The Ministry of Defence has been forced to delay the Type 31e Frigate programme.

According to Jane’s, the original acquisition process has been suspended as there were no compliant bids able to meet £250 million per ship.

“Industry was advised of the decision on 20 July in a statement from Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S). While moves are under way to develop a new ‘streamlined’ competition, the pause means that the Type 31e target in-service date (ISD) of 2023 is now in doubt.”

Earlier, two strong contenders for the Type 31e Frigate programme had emerged, let’s take a closer look at the offerings.

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”.

The requirements any design must meet.

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”.

A September 2017 graphic released by the Royal Navy (visible at the top of this article) stressed modular adaptability and flexible construction of the design for export opportunities. Core requirements of the Type 31e frigate include 76mm or larger calibre gun, point defence systems, hangar and a flight deck for Wildcat or ten tonne helicopter operated by a crew of around 100 with space for 40 more personnel. A price of £250 million per ship has been set for the first batch of five frigates, which are intended to enter RN service from 2023 to replace the five general purpose Type 23 frigates.

We will be comparing the Babcock/Team 31 offering, the Arrowhead with the BAE/Cammell Laird offering, the Leander. This is based on publicly available information.

The Basics

Arrowhead

Arrowhead is expected to sit at 5,700 tonnes and 138.7 metres in length, the ships company is around 100 with space for an embarked military force of 60. Babcock’s Team 31 has selected the proven in-service Iver Huitfeldt frigate design as the baseline for their T31e product.

Leander

Leander is expected to be around 4,000 tonnes and 120 metres in length with a ship’s company of about 120 with space for an embarked military force of 30. The Leander design has evolved from the Khareef class corvettes built by BAE Systems.

Endurance/Speed/Range

The requirements here are pretty straightforward, the Ministry of Defence demand that “T31e shall operate globally with sustained forwward presence” and that it must have “the speed for interdiction of commercial vessels and maintaining station with adversary warships in UK waters”.

Both vessels have a broadly similar endurance, at around 30 days with the core crew embarked.

Arrowhead:

  • Speed of 28 plus knots
  • Range of 9000 nautical miles at 12 knots

Leander:

  • Speed of 25 knots maximum
  • Range of 8100 nautical miles at 12 knots

Armament/Weapons Capabilities

Arrowhead features Medium Calibre Gun options up to 5” (127mm) for maritime interdiction, self-protection and engagement of surface and land targets. Small Calibre Guns up to 40mm calibre can be located in predesignated upper-deck weapon positions.

Additional capability options include:

  • Provision for up to 8 canister-launched SSGW
  • Up to 32 Vertical Launch cells, capable of hosting SAM/SSGW/Land Strike/ASW ordnance.
  • Installation of Close-In Weapons Systems, such as Phalanx.
  • Towed array sonar

Babcock say that the ability to fit the existing systems and equipment from the parent design, the Iver Huitfeldt class frigate, is retained to provide flexibility in the capability supplied at build and through the life of the platform. The company say that, for example, this retained capability means that (just like on the base design) a 32 cell Mk41 Strike Length silo can be fitted to incorporate a combination of a larger number of anti-air missiles, vertical launch anti-surface missiles, precision land attack missiles or ASW weapons such as ASROC. This particular adaptability feature they say, alongside the ability to install a 127mm medium calibre gun, host an organic helicopter such as Merlin, install sensors such as a towed array/variable depth sonar and re-introduce a magazine-launched torpedo system, amongst other proven features, will allow the platform to be tailored on build and through-life to suit operational requirements from low-threat maritime security to task group operations.

With Leander, things aren’t all too different. The design features a Main Gun – 57mm to 127mm, two Small Calibre Guns – 20mm to 40mm, Mini Guns, Heavy Machine Guns and General Purpose Machine Gun mounts. Additional options with this design however while similar, are fewer in overall numbers.

  • 12+ CAMM missile launchers
  • Installation of Close-In Weapons Systems, such as Phalanx.
  • A strike length Vertical Launch System can be fitted midships to fire a mixed load of AAW, ASuW, ASW and land attack missiles)
  • Hull mounted sonar and twin towed array sonar

Realistically, no one’s expecting a high end surface combatant and that’s largely the whole point of the Type 31e programme, however, the armament of both vessels really just depends on the money to pay for it as both designs aren’t short of the options to fit the systems. The builders can tout a huge array of offerings, the important point to consider is paying for those options. That being said, Arrowhead would appear to be the most capable warship as it has the larger amount of space to potentially fit systems.

Mission Bays and Boat Bays

Arrowhead features 4 large dedicated Boat Bays
with flexible launch & recovery arrangement to cater for varying
operational roles, including the deployment of RHIBs, USVs & UUVs. The Mission Space which is located under the flight deck, say Babcock, offers significant operational flexibility allows for numerous TEU (Twenty Foot Equivalent Unit) containers, extended stores, or personnel accommodation space.

Leander features a mission space capable of hosting a maximum of 8 ISO Containers with HADR and Special Forces options. BAE also say that the access hatch features an ISO capable crane rated at 4t. Combinations of the following are feasible:

  • 4 x Boats
  • 8 x ISO containers

The Type 31e requirement doesn’t mention a mission bay only ability to carry two TEUs, both vessels appear to more than meet this requirement however Leander appears to have edged ahead here.

Aviation Capabilities

Arrowhead’s flight deck can land a Merlin sized helicopter and the vessels hangar will be capable of storing one or if required, according to Babcock, two Wildcat helicopters together.

