Confirmation has been given on when the orders for new Type 31e Frigates and the Fleet solid Support Ships will be ordered.

Kevan Jones, MP for North Durham asked:

“To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what his Department’s latest timetables are for the orders of (a) Type 31e (first batch), and (b) Fleet Solid Support vessels.”

Stuart Andrew Assistant Whip and Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence answered:

“We plan to award a contract for Type 31e by December 2019 and for the Fleet Solid Support ships in 2020.”

This comes not long after the previously suspended Type 31e programme, which could see sections of the ships built in Scotland and England, was restarted.

An MoD spokesperson said that a prior information notice has been issued to industry and a new contract notice has been issued.

“We have issued a Prior Information Notice for our new Type 31e fleet and plan to start discussions with industry next week to ensure we do not lose any momentum. There have been no changes in our plans to procure a first batch of five new Type 31e frigates to grow our Royal Navy. We still want the first ship delivered by 2023 and are confident that industry will meet the challenge of providing them for the price tag we’ve set.”

According to USNI here, an article published recently by Jane’s stated that at least two of the potential bidders had earlier regarded the terms and conditions set by the MoD as unworkable, citing both commercial aspects and intellectual property rights.

“Even if the MoD achieves its stated intention of ‘delivering’ the Type 31e lead ship in 2023, the subsequent sea trials, crew training and work-up could see entry into operational service slipping a year or two.”


  1. Good o.

    I want 10 of these. With an uplift in RN to crew them.

    Sea Sceptre
    An ASM.
    Main Gun.
    Some form of ASW capability.

    Too much to ask?

    • Hello Daniele, I think for 250 million per ship , we can expect at least one of those, or maybe just one. Then again, we might just get a basic hull with a “Built For but not with” option . Call me a Sceptic.

      • there was a schematic somewhere of items the ship must have and items that would be nice to have. I’m sure a main gun was a must have and I’m sure they were having some sort of flexible mission bay, which surely could be used for a helicopter, assuming we have enough, but that’s another story…


          Quick summary, the absolute MINIMUM (far from desirable of course) spec would be:
          -76mm and 30mm guns
          -CIWS with space for Sea Ceptor to be fitted later
          -full EW and decoy suite
          -FD and hangar for Wildcat
          -provision for hull mounted sonar

          In this form, T31 would only really be serviceable for anti piracy ops in hostile waters and acting as a radar picket and force multiplier, with no effective means of participating in ASW, AAW, ASuW, or land attack missions.

          I do stress though, that this is the bare minimum the spec allows for and it is highly likely that every serious proposal for T31 will feature Sea Ceptor and a hull sonar, which (while not exceptional) would allow it to perform credible light escort duties with an embarked helo

          • For an AAW missile such as Sea Ceptor, were it to be added or have FFBNW space allocated, is there a minimum sensible number to give a vessel a credible self defence capability at the next step up from last-ditch CIWS?

            The renders of the Khareef-derived Leander that I’ve seen seem to show a 12 tube “mushroom farm” silo just behind the main gun. Maybe that’s simply a case of the artist re-using some existing CGI elements but to me, for something that is supposed to be a real frigate, if it really was maximum 12 on a design that would seem to me to be closer to a token gesture than a genuine extra self defence capability at the layer beyond CIWS.

          • Julian, I agree, 12 short range missiles isn’t enough. My personal figure for a sustainable combat load would be 32, but at least 24 would be preferable. In regards to Leander, remember it’s also portrayed with an 8-cell Mk41. Using half of that for AAW would add another 16 Sea Ceptor for a total of 28, a much more attractive number. It is just a product render though, the equipment actually in the picture is subject to change

            David Steeper, I think you’re misreading what I previously wrote. In its minimum form, the T31 would NOT have Sea Ceptor or a sonar, it would only have the space and facilities to accommodate them at a later date.

    • I have a sneaking suspicion that the commonwealth ruled change will patch holes in our recruitment shortfalls, and good thing too. Great plan in my eyes

      Service guarantees citizenship. Would you like to know more?

      • 🙂 …. The only good bug is a dead bug. As someone who hates spiders & cockroaches I tend to agree with that sentiment.

        I hope you’re right on the recruitment issue. If we want to have any chance of recruiting any reasonable numbers from the richer countries though, Australian, Canada, NZ, I’d have thought that we’d need to make sure that our pay and conditions were at least reasonable vs their home forces equivalents which would probably be another positive from the initiative.

        I wonder whether they’ve gone and spoken in detail to the appropriate NHS people. Over the last few years I’ve seen stuff on TV about NHS recruitment team out in Australia trying to get nurses & paramedics. I would have thought that for a country like Oz it’s a tough sell since “getting richer than you could at home” is probably not a realistic sales pitch and the sales message having to be adventure, broadening your horizons, or maybe specific circumstances of being able to follow a family member or friends who have relocated. I wonder how much uptake those NHS “raiding parties” managed to get in the various countries they visited.

      • I agree Levi, as White British men over 20% of our country being Non White British is just simply not enough for us, “more we say!”. Terrorist attacks in our country? “So what, keep letting more in we say!”. Thousands upon thousands of our little girls being raped by Asians in our own country? “Who cares, we are absolutely determined to keep letting more in!”.

        This is what some of you guys are like.

    • Yes I think 10 is too much to ask for :(, sadly. I ‘d be very happy if we got 6. But I’m pretty sure it will be five now and I believe they will get around not having a 6th with various forward deployment options instead.

  2. “A Ministry of Defence spokesman earlier hinted that industry will have to refine their bids to meet the price tag”.

