The UK is pursuing a ‘number of opportunities’ to export the Type 31 Frigate.

John Healey, the Shadow Secretary of State for Defence, asked:

“To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, how many export orders were envisaged for Type 31e by his Department at the end of the concept phase.”

Jeremy Quin, Minister of State for the Ministry of Defence, responded:

“Work to evaluate the potential scope of the general purpose frigate market was conducted prior to the T31 procurement being launched. This research helped to inform the development of the T31 evaluation criteria. As part of the Design & Build contract, Babcock is required to generate a strategy which outlines their approach to exporting the T31. There has been healthy international interest so far in the Type 31. The MOD has been supporting UK Defence and Security Exports and Babcock in actively pursuing a number of these opportunities.”

Quin later added:

“The Type 31 frigate is the UK variant of the Arrowhead 140 (AH140) design. No export orders have currently been placed for AH140, but UK industry in partnership with the UK Defence and Security Exports (UKDSE) and MoD are actively pursuing a number of campaigns.”

Babcocks ‘Arrowhead’ design for the Type 31e programme.

Brief guide to the Type 31 Frigate

During a 2016 Defence Select Committee hearing, First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Philip Jones described the vessel that would become Type 31e as “to be a much less high-end ship. It is still a complex warship, and it is still able to protect and defend and to exert influence around the world, but it is deliberately shaped with lessons from wider industry and off-the-shelf technology to make it more appealing to operate at a slightly lower end of Royal Navy operations.”

IHS Janes described it as a “credible frigate” that will cover “maritime security, maritime counter-terrorism and counter-piracy operations, escort duties, and naval fire support sitting between the high-end capability delivered by the Type 26 and Type 45, and the constabulary-oriented outputs to be delivered by the five planned River-class Batch 2 OPVs”.

The UK is building five Type 31 Frigates at Rosyth in Scotland.

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Could we build some before we start getting excited about possible sales



Reading the team31 website there’s capacity to slot in more hulls.

Supportive Bloke

Well we sold the design for the T26 before finishing one – so I don’t really see the issue.

The point on physical build is more if the built rate can be increased which increases the economies of sale wrt the overheads then it may makes sense slot some foreign sales in.

But as even will now pile in and say most countries are likely to want to build them to our design. Rather than us build them for them.


Yes I would agree supportive. Generally speaking nations that want blue water frigates ( even those on the light end) have a complex warship build capability that they will want to protect. So it’s sells of design, components and supply train only. Those nations that don’ have a sovereign warship building capability are generally not in the market for new blue water warships and are happy for corvette with lots of strapped on boom or second hand frigates that are worked into scrap patrolling a EEZ.

Supportive Bloke

Also for once we are, thankfully, not spoiling the market by dumping 2nd hand frigates into it.

That is a choice TBH when it comes to rotating ships. There is a limited market and if we flood it with 2nd hand young T31’s then there won’t a market for new ones.


Economy of scale won’t really be had for us, since the order is already placed and any international customer will no doubt up arm them and use US weapons.

Supportive Bloke

The economies of scale are to the hull and machinery and basic outfitting.

Running a yard, or any business, at fully optimal workflows saves a lot of money.

Sort of the point of T31 is that is an agnostic design wrt weapons fit.

It might be healthy if the manufactures made a decent profit. That might encourage some positivity on price for the next batch/design for RN.


Why would any foreign navy in its right mind commit to this program when the lead ship probably won’t even be operational until 2025, at best; with Brexit unsettled; and the pound bouncing like a yo-yo on currency markets.

john melling

Has not stopped the T26 orders has it 😉

So I see nothing to stop any interest in T31, Its design isn’t that bad to be fair
In the new year perhaps we may see trade deals and it would be a step in the right direction

Supportive Bloke

We have a trade deal with Canada – a T26 customer…….


I guess potential challenge is Type 31 export is aimed to be built in UK whereas Type 26 they’re buying the design and build in their countries.

4th watch

I read today we have in fact signed over 50 trade deals as an independent country. Good going considering.


I spy a troll, with all that Brexit, and currency nonsense you’ve spouted.

George Royce

Exactly. Other countries aren’t biting their nails about Brexit, they just want ships that are affordable and advanced to defend their own interests. Hence, some very important customers leaping to sign up for T26 ships.


If you look at PKCs posts he’s not a remainer trolling leavers,, I believe he’s a firm republican, and is just giving his view as an outside observer.


Honestly my assumption based on his previous posts was that he was just a general troll rather than a “remainer” troll. The anti-Brexit rhetoric that he often uses is probably judged to be an effective one given the fact that many of the people in this comment section seem to be Brexiteers. However, I think he just uses anything he thinks will get a response.


Probably true.