Leander’s flight deck appears to be able to land a Merlin sized helicopter but it appears that the hangar would not be able to host one, being stuck with a Wildcat up to Seahawk sized helicopter.

Build Programme

For Arrowhead, the distributed build and assembly approach would see work going to Appledore in North Devon, Ferguson Marine on the Clyde, Harland and Wolff in Belfast with integration in Rosyth. Babcock say that the Arrowhead design lends itself equally to either a single build strategy, or a cross–site build strategy bringing together modules – an approach used for aircraft carrier assembly at Rosyth.

For Leander, BAE Systems will partner with Cammell Laird, who would ‘Prime, build and assemble’ the vessels at their Merseyside facility while the Clyde will focus on the Type 26 Frigates. Cammell Laird would be main contractor with BAE providing design and combat systems.

Leander is smaller and may be less expensive, the platform will utilise systems already in use around the fleet lowering any extra costs associated with new and specialist technologies. However being the smallest of the two, the room for future growth and adaptability may be less than desired, potentially impact any future exports over the decades.

Which is best?

On paper, it would appear that the Arrowhead design is the most capable, but the downside of that could be the cost. Can this design be built in numbers for a maximum price of £250 million? The main downside as far as I can see with Arrowhead is the use of a new radar type and a new Combat Management System at a time when the Royal Navy is moving towards fleet standardisation. Going in another direction would add cost and complexity.

In summary I believe the Arrowhead 140 design to be the better option for the Type 31e Frigate, the option most inline with the requirements set out by the Ministry of Defence and the option most in line with the National Shipbuilding Strategy, but only if the costs are kept under control.

 

 

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Steve M
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Steve M

And the delays begin. T26 all over again?

dadsarmy
Guest
dadsarmy

In fairness T26 was mostly about design, even if it was blamed on money. The T31e isn’t at a stage where design is the problem as such, it really is all about money.

Jaralodo
Guest
Jaralodo

Babcock needs to go back and use the Absalon class as their base instead. It’s a less expensive design and has some built in amphibious capability to help out for humanitarian assistance for example. I think it would end up being more useful honestly

Fedaykin
Guest
Fedaykin

Oh…

$%^&£$&$%&!!!!

Helions
Guest
Helions

‘Alright folks, settle down, it’s gonna be a long game”…

Droopy the Dog

Rob
Guest
Rob

Better to pause the process than go ahead and make the wrong choice i.e. a ship with no armament.

It still makes sense to have another class of ship other than the T26 as that is very expensive in part due to the noise reducing hull and mission bay. Let’s hope we end up with a more realistic price, say £350m, without reducing hulls.

dadsarmy
Guest
dadsarmy

Yes. £250 million really was a bit unrealistic. Nice target to aim for, but there should at the time have been a provision to spend more for a suitable design. Accountants are needed even in defence, but should never be allowed to actually make business decisions!

Jim
Guest
Jim

Why? Are accountants particularly bullet proof?

Helions
Guest
Helions

Maybe just build more stripped down T26’s with options to upgrade when possible? The costs can’t be that much more when bought in volume…

Cheers

David Stone
Guest
David Stone

That would mean stepping up the glacial pace of build as the first T23 needs a replacement in 2023. On their current timetable they’ll have barely finished the first T26 hull by then

Helions
Guest
Helions

The way things are progressing now I have serious doubts as to any timeline present by the MoD for the T31’s. Delaying the retirement of the GP T23’s and then building GP T26’s without all the bells and whistles of the ASW version would probably result in a real world delivery timeline (and price) quite similar to what a T31 program would actually end up being. The USN is shooting for a delivered price of about 950 million on a proposed 20 (hopefully more – we need them) FFGs which is why I think the FREMM design has the upper… Read more »

Helions
Guest
Helions

Also – I really think this should have had serious consideration…

http://nextnavy.com/time-to-consider-a-low-end-littoral-operations-variant-ddg-51/

Cheers.

Fedaykin
Guest
Fedaykin

“According to Jane’s, the original acquisition process has been suspended as there were no compliant bids able to meet £250 million per ship.”

Being serious OF COURSE BLEEPING NOT! Everybody with even half a brain cell in Industry and defence commentary were saying that there was no way that a ship could be delivered with the requested capabilities within £250 million per ship!

The whole concept was an exercise in futility, hats off to industry for even trying!

Chris
Guest
Chris

(Chris H) fedaykin – weren’t you among the people saying price is everything and why FSS should be built abroad if its the lowest price? Forgive me if I am wrong. These ships were tendered on the basis of ‘give us the best product for £250 Mn a piece’. It wasn’t a matter of ‘here is the spec. and we will only pay £250 Mn each’ Because if that was the case why did two consortia bid? This was a golden opportunity for UK shipbuilding and they blew it. FSS will now go to Korea for sure – sad but… Read more »

Fedaykin
Guest
Fedaykin

Yes I did say price is everything and that goes both ways. Asking industry to sell them something massively below cost is not going to work. In they end these companies are not charities. “These ships were tendered on the basis of ‘give us the best product for £250 Mn a piece’. It wasn’t a matter of ‘here is the spec. and we will only pay £250 Mn each’ Because if that was the case why did two consortia bid?” If that was how the tender was setup there would be no problem now, both consortium would have bid something… Read more »

Douglas Newell
Guest
Douglas Newell

No it won’t – false economy sending abroad for a few 10s of millions due to ability of a local build to feed back into economy via tax, local worker wages etc.