    Let’s hope the T31 isn’t hamstrung by lack of funds..

    Arrowhead is an absolute clear winner to me, the Leander seems to small and cost compromised.

    Common sense calls for a 5,000 ton base design, better at handling rough seas, room for embarked RN’s, greater role flexibility and more space for future upgrades.

        • Take a look on their website. They are advertising Arrowhead 120 and in a way that looks like they have given up. I think they have ditched the 140 because they can’t meet the price mark. Shame.

          • As I posted on another article, I spoke to a Babcock representative just a couple of weeks ago and he was still very much pushing the Arrowhead 140. He even referred to it as “his baby”.

    • John, We have been through the whole process and Arrowhead Is a clear Winner but for one tiny problem, It’s the Best Option but It costs more than 250 million which was and still is, the Specified Target. Heck, take a look at the latest Chinese and Russian offerings and take a look at the River Class 2000 toners , Compare the Price and Compare the Armaments, Different Ships, Different Countries, but hell are we behind when It comes to offensive Capability. There Is a Huge Gulf between Us and no one In Government seems to be Seeing It.
      Over the few Months I’ve been Here on this Site, I have read So many Posts from People who Share the same Opinions , Views and Reservations.

      • Plus the radar and combat system wouldn’t be common…

        I think the RN knows it has more chance of adding weapons later if international relations deteriorate than regenerating hulls and crew.

    • The best bet to have a decent T31 frigate for something at least approaching the £250million price tag is to make it something with a lot of export potential. If we could secure orders of up to half a dozen each to Australia and Canada that would help bring the price down.

      And Norway maybe? They could be looking for a replacement for their ruined frigate.

      The more we can build and sell the cheaper they’ll be. Perhaps with designed for but not with options. Like buying a car; basic model is £250million but if you want all the bells and whistles then the price goes up. Could work to do it that way as different countries might want different weapons systems on theirs.

  3. They will of course have wildcats as that has nothing to do with this contract. We rotate our stock from ship to ship.

    The will also have seaceptor and a main gun , I would prefer the 76mm Otto personally as it offers a lot of flexibility both in a constabulary and outer ring escort.

    It will not get ASW capability – although a Compact Captas4 towed array is the smart move – HMG is not smart (see todays news for further evidence of this).

    ASM is difficult as clearly the RN is generally under armed and in my view incapable of sinking a peer vessel from its surface fleet. This needs to change not just for this class – but all RN ships.

    • T31 probably will not get ASW out the gate at the target price point but I would like to see some attempt to quieten the hull, rather than ignore it entirely, along with a planned for option to use container based Captas 1 or 2, presuming at significantly lower cost vs. Captas 4. This might then be combined with implementing Compact Flash dipping sonar on Wildcat assuming it is practical in UK builds; South Korea already does this on their Wildcat. This ASW capability would be useful both in escort roles as well as defense of increasingly strategic and ever expanding energy generation from off shore wind farms. This could all be added over time to ramp capability.

      I am ambivalent about ASM at this time. Harpoon is at end of life and if used might be more dangerous to friendly shipping, if present, than an enemy at this point; no need to add any more. If T31 has at least 8x Type 41 VLS (or at least provision to fit it) in addition to low cost cold launch Sea Ceptor cells then it can support ASM in future when an appropriate missile can be selected. Today it seems like NSM is the only real option but LRASM, JSM or even Perseus seem to be much more capable, with fleet wide and cross services commonality as an option to plan for use in future. I am also of the opinion that enemy ship launched missiles are a far lower threat to the RN operating as part of NATO versus submarine or air launched weapons.

  4. Weren’t we told that less type 26 frigates would mean more type31 frigates??, I’m sure that was one of the reasons…. We should have 8 type 31s and 8 type 26s minimum…. After cutting our frigate force so much we should have 16 again atleast! We did have 16 type 23s before we sold 3 to chile!. And the 22s sold also!… We need to build 8 31s min! If they get tgembat a good price it’s madness not to build more than 5 when we are building them and the cost could get less….

    The government seems to wants to make the RN rely on other nations in future! Something the great British Royal Navy never used to have to do! The UK 🇬🇧 has never been richer than we are now! And we had navy’s far bigger in the past, and not long ago either!!… it’s a choice! And the conservative government CHOOSES not to build our navy back up, they think the new Carriers make up for all the lost ships! What a joke…. we need to stop this madness, countrys like South Korea have far bigger numbers of warships! And they ain’t the only ones…..

    • You don’t know history. The RN has relied on allied support in EVERY major conflict of the past three hundred years. Go look it up.

      • Also I think there s long have to play. Escort numbers can be grown relatively quickly but carrier strike takes decades… The force enablers like tankers and the real dreadnought (astute) are coming into place.

      • Not to question your obviously vast knowledge of history, MSR, but you’re clearly forgetting Trafalgar. You’re also mistaking having allies and relying on your allies for your ability to fight.

        Example 1: the Royal Navy dominated the German fleet in WWI, but also benefited from additional support from the US; we had allied support
        Example 2: the Royal Navys Trident missiles are maintained in the US. Keeping the system operational depends on our continued alliance with the Americans; we are reliant on our allies

        In E1, we could still fight our own fight, in E2 our ability to fight is dependent on others. OP is clearly one of the more… enthusiastic… armchair generals, but he’s not wrong that we need more escorts (amongst other things) to guarantee our ability to operate independently

        • In WW1 we were also assisted by the Japanese taking on RN roles in the Far East freeing up ships for the European theatre, and then sending a squadron to the Med for escort and ASW duties.