There never has been a post of mine advocating a position on Brexit, one way or another. The UK commenters are the ones incredibly sensitive about Brexit to the point that its almost comical.
The main problem with them is that they are provincial. Brits like to pretend that they are global and so worldly when, in fact, the UK is now a regional power with delusions and pretensions of grandeur. No more so then the the breast beating of how the QE2 makes the Royal Navy a global force. As I said. Delusional.


The UK is the 5th richest nation on the planet with the largest navy in the Europe pkcasimir ,,, hardly a reginal power, although you wish it to be so much lol,, I’m starting to think your long lost dad was in the UK military pkcasimir as your hate for the UK has blinded you to actual facts and reality.
Troll along in bitterness:)


We haven’t been 5th in a while, we were overtaken by France and India, but I realise not really relevent.


We are currently 6th largest, behind India and ahead of France – not by much in either case. The main problem for India is that GDP (PPP) per head is c $2100 vs c. $42500 for the UK and France


The data i saw France had overtaken us again, its a bit of a seasaw between the two nations though.

On the flip side if you compare the buying power of nations which is adjusted for cost of living etc and we plummet.

Wealth of nations are too complex in the end, as you also need to consider cost of debt etc, as well as general cost of stuff such as labor and raw materials.


not a Lincoln project republican though…


Phew, that’s okay then Jonathan!


Still being sensitive about UK banter on the US pkcasimir , soooo sensitive you are lol

Steve R

Why does the 2025 service date matter? Countries could be looking at ultimate replacements for their current vessels that they’re looking to replace in the next 10 years or so. That’s what the MoD is already considering re: Type 4X destroyer; the Type 45s aren’t that old but it takes time to design and build them so we’re already looking at options. And as for the value of the pound; it’s not a major yoyo, and the £ isn’t going to strengthen significantly any time soon. To be honest once the transition period is over it will lose value. A… Read more »


Ukp actually pretty stable for oast 3 years. Any reasonable cintract can have price rise & fall mechanisms linked to forex and ir commodity prices… Critical for offering a lower price at the start that moves with cost rather than building a hedge into a higher price. Also design is alresdy well proven!


Good £ deals to be had I expect. Brexit got nothing to do with it. Does not trade deal stop countries buying from US? No


The pound has been anything but stable for the past few years .It has bounced all around and currently it has a deal with the EU built into it. Come no deal, it drops precipitously. Comparing buying from the UK with buying from the US shows such an ignorance of the international arms market that it’s ludicrous.


Actually, £ has been quite stable for most of 2020 and has strengthened somewhat in the last couple of quarters. Agreed, it will weaken substantially with no deal. $ is in a bit of a shit position though isn’t it, makes the £ look good right now.

what’s ludicrous PK, your incessant bile or your supremist outlook? The point is buying kit “off plan” is hardly new and countries have been doing it from US for years whether it works or not


Don’t bother explaining facts to pkcasimir he only knows about trolling the UK with non facts lol


The deal with the EU has nothing to do with it as the chances of a no deal has been factored in a while back. If a deal with the EU was agreed somehow by the end of the year the pound would strengthen against the Euro, if not then it will further weaken slightly. However agreed the pound has been far from stable over the last 3 years.


Nations buying parts from us for building ships would benefit hugely from a weaker pound, its been weak ish since the brexit vote and if it goes no deal will get weaker again. However by 2025 it wont be as weak regardless of the brexit outcome.

Germany invented the Euro to get away from a strong currency to benefit its manufacturing industry, hence we need to invest in building things again to take advantage of a weak currency.

James Fennell

There are a few frigate competitions/requirements ongoing. New Zealand, Peru, Colombia, Poland, Indonesia, Romania – the Malaysian LCS is in trouble too. And more will emerge through the build period for these ships. It took quite a long time before T26 was sold, with a lot of humming and hawing by Canda and false dawns in Turkey and Brazil.


I’m no expert so i’d be interested to hear a more informed take but could it be that nations which are looking for a technology transfer to build some/all of their vessels under licence (Poland, Indonesia, Brazil possibly) will be more willing to do a deal before ours are in service given that they will essentially be buying permission to adapt and build their own versions of the design whereas those looking to buy ‘off the shelf’ as it were (Chile, New Zealand, Peru, Malaysia) will want to wait and evaluate whether the Royal Navy can get a good platform… Read more »


Indonesia have already selected this vessel but directly from the Danes and will build it locally. Brazil has a domestic frigate program. Malaysia, New Zealand and Chile are our best bets I would have thought.


Interesting! New Zealand appears to be imo the most likely out of that bunch given they very much follow and integrate with the Ozzies and will find T31 an attractive option if T26 is deemed too large and expensive.


The T31 is very flexible and adaptable for containerised applications which would work well for NZ. They are more likely to be offering humanitarian relief to pacific islands than getting into a war with France or China so they do not need TLAMs or super advanced radars. They probably don’t even need a towed sonar if a containerised one could be fitted in the future.