Big Grim
Guest
Big Grim

I believe that if a UK yard/yards bid and their bid is higher than the foreign bids then a impact assessment is carried out to see if the UK economic benefits outweigh the costs.

Ron5
Guest
Ron5

Jane’s didn’t say that. You made it up.

Chris
Guest
Chris

(Chris H) Well done MoD – At last they are acting like the big customer they are – They gave the ballpark bid price and the two bidders clearly either didn’t read the Tender document or thought ‘Nah we can dupe them’. SURPRISE!!

UK shipbuilders had an open goal and they missed. My approval of the MoD reaction is tempered with anger at how the two bidders have apparently acted….

Fedaykin
Guest
Fedaykin

No this isn’t some nefarious duping exercise by industry, the tender document was unrealistic in the first place.

There was no way that a £250 million per ship figure would be realistic considering the requested base level of systems fit.

BB85
Guest
BB85

Funny how the Netherlands France Denmark and Italy can all build GP frigates for less than £250mm a peace. I agree with Chris this is a huge let down for UK industry the price is aimed at targeting future exports and if they cannot deliver on price we won’t be building many frigates in any UK ship yard for foreign navies any time soon.

Callum
Guest
Callum

I’d love to know what frigates you’re referring to. The Danes’ Iver Huitfeldt class cost them more than £300mn, and that was by recycling a lot of kit from the previous class. The last frigates the Dutch built, back in 2002, cost the equivalent of £866mn in today’s money. The Italians built their FREMMs for roughly £532mn, and the French paid even more for theirs. The only thing that MIGHT be comparable is the French FTI, which is essentially their version of the T31 programme. There aren’t any costings for individual ships, but the programme has a budget of £3.3bn… Read more »

Chris
Guest
Chris

(Chris H) – Can we just understand how the Tender was framed here? It was not as suggested that an all bells and whistles design had to be built for £250 Mn. If this WAS the case then as I asked why did two consortia bid when allegedly its impossible. No this was the MoD asking industry to give the best they could for that figure with an eye towards exporting a capable but less complex Frigate. And clearly the two consortia thought they could ‘upsell’ more complex designs. And they have been found out. Respect to the MoD who… Read more »

Helions
Guest
Helions
John Pattullo
Guest
John Pattullo

Arrowhead with bae combat management system and artisan radar would sound good to me – ship systems need to be standardized so crew can be changed without retraining

Andy G
Guest
Andy G

This is what i think is going on.

Chris
Guest
Chris

Absolutely classic (And non too surprising). This means the Mod are either going to have to delay the retirement of the GP T23s (unlikely) or more likely decrease the number of escort hulls below 19 when apparently according to them the RN is growing ?. A real shame as I had high hopes for the T31 and thought UK defence as a whole was just starting to look a little brighter.

Mike Saul
Guest
Mike Saul

“insufficient compliant bids for an effective and robust competition”

Means in plain English a bungled procurement process & unrealistic ambitions.

Fedaykin
Guest
Fedaykin

Bingo!

Anthony D
Guest
Anthony D

If the ask was not deliverable then the bidders should not have bid.

Chris
Guest
Chris

(Chris H) Mike Saul / fedaykin – Oh lets blame the Government then – Same old …. No you are very wide of the mark I’m afraid. Someone who puts out a tender document and the bidders do not comply cannot be the fault of the requesting party. I should know I bid enough Tenders in my time.

if you go to your local car dealer and ask for the very best car for £25,000 and they offer you one for £30,000 I take it that is your fault then?

Mike Saul
Guest
Mike Saul

The MOD has an ambition to build 5 low capability frigates for £1.25bn.

This is probably not achievable if they are to be built in the UK, surely the MOD should have known this?

It’s just history repeating itself, I remember when the MOD said planned to but 13 T26 for £4bn.

Just another botched procurement process in my opinion.

Fedaykin
Guest
Fedaykin

“(Chris H) Mike Saul / fedaykin – Oh lets blame the Government then – Same old …. No you are very wide of the mark I’m afraid.” – No it is you who is very wide of the mark and not facing up to reality. “if you go to your local car dealer and ask for the very best car for £25,000 and they offer you one for £30,000 I take it that is your fault then?” – Your analogy is ass ended it is more you go to the local dealer and ask for a car with the specification… Read more »

Chris
Guest
Chris

(Chris H) Fedaykin – Please at least be honest in your rebuttal. You immediately misrepresented my analogy so you could project your preferred position. That is not acceptable. You stated: “Your analogy is ass ended it is more you go to the local dealer and ask for a car with the specification of the £30,000 model but you are only prepared to pay for the £15,000 one.” WRONG – No I never said that and that was NOT the analogy. I will let others read what was actually written which was very different. There is a world of difference between… Read more »

Fedaykin
Guest
Fedaykin

Chris you are not very good at understanding the written word are you, I said your analogy was ass ended then came back with a BETTER analogy that more accurately describes the situation. As for being not acceptable, who made you the King of this website? Why are you banging on about asking for the best price for a list of requirements? That isn’t what the Tender sets out. The tender sets out a minimum set of requirements and how much they are prepared to pay for it. £250 million per ship is too little for the minimum requirement. You… Read more »

Mike R
Guest

According to savetheroyalnavy.org this may be just a delaying tactic as apparently the £1.25 Bn required has not been signed off by the Treasury yet, so lets see what happens and hope it won’t be too long.

Mike Saul
Guest
Mike Saul

Well why don’t they just say that then!

