The Type 26 Frigate, or ‘City class’, represents one of the most capable warships the Royal Navy has owned in decades, albeit one of the most costly.

The City 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.

The original working model for the ship put the length at 141 metres long and gave a displacement close to 7,000 tonnes. In late 2010 it was reported that the specifications had been reduced in order to bring down the cost from £500m to £250-350m per ship. By 2011 new specification details began to emerge of a 5,400 tonne ship emphasising flexibility and modularity. The new design is 149m long, has a top speed of more than 26 knots and accommodation for up to 200 people. It is expected to have 60 days endurance and have a range of 7,000 miles at 15 knots.

It’s no secret that the Type 26 is designed with modularity and flexibility in mind to enhance versatility across a wide range of operations ranging from counter piracy and disaster relief operations to high intensity combat. The final BAE design had a large amidships mission bay instead of the stern well deck featured in previous designs. BAE have commented regarding the mission bay:

“A key feature is the flexible mission space, which can accommodate up to four 12 metre sea boats, a range of manned and unmanned air, surface or underwater vehicles or up to 11 20ft containers or ‘capability modules’, and the most advanced sensors available to the fleet.”

This versatility of roles is enabled by mission bay, capable of supporting multiple helicopters, UUVs, boats, mission loads and disaster relief stores. BAE say that a launcher can be provided for fixed wing UAV operation and  it’s well known that the flight deck will be capable of landing a Chinook helicopter for transport of embarked forces.

The relocation of the bay amidships from stern could possibly mean a decrease in the volume of space available to the equipment carried but the new design would seem to have space enough for a few large boats or other large-scale systems and material.

The value of the mission bay cannot really be understated but it’s only part of the equation, the variety of firepower carried is key to the variety of tasks a high end warship can perform.

What kind of weapons will the vessel have?

The type is expected to be armed with BAE’s 5″/54 calibre Mark 45 main gun. It will also be armed with two Phalanx CIWS (close in weapons system), two 30mm DS30M Mark 2’s and the standard complement of miniguns and general-purpose machine guns. The Type 26 will have Sea Ceptor silo’s on the bow and at the funnel of the vessel. Additionally, it will carry MK 41 Vertical Launch System positioned behind the Sea Ceptor silo’s.

Once integrated with the Type 26, the MK 41 VLS will offer the Royal Navy “unparalleled flexibility and capability” say BAE, but only if money is made available to fill it.

“Lockheed Martin has a long and successful partnership with the Royal Navy, and we look forward to working with BAE Systems to integrate the MK 41 VLS with the Type 26,” said Paul Livingston, Group Managing Director of Lockheed Martin UK Rotary and Mission Systems.

“The MK 41 VLS will provide the Royal Navy’s Type 26 Global Combat Ships with a proven and cost-effective vertical launching solution.”

Each Type 26 will be equipped with three 8-cell MK 41 VLS modules. BAE Systems initial order includes nine MK 41 VLS modules, enough for the first three ships of the class.

Image result for mk41 tomahawk
MK 41 VLS on the USS Hue City.

“The signature of this contract is another important milestone in the ongoing delivery of the UK’s Type 26 program,” said Mike Holstead, head of the Type 26 program at Defence Equipment and Support, the Ministry of Defence’s procurement organisation.

“The vertical launch system will be a key part of the capability of the new frigate fleet, and an essential tool for Royal Navy in operations to defend the UK and her interests.”

Nadia Savage, director of the Type 26 program at BAE Systems, said:

“As momentum builds and GLASGOW, the first of three contracted next generation City Class Type 26 Global Combat Ships, takes shape at our facilities in Glasgow, we are delighted to place this contract with Lockheed Martin. The Vertical Launching System contributes to our overall combat management system and will further enhance platform flexibility and capability, which are core to the design of the Type 26.”

What can go in the MK41?

The MK 41 VLS is capable of launching anti-air, anti-submarine, surface-to-surface and strike-length missiles. Being able to hold Tomahawk cruise missiles, ASROC anti-sub munitions and potentially, the next generation of anti-ship missile is a huge deal as this would ensure that these vessels would be one of the most versatile British warships in decades.

File:VLS Mk41 Tomahawk 20100622-1.jpg
A Tomahawk missile launches from a MK 41 vertical launching system

The next generation of anti-ship missile bit is especially important as Royal Navy ships will lose anti-ship missile capability in 2020 when the Harpoon missile is withdrawn with a replacement not due until ‘around 2030’.

While the Royal Navy will still have an anti-ship capability via the submarine fleet and embarked helicopters, this will still be a significant capability gap and even then, no Royal Navy helicopters will have anti-ship missile capabilities until 2020. As we reported last year, Harriett Baldwin and her French counterpart signed an agreement to explore future long range weapons for the Royal and French Navies and Air Forces with the aim of replacing the Harpoon anti-ship missile and the Storm Shadow cruise missile as well as an array of French weapon types.

French arms procurement chief Collet-Billon said last year at the meeting:

“We are launching today a major new phase in our bilateral cooperation, by planning together a generation of missiles, successor to the Harpoon, SCALP and Storm Shadow. The FC/ASW (future cruise/anti-ship weapon) programme’s aim is to have by around 2030 a new generation of missiles.”

The missiles however will not be ready to replace Harpoon until 2030, leaving the Type 26 Frigates without any real means to engage surface warships aside from their helicopters. The Future Cruise/Anti-Ship Weapon programme will look at options to replace and improve existing Naval and Air Force weapons systems in the next decade. Lasting up to three years, the assessment phase will help to define the missile designs and reduce risks to inform decisions about the next stage of the programme.

What will go in the MK41?

Currently, we don’t know. No firm commitment has been made for any of the weapon types able to be fired by the MK 41 but with the first vessel not entering sea trials for quite a few years, the time hasn’t yet come to order anything.


The key factor that will determine the true capability of these ships is really quite simple, the funding put in place to arm it properly. Without proper funding the vessels will not be fitted out to their maximum potential with the wide range of weapons they’re designed for and as such are likely to see the vast sums of money already spent on their design and build, spent in vein.


  1. Brilliant. Before the moaners rear their heads let’s this time welcome the go ahead for a potent warship that is world class and will be part of a powerful modern Royal Navy for years to come.

