A Briefing Paper has indicated that the Type 31 Frigate programme is expected by industry to exceed previously estimated costs.
The Type 31 frigate also known as the General Purpose Frigate, is a planned class of frigate of the Royal Navy that will enter service in the 2020s alongside the more high-end Type 26 frigates. It is intended that the Type 31 frigate will replace some of the Type 23 frigates.
Very little is known about the size, sensors and weaponry of the General Purpose Frigate at this stage; it is expected this will be revealed during the National Shipbuilding Strategy.
During a recent Defence Select Committee hearing, First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Philip Jones described the Type 31 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 not only much more appealing to operate at a slightly lower end of Royal Navy operations.”
One of the contenders is the Venator-110 (pictured above), we wrote about it here.
The Briefing Paper states:
“Industry’s view is that the MOD’s CADMID acquisition model will not be able to deliver the programme at either the estimated cost (under £350 million per unit) or timescale (to replace the Type 23’s that will leave service from 2023 onwards), according to analysis by Jane’s Defence Weekly.
The consensus among industry, IHS Jane’s reports, is that the MOD “will have to pursue a streamlined, design-to-cost ship procurement that leverages off-the-shelf design and proven, low-risk technology as far as possible.”
BAE System’s Managing Director told MPs that he does not think there is any current design to meet the MOD requirements for the frigate.”
Further information regarding plans for the Type 31 frigate came to light in a speech by Admiral Sir Philip Jones, First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff, delivered the Lord Mayor of London’s annual Defence and Security lecture in Mansion House.
“Given our long standing defence relationships in the Middle East, it is certain that a Royal Navy task group – centred on a Queen Elizabeth-class carrier – will regularly deploy East of Suez.
And it will be perfectly possible, should we wish, for Type 31 frigates to permanently operate from the Gulf region or from Asia-Pacific in the decades ahead.
These are examples of what we COULD do and not yet policy, and I am never complacent about the challenges we continue to face in recruiting and retaining the very best men and women in a competitive employment market.”
The original planning assumption for the Royal Navy was for thirteen Type 26 Frigates (eight ASW and five GP), replacing the Type 23 frigate fleet like-for-like.
However, it was later announced during the November 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review by then Prime minister David Cameron that only the eight anti-submarine warfare Type 26 frigates would be ordered. The funding for the remaining five general purpose Type 26 frigates is instead to be spent on developing a new class of lighter and more affordable general purpose frigates.
Due to an expected lower cost, the government suggested it may allow an eventual increase in the total number of frigates in the Royal Navy. This general purpose frigate will be designated as the Type 31 frigate.
It is understood that the Type 26 Frigate will primarily support carrier task group operations while the Type 31 is to be deployed for a range of less high-tempo operations.