Confidence in MOD is rock bottom, why would any young ambitious intelligent person wish to join such a shambolic organisation.

Steve
Guest
Steve

i suspect this is a round about way of putting pressure on the government. They can’t outright say it, as that would be tempting fate and risk the policiticans digging in and slowing things further to make a point.

Mike Saul
Guest
Mike Saul

Personally speaking I would rather have a dose of the truth rather bull manure

David Steeper
Guest

From the MoD ? from BaE ? good luck ! There’s always a first time ?

expat
Guest
expat

Next phase is a design competition so only there’s no need for 1.25bn just yet. Need to compliant bids for this. They have insufficient ie less than 2.

expat
Guest
expat

Surely the answer is you take the most compliant bid then, that’s the winner. You do that then watch the other come back with a counter offer. Normal contract negotiation techniques. If you bid you always put plenty of flesh on your first bid as you expect some negotiation.

The problem may be that the industry knows it will have the MoD on the hook as the program is part of the NSS and we don’t build overseas.

Mike Saul
Guest
Mike Saul

I smell bull manure from the MOD

Big Grim
Guest
Big Grim

probably a sealed bid

Sceptical Richard
Guest
Sceptical Richard

Frankly I am not surprised by this. The whole process was unrealistic from the start. The only way to build a ship of this type for £250M is to build it like the Danes did. Build the basic ship in a low cost yard (that means abroad, I’m afraid). Tow it to a home yard and fit it out with GFE, much of it recycled from existing or previous ships and supplied effectively FOC (so that it doesn’t appear as part of the build cost), with the MoD assuming the integration risk. That’s how the Danes did it. A cynic… Read more »

Rob
Guest
Rob

I hope you are wrong as 8 frigates to replace 13 would leave the RN in a perilous state. What was the point of building the carriers if it decimated the Navy in doing so?

I think we will get them after a period of gamesmanship between the MOD, Govt, and bidders.

Sceptical Richard
Guest
Sceptical Richard

I certainly hope you’re right Rob. My heart is with you, my head on the other hand…

Fedaykin
Guest
Fedaykin

I’m even more cynical, T31 was not even a product of the MoD. It was the product of a Government wanting to deflect the howls of rage from the Scot Nats in Parliament when the T26 was cut to eight. I remember the announcement in Parliament with the Defence Secretary smugly telling the enraged SNP that the RN and the Clyde were now going to get five really exportable frigates and there was no real cut in numbers. It was only later that the distributed build strategy came up. I highly doubt anybody in the MoD came up with the… Read more »

dadsarmy
Guest
dadsarmy

So basically speaking what you’re saying is this: 1. Promise 13 T26 = 8 x ASW + 5 GPFF, but all based on T26 hull 2. Promise 8 T26 + 5 GPFF on T31 hull. Add “maybe a 6th”. 3. Promise 8 T26 + 5 T31e but it’s out to tender. Hey, if your bid is good enough we’ll take it. 4. Promise 8 T26 + 5 T31e but it’s out to tender, but BaE won’t build on the Clyde as they’re “full up”. But hey, there’s always Fergusons to do a bit on the Clyde. 5. We’ve ordered 3… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Guest
Daniele Mandelli

True to form. TH, having lurked for weeks and absent from the forum, stabs the dagger in just when we are at a low point reacting to this crap.

Nice work…..

Rob
Guest
Rob

He loves the attention, it is the only explanation for coming on this site and posting stuff like that.

J
Guest
J

TH is more than likely right and if brexit goes the way it is looking then the navy will be lucky if they even get 6 t26. People need to start facing facts. Britain is broke and short of a major conflict there will be no serious uplift in any capabilities land sea or air would not surprise me if both carriers were canned by the early 20s

Chris
Guest
Chris

(Chris H) J – Look the Vodka shop is open Gorsky Street so pop off dear chap … I would cut you down over your Brexit crap but to be honest I can’t be arsed …

J
Guest
J

Go ahead, seriously I’ve yet to see anyone come up with any realistic proposal as to how this will make us richer stronger or more influential so do your best dear chap

fearlesstunafish
Guest
fearlesstunafish

ahhh….$4 per every gbp…..you must have been around in the 1940’s then…..

fearlesstunafish
Guest
fearlesstunafish

exactly……if you’d said $2-1.50 you might have had a point…..but 60 years ago?!? you might as well mourn the fact we no longer have an empire!

Chris
Guest
Chris

(Chris H) TH – Well I was around in the 1940s. I was born the year the USA launched the biggest raid on a foreign currency. As you ‘were around’ then you will recall the USA (while ships were still at sea) cancelled Lend / Lease overnight contrary to the original terms agreed and demanded immediate payment! As this was clearly impossible they then presented the UK with a ‘fait accompli’ Loan on non negotiable terms. Those terms included Sterling’s ‘Convertibility’ with the Gold Standard using terms agreed at Bretton Woods in 1945. I won’t go into details as I… Read more »

Elliott
Guest
Elliott

George Soros is NOT an American he is merely a wealthy man who could afford to buy citizenship back in 1961 only on paper and for the legal shield it has provided him. Since then he has done little but give millions to every left leaning Anti-American progressive cause both in the US and abroad. By the way Soros immigrated from Hungary to the UK first and got his education at the London School of Economics. So he is a devil the UK had a hand in creating. Also again with the Lend/Lease and loan complaints. Their was a loan… Read more »

Chris
Guest
Chris

(Chris H) Elliott / TH – So George Soros holds American citizenship then. He is therefore by current convention and definition an American. He holds a US Passport does he not? Now you may not like it but that is the fact of it. So a Hungarian student was educated for a couple of years at the LSE and then went to the USA? That is some pretty vague connection to the UK. Not that the LSE is anything more than a confirmed generator of Left Wing policies and views. And yet so many of their graduates then use capitalism… Read more »

Paul Irving
Guest
Paul Irving

TH:
The pound was devalued from $4.03 to $2.80 in 1949, where it stayed until 1967. You can’t have remembered an exchange rate of $4 to £1 in the 1950s.

