standards that can be used to enable continuous growth and evolution through life.

The Type 31 general purpose frigate programme will provide the UK Government with a fleet of five ships, at an average production cost of £250 million per ship say Thales.

“Following a comprehensive competitive process, T31, a capable, adaptable and technology-enabled global frigate will be the Royal Navy’s newest class of warships, with the first ship scheduled in the water in 2023. At its height, the programme will maximise a workforce of around 1250 highly- skilled roles in multiple locations throughout the UK, with around 150 new technical apprenticeships likely to be developed. The work is expected to support an additional 1250 roles within the wider UK supply chain.

Building on our global successes Thales is expanding its capabilities in mission systems delivery in the UK. This will generate new jobs and technical skills in Crawley, West Sussex where the new team has been established. A new naval combat management centre has also been developed to provide a space for customers, employees and end-users to train, test and see how our solutions deliver operational benefits and to continuously gain customer feedback.”

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Jack
Jack
7 months ago

Looking good. But it would nice to see the first steel cut.

Gavin Gordon
Gavin Gordon
7 months ago
Reply to  Jack

Understand the initial delay due to infrastucture assembly, so if that is progressing then project should be within schedule.

Jack
Jack
7 months ago
Reply to  Gavin Gordon

You’re probably right Gavin. There needs to be infrastructure put in place First.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
7 months ago

Was reported on another thread here of a delay to 2027. Not so good, and goodbye to 19 or 17 escorts in the interim. Some one posted an excellent graphic here recently of a time lapse snapshot of T23 vs T31 and 26 fleet numbers. The synic in me? The corresponding uplift back to 19 or more further down the timeframe never happens. Will be quietly forgotten by most and 14 or whatever number becomes the new “benchmark” as whatever minimum the RN ends up with after successive cuts is always the new norm. And yes I know we cannot… Read more »

Callum
Callum
7 months ago

It may be me being ridiculously optimistic, but I can’t see further cuts to escort numbers happening soon. The T26s have all been named and negotiations are already on track for the second batch, and with the huge political ramifications of cancelling warship orders in Scotland, I’d say both T26 and T31 orders are safe. Of course, that doesn’t mean frigate numbers won’t drop in the mean time. If we’re brutally honest and frugal about it, there is some economic sense in cancelling life extensions for a couple of the oldest T23s and retiring them early. Use the money and… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
7 months ago
Reply to  Callum

What you say makes total sense Callum. I do so hope you’re correct and I am wrong.

Off topic, so apologies, but about the only “cuts” I would accept in this SDSR are to Infantry Battalions, and then only if the headcount is re rolled into additional enablers.

Callum
Callum
7 months ago

I’m going to stick with that off topic topic. Not the poor infantry again! I had the pleasure of being rescued/abducted by a group of squaddies in spoons while I was sat alone waiting for mates to arrive. They’re honestly a breed apart, and the thought of less of them in the world is truly saddening.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
7 months ago
Reply to  Callum

I agree. Poor Bloody Infantry. I agree Callum. But, and you have probably read of it on here from myself and others many times, there are, what, 31 Battalions, of which 11 are part of a deployable brigade. The endless cuts, which to be fair have been going on with the army before and after the big 2010 massacre, have left the army seriously unbalanced. Rather than cut famous names they keep cutting the enablers, Signals. Artillery. Engineers. Logistics. Without which there can be no brigade. The Cap Badge Mafia at work. Politicians run a mile, outraged former brass publish… Read more »

Callum
Callum
7 months ago

Having checked, there are actually 33 regular infantry battalions. As much as I don’t like it, you’re right that perhaps some of them should be disbanded. You could possibly work around the cap badge bias by targeting multi-battalion regiments. The RRS would be a prime target, it alone has 4 regular battalions that last I heard were all understrength. The Lancs, Yorks, and PWRR all have 2 regular battalions as well. I suppose it comes down to what sort of war we expect to be fighting next. 1st Division is still suitable for police actions or as part of a… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
7 months ago
Reply to  Callum

33 Correct. Sorry I was not counting 1 PARA or the new 3rd Battalion RGR in my total, neither of which would contribute to brigade level tasks. One is the bulk of SFSG the other “specialised infantry” – 5 battalions which have been stripped of their strength and used for oversees training, and other tasks. The irony in keeping regiments going with single battalions is that in the FAS Future Army Structures that created these modern “large” regiments like RRS, MR, YR, Rifles, and so on, they tried to justify the change by targeting single battalion regiments. The only survivors… Read more »

Rob
Rob
7 months ago

Still off topic. You know the recruitment crisis is down to lots of things (not least Capita) but one aspect is the removal of the local, county footprint across the country. As a kid you went into the ACF / CCF then went on to serve in the Regs or TA in your local family / county Regiment. There was a connection with the public (in my case the Middlesex Regiment – recruiting from 5 million people). Now somebody thought we needed amalgamations to create large regiments which was stupid. Either keep the local county system or just have an… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
7 months ago
Reply to  Rob

I agree with that.