  5. Another missed opportunity I am afraid.

    Perfect opportunity to set fleet numbers and strategy and bring the NSS to life, and support a post Brexit industrial drive.

    13 x T26 with enhanced Radar, ASW and missile fit (32 Mk41 strike).
    25 x T31’s
    13 x Aegir based Joint Amphibious and Logistics Support Ships.
    4 Float on – Float off Platforms
    10 x Astute successor
    4 x Successor
    5 x specialist hulls

    400+ Enabling hulls and support vessels (atlas, CB90’s, safeboats mk6, PacRhibs, S2S connectors etc.)

    Spread over 25 years this gives industry confidence and the RN the much needed kit it needs to move forward. It’s called a strategy, HMG should give it a go sometime

    • Not sure its a missed opportunity yet, it may just not be fully/publicly articulated yet which is unsurprising in my view given the likely opposition a fully costed 30 year program would probably elicit? Your outline doesn’t seem too much of a stretch when broken down and compared to what we have today which I think you may have done in the past?

      Your 13xT26 is basically 8xT26 ASW plus 6xT45 AAW (did you mean 14x?) but having the platforms be both ASW and AAW capable. Seems like T26 platform is positioned to support that after the 8x build? I also suspect the reason that MoD have not placed further contracts yet is to be able to leverage how valuable T26 is to BAES on a worldwide basis, something that wouldn’t have happened if the T26 didn’t exist. So hopefully this helps in reducing costs on later ships.

      Your 25xT31 is 5xT23 replacement plus 13xMCMW (Sandown/Hunt replacement) plus 5xOPV replacement plus 2x additional with T31 having say a basic fit of gun, Sea Ceptor, 8x Type 41 VLS (fitted or not) and then perhaps ISO 20 based mission modules for MCMW, ASW as needed.

      Your 13xAegir is 4xTide plus 2xWave plus 2xFSS (Fort class) plus 2xAlbion plus 3xBay. Clearly Tides went elsewhere but weren’t bid, FSS could get this back on track. Presumably Argus would be one of the specialist ships?

      Not so sure about FOFO? What drives this need?

      10xAstute. Personally I’d prefer a hi-lo mix including SSK for greater numbers. Say 7xAstute plus 6-8xAIP. I do wonder though how much an Astute would cost if fitted with diesel/lithium ion vs both new and de-commissioning costs of nuclear. We should have nuclear boats but they don’t all need to be nuclear. The Sōryū-class are already approaching Trafalgar class displacement (as is the Australian Short Fin Barracuda) but Sōryū seems to be about a quarter the cost of an Astute and that’s before de-commissioning costs. While we might keep SSK predominantly to Atlantic and adjacent waters, at Astute size they would have the AIP range to support global operations if necessary or more appropriate.

      • I am agnostic about the specifics of some of this, and don’t have a preference for nuclear submarines. I just think we need 10 submarines (as a minimum).

        For me T26 is the UK;s Burke Class and I just think its madness that we spend £1bn building a T45 when a FREMM is 800m Euros. For me I don think it is a better end product and I would have preferred 9 or 10 Fremm (our version of course) than 6 T45’s. We just cannot continue down the highly specialised route anymore.

        For the 13 aegir based assets these are in addition to the Tides and will replace all amphibs (5), Argos, Waves(2) and Forts(3) – My view is 8 Tides – 9 JALS (Karel Doorman as always).

        For me we could do far worse than just building T31 using the current T23 hullform and get BMT or Spartan to configure. I am sure that is probably the easiest way to get around what is becoming pretty messy.

        But ultimately we need an 80 or so strong navy that is blue water and those are the parts I would invest in if it were my choice. Sadly it is not.

        £3.5bn per annum gets us this – but we need to commit to that spend every single year and index it.

        • Well to be fair Horizon class is the equivalent to T45 and they seem to be 1-1.5B Euros each so perhaps its fair to say the entire program for all three countries was a disaster cost wise. FREMM came along later and doesn’t have the high performance radars or larger number of VLS cells of the dedicated AAW T45/Horizon platform. I am with you though that the T26 should be the basis for the T45 replacement and it shouldn’t give up ASW capability at the same time.

          I’ve seen the proposal to reuse the T23 design before but I suspect its not that simple. These were designed in the 80’s, so I suspect they had little if any CAD design and even if they did could the software still be run on an existing computer system today? That aside so much would have to change on a 40 year old design and it would almost certainly cost way more than T31 target costs such that a cost reduced T26 would probably make more sense at that stage.

          • I believe the stated cost of a FREMM was 680m Euros. Never seen it priced over the Billion. But even if it was, it has lots of additional capability the T45 doesn’t and although Sampson may be amazing it costs less than £20m so doesn’t impact the cost as much as perhaps people are misled into believing.

          • My 1-1.5B Euros wasn’t for FREMM it was for the Horizon class that France and Italy produced, while the UK did T45, all fundamentally the same design, hence my comment using apple-to-apples comparison. As to radars, its not just Sampson but also the S1850. The FREMMs also have 16x Sylver cells while T45/Horizon have 48x A50 VLS with room for expansion, then there’s gun systems, power plant, displacement etc., it all adds up.

            I’m not trying to justify T45, just pointing out FREMM vs. T45 isn’t apples-to-apples. There is certainly a question as to whether we need an AAW destroyer in future versus AAW frigate.