    Forget 2010 and 2015 and look forward to Gavin Williamson and his team delivering the forces we all yearn to see with first class personnel well trained , well paid and looked after during and after their service.

    On a personal note could we have an HMS Plymouth please.

  2. I’d 5here any plan to add this capability to the Type 45? I know that there is a capability to add 12 strike length launchers to the design.

  3. I think the T-26s are the RN equivalent to the army’s Challenger 2 tank. A fantastic combination of firepower, protection and manoeuvre. Bring em on, bring more of them on. World beaters.

    • Given the Challenger 2 has an obsolete gun, baseline armour that hasn’t been upgraded in 20 years, an inability to utilise hunter-killer ops at night and is the slowest western tank in NATO, I would dearly hope the Type 26 isn’t the equivilent of it…

      • Tenor. And yet the challenger 2 is still undefeated in combat, has the longest ever ranged tank Vs tank kill record and although heavy/ slow is still no slouch. Ever seen top gear when Clarkson tried to escape a challenger 2 in a land rover? He got owned.
        The land rover could not escape down rough roads or across country.
        Ineffective gun? Tell that to the Iraqi republican guards who lost entire divisions of type 80 tanks to the challenger 2.
        The only reason we are switching from rifled guns to smoothbore on the challenger 2 service life extension programme is so they can fire a new tungsten APFSDS round which is politically more acceptable and less environmentally dirty than the DU rounds currently fired.
        Happy to debate but do not write of the challenger 2 it has quietly gone about its business and is probably the best fighting prowess and resilient tank in the world

        • The First Gulf War was 28 years ago. Iraq had no T-80 tanks.

          Challenger 2 was an excellent tank, in its day, over two decades ago. It hasn’t had significant upgrades and can’t hold a candle to the Abrams M1A2 Sep v.3.

      • (Chris H) – Tenor and PKCasimir – So neither of you know the difference between the early ‘Chobham’ armour and the later ‘Dorchester’. And what ‘upgrades’ would you do to a very capable gun? And of course there have been no upgrades to the tank commander’s ability to set the next targets while the gunner is dealing with the current one? Its power and transmission packs have proved ultra reliable and its basically never been stopped in combat.

        And what sort of ‘candle’ are we using to compare it with the Abrams that still uses a modified version of Chobham and an iinerior gun albeit one that shares ammunition with Germany..

        This is worth reading from someone who knows:

        From which I quote:
        “Many claim that as there were less Challenger 2’s than the US Abrams series deployed to Iraq, the Abrams would therefore take greater losses. After the invasion and during the “occupation” or Iraq, 14 Challenger 2’s and the CRARRV were out working almost every night and therefore were in greater demand than their Abrams cousin, which meant these Challenger 2 were still attacked regularly. Sadly 5% of the Abrams deployed were returned to the US as either heavily damaged or destroyed during this period. The Challenger 2 had no losses, despite being attacked every night by the same enemy, with the same weapons. To say that British Forces did not receive the same intense level of attack, though on a smaller scale, is seen by British Forces as an insult.”

        Note who went on night ops …..

        • Finally something I can comment on that I actually know about rather then just make bias and un substantiated rants.

          CR2 was not a bad bit of kit when it first came out, great gun, very advanced fire control system, world leading armour and a reliable (ish) engine. But that was 20 years ago and apart from the bowman uplift and a few small updates not much has changed.

          The gun is in desperate need of an update, even though its way newer and more advanced then the gun fitted to M1 and Leo it has lagged behind in ammunition development and will now struggle against modern MBTs at range. The sights and fire control systems are still very good but are becoming increasingly harder to support, this is just down to the technology used, if you ever get the chance to look inside one of the many white boxes that make up the system its like looking into the back of an 80s TV.

          The armour was and still is shit hot, its just ridiculously heavy and it doesn’t help having a rather under-powered engine.

          This is something I can rant about all day but I will spare you fine people the tedium.


      • It is also the most reliable tank out there. Great survival rate for the crew and the longest range kill of another tank in the world 👍👍🇬🇧😂. Just saying

  4. it looks good and sounds good but please don,t make the same mistake that was done with the type 45 where we were getting 12 then 8 and ended up with 6…we need our royal navy to project power even more once we have left the EU

    • That was also going to be my point Andy. Don’t want to sound negative and they look like being great ships, but please let’s not end up with seven or six only and T31 never happens… It’s already beginning to look as there won’t be a seventh Astute… Let’s hope I’m wrong!

      • What skeptical Richard they signed the contract for astute 7 weeks ago. It is fully funded and going to be built mate.
        Other than that I agree we have to get all 8 type 26 in service and ideally add a further couple in the future back into the order. Also I would view the type 26 platform as a viable replacement for the type 45 destroyers, now half way through their service lives. Although I would love to see type 45 fitted with mk41vls asap.

    • No need for SM2, that’s what we have T45 for. Don’t waste scarce money. First and foremost LRASM, then TLAM and finally ASROC if it fits into our ASW CONOPS.

      • SM2 has a somewhat limited surface attack capability. I think that Was Helions point.

        Quite suitable for smaller fast craft and there’s plenty to suggest multiple strikes on a frigate sized ship would likely achieve mission kill so as Helion says… Better than nothing?

  5. Why are we not including Dragonfire onboard all of our current and future warships, or am I missing something?

    • Seeing as Dragon fire is barely into its development phase I don’t think its surprising its not included into any design. My guess would be when it is operational it would perhaps take the place of the 30mm guns or the phalanx.

    • Quote:

      “Qinetiq have discussed the schedule for the testing of ‘Dragonfire’ a new British laser directed energy weapon.

      The first project to be undertaken at the new Dragonworks laser test facility will be the assembly and testing of the laser directed energy weapon (LDEW) currently in development by the UK’s Dragonfire consortium.

      Components will arrive in early 2018, when QinetiQ will begin building the weapon’s laser source in the purpose-built clean room. Over the following months, the laser source will undergo a process of evaluation and adjustment before being integrated with Leonardo’s beam director.

      The project will culminate in operation at full-power under test conditions inside the facility in summer 2018, before it is transported to MOD Shoeburyness for long-range outdoor trials later in the year”.

          • Pretty certain that a CIWS style of laser weapon will initially be bolted on to Phalanx turret. So will be a mix of kinetic and laser so can better cope with weather, shielding etc.