Local footprints for the military are so important in my opinion, from the local Regiment to local RAF Station.

Wonder what the costs would be reversing it and having single, or double regiments again? Double being with a paired reserve battalion.

Rob
Rob
7 months ago

Single / double regiments would cost massively but we don’t need to do it; we could have Battalions / Regiments sharing different cap badges just like the SGSG. In war time each Coy could expand to a Btn. So for example, X county would have a regular & TA Coy serving alongside neighbouring county Coys in multi cap badge units that could, upon a gen mobilisation, becomes Btns in themselves.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
7 months ago
Reply to  Rob

Got cha.

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
7 months ago

Hi Daniele, James’ link to Naval News also says 2027 and there is now a paragraph on Wikipedia reporting that the Permanent Secretary for Defence reported to the Public Accounts Committee on 20 Jan 2020 that the in water date was 2023 and the inservice date was 2027. That would appear to be for first of class and as we all now from watching the QE on the BBC first of class is the prototype and gets lots of extra proof of type trials. So with a bit of luck the rest might turn up quicker and if more are… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
7 months ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

Hi CR. Right, so there is still hope!

Thank you.

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
7 months ago

Hi Daniele,

There is always hope, mate! It just gets a bit thin when ever you talk about HMG procurement!

But if you read Levi’s comment below and consider the fact that Babcock are investing heavily in apprentices and upgrading Roysth and Thales are setting up a new centre in the UK that’s a lot of investment for just 5 low cost ships! So for me a Batch 2 must at least be under active consideration along with some exports…

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
7 months ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

New article on just this subject is up CR. Other room!

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
7 months ago

Thanks, Daniele had a read and noted an interesting comment / phrase in the middle of one of the quotes…

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
7 months ago

And we’re still talking about it! In April 2007, DCN became DCNS (now Naval Group). This followed an agreement where Thales became a 25% shareholder in the new company and DCN acquired the naval business of Thales France (excluding naval equipment). The first Italian frigate was launched in July 2011 and delivered in May 2013. Deliveries are expected to conclude in 2021. The first of the class is Carlo Bergamini, which was launched in July 2011 and delivered in 2013. The second vessel of the class, Virginio Fasan, was launched in March 2012 and delivered in December 2013. The third… Read more »

Levi Goldsteinberg
Levi Goldsteinberg
7 months ago

Tangentially related: I co-run a VCT, one of our investments is an a company called Cohort PLC who are an umbrella company that own a lot of defence tech firms. One of those firms does a lot of work with both BAe and Babcock, primarily on fire suppression systems. In a quarterly meeting with Cohort PLC, I was told that the industry expects and has heard unofficial rumblings of a second batch of T31s to come down the pipeline and they trust it enough to start budgeting for more contracts. Hope some of you find that as encouraging as I… Read more »

Ron
Ron
7 months ago

Now that is encouraging especialy as when I wrote to my MP and the Minister of Defence for Percurement in refrence to the T31 and frigate numbers. The reply was that they are especting an increase in T31s for the RN as they still wish to increase numbers above the current 19 DDGs FFGs by 2030.
I hope that the two are linked and if they are they really need to get a move on and start building.

Levi Goldsteinberg
Levi Goldsteinberg
7 months ago
Reply to  Ron

Time – and more importantly – the Budget will tell. It’s certainly starting to look that way though

expat
expat
7 months ago

Perhaps the second batch are foreign orders, one way to get more UK defence budget is to grow GDP. Remember its 2% of GDP, bigger GDP is the bigger the budget. Exporting a few of these is a good way to ensure the RN gets more money and our yards get more orders.

Callum
Callum
7 months ago
Reply to  expat

That’s somewhat plausible. If I recall, weren’t there ongoing discussions with the Polish navy about the potential for T31? The Polish navy used to have a lot of love the RN ships, and given their ongoing drama with the EU, closer ties with the UK could be on their agenda.

An excellent strategy to keep costs down for everyone would be to order both the batch 2 RN ships and the Polish exports at the same time.

Grubbie
Grubbie
7 months ago
Reply to  Callum

Poland actually has a ship building industry and trained workers, that’s why QE2 class was and type 31 will be built by Polish welders.