Harold
Guest
Harold

I can’t see the UK or the USA continuing with such massive debt burdens.

Helions
Guest
Helions

This…

Cheers.

Graham
Guest
Graham

The UK can afford to maintain the forces it has and to expand them, it just currently chooses not to. Successive governments have slashed defence spending to fund social programs at home, and a massive foreign aid budget. The foreign aid budget goes to support countries like India, who by the way, have a large and well equipped military complete with carriers and nuclear powered attack submarines. In effect we subsidize the India military at the expense of our own. (it they didn’t receive foreign aid they would have to divert the money from other places, like defence). The solution… Read more »

Ankit Kumar
Guest
Ankit Kumar

The Aid by UK to Government of India/its agencies stopped wayback in 2014. What UK does now is, it sends aid to NGOs it deems fit/ or to United Nations Programs. And that’s why Armed Forces of India isn’t dependent a bit on the peanuts of UK Aid. And aid you are talking about is less than what we give as aid to Afghanistan. Better keep that aid to yourself and buy a couple of more Typhoons. As your Tranche1 aircrafts will soon go and so will around 60 Tornadoes by 2019 without any replacement. And by the way it’s… Read more »

Sceptical Richard
Guest
Sceptical Richard

Graham, if the foreign aid budget is cut, rest assured it won’t go on Defence! NHS and Education are ahead of it in the queue

David Steeper
Guest

Richard you’re spot on. But simply too many here aren’t listening.

Andy G
Guest
Andy G

TH, what do you think we should be doing?

Daniele Mandelli
Guest
Daniele Mandelli

You really need to ask him that?? You mean you don’t know?!

Stephen
Guest
Stephen

We can still afford to give £14 billion away every single year in foreign aid though, right? That has to be cut.

Rob
Guest
Rob

Not really, with a deficit of approx £50bn it means we actually borrow the £14bn to give away. We can’t afford it at all but there are good humanitarian and ‘soft power’ reasons to keep a foreign aid budget, albeit at a lower figure IMO.

Barry Larking
Guest
Barry Larking

“The UK will come to recognise this and soon I believe. Defence yes, but with resources better suited to an island in western Europe.” These ships would have cost around 10 per cent of a single years foreign aid budget. If this just ‘an island in western Europe’ – and to be fair, without it there would be no western Europe in any sense we understand today – how comes all this free money to hand out? If you are as old as you say, like me you will have read every few years for the past eight decades that… Read more »

Steve
Guest
Steve

Would love to know just how far away from the £250 million per hull the “compliant” bids actually were. Are we talking about a little negotiating room, or a complete “no go”?

J
Guest
J

Oh and in other news the armed forces are getting a payrise at long last but guess what? It has to come out of the existing budget-no new cash and that is for every department. So even further stretched budgets excellent!!! Cheers Teresa

Gunbuster
Guest
Gunbuster

2% across the board
0.9% of your annual salary as a “one off payment” sometime in the financial year.
Engineers to get “Tiff Pay” back. So as an engineer you will get up to 6.5 GBP a day (non pensionable but taxable) in recognition of being an engineer.
Other measures in the pipeline to improve engineering retention.

All most makes me want to rejoin…NOT!

rec
Guest
rec

£250 million not workable for a viable UK built frigate, £450 million would have given a Venator 110 with a decent weapon and sensor fit.

Optimistically Type 26 frigate is now the export model, so maybe more T26s?

Realistically it’s 8 T26s and 5 additional Rivers.

Pessimistic 6 T26s and that’s that

Sceptical Richard
Guest
Sceptical Richard

I’m afraid you’re probably right rec, unfortunately

Rob
Guest
Rob

I don’t see how the T26 is an export model for the NSS. An export design with some benefit to UK suppliers yes, but we will not be making them here for any one else. Any country that can afford them will want them to be built locally. We either accept that and go for a lower spec frigate at a more realistic price point, or we change course with the NSS and make it about builds for the RN alone, then sell the hulls when they are 20 to 25 years old when a new one comes off the… Read more »

Harold
Guest
Harold

The defence budget also has to pick up the difference between income tax in Scotland and in England.

Chris
Guest
Chris

(Chris H) – Yes more funding from the UK Government to the incapable SNP Government but this time through the back door. So we now have excessively generous Barnett, £15 Bn annual deficits, Income Tax refunds and major defence investment.

And still Nicola screeches betrayal …

Geoffrey Roach
Guest
Geoffrey Roach

So how about adding another two T 26’s to the build and ordering another “beefed up” River ” type Well were at it we could look at a longer term T 26 AA follow on? None of this is ideal but if the briefing notes on M D P are correct most of the Royal Navy’s time is going to be spent on low end tasks. an extra build might also convince Canada to join the programme.

