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The Defence Secretary has discussed defence co-operation and the Type 26 Frigate with the Australian Minister for the Defence Industry, Chris Pyne.

It is understood that talks on defence ties between the UK and Australia also discussed defence exports and equipment. According to a press release, as part of the UK-Australia export relationship, the Type 26 Frigate has been shortlisted for Australia’s Future Frigate programme.

They also discussed joint operations carried out by both the UK and Australia and the important partnership the two nations share as members of the Five Power Defence Arrangements and the Five-Eyes Intelligence alliance.

Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon said:

“The UK’s Defence relationship with Australia remains close and strong. After operating together in Afghanistan and Iraq, we are now working together to tackle the threat of Daesh in the Middle East and brutal terror they spread around the world.

Britain’s defence and intelligence relationships with Australia and the close bonds we share support our mutual interests and help make both Britain and Australia safer and more secure.

This Australian Frigate programme is another opportunity to strengthen our shipbuilding ties, as well as greater cooperation between the Royal Navy and Royal Australian Navy.”

BAE Systems recently signed a contract with the Australian Government to further refine its design of the Type 26 Frigate for the Royal Australian Navy.

BAE Systems Australia Chief Executive, Glynn Phillips, said:

“We look forward to demonstrating the adaptability and maturity of the Global Combat Ship design to meet Australia’s requirements for an Anti-Submarine Warship frigate.

The Global Combat Ship design is the most modern, adaptable and flexible of all possible options available today, and I am confident that we will be able to demonstrate that it is the best able to meet the requirements of the Royal Australian Navy.”

In the coming months, a team of BAE Systems’ Australian engineers will be deployed to the UK to join the Company’s established design team.

Being embedded into the one of the most advanced warship building teams in the world will allow these engineers to acquire the skills and knowledge required to effectively transfer the technology to Australia. BAE Systems is using the latest in modern digital planning capability to refine and tailor its designs to the Commonwealth of Australia’s requirements.

To assist this process, the Company has revealed that, “a 3-dimensional visualisation suite will be delivered to Australia to help improve understanding of the unique features of the ship design”.

This is part of the Australian Department of Defence’s Competitive Evaluation Process for the programme. Australia has also entered into similar agreements with Fincantieri and Navantia.

Last year, a report by think-tank RAND advised that using an existing design, most likely Britain’s Type 26 Frigate, for the warships would be the least risky option for Australia. RAND looked at three design and build options; an off-the-shelf design, a modified off-the-shelf design and an entirely new design.

“Each option would entail different risks and implications for the acquisition process and strategy. The pure military off-the-shelf solution (which most likely would be built outside Australia) probably would entail the least design and cost risk, given that there would be an experienced builder and active supplier base.”

The Type 26 represents the future backbone of the Royal Navy and a massive leap forward in terms of flexibility of surface vessels enjoyed by the service. It will replace 8 of 13 Type 23 Frigates and export orders are being sought after by BAE. The programme has been underway since 1998, initially under the name “Future Surface Combatant”.

International competition to build the Australian frigate fleet started after Australia changed plans for their new frigate ahead of the release of their defence white paper. The original plan detailed by former Defence Minister David Johnston, would have utilised the hull of the air warfare destroyer programme as the basis for the new class of frigate.

Australian Strategic Policy analyst Dr Andrew Davies said:

“It was a sensible decision given the destroyer hull was not really suited to the submarine hunting role of a purpose-built frigate, it was supposed to be a low-risk option but it was also more about preserving jobs than the Navy getting the warship it needs.”

20 COMMENTS

  1. Haven’t seen a picture of that kind of sensor mast on a T26 before.

    Anyway, while it is shortlisted it is probably last in the list of likely winners.
    Even the british government don’t want it….. hence the reality that none exist.

    • The British government are about to spend an awful lot of money on it Joe, that’s the “reality”. Strange thing to do if they don’t want them……

      • Too much money Mark! The weapons and sensors – already paid for – will be cross-decked from the existing Type 23s to the Type 26s. So how the hell can they cost so much??? Another bad deal for the British taxpayer!

      • What other reason is there Mark.

        The T26 has been ‘vapourware’ for over a decade.
        If the UK government wanted it they would build it.
        If the UK government wanted it, they wouldn’t be only building 8…..

        You see where this is going?
        The UK government is not exactly in love with this bafflingly expensive ship….
        I don’t see how anyone can reasonably expect the Aussies to fall in love with it either.

        Australia is more likely to go for the more modular, configurable, modern & cheaper FREMM.
        Something the UK would have been smart to get on board with a decade ago.

        • You’re arguing against yourself Joe. First of all you say if the government wanted them they’d build them, then you admit they’re being built thus completely invalidating your previous point. Make up your mind!

          As for those having a pop at me about them being too expensive – yes, I agree. But if you bother to read my original post you’ll notice I just said that the government clearly do want them, despite the cost.

        • Hi Mark. So there you are in ten years time bobbing around in the North Atlantic looking for that damned elusive Russian or even Chinese submarine. The wind is howling your ship is heeling and you are feeling a little bit sick! Remind me which Navy and industry will have built you the best anti submarine frigate possible and which which will have won you a game of top trumps?

          • And one more thing. Many years ago the French 74’s were admired and copied (to an extent) when we captured them. Apart from one big problem, they did not have enough hold space. Required if your strategic interest is blockading your foe for months on end. Nothing has changed. The Royal Navy specifies ships for a reason. Please have a little more faith in your fellow countrymen.