      • The RN needs a high powered laser to counter the new hypersonic ASMs the Russians have now.

        There is some doubt that Sea Ceptor is up ro the task. Sea Viper may be ok but who knows…


        • The Russians have had near (mach4.5)hypersonic weapons since the 1960s. Measures where and still are in place to counter them . A laser is not going to kill a Mach 5 missile. Other missiles will do that. The alternative is kill the launch vehicle before that.

  6. I genuinely interested to know whether BAE, if they win the Australian frigate competition, will charge more, less or the same to the Aussies that they did us. Perhaps someone could enlighten me if any announcement has been made.

    • Quite a lot different between the Aussie and the UK versions and of course the Aussie one will be built in Australia. But yes an interesting question.

      Don’t hold your breath for an authoritative reply tho 🙂

      • I assume the U.K. actually paid for the T26 design via the various design contracts awarded rather than BAE developing the T26 design on spec with its own funds.

        Assuming that is the case I would seriously hope that the U.K. T26 contract with BAE is structured such that HMG retains the intellectual property rights for the design. If that is the case then the bulk of the money from any wins with the RAN (or CAN or other future bids) would most likely be from licensing fees paid to HMG by BAE to use the design to deliver on one or both of those contracts. After that, with construction in Australia and probably a lot of Australian suppliers also selected for onboard systems it might be meagre pickings in terms of returns to the U.K. government.

        The only other reasonably significant potential return to HMG that I can see would depend on where BAE recognises the overall profit for the RAN contract. If a decent chunk of it ends up being recognised in the U.K. then there is also potentially corporation tax on declared U.K. profit as another source of return to HMG.

        Assuming there is a licensing fee payable by BAE to HMG, and I would be very surprised and disappointed if there isn’t, I hope the MoD and defence minister at the time the contract was signed were very careful to get a solid agreement from the Chancellor at the time that any future licensing fees received get credited to the defence budget and aren’t simply swallowed up as general government receipts. There are other slightly less generous compromises that the MoD might have negotiated with the Treasury but I hope they negotiated something otherwise the MoD could end up with zero benefit from a RAN or other win since corporation tax does automatically go into general government receipts.

        The trouble is we can probably never know the real story because the detailed TS & Cs of the T26 contract between the MoD and BAE are almost certainly commercial in confidence.

        • Julian – interesting comments and this brings up the case that the winning design in any competition is not always the best vessel and the one most suited to the requirements but the one which is the easiest and cheapest to navigate through all the red tape with regards to intellectual property and licensing issues.

          • Indeed. I can image that there might also be an awful lot of difficult negotiations on things like ownership of the IP on derivative works such as modifications necessary to integrate new stuff into an existing design. I did a lot of these sort of contract negotiations involving lots of IP issues for a good 15 years of my career although not in the defence industry.

        • Julian, all MoD contracts have IP clauses in them as well as Royalty clauses to reimburse HMG from foreign military sales for the development costs. However, in my experience these usually end up being waived in order to make the export bid more competitive in what usually turns out to be a fearsome competitive process with several ‘best and final’ offers (BAFOs). Also, offset requirements and the need to involve local industry usually means a large amount of technology (IP) transfer effectively for free. This is usually in the form of ‘ownership’ transfer but rather a ‘right of use’ license given FOC.

          • Sorry, meant to say NOT in the form of ownership transfer of the technology… I wish we could edit!

    • Aussie profit margin will be “better structured to reflect the Australian market”, which means yes – they will be cheaper.
      The Aussies and the Canadians will be buying off the self products, all R&D coatings are picked up by the 1st of class user and ultimate requirement holder (HMG)
      This of course is the same for all these type of projects.

      • There will be significant R&D costs for the Australian and Canadian governments because their versions differ from the UK’s.

    • On the topic of T26 being utilised by other nations, it should be pointed out that the USN is looking to use an existing hull design for their cruiser replacement programme and the type 26 is one option they are looking at. That gives some idea of how big these vessels are.

    • I’ll put on my TH hat and write that as an Aust. taxpayer, I want tax dollars spent in the most efficient manner. Significantly modifying the base design of a ship which is not yet afloat is a huge risk to the project and potentially expensive in comparison to competing designs.

    • The bid result is expected to be announced very soon. Some believe the RAN is interested in a Mk41 setup with 48 missile cells, sometime that could be difficult to configure in the T26. Also, the Australian Ceafar radar is a requirement along with the Saab 9LV CMS with an Aegis interface. Not sure what BAE was offering for a CMS in their bid. Like Canada, Australia is invested n ESSM and Raytheon’s other missiles.

    • News as of weeks ago Australia selected the type 26 for their future anti submarine warfare ship. They will be called Hunter class and at least 9 will be built. Great news for British engineering.
      BAE have gone very quiet about this news potentially offsetting the cost of type 26 frigates. Potentially we should see a reduction in price for hulls 4 oneards. Enough to buy a 9th much needed hull? I hope so.

  7. I wonder how annoyed the navy is at this stage after their decision to cut the t45 numbers for ‘earlier’ frigates. A real mistake of a decision, especially as I assume boats 7 and 8 would have been a lot cheaper than boat 1 and so bring down the average cost of the t45 to a more acceptable level.

    • Not as annoyed I suspect as Admiral West’s catastrophic decision when he was CNS to accept reduction in number of escorts down to 19 in exchange for getting Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC) instead, only for the Treasury to renege on their promise soon after…

  8. I thought the RN and French Navy were going ahead with “Perseus”? Why the long gap between Harpoon and 2030 as the article states? Has that programme been cancelled?

    • Perseus is in the concept phase and since it will travel at hypersonic speeds, will (hopefully) incorporate additional warhead “effectors” which is unique, will have a variety of launch platforms, and is designed to hit land and sea targets, a lot of new technology will have to be developed and integrated. Complex programmes like this take many years to deliver the first product. The programme has not been cancelled, it is just going to take a fairly long time. As much as we would like this missile now, these sort of things cannot be rushed for the sake of performance and safety.

  9. Ship looks fantastic, but spoiled by the 5 inch gun turret. Just looks too small for the length of the gun. Maybe an enlarged Kryton turret would look better. Can the 5 inch be retrofitted to the type 45 on a refit?