Lee H
Lee H
7 months ago

Hi Levi I hear it will be for a further 3 – this is all part of the ship building strategy, to “smooth out” the cycle. One of the ways to keep cost down is to generate that long term revenue stream that investors and pension schemes like – good for dividends and low risk share options on the futures market (pension scheme investments). I wouldn’t be surprised if countries like New Zealand and others, on the announcement of the second batch join the party – by then the risk has been taken out of the programme and it becomes… Read more »

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
7 months ago

Yup, that’s encouraging although budgeting is not the same as committing. Having said that Thales and Babcock appear to be committing to investment spending, so there are a lot of promising signals.

We’ll see in a few years time I guess.

Ron5
Ron5
7 months ago
Reply to  James Fennell

A very low level configuration. Not much more than an OPV. Certainly not up to frigate standards.

Lee H
Lee H
7 months ago
Reply to  Ron5

Define Frigate standards please. Then can you articulate where those requirements were specified the the RN.

Ron5
Ron5
7 months ago
Reply to  Lee H

Anti-submarine capability

Lordtemplar
Lordtemplar
7 months ago

Why did they choose the older Thales NS Series radar? The Thales Sea Fire 500 is a more modern GAN based AESA radar.

HPP
HPP
7 months ago
Reply to  Lordtemplar

The NS100 is brand spanking new and also a GaN-based AESA radar. The Sea Fire 500 is developed by Thales France, while the complete package offered by Babcock (NS100, Tacticos CMS, Mirador EO and platform integration) is done by the Thales subsidiary in the Netherlands.

Ron5
Ron5
7 months ago
Reply to  HPP

NS100 is cheap. Thales is on record as hoping that the MoD will go for at least the NS200. The chosen E/O kit is bargain basement.

Lee H
Lee H
7 months ago
Reply to  Ron5

What record – show the evidence please. Show also where the RN specified the requirement.

John Pattullo
John Pattullo
7 months ago

with the low number of personnel available these days does nobody else think they would have been better with the same bae cms as installed on every other ship in the fleet?

Grubbie
Grubbie
7 months ago
Reply to  John Pattullo

That the RN would allow this to happen shows just how pissed off they are with greedy BAE. The type 31 is being built in unfeasibly small numbers and with a ridiculously inefficient production system, if they can get any where near producing something decent for anything near the budget, it will be a damming verdict on BAE and the incumbent procurement system.

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
7 months ago
Reply to  Grubbie

Hi Grubbie, I agree to a point, but to be fair to BAES the T22, T23 and now the T26 are / were considered high end frigates for their respecitve generations. That means a considerably more complex warship particullarly with regards to such things as the propulsion systems and noise supression meassures (which can include expense active systems) all before you even consider adding in the top level sonars, radars, electronic listening stuff, CMS and weapons. T31 will be a relatively ‘noisy’ ship because they’ll have diesels and only minimal noise supression, etc. I also suspect that they’ll either have… Read more »

Callum
Callum
7 months ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

You’ve got the ACA a bit backwards, mate. Remember, BAE actually LOST the carrier contract to the BMT design, the carrier alliance largely put BAE back in charge.

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
7 months ago
Reply to  Callum

Hi Callum, Very true, but the fact that BMT / Thales won the design competition would not normally have guaranteed they got the contracts as politicians usually make procurement decisions of that scale based more on political factors than on equipment merit. That’s true for most countries to be fair. If BAES were still in favour with HMG I would have expected them to get the order. Forcing BAES into the Alliance was at least a warning shot which they appear not to have taken sufficiently seriously, hence some of the equipment fit on T31 I would suggest. It will… Read more »

Ron5
Ron5
7 months ago

The full budget for the Type 31’s is 1.98 billion so on average 400 million per ship. That’s a lot to pay for “maritime security” i.e. ships that have no role in actual warfighting with a dead zero capability in anti submarine warfare, a key frigate attribute.

As such, they are a significant downgrade over the Type 23’s they are replacing. And all so the government can claim they have the same number of escorts.

Total scam.

Lee H
Lee H
7 months ago
Reply to  Ron5

What makes you think this is a platform for platform replacement? Again, making statements but not backing them up.
Frigate attribute – ASW? Please expand, and again please demonstrate where ASW was articulated in the requirements given to industry.

Ron5
Ron5
7 months ago
Reply to  Lee H

I’m not sure what your problem is Lee but I suggest you go lie down for a while. I’m far from being the only person to think these barely armed, 6 thousand ton ships are being built to look like frigates rather than perform like them in order to deceive the British public. A two inch main gun,a couple of bofors whose lineage goes back to the 1930’s and 12 missiles with absolutely no way to detect, let alone attack any submarine, is just ridiculous. Top it off with a bunch of bottom of the range French radars & sensors… Read more »

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
7 months ago
Reply to  Ron5

Hi Ron,

I have seen that £1.98b quoted as well, it includes spares and support (although no duration was given for the support element). Procurement of £250m ea is still the target / contracted figure. I suspect some of the rest will be to pay Thales to train the RN to use the new kit they’re supplying.