  6. The first Type 31 will be replacing a current Type 23, so as much recycling of weapons and sensors as possible (4.5 in, sea ceptor etc). ASM, I would prioritize the Type 26 and Type 45 first, ‘fitted for but not with’ for the Type 31 to keep the price down. The later addition of the Type 26/45 solution, or fitted as needed for the assigned role. ASW is going to be tricky, we need the hulls, but its unlikely that the Type 31 will be built ‘quiet’ enough to be effective ASW hunter. The ability to house an ASW helicopter is likely all we will get for a general purpose Batch 1 frigate. ASW potential might come with a Batch 2 design. Sell off the Batch 1 and build a mix of GP and ASW Batch 2’s for the RN?

    • I agree, build cheap first batch purely for patrol duties, donated guns radar etc.
      Then order batch two that has a reasonable asw capability and with more teeth for around £400 million each. But keep both batches, our commonwealth recruits may have filled the gaps by then!
      I have heard on here before that the Leander may well have decent asw potential with the right bits bolted on. If so, maybe this is the best way to go especially now the option of the arrowhead 140 is gone. Both options will be around the same size, and I would bet on BAE to produce the better asw platform with all their prior knowledge.

    • It worth keeping in mind that future ASW could be done with unmanned systems, T31 would become the mother ship deploying then waiting rather than towing around sonars. Traditional levels of dampening may not be required.

  7. Does anyone know the approximate cost to procure a new modern box launched asm such as the Norwegian offering in enough numbers for all our escorts and maybe some to arm other platforms when required. We have to get a modern effective offering on our ships!
    I just can’t see say 20 sets of box launchers plus 160 missiles to get us started costing that much. Let’s say £1 mill per missile and £10 mill per launcher, that’s £360 million plus fitting and integration costs. One would hope we could and should be able to do it this side of £500 mill, but I guess you can guarantee industry would want billions and billions.

  8. ” Government cancels frigate programme” From some of what I’ve just read here you could be forgiven for thinking that was the announcement. Come on guys. Daniele wants ten and so do I. Let’s see what we can do!
    Mind you, if Brexit is b….d up in Parliament and it leads to Corbyn and Co. getting in we might all be praying for rowing boats.

    • Problem is Geoffrey. No matter what sort of deal, good or bad, the government reach, most of Parliament will want to block it. Why else do they want a 2nd vote?

      I’d have thought many would have jumped at today’s announcement as it’s a soft brexit. It’s not just brexiteers up in arms it’s all of them.

      Democracy well and truly stuffed in this country.

  9. Is it just me or does everyone else puke when you hear the MOD say ” to grow our Royal Navy”……aaaaaaaaagh stop it, just stop it, you aren’t growing it, ever, you are just replacing stuff with less effective stuff! Rant over, sorry.

    • “Let’s hope common sense prevails.”

      You do realize we’re talking about government? Government and common sense = false.

      • I will put T31 into perspective. I have just read somewhere else something that at some level I must have known, that the USN has 6000 (six thousand) launch tubes capable of launching TLAM. And we are hoping that T31 may get a main gun.

        We need to ask what T31 is for? If as it seems we are committed to the Gulf for the next 2 decades I would build for the Gulf. I would build 3 to make sure we have a realistic budget. I would buy the Leander stretched corvette.

        If it is meant to serve globally. Then the project isn’t worth it. I would build an additional T26 and call it good. We have additional 2087 sets to allow us to do this.

        We need to stop [email protected] around. 🙂

        • I agree, I see a need for 5 or 6 t 31 as it has limited use. However given the expense of T45 and T26 we do need it for mid level tasks.

          Assuming it can handle the heavy sea state it is fine for APT(s)
          APT(n) is probably better handled by large RFA unit with a LPD or FSS during the hurricane season but T31 would be fine for half the year.

          That would require 4.5 vessels to fully cover those roles. No doubt the Arrowhead 140 is the better design but looking at how much they cost Denmark with blocks being built in Eastern European yards they will probably cost us double the budget. At which point we may as well just add more T26.

          That leaves the 8 Type 26’s providing 1 vessel for the RFTG and one on patrol in the North Atlantic for towed array work and maybe one forward deployed in Bahrain which you could do with 8. That would leave 1 T45 with the RFTG and 1 T45 spare on average with T31 T26 and T45 all splitting the FRE role depending on availability. Not much point in sending T31 to the gulf as there are already plenty of better armed OPV’s there already and its a potentially high threat environment requiring T45 and T26.

          • Absalon’s cost $230 million with hand me down weapons in 2005. That today in pounds is about £320 million. And Arrowhead has twice the machinery and as you say Danes built both Abaslon’s and IH in East European yards. So are we looking at £400 million? £450 million? Let say we build 3 Arrowhead it becomes a bit of an orphan class though it does make up numbers as long as it has SeaCeptor and ASW capability, if not it is an over priced OPV. We would be better building 3 Leander for Gulf use alone. Or as I said build a T26. You can’t lump T45 in as an ‘escort’; no ASW, not an escort.

            And really is Leander the best choice for the Gulf anyway?

            T26 is a know quantity. 9 would give us 3. One for APT(N) / TAPS / FRE, one to follow the carrier about, and one for Gulf / East of Suez. And for the T45 one to play missile ship for the carrier. And the other one to go where we need a ship…..

            The balloon isn’t going up anytime soon so we need not worry.

  10. Reading the various comments above, I’m left wondering what are the wartime mission requirements that the Type 31e is supposed to cover, epecially if serious ASW capability is lacking?

    It seems to me that there is a clear danger of producing a ship which is overspecified for constabulary duties, but which lacks offensive punch against peer/near peer adversaries.