    • Gunbuster is better placed to answer but I summise that the weight of the 5in and associated lower deck systems should be able to be accommodated.
      RN don’t like running on different gun and ammo sizes, so 5in all round would be good. Remember they had originally trialled an AS90 mount.

      • 5 inch will go on a T45 but it’s not just a case of swapping out turrets.
        Changes to the magazine stowage racks in the deep mag , power supplies, floods and sprays etc would be needed as well.
        The 4.5″ is a combined one piece bit of ammo, shell and cartridge in one piece.
        5″ ammo is in 2 parts so fundamentally different stowage requirements are required.

        • Do you think the 45 will keep the Mk8?
          6 guns? Or do would it make sense to put the legacy mk8’s from the 23’s on the 31e so T26 with 5 inch and 45’s and 31’s on mk8?

          • It would make sense to give T45 the 5” guns…but when has that ever applied to the project teams in Abbey Wood.
            The Mk 8s would need to be overhauled before being fitted onto to anything else. It may not be cost effective to keep them

  10. A bit of an observation really, why can the crane in the mission bay not just be a plain old overhead rail system instead of an extensible arm.

    Surely having a rail system that extends outwards is more stable, simpler and ultimately cheaper to install and operate. Not sure we need such a complicated crane.

    I am all for getting top notch kit in key areas but dont think this offers anything over a normal extensible overhead crane would at probably a lot lower cost.

    Otherwise love the T26 and want 13 of them over the next 25 years and 25 T31’s to give us a balanced fleet.

    • The CGI is of the Type 26 system. It’s designed to carefully load and deposit objects such as containers, ribbbies and UUVs into the ocean or quayside. It requires a high degree of precision. Some of these loads are rather expensive.

      • Ron5

        I think this could be achieved by a less technically advance (and probably expensive) system. At the end of the day an extendable rail crane would almost certainly be able to handle heavier goods, but I am guessing tbh.

    • Its complex because it needs to be.
      Launching a sea boat from inside a ship, with the crew on it and recovering it safely takes a complex control system.
      same goes for expensive or a UwAV or mine hunting gear.

  11. Absolutely right. I for one, feel slightly apprehensive in regards to Russia’s new semi-hostile profile? Though the likelihood of actual ship to ship exchange of weaponry is unlikely, I fear the intimidation will increase with more interdiction into British waters and airspace. If so, we need to ensure there are no reductions in intended MOD procurement plans.

    The World Cup may take some of the sting out of the current disquiet, which will please the liberal left. However, once out of the EU I fear Russia will jump at the opportunity to drill into the minds of the UK citizens, the perceptions of being alone and bereft of friends?

    I’m willing to guess the mood in Downing Street is hardening regardless of distractions of the footballing nature, and that is good news in the context of securing procurement and hopefully any notions of decommissioning vital components, such as, the amphibious element of the Royal Navy?

  12. Evening all
    So we have the RN slowly getting their house in order:
    CVF – check
    DDG – check
    FFG – in build
    FF – in concept and design
    SSN – check
    SSBN – in concept and design
    River 1 – saved by Brexit
    River 2 – check
    Small maritime helicopter – check
    Large maritime helicopter – check
    Multi role maritime fast jet – check

    Amphibious fleet – undecided

    The T26 represents what we do best, amazing design and build but a challenge to properly arm and man.
    Defensenews is even reporting that the hull form is being looked at by the USN as the future CG(X) hull form, that should give you an idea of the size and more importantly space for power generation T26 offers.
    There are those out there who will ask for more of these amazing platforms, sadly it is likely they will be disappointed. What you will get is more T31e platforms and a rationalisation of the surface fleet but sadly it is unlikely more T26 will be part of any increase.
    What we need to make sure is that the platforms we have and are getting are appropriately armed and manned for the missions they are requested to carry out and not sent to sea under armed or lightly manned.
    We have to accept that sometimes for example an R1 or R2 will provide U.K. fleet ready escort, it isn’t always the job of a £1bn destroyer to be used to provide safe passage in U.K. territorial waters.
    Ships have to be tasked properly, the press will not like it but the argument has to be properly articulated.
    T26 is going to be great, let’s make sure that the ones we get are manned and armed properly.

    • Totally agree with you Lee! Regarding your check list, unfortunately the only thing missing is a Mistral or Canberra/Juan Carlos. Ocean’s departure was a crime. As you say, amphibious: undecided…

      • Morning
        Yep, the amphibious element is going to be the challenge for Navy planners.
        The RN don’t want to lose their RM contingent but MoD have to find the money to properly sustain the capability – the ability to deploy a Royal Marine Battle Group of upto 1800 men and all supporting equipment and be able to sustain operations for 7 days, that is not cheap hence it is only HMG and the USMC who can do it properly. Wait to see what happens with the Dutch.

  13. A shame that HMS Magpie is being constructed in Ireland when there is a perfectly good shipyard in Devon which builds vessels for the Irish Navy. I shall write to my MP about that one. We need small, coastal vessels to be built here.

    • TH, you make me chuckle sometimes.
      We run a free market economy and not a closed one.
      As you state, Appledore is currently building patrol vessels for the Irish Navy and has a steady stream of work for the size of the yard, a sustainable long term steam of work.
      The RN have requirements that are matched by suppliers creating designs and putting them forward as part of the tendering process.
      In this case, requirements we met by vessels that were available by a yard that had been building them successfully for sometime now. Ireland are buying complex vessels from he U.K. – the U.K. is buying a fleet of tenders from a supplier that is proven in its trade, at good value to the tax payer and by the looks of it being delivered on time.
      You are like a football fan who’s club gets promoted to the premier league but doesn’t like the cost of the tickets and complain that the team now has fewer home grown players.
      Keep blogging though, your comments are well constructed, if a little “repetitive” – saying something again and again doesn’t make it true.

  14. T26 looks great, both beautiful looking and from the spec extremely capable. I really look forward to the day when we can see QE or PoW sailing with an all T45 + T26 task group, even if only occasionally because most times we will incorporate allied escorts. Incorporating allied escorts is a good thing to do but it’ll still be good to see all these first rate U.K. vessels in a single group at least once, and not forgetting an Astute somewhere under the waves, a very generously sized Tide Class tanker, and I really hope soon an excellently designed and similarly generously sized MARS SSS. (We really need to get our finger out on that last part.)