Paul.P
Guest
Paul.P

Another 2 Type 26 would increase ASW capability properly. Can’t make a sows ear Arrowhead into a Type 26 ASW silk purse. And I seem to vaguely remember BAE did do a concept design of a River with a hanger. Build 3 of these and call them River batch 3 and its job done. Only problem is a Type 31 is needed to feed the national shipbuilding strategy and work for English yards. BMT Venator is the answer. Babcock screwed up by choosing Arrowhead. They need to get its cost down to what we can afford or MOD just have… Read more »

cona_hughes@hotmail.co.uk
Guest

With the T26 becoming quite succesful, our own order should simply be increased to bring us on par with requirement. The Type 31 is unnecessary.

Nigel Collins
Guest
Nigel Collins

Arrowhead 140 looked to be the perfect fit. Surely we can find an additional £750 million-£1 billion to build and fit out five ships? If not it’s time to give up.

Not disagreeing with the comments above re the original tender, but with the chance to offer these to other countries and recoup the loss…

Such a shame.

A. Smith
Guest
A. Smith

If we do not build the Type 31 then how many Type 26’s are we expecting to export? So far, we aren’t building and exporting any. The Type 26 is too big for most navies around the world and the Type 31 would be ideal to build in the UK and export to other countries and create jobs in the UK.

Wads
Guest
Wads

I think with hindsight we have to see the T31 tender process as a classic Sir Humphrey deflection exercise. The objective was to cut the T26 order from 13 to 8. Job done.

Elliott
Guest
Elliott

The reality is the T31 program should never have been stated. The T26 was unnecessarily delayed as the MOD dithered over fleet mix and cost. When it should have started building for the RN and aggressively pitching the design overseas. Instead of trying to reduce the price of T26 by ordering more and having the development cost spread over more units with shorter construction times, the MOD chose to decrease the order and thereby increase costs while also slowing the construction time another price increase. Despite BAE even saying repeatedly that if there were was a more firm order schedule… Read more »

Chris
Guest
Chris

(Chris H) Elliott – We rarely agree but on this Sir I am right with you. Countries that are in the ASW Frigate game want the best and to build it at home. I have never believed this ‘export’ idea. I think the US Navy missed a trick not allowing BAE to tender the Type 26 (suitably tailored) but that is their right but illustrates that point. Australia the same. Canada similarly. And if say the Kiwis want a cheap Frigate the Italians will oblige and we can’t compete. Simple as. The only light I see at the end of… Read more »

Mr Bell
Guest
Mr Bell

Couple of thoughts. Maybe type 31 cancelled or suspended because the RN and MOD want a more capable ship. Like a type 26. Maybe the Aussies and hopefully Canadians buying type 26 hills is going to reduce unit costs down to 800-900 million so we can get a few more type 26s with a small uptick in defence expenditure. Remember if BREXIT negotiations go badly and there is no dea the government have already said there will be a withholding of the frankly ludicrous £40 billion divorce bill. That should help.. Hopefully the MOD are going to go for 4-5… Read more »

Steve
Guest
Steve

How does this bode for the two, and possibly one more, solid support Ships for the RFA? On a side note the Red Funnel IOW ferries have just launched a new ferry built in the East Cowes. Their CEO was on tv saying he has loads new orders in from around the world as he said the the Far East shipyards are no longer the cheaper option due to increasing labour costs! The company was Wight Shipyard. Now I’m certainly not saying they can build for the MoD but it was pleasing to hear a success story for our shipyards… Read more »

Glass Half Full
Guest
Glass Half Full

Interesting, perhaps its worth parsing what appears to have been stated? So the words from MoD quoted by Save the RN were “insufficient compliant bids for an effective and robust competition”. This could mean no bids at or below £250M or perhaps only one bid out of two or more tenders, or perhaps only two tenders when they wanted three or more. It also suggests MoD wants an iterative competition/negotiation to maximize value. One bid below £250M might meet the target price but not deliver particularly attractive value in for example the weapons and sensors fit and provide no competition… Read more »

Pacman27
Guest
Pacman27

Must admit I am very disappointed in this turn of events. I think we can get 8 Visby class vessels for £1.5bn and perhaps we need to set our sites at a corvette and be done with it. I really cannot believe this situation has been allowed to develop, and I do blame the MOD for this, it must employ some type of cost consultant / procurement professionals who create a cost model and clearly these people have failed. As for BAE and Babcock, if they have submitted tenders that do not meet the £250m price ceiling then again I… Read more »

expat
Guest
expat

Janes doesn’t say there were no compliant bids, there was insufficient. To go to a design competition (next phase) you need 2 bids.

Doesn’t mention they were over priced, could be one does not meet other aspects of the RFI like design ownership.

Paul.P
Guest
Paul.P

Yep. I suspect the Arrowhead bid had the fatal flaw that the hull design was not UK intellectual property. Bit infra dig the RN sailing foreign designed warships, and contrary to stated policy that complex warships are to be designed ( and built) in the UK. I think the MOD ‘plan’ was that Babcock would bid the BMT Venator design in competition with the Leander proposal from CL/BAE. Maybe Venator was too good and couldn’t be built for the price.

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

you’ve made the assumption there are only BAE and Babcock bidding.

Barry Larking
Guest
Barry Larking

The small number of ships in the bid plus the uncertain export prospects should also be considered. One possible way forward would be to increase the Type 26 order. Then there is the problem of recruitment. None of this is easy as it seems.

Howard Guy
Guest
Howard Guy

So what about the new fleet supply ships, is the competition now between Babcock and Cammell laird.