    We are already on course to have only 8 hulls with serious ASW capability despite even official acceptance that the submarine threat is increasing -even developing countries are now buying advanced SSKs. Given the need for ASW cover for 1 carrier group, plus Trident protection, mission availablity for T26s for other purposes is going to be minimal. I would argue that ASW for Type 31e should be a core capability.

    • The problem Trevor is that inbuilt anti submarine capability will push the price point way past £250 million per unit.

      We need to add dipping sonar to the wildcat and cheaper towed array options to the T31…

      A good all round capability needs to be available, the prospective design needs to be able to slug it out on its own and win through.

      Looks like it’s going to be a 4,000 ton design, based on the cost constraints, I think that’s a huge mistake personally, but it’s still possible to build a capable vessel at that tonnage

      • Or just make it Merlin flight deck and hanger capable and leave it fitted for but not with towed array. The main thing is to ensure they have some form of electric drive system but this could just be in the form of space for large batteries to operate along side the diesel engines if needed in future.

        This way the ship can be outfitted for ASW work and towed array in future if required.

        If they are fitted for but not with mk41 launch capability and maintain the same radar and combat system as the T26 then they can be rapidly boosted up to use any Anti ship missile the T26 take on in future as well as any land attack of ant submarine missile T26 uses.

        The main focus has to be to get 5 of them armed with 76mm gun and sea ceptor and build in sufficient capability for acoustic reduction for future if required.

    • To be honest I don’t think it will remain say £250million.

      The program will overrun as they all do. But with 250million as the start point at least if it overruns into £350milion or so that’s still about 1/3 the cost of a T26 or T45.

      It’ll be a lot of build for but not with to keep costs down, so even if the ships still remain at £250million, the overall cost once weapons etc are added would be more like £350-400million. MoD then expected to purchase the rest itself.

      • Khareef was delivered for 140 million just a few years ago and it was more heavily armed than T31. Its certainly possible if BAE are not involved and the MOD does not do its normal tinkering.

  11. There are a lot of heavily armed small combatants out there nowadays. The T31 needs to be well armed IAW its mission. Which I assume is forward presence, patrol, and localized sea control. It NEEDS to be at least as well armed as whatever it meets in its peer class. Even the USN’s LCS are finally getting armament upgrades so they doesn’t get laughed at by most of Asia’s small combatants which are literally armed to the teeth. It IS possible to get a lot of bang for the buck and here’s an example which has always been one of my favorites in terms of “punching above its weight”. The Sa’ar V built by Northrop Grumman for the IDF.


    • Wow, certainly shows what can be fitted into a small ship – 64 vls, 8 Lr asm, 8 Sr asm, 6 torpedo tubes and a CIWS or 76mm gun.
      So a Israeli corvette out guns even our biggest and most expensive. Says it all.

      • Is that a case of totally different function leading to a different spec? RN ships deploy globally so require more space for fuel, food, stores, crew living quarters, plus have to cope with the North Atlantic, not the eastern Med coast?

        • The Sa’ar V’s have routinely deployed out of area for exercises and missions. You make a good point about stores but by stretching the hull to say – 300 ft (20ft more) you could solve any storage problems. The vessels have plenty of endurance (4000 nm). These vessels are less corvettes than full short hull frigates. I wish the USN had taken a look at the design for the FFGX. They were pretty cheap too as I recall. You could buy 3 of these for every 1 AB for the price.

          Best of all from a USN standpoint, they were built by Huntington Ingalls in MS where half our surface fleet (ABs, LHAs, LHD’s CG cutters etc) are already built. My point here is, a lot of armament can be fitted into a small space if well designed and planned. The T31 could be armed to similar specs and would be a truly capable warship if the political will existed.



  12. Think the type 31 should use surplus 4.5 from retired 42/22’s that gives 6 guns to start with and if you look back in history with most classes of RN ships they have always stared off lacking kit or reused old kit from retired vessels.
    This was always going to be a ship that broke BAE’s hold on the ship building industry hiking up the price for each class £billions for small classes of ships.
    Even the most sucesful class of ship the Leander class type 12m started life with a gun,sea cat missile, limbo mortars and not much else but was upgraded over the years and that was on a small hull without much crew comfort
    Just an opinion mind

  13. We have to remember when talking about ‘escorts’ that we are actually dropping from 18 ships capable of defending other vessels down to 14. The T31 will not likely be capable of escorting anything and should be known as the ‘Global Patrol Ship’.
    I am only happy for these to be lightly armed ships if they have asw quietening and potential for the asw kit to be fitted. Now that we have the carriers to protect, very few T26 will ever be available for independent asw work and we have to have a platform that can fill in.
    To my mind, a high low mix only will not work, we actually need a high (high end and carrier work), medium (with moderate aaw and asw capable of escorting amphibious or task groups), and low (patrol only). If not, we simply don’t have the resources to cover everything. Therefore we need to batches of T31, first 5 low, another 5 medium. But then you ask yourself if the low is patrol only, why not just order 5 more long range Rivers with a hanger for say £150 million a pop and make the T31 a proper medium capability frigate for around £350-400 million.
    Current plan 5×250 plus follow on order of 5×250 = £2.5 billion. 5×150 plus 5×400 = £2.75 billion.
    So for £250 million extra over say 10years we get adequate patrol vessels and actual frigates. See my point?

    • ‘carrier strike group’ always troubles me. It disturbs me more when I hear it out of the mouths of service personnel. The QE are large, multiple purpose aviation support ships. If we were operating 60 FJ and fixed wing AEW from a carrier then we would have a strike carrier capability.