    Re the article, one nitpick – Why do you say that T26 is “EXPECTED to be armed with BAE’s 5″/54 calibre Mark 45 main gun” when the order for the first 3 guns plus a 4th shore-based unit for training together with an initial stock of munitions was placed something like a year ago? That seems to make it a bit more certain than “expected to be armed with”.

  15. Let’s get more than 8 of these please. Can that decision be reversed and we go back to original plan of having 13?

    • Mr J Bell – There is absolutely no logical reason why more than 8 can be procured,the only sticking point is that that decision rests with the Chancellor of the Exchequer and him alone !.

    • I will speculate. I think it is unlikely they will adopt an Absalon based design at this stage unless the Babcock and BMT teams have failed to agree on either Arrowhead or Venator as the basis of their offering. Also the RFI does emphasise UK ownership of intellectual property which would not favour Absalon.
      That said I can kimd of see how if it could be incorporated into say Venator, the Absalon approach could give BMT an advantage over the Leander ‘mission bay’ proposal.If you could, say, lift on and lift off per mission, containerised ExLs, NSM and UXV modules onto the core design ( 57mm and Wildcat) you could save money and buy say, only 3 sets of up arming containers for 5 ships for use when they need to fight. Not sure how the crewing would work though.

    • Too big, complex and sophisticated and I suspect almost as expensive as a T26, if not more so in then year pounds. T31 needs to be a modern Leander, otherwise it’ll never happen.

      • Tend to agree. Cammel, horse and committee come to mind. I would just add 15m and ffbnw Mk41 or ExLs to Khareef and get on with it. Quantity has a quality all lf its own.

  16. Absalon’s are useful ships but not really a full blown first rate combatant IMO. Of course I understand that a modified design could change that but that first impression is stuck in my perception of them… Am I missing something here?


    • I just thought i’d raise the topic for discussion to get peoples thoughts on which way we might be heading with its final design.

      • I’ve read that the Canadians might be looking at them as replacements for the Iroquois Class destroyers (RIP). I really hope the RCN will choose the T26 along with the USN (and the RAN and RNZN). But for many navies I think the multipurpose aspects of the class would be very attractive. Also, I think they’re built to commercial standards – not mil? Please correct me someone if I’m wrong here…


        • Unfortunately I suspect Australia will go for another Navantia design to maintain commonality with the Hobarts and to a lesser extent Canberras. It’s what makes sense. Also I suspect it will be cheaper. Again, I hope I’m wrong. I’m always hoping to be wrong…

  17. Here is what the French are getting up to in the same field:
    FTI / Belharra Medium-Size Frigates, France
    A prototype of the export variant (designated [email protected]) of the French Navy’s future FTI (Frégate de Taille Intermédiaire) medium-size frigates was unveiled during the Euronaval trade show held in Paris in October. The French Navy version is being developed by naval shipbuilding company DCNS in collaboration with the French Defence Procurement Agency (DGA), under the FTI medium-size frigate programme.

    • If it looks like a warship….
      We will most probably be deciding which version to opt for by the time the first French vessel arrives!

    • This ship is costing around £700 million each and will be a level above our t31. It has decent asw capabilities which ours won’t. A proper frigate, t31 will be something only slightly better than a corvette.
      I wonder what Bae could have done price wise if we had said we want a cut down version of the t26? Removed towed array but kept bow sonar, lower spec radar, removed a large part of the mission bay, removed mk 41, and gone to a 76mm gun. If we could have had that for around £400 million it may have been a great ship and we have commonality of parts to reduce running costs.

      • The TAS 2087 is less than £25 million as is the 5 inch gun so eliminating both saves less than £50 million (need to buy the 76mm). An 8 cell MK41 vls (strike length) is about £12 million so you would save £26 million by eliminating those. Artisan is about £15 million a pop so save maybe £10 by going a cheaper route. So by compromising massively on weapon and sensor fit you save maybe £100 million per ship, just not worth it. Most of the cost comes from the ASW optimised hull and machinery fit.

      • The big cost driver on T26 is the quietening technology for ASW needs. ARTISAN is essential for Sea Ceptor and you wouldn’t put a ship to sea without
        the latter. Take out the super quietening technology and you’ve got the right starting point for other cost/effectiveness calculations.

    • From looking at the FTI infographic ( it’s not as heavily armed as I thought. The graphic is a bit blurry but that looks to be 2 x 6 Sylver at the front for Aster plus the 2 x 4 box launchers for Exocet.

      Something like the Venator 110 design, chosen simply because it is the design I remember best, has space allocated for the same number of box launchers and the forward (only) silo sized for up to 48 CAMM or 24 CAMM + 8 Mk41. 16 Mk41 would also seem to be an option deckspace wise but BMT don’t explicitly mention that as an example of the forward silo configuration so maybe there are weight or space issues there or maybe they simply thought 3 example configurations were enough to include in their technical brief. There is also a mission area under the flight deck that BMT explicitly states is capable of hosting a TAS.

      We don’t know what the RN will specify in terms of missiles and that is a huge concern, and we can be pretty certain that they won’t put a TAS in the back, but at least in terms of the claimed capabilities of one of the T31 original design contenders to host stuff, we do seem to be at least playing on the same playing field as the FTI.

      • Another example of how other countries spec even their smaller ships – it has electric drive, so I presume asw capabilities, mission bay, seaceptor cells, quad anti-ship launchers, medium gun etc etc . We will be lucky to get that on the T31’s, let alone on a patrol vessel!
        Every ship MUST be a fighting ship if required, I dearly hope we get a decent weapons fit on the T31 so they can actually sink ships and defend themselves and RFA’s if needed. I also want to see the River batch 2’s with a 76mm gun, ciws and a canister launched asm on first refit. I think best bet for T31 would be one 8 cell Mk 41 fitted with the Exls adapter. 16 seaceptor, with 4 spare cells for other missile types. A separate seaceptor bank on top would be a dream come true but unlikely for our budget.

        • Well, if they choose Venator 110 and fund the fitout properly it’s front silo could meet your “dream come true” requirements there. 8 x Mk41 + 2 x 3-cell ExLS is a silo configuration explicitly referenced in BMT’s literature which would give 24 Sea Ceptor and 8 Mk41 spare for heavier stuff. That also still leaves space in the forward weapons section for 2 x 4-missile box launchers.

