The Type 31 Frigate fit out could potentially include an anti-ship missile system, is one really required though?
Kevan Jones, MP for Durham, asked via a written Parliamentary question:
“To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, whether the Type 31 will possess an anti-ship-missile capability.”
Jeremy Quin, Minister of State for the Ministry of Defence, replied:
“Flexible by design, the Type 31 frigates will be adaptable to a range of capabilities, which may include an anti-ship missile system.”
The British government released a Request for information detailing the desired characteristics of the Type 31e, this included a Medium Calibre Gun ≥ 57mm, a point defence anti-air missile system and the optional ability to launch and recover unmanned aerial vehicles. Notably the RFI does not include anti-ship missile systems.
Will this be a problem? Probably not, the ships aren’t likely to be tasked to do anything that requires them.
Be under no illusion, this is primarily a result of funding.
Type 26 will cover the high end tasks and Type 31 will generally cover low end constabulary work.
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”.
So there we have it, they could be fitted but they probably aren’t needed.