  2. (Think the mast is for the Australian proposal not the UK one.
    UK wise It’s more a case of can’t currently afford as opposed to not wanting.)

    Great news it’s on the shortlist, add the Canadian interest and one or both could be a much needed boost to UK shipbuilding…….

  3. We need around 60 of them or we are just muppets. Why have any at all, for what reason exactly? Because we can’t stand up to anyone other than third world countries with ww2 ships or countries with no navies just angry fisherman. We need to decide our place in the world and act adequately. And in my opinion we should expand the navy as much as possible

  4. Is this the same short list that was announced in April 2016?

    You know the one BAE systems, Fincantieri and Navantia .

    I still think the type 26 is not the favourite, but we can hope.

  5. This is potentially good news and I believe may actualise. The cost of the T26 isn’t the cost of the ship alone it is the cost of the ship and xx years of support. Given the amount of transference across from the T23 I would expect the actual ships to be circa £300-400m each.

    I see the T26 hull eventually replacing the T45 and the class getting up to 16 over time – the government just hasn’t got a strategy in place (surprise surprise) this will make the T26 our version of the FREMM which is an excellent ship in fairness.

    I just hope that having been in the making for 20 year the T26 is better than FREMM, Absalon, Huitfeldt and is more akin to an Arleigh Burke than anything else.

    Only time will tell

  6. And yes Joe, I’m fed up with people slagging off Britain and it’s workforce. The Mod may be a little bit crazy but even that is mainly down to ministers and their political shenanigans. Bae and the Roysl Navy are professionals who are trying to do the best they can under tricky circumstances.

    • Hear hear Mike. There are a bunch of professionals with a lifetime of knowledge (many lifetimes in some cases given multi-generational military families) who have a knowledge, a depth of connection with, and a caring for the UK armed forces that eclipses that of all but a very few commentators. The UK is also not alone in defence cuts and programs going off the rails. We bemoan the T45 plans cut from the originally planed 12 hulls to 8 and finally to 6 and the T26 from 13 to 8 (end counting?); the USN Zumwalt went from a planned 32 hulls to 24 to 7 to 3!

      I suspect that the fundamental issue is that in most democracies the planning and procurement timescales for big defence projects are not compatible with a much shorter electoral cycle where governments are trying to buy votes by allocating budget to things that appeal to the biggest possible number of voters and where, when a particular government is brave enough to commit to a coherent and properly funded long term plan, the opposition usually adopts a “not invented by us” attitude and tweaks and changes things when they get into power in order to stamp their mark on things and that creates extra costs, delays, and lack of focus.

      • @Julian

        The main problem for me is the lack of fleet management in every sense of the word. We should always be designing and building warships, tanks, aircraft and be prepared for mixed fleets. The famine or feast approach is absurd and would not be tolerated in any major business requiring these kinds of assets to run.

        Will there be issues and problems – yes (although the Zumwalt is clearly extreme) and these can be factored in to the cost model quite easily.

        The Govt and MOD need to commit to a long term strategy and get a cross party spending committee to own the budget for this and for a spending commitment to be made law – if we can do it for foreign aid we can do it for the military. For me 2% of GDP is not enough – we need 3% to ensure jobs are created post brexit and that our fighting forces have great equipment that is not 20 -60 yrs old.

  7. 3% is the only possible way for the UK to regain capabilities lost by SDSR 2010 and the dreadfull SDSR 2015.
    one way we could fund a boast to real defence would be to reduce foreign aide budget, which is miss directed and often goes to line the pockets of corrupt foreign officials.
    The Royal navy of all the armed forces is in a very perilous,state likely to be defeated at sea in any real conflict without better directed, managed and focused funding.
    HMS Ocean needs to be retained in service until 2024 whilst an urgent operational requirement for a replacement is worked up, order and built. Something like the Royal Australian Navy Canberra class would be excellent.
    The type 26 frigate order debacle needs to be reversed if we genuinely want the GCS to become a reality lets give confidence to the Canadians and Australian Navies who are interested in the type ny ordering more,than 8 to bring unit costs down.
    the type 31 frigate then needs to be ordered as a stop gap measure in 8-10 hulls to regain critical mass. Type 31 has to be built concurrently with the type 31 otherwise there is a very real risk of the RN going below its currently fleet strength of 17 available surface warships.
    Retain 3 of the Trafalgar class to give the RN long term more than 7 SSNs. The Trafalgar class is,still a capable vessel easily able to face down any current Chinese or Russian ssk or SSN.
    By retaining some Trafalgar class ships the RN will have sufficient hulls for ballistic missle boat screening and defence as well as training and other NATO commitments.
    There is much work to do and this is going to take political will and a reversal of the sea blindness afflicting our political leaders.
    Go to 3% defence budget to keep the UK free and secure.

  8. These will be the most outstanding multi mission frigates in the world when they’re built. If Australia, Canada and New Zealand purchase these ships, they will have arguably the most modern and versatile warships in the world.

    • look like good ships , maximum speed 26 knots our new Hobart are only a little quicker,still could not keep up with an american carrier at full speed ,hope we do choose these and build some here in Victoria,that was where we built 10 Anzac class , 8 for us and 2 for New Zealand,please better engines than your Daring Class, with the Hobarts and these will have great anti submarine capability

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