          I really hope they do chose something credible so that it is at least all down to funding as to what is fitted rather than selecting a poor and inflexible design that isn’t able to fit a decent amount of stuff in even if budget were to be made available for it.

  18. Its a beautiful looking and highly capable ship, a leap forward from the T23

    I would say the increasingly tense word situation and the UK’s reorientation away from Europe are both powerful forces pushing forward the agenda for a larger Navy.

    30 surface combat vessels, (T26/T31/T45 mix) 12 SSN, 4 SSBN, the Carriers and a robust Amphibious force, backed up by an enlarged RFA is the minimum that should be accepted

    • Agreed that is a minimum, but not sure we will get it tho. Am being slightly positive in thinking that the military generally is heading for a steady year in year rise in spending….maybe not to 2.5% but maybe something close…..tho perhaps I am being hopelessly naive here!

      • Andrew, I think the 1% real term growth per year is just to keep us hanging on to the 2% of GDP by our fingernails. It all depends, of course, on how the economy performs post Brexit…..

  19. I believe when we come to design the next gen of warships we should be designing a family of ships, small, medium and large. All sharing commonality, hull design is shared just scaled up or down with all types quiet. Surely this would reduce r&d costs, and offer economies of scale and a long production run for the builder reducing costs drastically? But I guess that’s an industrial strategy and too much for our current government to comprehend!

    • So light frigate/patrol ship 3-4000 tonnes, medium frigate in large numbers and well rounded 5000 tonnes, destroyer/ cruiser for high end specialist roles 6-7000 tonnes, bmd capable and lots of cells!

    • I would be pretty surprised if the T31 as it’s designed for export doesn’t have the option or have the necessary structure to convert it in to a dedicated ASW vessel.
      What is the additional cost of building the engines, gearboxes and drive shafts on acoustically quiet mounts?

  20. I thought harpoon had had a stay of execution?? There’s not much in here on the capability of sea ceptor or the functionality of its embarked helicopter. Agree the absence of consideration for future incorporation of laser defences an omission in terms of the future proofing of the design. It would also be good to have an idea of how the eight will be tasked and what would be the normal expectation around availability. I’d hate to see these expensive and capable ships doing low end stuff. Also the role of NATO allies in filling out a task force is always overlooked. Anyone able to do a piece on what a UK led carrier task force would look like operating in European waters to deter russian belligerence?

  21. I want to know how much money will be recouped if the t26 design wins the Aussie and Canadian competitions. I thought although it’s bae, we own the design rights? Will that money be pumped back into platforms and capability?

    • See my comment above. Who knows and we can probably never know because any licensing fees will most likely be commercial in confidence.

      If whatever defence minister dropped the ball and didn’t tie up a binding deal with whomever was Chancellor at the time (Osbourne?) then any licensing fees paid by BAE to HMG might simply go into general receipts anyway and,given the relationship between Gavin Williamson and Spreadsheet Phil at the moment, I can’t see the current Chancellor being very willing to allocate that money to defence as an increment to the already committed 2% of GDP without a fight.

    • Any license fee would be very likely to be waived by the UK government.

      The fee, if collected, would go to the Treasury general fund and not the MoD.

  22. Beautiful ship. If you make some of the 48 Sea Ceptor cells ExLs launchers with the 24 Mk41 you have a lot of missile flexibilty.

    • I now understand that the 3 cell stand-alone ExLS system can take quad-packed Sea Ceptor in each cell for a total of 12 but does anyone know what other missile types (if any) can be hosted in a stand-alone ExLS cell?

      From what Gunbuster has told us about how the Sea Ceptor conversions on T23 are using a special adapter to fit the Sea Ceptor canisters into the round holes left by the Sea Wolf tubes (it really is a case of fitting a square peg (canister) into a round hole!) that expedient bodge doesn’t seem appropriate for cross-decking to T26 so I suspect the 3 cell ExLS units are a highly likely option for use on the T26 Sea Ceptor silos.

      • Is it just that with ExLs you can buy Mk41 length tubes in lots of 3 rather than minimum order quantity of 8 cells? Maybe the camm quad packing only works with ExLs? Could you put SM2 in ExLs for example ?

        • No. I posted the full explanation in the previous version of article on the new 3 cell ExLS posted a couple of weeks ago but everyone had stopped reading the comments by then (wouldn’t it be great to have a proper forum section for comments?) and TD seem to have deleted the original article and all its original comments when they reposted the same article a few days ago

          Here again is the link to a YouTube video of a LM rep explaining it all complete with models…

          • That’s “no” to it just being a 3 cell Mk41. On the SM2 comment I have no idea. I’m really interested in that answer.

          • Thanks for that link Julian. I am creeping towards an understanding. ExLs is only 4 m in depth, half the depth of the Mk41 vls which supports the SM2 series. Camm is 3.2m and camm-er is 4 m so it too might just quad pack into ExLs. For comparison Aster 15 is 4.2 m long. My understanding from the video is that the quad pack adapter which enables camm quad packing into an ExLs also fits the Mk41 so you don’t need to buy ExLs to support camm if you have Mk41 but if you want camm for a ship which cannot accomodate Mk41 vls then ExLs might work for you because it requires only half the vls below deck penetration.

          • That’s all my understanding too although re your final point – “if you want CAMM for a ship which can not accommodate Mk41” – even if your vessel could find the depth to install Mk41 another reason to go stand-alone 3-cell ExLS (EXLS-3) might well be cost if you know you are only ever going to want CAMM. This might well be the situation for the T26 Sea Ceptor silos which is why I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see a U.K. order for some ExLS-3 for the first 3 T26. Given ExLS-3 is presumably a later-in-construction fit perhaps the MoD are waiting for some clarity on what T31 might need in order to bulk up any ExLS-3 order to maximise possible volume discounts.

  23. I think it is a hugely impressive frigate, but it is 10 years too late and too small. Flight 3 Arleigh Burkes at c10,000t are already considered cramped and at their max in terms of power generation and the Chinese t055 is bigger still at c13,000t. OK you could argue they are both air defence specialists not ASW but future warships will/are rapidly becoming floating power stations and this is before we enter the world of direct energy/rail guns. Don’t get me wrong it is a superb looking warship and will do a good job, it just lacks ambition and risks becoming obsolete in a relatively short time frame. This article from Tyler Rogway illustrates the issue.