Last edited 3 months ago by BB85

I wonder how it will work in on the IP side of things as the hull design was not a U.K. original.


I think the MOD purchased the IP but I could be making that up. Either way I’m sure the Danes would still get a lot of subcontract work out of any future sales just like I’m sure the UK will benefit on subcontract work on T26 exports.


I’ve heard the same, although can’t remember for the life of me where now…


I’m not sure the 31 will be that much of a success, just not seeing the market. Blue water navies or aspiring blue water navies want a high end off the self, that they can build in their own shipyards…But would be very hard to design, and everyone knows the RN does ASW really well and their new ASW ship is going to be good, the 26 is also a bit of a swizzled army knife in that the RN wanted a bit of everything…that’s exactly what the type 26 gave, possibly the best new ASW/GP frigate design out there… Read more »


I wouldn’t use the existing T31 spec as a guide, it’s clear the platform is not limited to constabulary tasks.
The market IMHO is anyone who needs a growth MEKO and likes the idea of getting training / support from the RN. Which could be quite a few. Whether they’re UK built is an open question.


I’d concur with that. Babcock has deliberately chosen and adapted a design with open architecture and lots of additional flexibility so whether it be the RN at a later date or a prospective export customer there is a vast combination and range of weapons systems and sensors that can be added/replaced.

Most nations don’t want or need premier ASW/AAW and instead want balanced, general purpose platforms that T31 certainly represents.


Also don’t forget that the government has raved about the t26 sales as export success, even though very little value will return to the UK. Another nation orders a t31 but builds it themselves will be used as evidence of a post Brexit strong UK export market, by the government.

Supportive Bloke

A lot of the high value bits of the T26 will still be UK sourced.

Electric drive kit to name one section. It would massively increase project cost and risk to source bits locally as you then effectively have a now design to debug.


Fair. My point was just that for a politician to spin something as a massive export success, it doesn’t have to actually involve it being economically good for the UK.

Any money flowing back through these parts is a positive, as long as that money outweighs the amount of tax payer money spent trying to win the contracts, including sending ships to the countries etc.


As supportive says, it’s the extra bits that make the difference. There are very few nations that want a new complex warship, but want some else to cut the steel. What a lot of nations do need is the design and supply chains for the very complex elements.


I may be being a bit thick, but do we know yet wether T31s will have a hull mounted sonar? Wikipedia is my source & T31s there have no sonar listed among the sensors, wheras the Denmark’s Iver Huitfeldt class do have hull sonar fitted. As no ASW torpedo tubes are yet listed in the T31s armament, are we gapping shipborne ASW capability from over a 1/4 of our tiny escort fleet(Apart from the helicopter carried)? That would be nuts considering how vital maritime trade is to us & our allies. I wonder if, if the mysterious T32 is an… Read more »


Agree that the T31 seems to be under standars in term of weapon. The french counterpart FDI is far more equiped (and twice the cost…). I’m very curious about the T32 and the way it will be equiped (tracted sonar, Anti Ship missiles…)


My understanding is, based on what has been released so far (not a lot), is that hull sonar is FTR (Fit To Receive). That could mean a later integration, a fitting of the T23 hull sonar as they get demobbed, or nothing. I’ve not seen anything else official, but some people say that they do have hull sonar. As far as those torpedo tubes go, they’re not really effective ASW weapons; they launch the smaller Stingray torpedo, which has a really short range, far shorter than the engagement distance of a heavyweight torpedo carried by a submarine.They’re realistically not going… Read more »


You are correct. The type 31 does not have any sonars.

The original RFI required a FTR sonar but it’s not been released whether that made it into the final contract.


This is not aimed at you Joe, but that line of reasoning: That sounds like usual dismal, feeble accountants excuses. If a sub is detected but the ASW heli is OOS/shot down/ absent on another mission etc, the ship must have a means of attacking the sub before it can do further damage. Several miles(c.5+) range my seem short c.f. anti-ship long range heavy weight torpedoes, but far longer reach than depth charges or ASW rockets.


No offence taken. I would agree that a ship-launched ASW weapon would be a good idea, if nothing else to augment the magazines of the ASW helos themselves. But it truly is wasted money if the vessel is not going to be in a position to use it. The range on a torpedo is a little misleading; my understanding (from what others more knowledgeable than me have posted) is that they spiral down through the water once launched, hunting for a target before locking on and going for it. That 5 mile range is in practice going to be used… Read more »


‘Healthy International interest’ is most likely just sales talk. The new RN tankers were built in South Korea and fitted out in the UK. Some comment on here implies it might be the other way round with regard export Type 31’s,but surely given a reasonable volume, it would make sense to build in one facility, one set of tooling and the efficiencies and economies that come with longer runs? Also the high tech stuff-the UK is surely better placed to provide much of this given its status as a high end manufacturer?. Is there any truth in the caricature of… Read more »

Paul T

To me the Difference in Workers between the UK and South Korea probably isn’t that Great,but the Working Practises are Poles Apart – the Result of Volumes of Work.A Shipyard that Churns out Multiple Vessels Year on Year will have More Efficient Production Processes than one Who’s Orders are Inconsistent and Sporadic.