David E Flandry
Guest
David E Flandry

Strip everything extraneous to being a patrol warship. No spaces for 30-60 troops and other would-be -nice-to have stuff. Sensors, weapons, communications, crew. Hangar for Wildcat, deck for larger copter. Contract for 6 ships.

expat
Guest
expat

Janes doesn’t say there were no compliant bids, there was insufficient. To go to a design competition (next phase) you need 2 bids.

Ian
Guest
Ian

So, unicorns can’t be built for £250m. Quel surprise. May & Hammond own Private Pike now.

John Hampson
Guest
John Hampson

The only way the Tempest will fly is if somebody prints out the design and makes a paper plane from it.

Mike Saul
Guest
Mike Saul

Very good

David Steeper
Guest

Or we get Swedes and others onboard.

Julian
Guest
Julian

I wonder whether this freeze is in anticipation of whatever new grand plan is due to be announced when the DMP is finally released. I also wonder whether, with Brexit negotiations at such an uncertain stage, if as much as possible will be frozen/delayed until some sort of clarity is available about what sort of deal, if any, will be negotiated. With defence spending set as a percentage of GDP and tending to need to commit to 10 year or longer spending plans some projection for GDP growth needs to be baked into the costings. Right now with everything from… Read more »

Andy G
Guest
Andy G

Welcome back!

Andy G
Guest
Andy G

Very sad to read this.

My hope is that there really will be a redesign. Reduce the specs to meet the price, maybe we get a corvette instead.

geoff
Guest
geoff

There is much to commend the building of 5 more stripped down T26 Hulls. Surely there would be a big economy of scale in spreading the T26 setup costs plus the advantages of commonality? With the current workload in Scotland perhaps some of the work could be spread elsewhere o speed up the delivery programme

geoff
Guest
geoff

The other option would be to refurbish the 5 newest T23’s and extend their service life until final decisions are made? The last 3 built are less than 20 years old

David Steeper
Guest

You have got the best/most likely solution Geoff.

rec
Guest
rec

Nothing will happen until the MDR is finalised and the budget is set in the autumn statement. Maybe with the emphasis on ASW the escort mix will be changed. None of us really know, whether t31 specifications will stay unchanged or because of its export success there will be more t26s. BAE evidently offered 9 T26s for the price if 8 if the government would commit to all 8 now

Tony Merrill
Guest
Tony Merrill

Sounds as if the only viable bid was from Babcock’s Team 31. The Irish Naval Service went to Babcock for their OPV’s because they can and have built them within budget, on time and no build quality problems. Unlike BAE who are overpriced and always late and of questionable qualith, as in the case of the Type 45’s underrated generators which are having to be replaced at great expense and in the case of HMS Forth full of build defficiencies and safe to sail. The sooner the BAE monopoly is broken the better for the sake of the Royal Navy… Read more »

Mike Saul
Guest
Mike Saul

The Irish Corvettes are not viable warships, they are armed tugs.

David E Flandry
Guest
David E Flandry

But they could be a viable warship. More money needed of course, for sensors and weapons, and larger crew. Would be sufficient for low-threat patrols in the Caribbean, Indian Ocean, and near the UK. Not ideal, but workable.

Chris
Guest
Chris

(Chris H) Tony Merrill – If BAE’s ‘considerable influence with the MoD’ had been at work then Cammell Laird would have been announced as winners. They were BAE’s partners. And with respect please stop peddling this rather worn out old chestnut about Type 45 engines. The failures are nothing to do with BAE. they are due to a faulty specification in the Intercoolers supplied by Northrup Grumman to Rolls Royce for their gas turbines fitted to Type 45. And even then the fault is that rather than ‘controlled degradation’ of just the gas turbine they have ‘catastrophic degradation’ that shuts… Read more »

Dean
Guest
Dean

i think the MOD is waiting for the autumn budget where they are hoping for an increase in the defence budget to 3% they will then greenlight the project. there’s lots of cash being handed out everywhere else at the moment, they just want to make sure they aren’t writing a cheque they cant cash i suspect

Mike Saul
Guest
Mike Saul

Really? There will no increase in the defence budget.

In fact it’s even worse, the very welcome increase in military personnel remuneration will be funded from existing budget.

So less to spend on equipment procurement.

David Steeper
Guest

Mike Saul you are almost def right. But the reason is that no-one in Govt outside MoD or Services thinks they are serious about reform. They want to keep on working in the same old way making the same old ‘flip’ ups. Are they wrong ?

Mike Saul
Guest
Mike Saul

The Times 2572018 The MoD said that the competition would be restarted soon but sources said that the delay would probably be at least a year, undermining a plan to deliver the first of the new ships by 2023. Defence experts agreed. “It is cloud-cuckoo-land,” Admiral Lord West of Spithead, a former head of the Royal Navy, said. Francis Tusa, editor of Defence Analysis, said: “It’s impossible.” Paul Beaver, a defence analyst, said: “It has taken three years to get to a point where they appear to need to start again. This is not smart procurement.” Aside from the question… Read more »

Mark Latchford
Guest
Mark Latchford

Lord West is a Labour Party mouthpiece Mike. Anything he has to say is therefore undermined by party political bias I’m afraid.

Mike Saul
Guest
Mike Saul

Lord West has a point of view which I rarely agree with, that’s why I balanced his comments with those from the MOD and a defence analyst.

Whatever you think, this is another MOD procurement mess of its own making.

Mark Latchford
Guest
Mark Latchford

I just pointed out that Lord West is now a party political mouthpiece Mike. Anything else that you read into my comment is just in your own head.