    • Ultimately I think all your points are good ones but I think at the time it was designed it was too early to know the correct future design. I also wonder how far away we are from genuinely useful high energy weapons to replace missile defences. As has been pointed out elsewhere, Dragonfire is still only a testbed not a final weapons system making its way towards widespread deployment.

      The next inflection point for the U.K. will probably be the T45 successor. One part of me would love to see us creating economies of scale and saving design costs by using the T26 design as the basis for our next AAW destroyer but another part of me suspects that by the time we get there a next-generation AAW vessel is going to look more like a Tide Class tanker than a T26. As you say, warships are tending towards floating power stations and in the future it’s going to get worse than that.

      If the next AAW vessels are fielding very high power directed energy weapons then the limiting factor is unlikely to be the capacity of the “power station”, nuclear reactors can generate a lot of power. The biggest challenge is likely to be energy storage in order to deliver massive amounts of power in very short busts and keep those bursts going for long enough to withstand saturation attacks. Storing that much energy is going to take up a lot of hull volume regardless of how it is done (e.g. chemical or kinetic) hence my reference to tanker-sized hulls.

    • I think it’s going to be a modified Zumwalt design. The T26 hull is even smaller than the AB’s and the San Antonio’s hull form can’t keep up with the strike groups. The old Spruance Class hull is what the Tico’s have and it’s a non-starter.

      A very far fetched idea might be a modernized Iowa Class hull. Those ships were built with an eye for speed but also enough beam for stability as a gunnery platform and finally they are large. Those are the attributes are what’s needed for the CGX and the Iowa’s could keep up with the carriers. I volunteered aboard the Missouri at Ford Island for a couple of years when she had just arrived at Pearl and before she was open. Had the run of the ship. It’s still very impressive. Just tossing that idea out for immediate punishment and banning :D.


    • Wads -agree that the Type 26 design is 10 years too late – the GCS Project was started in 1998,surely a nation with our Naval Design Heritage can do much better than that but maybe it was just the fact of meddling polititians and ever changing requirements.No-one can see into the future I know but it would be logical to me to use the Type 26 as a basis for a Type 45 replacement,as has been said on here by others.

  24. Excuse my ignorance, but isn’t the T26 suppose to replace the A/S T23s. Can someone enlighten me about the A/S capability of this ship?

    • Good news/bad news. In fact come to think of it some parallels to T45 in the ASW domain.
      Caveat – it’s not built yet so everyone is working off published information.

      The good news – In terms of detection it should be genuinely world class, designed to be ultra quiet with the best sonar out there and the space and power margins to support processing upgrades as necessary (there are lots of computers in the background). A bit like T45 with its world-beating Sampson radar.

      The (potential) bad news with a silver lining – right now the offensive capability seems limited to the same Merlin delivery options as T23 although as I understand it T26 will be able to host 2 Merlins so giving better availability. The silver lining is that it will have Mk41 launchers so, if the U.K. chose to invest the funds and do the integration, it could also potentially host something like ASROC to give a shipborne long range weapon. (I’m not an expert but I’ve read many times that shipborne torpedos are not all they’re cracked up to be because if they are in range of the sub then the attacking ship is probably toast anyway.) The potentially limited attack capability could be seen as similar to criticisms that the missile capacity on T45 is too low. I’m not knowledgeable enough to know if these criticisms are valid for either 5he T26 or T45.

      I am not an expert so I put this out as my impressions and a straw man proposal for others to correct as necessary. It does seem to me though that the uplift to carrying 2 Merlin is quite significant in terms of availability. I did read a while back that the native hangar could host 2 Wildcat but one clever bit of the design is that the flexible mission space is immediately adjacent to the hangar and the dividing bulkhead is retractable so they can be combined into one much bigger hangar which is how it can host 2 Merlin. I am not sure if that is still the case with the final design or whether the un-expanded hangar got bigger. Certainly all the latest stuff I’ve read talks about 2 Merlin capacity.

    • Albion, very capable. Very quiet hull for sprint and drift ASW operations several miles ahead of the main body of the task force, combined with probably the best active, low frequency CAPTAS-4 VDS. Merlin good combination with T26, with FLASH low frequency active dipping sonar plus combination of active and passive sonobuoys. Stingray one of the best, if not the best ASW torpedo. Two T26 working together several miles apart plus Merlin will be very powerful tool. Problem with having to go active to detect modern submarines is that, of course, you give your position away, so you may ask, what’s the point of being quiet! But if one T26 operates actively and the other one just passively (plus Merlin), modern multi-static processing techniques stand a better chance of catching a submarine trying to get through the screen into a position to attack the capital ships. Then you’ll need the same thing replicated several miles behind the task force to ensure a submarine doesn’t stand still, allows the task force to sail past, and then rushes to catch up from behind to fire wake homing torpedoes. And therein lies the Achilles heel – you’d need probably a minimum of four T26 to protect a task force, if we do it on our own. Let’s hope we build enough of them to always have at least four worked up examples available! Of course, when a SSN is coming up from behind to catch up with a task force it will make more noise (depends on the sub). Might be able to detect it just with passive towed array requiring one ship only, or blasting away with your active VDS and the submarine knowing exactly where you are won’t matter by then – again, only requiring one vessel. But I’m not an ASW expert and tactics will vary depending on the nature of the threat. ASROC is an interesting question. The MK-41 VLS will potentially enable us to buy ASROC at little cost. ASROC doesn’t have very much range but it’s advantage is that you can react quickly and fire multiple missiles. As I said, I’m not an ASW expert and for me the jury is out as to whether ASROC would fit into our ASW CONOPS. On board tube-fired Stingray torpedoes have a much shorter range but are only intended to be used against a submarine not attacking the firing ship, but trying to avoid it and get passed it to attack the main fleet. If your bow mounted active medium frequency sonar picks up a submarine attempting such a manoeuvre, you would probably fire Stingray at it from your ship. Final point: you would need many more Merlins than the ones carried by the frigates. These would be distributed among the Carrier and RFAs in the task force to have at least one airborne 24/7 once the force entered the danger zone… this could not be kept up forever, though. So altogether a brilliant ship with tons of potential!