What high-end elements of the T31 are actually British never mind the T31″e” ?
Sea Ceptor is the only significant high-end aspect of the ship that is UK produced and unfortunately probably the most likely to be swapped out for another system.


To achieve high productivity you have to invest in both skills and flexible equipment. Babcock has built its new side by side weatherproof T31 sheds and placed an order with PEMA. As I understand it they will be able to build 2 frigates in parallel or 1 frigate in parallel with sections or sections in parallel for 2 different ships. They are trying to do for shipbuilding in the UK what Nissan, Toyota and BMW did for automotive.

Mike Saul

Any exports for the T31 will most likely require local build in the customers own shipyards.

That’s the way of the modern world.


Imagining the embarrassment the first time a banana republic orders more hulls, better armed, than we are getting.
Anyhoo, we havent even cut our first bit of T31 steel yet…


Where do these banana republics get their trained crews?

When we sell typhoons we sell a whole package, involving training with the RAF. This ought to be the same with the RN. I guess Chile might be a start. They have a big South Pacific to patrol and I am not sure they are interested in sharing training with Argentina or Brazil.


Healthy interest is a good first sales step. Now turn the ‘suspects’ into ‘prospects’ 🙂


Total BS, why would anyone buy a ship that’s being thrown together in small numbers very quickly buy the world’s most expensive labour force? A ship built by people who don’t care,in yards without the investment to build efficiently. It’s not a UK design, so why pay the middleman? As described above its not much use for anything that an OPV with a hanger can’t do. Potentially it could be a mothership,this is a desperate attempt at justification because there’s no money for the unmanned weapon systems. Industrial strategy is also a disaster, Its mostly foreign equipment and its a… Read more »

Steve Salt

Wow ! You sound a bit grumpy.


These are just simple facts. We’ve seen it all before, the outcome is certain.You would have to be stupid to believe ambitious and greedy smooth talking defence salesmen and politicians or the navy lobby for that matter. These people don’t care about the long term future of the RN or the UK’s industrial base. When they finally enter service the type 31 will pointlessly cruise the world achieving very little until the time that they run into serious opposition, when they will be sunk. They will give no reassurance or deterrence because friends and allies can see that they are… Read more »

Steve Salt

Why bother with anything at all ? Lets just roll ourselves up in ball and live in a yurt as everything is rubbish. Do you not see anything positive in this for the RN or UK shipbuilding ?


Who is going to be the most frightened, the enemy on the receiving end of a 57mm gun or HMS type 31 on the receiving end of an unknown quantity of missiles? Who is going to lose the most blood and treasure?

Steve Salt

You seem pretty sure of the spec of the 31 and the specs of its adversaries. You havnt got tomorrows Euro millions numbers have you ?


Type 31 specs are published.Who knows what what our enemies will be able to get hold of for 1000th of the cost. I fancy my chances hiding in the sand dunes much more than sitting in a steel coffin.

4th watch

If you’ve a bad attitude and nothing to offer in exchange why post? What do you suggest we do within the bounds of post Covid?


Where its gone wrong and what to do now would require me to write a book.
Remember when the carrier project was going to kick start a glorious new era of UK ship building? Rinse and repeat.


Possibly we could do it a bit diffrent, it would cost money but it would help the RN with numbers and give the world something to see. So here is my idea, build one more T31 in the current configuration, and three T31s maxed out. When I say maxed out I don’t mean go overboard. Give the T31M a 76mm main gun, 36 Sea Ceptors and 16 Mk41s VLS, a CAPTAS 4 towed array and an upgraded radar suite possibly NS200 or fixed array SAMPSON. By doing that the world could see what the capabilities of the T31 is and… Read more »


I mentioned this some time back when a T31 was first mentioned. A number of Middle East countries have looked at and have been offered the T26. When they saw the price tag they balked and It wasn’t just the 1 bn a ship price tag. Remember its not just the frigates that you buy you would also be sold its maintenance package, shore support, spares, training etc. When they saw the T31 price tag and the modular fit they where a lot happier. They where even happier when they found out that the design could be home built with… Read more »


Giant OPV


That is demeaning, it is a Peaceful Warship.


De escalation ship, really soft power.


Babcock and UK DSE are apparently trying to sell 4 T31’s to Greece, undercutting the French who a month ago seemed to have a contract all but signed. However meeting the required delivery dates will be a problem – so probably a long shot.