      ‘The potential deployment from T31e of unmanned or autonomous underwater systems for mine clearance could even remove the need for a dedicated MCMV in some situations. ‘ If we had something as large as a torpedo that can sanitise several square miles of sea floor successfully we are probably at the point where warships have had their day.

      Did I miss the phrase ‘mission bay’ in there……..?

      The best boat to fight for the littorals is the helicopter with fixed wing in support.

    • Interesting read. Suggests Type 31 is conceived neither as a poor man’s T26 nor a souped up OPV but rather for littoral combat roles.

      • “A Ship’s A Fool To Fight A Fort” – something the USN never took aboard with the littoral combat ship.

        There is a reason why the RN got out of the FAC game, the helicopter.

        I would say that the coastal submarine would be a better.

  14. If you assume and it is a big IF, the views are anywhere close to correct, then you are looking at a spec of:- Artisan, Wildcat, Sea Ceptor, 2x30mm, Phalanx and the BAE/Bofors 57mm rather than the Babcock/OtoMelara 75mm and that’s it. The US LCSs would set the precedent.

    • Needs a LRASM similar to the Kongsberg NSM going on the LCS. All you need is a bolt on launcher and fire control with a sensor tie in.


    • In general I would agree with that list. Artisan is meant to be good for cluttered littoral work; the 57mm is also probably better suited against inshore mobile targets than the 4.5in or the Oto 76mm. Wildcat with its Seaspray radar, Sea Martlet and Sea Venom would make for a very large sea control radius; probably over 100 miles. FAC would be toast. I think the idea would be to take the mast off a peer enemy frigate before it gets close enough to launch an AShM. Also I think Sea Martlet has the ability to strike targets up to light armour on land. As regards Yemeni rebels with Chinese Exocet type missiles and unmanned suicide small boats, if you have Sea Ceptor, mini guns, 30mm and a 57mm could you economise and leave out Phalanx?
      The requirements doc says fitted for bow sonar but I would include if from fhe get go.

  15. I think Leander will be the chosen design for the Type 31e and they will be built by Cammell Lairds. I think we will get a second batch of 3 for a total of 8, and I think we will have success with it in the export market.

    I think the 3 solid support ships will be assembled at Rosyth. I think the government will want to be seen to support British industry for once. Also Rosyth will soon be out of work when the carrier work finishes so they need this. Rosyth is more suited to build large ships in any case with its large dry dock and overhead crane so it will be a win/win.

  16. I think the current government will start promising anything so that the next one looks utterly terrible when it reprioritises and retracts funding.

    …such are British politics 🙂

    • I don’t think the MoD are too interested in outfitting Typhoon with an anti-ship missile. Is one destined for F35b?

      In the past I wondered about two-seater Typhoon with conformal tanks carrying AShM.

  17. I am concerned about budgets. I think core of the RN future escort fleet is 8 T26. I do agree T31e has its own rationale, but if cut are to come, it shall not be T26 but T31.

    I think T31 contract must come AFTER SDSR2020, and better be even after the contract of 5 remaining T26s.

    A few frigates would be gapped, but because of man power issue, I think there is ZERO impact to the fleet operation.

  18. A
    Frigate factory: 6 x T26, 6 x T45 replacement, then 3x stretched T26 cruiser if independent operations. 1 every 18 month over 25 years, £750 million per year.

    Small yard: 10 River class patrol boats, 10 medium T31 with aaw and asw abilities, plus 3 hydrographic ships based on T31. 1 per year, average cost £300 million per year:

    Large yard: 2 LPD, 2LPH, 6 tankers, 4 FSS, 2 artic vessels, 8 adaptable multi purpose/ amphib ships. 1 per year, average spend £500 million per year.

    Submarine yard: 10 astute replacement, 4 Boomers, 6 -8 smaller subs for training and home water protection. 1 per 12-15 months, £2 billion average spend per year.

    Small boat yard: not sure on this requirement, but say £50 per annum.

    Total cost £3.6 billion per annum and allows for a significant uplift in numbers.

    So that would equate to exactly 10% of our budget. Let’s say we give each arm of our forces the same for new kit, we would then be spending £10 billion on new kit, allow £10 billion for manning costs, £10 billion on maintenance and sustainment.
    Remaining £6-10 billion on cyber, intel and R&D.
    Is this a fair model that is achievable or is more required in other areas?

    • That is the model I have been working on for over 3 years and I do this type of stuff for a living with global companies.

      The MOD is misleading the public on what it is spending money on.

      The MOD is making the mistakes of an organisation stuck in the past, without the required completion to make it evolve, nothing new here, look at our tanks and warships at the start of WW2 and how they were a long way off the pace. Same applies today

      Time to give the forces an equipment budget: Navy £3.5bn, RAF £5bn, Army £2bn, ISTAR/Cyber £1bn, Logistics £0.5bn

      Manning costs need to increase to £15bn – as that is the biggest cost, but that still leaves £10bn for ops,maintenance and support

      Really – this is basic accounting and organisational skills – it does not require massive change it does require clarity of purpose, focus and a forceful figure to implement

      Nick Cater ( I wasted £mmmm’s on FRES promote me) is not that person and sadly is another indicator of system that is rotten to the core

      • What always amazes me is there always some missing ‘X factor’ that they can’t quite explain why one platform is the preference to another when the choice is between 3 near identical platforms already in service in peer forces around the world. That’s what got me with FRES. The market is awash with 8×8’s, 6×6’s, and 4×4’s yet they couldn’t just pick one. I came to the conclusion that all the money for the VIP’s is in the ‘buggering about phase’ and the longer they keep it going the more money they make. Now it isn’t a lot of money as part of the whole program, but it is a lot of money when split between a few. The defence industry is about the defence industry not defence of the state.