  25. I think the T26 is right sized for the next 25 years and should be considered for T45 replacement.

    You all make good points about power etc, but it should be noted that engines are constantly getting more efficient and smaller so it could be argued that a T26 can deliver far more power if required by choosing different engines etc. The other thing about directed energy weapons is that they will also get smaller.

    Personally I think we should be happy with these and concentrate on getting numbers up and then concentrate on smaller attack boats to provide an assymetric threat we dont currently have.

    We can achieve the same effect with less if we have a viable strategy. Systems like CEC are critical to this as are great radars, sonars and of course a large fleet of F35’s and Helicopters.

  26. Evening guys
    Great comments above as always but in tomorrow’s battle it really is all about the power, no matter how many toys you put on the roof, one of the reasons the US is looking at the T26 as a future CG(X) hull, not just because of its size but how with the right combination of energy generation you can produce more HV power. This power is highly efficient, direct and constant.
    People always look at the toys on top, to run all of those things you need power and lots of it. Unless you are going to put a nuclear powered core inside the ship you have to look st what you can do with conventional power – T45 is one of the most expensive test beds in history, what it has done though is shown the art of the possible, T26 will learn from that, T45 will be modified because of it.
    Like on a spaceship, power is everything.

  27. It’s extreme folly to leave our few front line warships with no SSMs until 2030. Harpoon retirement has been delayed, but we must have a stopgap until our new missiles are ready. Pick one off the shelf for goodness sake! It should be treason not to give our servicemen & warships such basic essential kit. Make sure too we don’t cut our primary spearhead troops, the Marines & Paras, plus the amphibious ships we need to let them do the job.
    If HMG was a football manager they’d be scrapping goalkeepers, strikers, & dispensing with footballs until a realy cool new one is bought in 10 years later!

  28. From what I’ve read, the Type 26 might be something BAE would want to put forward to the Americans in their bid to find a new frigate.

  29. Fantastic looking ships but seems pointless with the ever decreasing fleet we have in the UK, the MODs inadequences with managing money and the fact we will flog or scrap them before they have finished building them.

  30. It will, or could be , a great ship. Now build more than 8 of them! At least 10, hopefully 12. Then 4 heavily armed 31s.

    • We really need to get the fleet back to the numbers that would mean we can actual fight and win a naval conflict.

      I know a lot of people call it fantasy fleets talking about increasing numbers and we need to cut our cloth, but thats paradigm that I consider a bit barmy, defence is a basic requirement and therefore you simply must find the money for what it costs. The reality of out defence is that’s its now at a higher risk than in the late 90s early 2000 so the fleet should reflect this….So with an understanding that sorting the manning will be a work of a decade, we need:

      12 Astutes
      12 AAW assets ( 6 T45s + 6 modified T26s)
      12 specialist ASW assets ( t26s)
      6 general purpose light frigates (Anti surface warfare focus, not a constabulary vessel)
      9 rivers ( both types).

      This would give the RN the depth to deploy 3 attack subs and 10 escorts, allowing for an amphibious group, carrier group, protection of home waters and maintain low end deployments.

      • Jonathan

        I think a simpler proposal is to have 13 Global Combat ships (t26) and 25 Global Mission Ships (t31). The difference being:

        The GCS are full spectrum Warships or the current T26 with the T45 radar capabilities
        The GMS can be split into 3 types

        8 Dedicated ASW assets
        8 Dedicated Mine countermeasures assets
        8 General Purpose assets

        This would give the Uk a 2 platform surface combat fleet (4 in reality as there will be renewal every 15 years)

        This helps us standardise on hulls, maintenance, parts etc and brings the cost down of every single ship.

        Also I think we will need 2 GCS, 2GMS (mom), 2GMS(mcm) to protect a carrier group and also see us organising into squadrons of 3 – 1GCS and 2 GMS dependent upon task.

        The other good thing about the GMS (T31) is we can configure it for task, so if we want more ASW assets we buy more tails.

        The one issue here is that this needs to be a 25 year plan and we need a larger navy. It really needs to be 40k strong including marines.

  31. We’ll need a stop-gap SSM. SM6 would be my choice due to its flexibility and speed. I’m not convinced that LRASM would be fast enough to penetrate layered defenses of a peer task force.

  32. We all know (more or less!) What is needed In order to have a well balanced fleet. The T26 may well be the most effective combat vessel the RN could have IF we build enough and kit them out properly! We are back to that old chestnut! Jonathan, l would not build any more Astutes than 7. I doubt if we could keep 4 at sea or at instant readiness at one time. The smaller German design diesel-electrics will be a useful addition literally. Or should that be littorly?
    I keep coming back to man/womanpower as a prime concern. The Navy’s year of engineering is a brilliant attempt to get our brightest and best to commit to a career, for at least six years hopefully, and thereafter keep a steady flow coming in. Cameron’s culling of senior marine engineers is still being felt. The T26, 31, new OPV’s are all causes for great optimism. We always talk a good game especially on these pages. Let’s hope for once we can see this through and get the Navy this country desperately needs, and its people deserves.

    • How can OPV t31 or t26 be causes of great optimism?

      OPV manufacturing quality
      T31 probably going for a crap Leander
      T26 when will the first one sail? How ffbnw?

      The Navy has been gutted by the QECs… and the Cons.

  33. A very quick question an I may have missed a comment on this, Is it not possible to build the Type 31e using the Type 26 hull as it is clearly a superb ASW design?

    I’m sure if it were cost effective it might just speed up the in service date and future orders?

    • Nigel – none of the proposed candidates look to utilise the T26 hull as it stands at the moment,there’s a logical case why it would make sense but probably too many negatives to rule it out,one being cost and another being Licensing of the design.

  34. Does anyone know what happened to the German Frigates that can’t sail upright? Maybe HMG should offer them a bundle deal for 3 x t26’s?

    • Derek – the German Navy refused to accept them for service so the completed vessels are back at the builders for rectification.

  35. As with anything in DEFENSE, if it isnt properly funded then why bother?
    A lightweight poorly armed ship is just a waste of money. If you cannot put it in harms way, with a reasonable chance of survival, and capable of damaging the enemy, what is the point?

  36. Why does this article talk about a ship of 7000 tons, when the news about Australia buying the T26 discusses a ship of 8,800 tons. That can’t be just the difference between light and full load.


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