Whilst this pushes the costs up, it is still a very cost effective vessel and it does loosen BAES’ dominance on the supply chain, which I think is definately part of the MoD / HMG thinking…

Ron5
Ron5
7 months ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

The 1.98 billion also includes some key equipment like the CAMM missile system which are not part of the 1.25 billion contract with Babcock’s.

The breakdown of the 1.98 billion has been document in Jane’s media for several months now. It’s not exactly new news.

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
7 months ago
Reply to  Ron5

That’s interesting thanks for the info – I don’t have a Janes account and haven’t seen it any where else. Probably reflects the loss of cross decked equipment from the T23’s which appears to have two impacts, extra “off contract” costs and hence a reduction in capability… Just to clarify, where you say ‘also includes some key equipment’ are you also saying there is some support elements as well or that all of the £1.98b is going on procurement? Begs the question why they didn’t at least cross deck the new radars, although I have read somewhere that the Thales… Read more »

DaveyB
DaveyB
7 months ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

Artisan is now over twenty years old from its first prototype. It is also a PESA system, whereas the Thales NS200 the T31 is said to be getting is an AESA system. So in most respects the T31 will have a better radar than the T26.

https://www.thalesgroup.com/en/ns200

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
7 months ago
Reply to  DaveyB

Yup, that makes the lack of VLS all the more odd…

Ron5
Ron5
7 months ago
Reply to  DaveyB

Most of today’s radar function & capability is provided by software. Artisans software derives from two main sources: PAAMS and the joint US/UK radar development test programs involving the best radar companies in the US & UK. As such, the Artisan system performs several classes above the NS100 which is the bottom cheapest, rung of Thales radar offerings.

That’s a long way of saying, Top Trumps doesn’t work with radars.

DaveyB
DaveyB
7 months ago
Reply to  Ron5

Sorry Ron, I have to disagree with you here. Yes Artisan does use software like all modern radars for target processing, but the front end processing is by today’s standards dated. Very little of the PAAMS software can be used for Artisan. The algorithms for crunching the data can be similar, but the ability of the Sampson/PAAMs is a league better than Artisan. Because Artisan is a PESA radar and not an AESA means it is not as frequency agile or have the high rates of electronic beam steering. It certainly does not have the agility of Sampson’s variable waveform… Read more »

Glass Half Full
Glass Half Full
7 months ago
Reply to  Ron5

Actually that prompts me to ask what BAES is doing, if anything, in radar development/sales nowadays for any domain? It seems like they have taken a decision to cede the market to Europe (Thales, Leonardo, Hensoldt, Saab, Terma), US (Raytheon, Northrop) and Australia’s CEA Technologies. They might decide to buy their way back in but European and US radar sales would seem to be a tough nut to crack without purchase or merger with a major existing radar vendor.

DaveyB
DaveyB
7 months ago

They are still developing Sampson’s capabilities. But it is a far cry from the days of Ferranti, Marconi and even GEC. It does seem BAE are more led by matching the market to their shareholders need, rather than being a National Asset. As can be seen by them giving up in the armoured vehicle market.

Ron5
Ron5
7 months ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

The January/February edition of Warship World also has a long article that explains the breakdown of the 1.98 billion. It can be purchased online if you can’t find it at your newsagent. The article is by Richard Scott, a well respected navy journalist and very well worth the read.

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
7 months ago
Reply to  Ron5

Thanks I’ll look out for it, but I live out in the sticks and newsagents are a bit like hens teeth 🙂 I’ll look for it online.

James Fennell
James Fennell
7 months ago
Reply to  Ron5

They are replacing the GP variants of T 23, which also have no towed array or Merlin for ASW. Could be easily upgraded if needed.

Rob
Rob
7 months ago

The build rate for the T26 & T31 is ridiculous. Between 1940 & 45 we managed to build, man and deploy over 300 new escorts in 5 years. Now, obviously, not being at war and not spending at that kind of rate means much slower build times BUT the present policy is that we will manage to build 13 frigates in 15 years. Can we not manage to get the T26’s & T31’s off the slipway at the rate of 2 a year? This is meant to be can do Britain, ministers need to light a fire under this. Replacing… Read more »

Mark L
Mark L
7 months ago
Reply to  Rob

The build rate is governed by the Treasury, not by the shipbuilders. The original plan for Type 26 was one a year until George Osborne announced it would be one every other year. The result is that costs per year are lower but the overall cost per ship is much higher. Same thing happened to QEC.

dan
dan
7 months ago

Does only 5 ships make up a fleet? lol

Sceptical Richard
Sceptical Richard
7 months ago

So what will happen when the T31 sensor/C2 package is shown to be superior to that of the T26? I’m not talking about ASW obviously, just air and surface search