    • Land forces Budget excluding equipment and pensions is £7 billion RAF is £3 and navy £2 then there is about £18 billion a year for equipment purchase and maintainance.

      Your Budget is only achievable with a significant further reduction in land forces.

      • I think you need to do the budget differently, as I just dont believe we are spending £18bn per annum on equipment.

        Essentially the split is £15bn on People, £12bn on Equipment and £10-15bn on maintenance and support (why £10-15bn – depends which figures you use).

        It really should be any more difficult than that and that’s how many successful organisations work out how to get funds to where they are needed.

    • I do agree with your orbat choices, but I agree wholeheartedly that the cheapest way for us to maintain the navy was to continually build ships. New Labour’s disruption of submarine production was an act of treason; one wonders if submarines were built on the Clyde and not in Barrow would this have happened?

      • Sorry Steve but that’s nonsense. New Labour never gaped submarine production, it was the Tory’s in the 1990’s with one of the last act’s of the Major government being to purchase Astute a move Labour continued to support and then Osborne in 2010.

  19. What is the fixation with a towed array by some posters?
    You don’t need a tail on a GP Frigate. They are good on a dedicated Sub hunter in open water but in say the Gulf a tail is of little value as the water is not deep enough and the water environmental’s are very poor.
    Keep it simple and get a S2050 or equivalent active set. T22 had it and T23 have it and believe me its a bloody good active set with optional extras available for mine warning capability amongst other things..
    Paired with a Wildcat that is carrying Sting Ray it would be a capable ASW platform with active sonar capabilities on par with the vessels its replacing.

    • I blame the RN suddenly deciding that Type 23’s come into variants, ASW (with 2087) and GP (sans 2087). That all our ‘moden’ escorts have been ‘general purpose’ since the first Type 12(M) entered the oggin seems to have past the MoD(N) by. That’s why refuse to call Type 45 an ‘escort’. Type 42 with 2050 did really well at ASW. The discussions get sillier when comparisons are made with say Burke’s. Yes, T23 are quieter than Burke, but that doesn’t make the Burke a poor ASW platform, it is just T23 is very, very quiet. Then that Chinese submarine is mentioned, but nobody thinks that it was the USN’s interest to say they didn’t know it was there……………

    • I don’t think towed array is a fixation, more of a desire to have something that can be more than just a GP frigate, with more flexibility to address a much more sophisticated threat than has existed in the past and in greater numbers in the form of AIP. Seems like Captas 1 or 2 exist for this purpose/price point especially with the flexibility for containerized deployment? The Gulf seems to be an extremely special case to use as an example against use of a tail, there are plenty of other places in the world with potentially higher levels of submarine threat.

      • The Arabian Gulf has an average depth deeper than the South China Sea. Littorals are tricky for all manner of reasons.

        TAS does appear to be a fixation with the collective here.

        As I said all escorts are GP, or in the case of T45 should be. That is have some AAW, ASW, ASuW, and EW capability. I don’t think there is a need to cover the fifth domain…….

        A T23 has a first rate ASW if it has 2087 (though it could be argued that is propulsion design makes it a fist rate ASW. It could be argue that having a Merlin aboard is a first rate capability too, but that can only be cued by 2087 and 2050. I would say the minimum for a second rare capabiltuy would be a hull mounter sonar (such as 2050) and STWS and perhaps anti-submarine missile / “dumb” helicopter. That is what T42 had for is ASW. T42 had a first rate AAW capability in that SeaDart had long range and could prosecute crossing targets. T23 only had a SeaWolf a PDMS which was / is an excellent system; I would say SeaCeptor is only a second rate system now because SeaViper is absolutely phenomenal; SeaCeptor has ability to prosecute crossing targets and I think the extended range version can reach out to what 25km (which is far less than SeaDart.)

        Remember the RN fielded second rate frigates T14 Blackwood class which were were too limited for the day especially in terms of AAW and speed. Though at the time even cruisers and destroyers were struggling to carry weapons that could be used against jets. Really the first system RN had which could do that was SeaDart about what 25 years after WW2. There was also a plan just after the war to build a class of third rate gun frigates to tackle FAC in the North Sea.

        To be honest it all seems rather straight forward. As I said above it the RN’s fault for labelling the T23 without 2087 GP.

        • One of your points there re a/s missile is why the RN never went for ASROC.
          I remember Ikara as the nearest equivalent but that was dropped.
          T26 will have the launchers so in theory it is an option again. Any views?

  20. By that definition a T22 without a tail was a second rate frigate. Exocet, SeaWolf, CRW guns and two lynx helos.
    VL seawolf extended the engagement range (but not by much) but during shoots on both T22 and T23s it was a very good system that for the most part hit what it was shot at.I say for the most part because a peacetime shoot is a very controlled evolution and you dont let the system go Auto/Auto. You control the target profile and engagement criteria to get the most data from the shoot for analysis. Missiles cost 250k ish each so you dont want to waste them. Sometimes post analysis the data says you missed even though the missile exploded and the target was shredded.

    There is more to towed array than bolting on a winch. 2087 required a major rework of a T23 power supply system to power it. You cannot just run an extension lead and plug 600V into a bit of new kit.

    To make ships quiet costs. Double raft mounts, enclosures for DGs, mounting everything else on rafts, using isolating couplings to the hull, installing a self noise and vibration monitoring system… heck why not go for Praire Masker as well …It all costs.

