At LIMA 2017, Commander UK Maritime Forces Rear Admiral Alex Burton described the Type 26 Frigate and its range of capabilities in a bid to talk the vessel up to Australian officials.

“The government has committed to eight Type 26 ships and they will be the mainstay of our anti-submarine warfare capability, both to project the continuous at-sea deterrence and to project what I’ve often described as the strategic conventional deterrence of the carrier task group.

The Type 26 will undoubtedly be the most capable ASW afloat, arriving early next decade. But it’s so much more than an ASW platform, with the ability to take Tomahawk strike missiles, a 5-inch gun and a considerable local area defence capability; and the mission bay, which can take a whole range of mission support packages.”

Despite recent sensationalism in the press, the Type 26 Frigate fleet will be armed with Sea Ceptor missiles with additional types to be carried decided at a later date.

The issue at the heart of the recent speculation is the fact that no weapons have yet been ordered or are in service that can be launched from the Mk41 Vertical Launch Silo system to be installed on the vessels, however the vessel will also carry Sea Ceptor missiles contained in separate silos.

Various media outlets have reported mostly sensationalised stories about the ships, the most notable of which was the Times saying in its absurdly titled article ‘Misfire as new navy ships lack missiles’:

“A navy programme to build a fleet of new warships at a cost of £8bn has been branded a ‘dog’s breakfast’ after it emerged the ships would have missile-launching tubes — but Britain has no missiles to fire from them.”

A Royal Naval spokesman said:

“The Type 26 Frigate will be delivered with cutting edge weapons and sensors that build on the excellent operational record of the Type 23.

Backed by a rising defence budget and a £178 billion equipment plan, investment in the MK 41 launcher enables the Royal Navy the option of investing in a wide range of additional capabilities at short notice and according to the threat.”

This indicates that nothing, as of yet, has been ordered.

This does make sense, the first vessel is some years away from sea trials, let alone operational service. Ordering so far in advance would likely prove to be a futile effort, wasting money that would benefit other programmes and initiatives.

The view being taken, that it’s best to wait and see what emerges before committing to and paying for a missile type years before it is required, is the right one.

As explained above, the Type 26 will have Sea Ceptor silo’s on the bow and at the funnel of the vessel in addition to a 24 cell Mk 41 silo positioned behind the Sea Ceptor silo’s on the bow of the vessel. The 24-cell strike-length Mk 41 VLS will be able to host Tomahawk cruise missiles, ASROC anti-submarine rocks and LRASM, the Long Range Anti-ship Missile.

The true test of whether or not the Mk 41 silo will host these is if they are ordered closer to the vessels entering service, around the 2020 Strategic Defence and Security Review.

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dadsarmy
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dadsarmy

I’m going to guess for the Australian version, they’d want a second Mk 41 VLS, rather than a second Sea Ceptor silo – if it can be fitted in.

Julian
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Julian

I agree re likely Australian version. Someone who seemed to know what he was talking about in another forum (although it’s impossible to know for sure if people really are insiders) said a while back that the T-26 did have design provision for an all strike-length-Mk41 forward silo. I think 48 was the number mentioned. If the T-26 ever became the basis for T-45 replacement it would also make sense to do that for those UK ones, 48 strike-length launchers forward so that the AAW variants can pack a lot more of whatever longer range and ABM missiles are around… Read more »

Mike Saul
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Mike Saul

At the moment it’s just a paper project. Several years of design and redesign, but nothing else to show to potential customers apart from fancy CGIs. In 2010 this was promoted as an international project will several nations viewed as likely partners to share the cost of design and development, a warship version of the F35 project. To date not a single partner has been found. RN requirement cut from 13 to 8 vessels, thereby increasing the cost per ship. The Australian frigate project looks interesting, but the Italian FREMM frigate must be favourite as it is already in service… Read more »

Mike Saul
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Mike Saul

Secondly recent press reports about new Russian anti ship missiles and it’s claimed performance make the seaceptor missile system ineffective against such weapons

Something else to think about for the future.

scott
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scott

aussies will go with navatia frigate. commonality with the awd, and the tankers they just ordered as well. it will be a spanish armada down under

Rod
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Rod

We built two carriers without aircraft so whats the problem building frigates with missile tubes but no missiles…. That’s life in a blue suit!!!

Mr Bell
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Mr Bell

Even if the type 26 does emerge completed and in service as planned. Only having 8 high end capable frigates is inadequate. The type 31 needs to fill the gap. Thus RN needs at least 10 type 31 hulls. just seen a really good design by stellar systems. Much more capable and adaptable then the BMT venator design. crucially the Stellar systems design is expandable with space to be uparmed and made more powerfull during its service life. Really like the design. Large hangar, medium gun, sea ceptor , Phalanx 1B, containerised anti ship missiles of NSM type. Excellent just… Read more »

Mr Bell
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Mr Bell

Look up Stellar systems Spartan design.

Oscar Zulu
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Oscar Zulu

I am impressed by the wishful thinking of people in the UK about the Type 26 being selected for Australia. The arguments advanced about the advantages of different sensor and weapons fits are largely moot since they are, for all intents and purposes, required to be common for each of the three bidders. For example, regardless of the winning bidder, the radars will be the Australian built phased array radar from CEA for two reasons. Firstly no Australian government in their right mind that is arguing for developing an advanced manufacturing sector and protecting Australian jobs, not to mention the… Read more »

A. Smith
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A. Smith

@Oscar Zulu – “Why would Australia want to select a missile that is slower than ESSM (Mach3 vs Mach 4 – severely reducing reaction times), with half the range of an ESSM (even the Sea Ceptor ER version won’t match the ESSMs range). ”

I think cost and politics will give the Sea Ceptor a chance in being chosen. Sea Ceptor will be (in my opinion) cheaper than what the Americans will offer and the Australian Government could use the purchase of buying Sea Ceptor to aid in future trade talks with a post Brexit Britain. Time will tell…