Paul.P
Guest
Paul.P

“Wider procurement process”? Maybe the MOD are thinking how to combine Type 31 procurement with the BAE- Babcock joint proposal / bid for the FSS ships. If so this could be good news for the NSBS and for everyone in fact.

Steve M
Guest
Steve M

The cynic in me says this and the closure of Scampton announced yesterday, were to find quick cash for the 2% pay rise (+0.9% bonus this year).

Sceptical Richard
Guest
Sceptical Richard

Guys I get really depressed when every subject gets turned into an opportunity to do some Brexit or EU bashing. I wish we could remain on subject. Anyway, it doesn’t please me to say it, but whether you voted leave or remain, by the government’s own calculations, GDP will shrink over the next few years even under the most positive of Brexit outcomes, before picking up again. So, 2% of a smaller GDP over the foreseeable future does not bode well, particularly when the government will be under huge pressure to prop up farmers, fisheries, depressed regions, not to mention… Read more »

Mike Saul
Guest
Mike Saul

Being in or out of the EU will have very little impact on our medium to long term economic performance.

All the so called economic analysis assumes all the negative aspects of not being a member of the and none of the benefits.

When we leave the EU there will be an economic impact the UK will have to adapt to the new environment to maximize the benefits of leaving and minimise the threats.

Chris
Guest
Chris

(Chris H) Sceptical Richard – Without wishing to be dragged again into the Brexit debate I will just mention one factor which had been forgotten. While you list all the possible liabilities we will incur in leaving the EU next March you forgot the £39 Bn we will not be paying if there is ‘No deal’ plus the £13 Bn every year we pay to the EU. Its only right that when you list a Debit side as you did you also list a Credit side. Which by the time of the next election in 2022 will be worth £39… Read more »

Rob
Guest
Rob

About £4.5bn of our net contributions are spent in the UK on farming, infrastructure etc. I assume we need to continue to support those areas so the contingency, as you say, is £13.5bn less over the 3 years to 2022. Still a sizeable amount mind.

As a remain supporter I am fed up of the whole thing, just get on with it already.

There enough Brexit talk.

David Steeper
Guest

Brexit won’t be as bad as remainers claim or as great as leavers claim. I’d guess 10 years from now we’ll be baffled what the argument was all about.

Stephen
Guest
Stephen

We have to cut the £14 billion a year foreign aid budget, it is far too high.

Paul.P
Guest
Paul.P

Were there really no compliant bids or is the real reason Treasury / MOD does not want to commit funds in the current Brexit uncertainty? And if there really were no compliant bids does not that mean that BAE were right all along in not bidding; it can’t be done for £250m?

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

not NO compliant bids, but not enough compliant bids to make a competition.

Julian
Guest
Julian

Another possibility is that the MoD has just started detailed negotiations with BAE to draft contract amendments and set pricing on an increased T26 build now that the RAN bid is won, something which hopefully changes some of the calculations on BAEs side. Those negotiations might also be waiting to see what happens with the RCN bid. If using the RAN win and hopefully fairly soon an RCN win to renegotiate price on a bigger RN T26 order is being actively explored it would frankly be madness to not put the T31e project on hold until the outcome and pricing… Read more »

Paul.P
Guest
Paul.P

I hope I am wrong but given an inevitable post Brexit dip in the economy, there is the real possibility now that the future RN surface fleet of 13 ‘frigates’ could end up being 8 Type 26 and 5 River 2’s. With the R1’s being retained for fisheries.

Wads
Guest
Wads

If we assume 3 ships are needed to cover one task l i.e. one on duty, the second working up the third in refit then as a bare minimum the T26 order should be increased to 9. That will give an “at sea” service of 2xT45 and 3xT26. That’s enough to cover a Carrier group and/or an Albion based assault group. That would leave the B2 Rivers + Clyde for patrol duties and as you suggest retaining the B1. To be credible I do believe that the B2 will be needed to be enhanced with 57mm Bofors gun, Artisan and… Read more »

Paul.P
Guest
Paul.P

Another poster (I can’t quickly spot who) says BAE have offered the MOD 9 Type 26 for the price of 8 if they will commit to 8 now. Would help with ASW capability. So you might be on to something. A River 2 plus a 57mm and a camcopter or would come close to core Type 31 spec; a patrol frigate good enough for constabulary duties and humanitarian work. For the idea to work we would need containerised CAMM and AShM?

Mike Saul
Guest
Mike Saul

Just to remind everyone this was the plan back in the early 2000s.

Future Surface Combatant program.

The C1 was to be an anti-submarine warfare task group enabled platform and would displace around 6,000 tonnes. C2 was to be a more general purpose platform displacing somewhere in the region of 4-5,000 tonnes, and C3 was to be a Global Corvette to replace a larger number of smaller vessels in service, such as minesweepers, patrol and survey ships. The Global Corvette was to displace around 2-3,000 tonnes.

To me that was the correct way forward and still is.

Julian
Guest
Julian

A useful reminder but in that context I wonder, if HMG does put defence budgets under increased pressure by not funding any increases and needing to fix some black holes, whether C2 will get squeezed out entirely in favour of a C1/C3 plan with current T31e (C2) budget either disappearing completely to fill some existing funding black holes or going to boost C1 and/or C3 numbers. Either way, I think the likelihood of frigate numbers dropping below the current 13 has increased significantly after this announcement.

Mike Saul
Guest
Mike Saul

Julian I have little confidence in the UK MOD to not only deliver a defence industrial solution that satisfies RN and global export markets.

I thought we wanted to be a player in global.markets after 40 years of failure.