    Now you need manpower for said towed array. To man a watch on a set 24/7 is going to need at least 10 people. Add to that the people needed to put the tail in/out because that in itself is a major seaman ship evolution…even with automation and of course you then need to maintain the equipment. Suddenly by adding a tail your crew has increased by at least 10 and possibly 15 people who now need extra beds, messing arrangement, spares on board stowage, training, ancillary equipment support.

    • None of that is a revelation to me.

      You were having problem with TAS. I just carried the conversation on.

      The deciding factor should be, does the platform carry a system that has an area effect?

  21. I have been reading the comments and some of them are really interesting, especially those from Pacman.
    I agree that the MoD and in general needs to do more and to sort this mess out. To do that they must clarify what it is they want to achieve and why.
    To achieve this I think the government needs to ask two questions which strangely enough if they have any logic will lead to one basic question.
    Should I start with the two questions or the basic one?
    Lets start with the two as this is where I started,
    1. What are the Armed Forces for?
    2. Why do we need, the Army, the Royal Navy or the RAF?
    It was when I was thinking about question 2 that I came across the basic question,
    What type of nation needs a Navy?
    If we make the basic presumption that all nations are defensive in their mindset then we can actually understand the needs of a nation and see if that nation is aggressive or defensive in its military build out.
    So does the USA, China and Russia really need a navy? The answer is No, their land masses are to big to invade, control or police. They have enough natural resources to be self sufficient and they do not need to rely on international trade to survive.
    Does countries such as France of Germany, nations with both land and sea borders do they need a navy, well only in the case where they have got a situation where one of the border types have been cut off.
    Island nations such as the UK and Japan that relies on the sea for its survival, these nations cannot feed themselves and do not have the natural resources for there basic industries.
    So by answering the basic question two things show up,
    1. For the USA, China and Russia a blue water fleet is a luxury that they do not need and can be seen as an aggressive military force as it is not needed for defence. Whilst for the UK and Japan the navy is for the survival of the country.
    2. If the navy is for the survival of the country that is where most of the defence expenditure should be invested.
    This procedure could be applied to the Army and RAF as well, if you do it for the Army you will find that it is the inverse of the Navy, as for the Air Force answering the question would even explain what type of aircraft you need.
    Some will argue that with NATO etc this argument fails but you cannot be sure that allies will come to your aid when needed, the Falklands is a perfect example of missing allies.
    Now to the ships themselves, well does the RN have enough surface and sub surface vessels to carry out the tasks and to defend our nation as well as her overseas protectorates. The answer is a simple no.
    The UK has responsibilities to its overseas territories such as the Falkland Isles, Gibraltar etc. The nation has treaty agreements such as NATO, areas of interest and power projection be that soft or hard. Some could say that the UK would never find itself in a war without allies again. That is not certain, it was an argument that was used in the 1970s yet we found ourselves facing Argentina. So, we must always be prepared for conflict with a nation of equal size as I am sorry to say the world is unstable and no-one knows what will happen.
    It can be then seen the basic tasks for the Royal Navy are apparent.
    1. To protect the Exclusive Economic Zone of the UK and her overseas dependencies. After the UK leaves the EU this will become even more important. The EEZ area of the UK and her dependencies is the 5th largest in the world at 6,805,586 km2, these waters are of national importance due to its resources, fish, oil, gas etc, and the possibility of illegal activities. This does not include the Antarctic region. Yet, to defend this vast area we have only 5 Border Patrol Cutters, 5 Offshore Patrol Vessels, one of which is undergoing repair before she has even been operational, 3 Scottish Fisheries Vessels and no Maritime Surveillance capability. This means that there is if all vessels are at sea one vessel for every 165,349km2 and no support aircraft. Yes, the RAF will get 9 P-8A Poseidon aircraft to be based in Scotland which will be operational by 2020 which will help, but they cannot inspect a fishing vessel illegally fishing or stop a potential drug running vessel. So is it time to look at more Offshore patrol vessels and possibly some helicopter equipped corvettes.
    2. a. To protect the shipping lanes/ freedom of navigation on behalf of the UK and her dependencies.
    b. Protecting sea lanes as part of a coalition or NATO in times of conflict.
    To carry out these tasks the future of the Royal Navy seems confused if HM Government fulfils the projected construction programs promised. The current surface fleet of the Royal Navy is in a poor condition, with one new aircraft carrier undergoing trials and the second in the construction phase there is no air support for the surface fleet. The 13 Type 23 frigates have gone beyond there expected replacement schedules and although are being updated they are old. Also, it appears that two of these vessels are to be decommissioned, leaving 11 frigates. The Type 45 destroyers are good platforms but are also in need of major refits due to powerplant issues. Some of there vertical launch missile outfit still has not been fitted. At the moment only three of the new Type 26 frigates have been ordered with everyone waiting for the following promised five and as for the promised minimum of five Type 31s to start operations by 2023, that seems to have gone very quiet.
    However, is a Carrier Battle Group useful to protect the sea lanes, No. That is the task of frigates, corvettes and possibly an escort carrier. Here it appears that the building plans do not meet the requirements of the nation her dependencies or her treaty obligations. It does appear that an increase in the Type 31 frigate is needed with again corvettes and possibly a smaller aircraft/helicopter carrier type vessel.
    3. Treaty obligations notably NATO. This is well defined with a defined area of operations, the North Atlantic and Europe. The tasks are to control the sea lanes, hinder or destroy enemy submarines and surface vessels, reinforce Norway and to support Allied land forces in Europe, as well as defending UK/European airspace. Using all conventional arms at the disposal of the United Kingdom. The question then is, does the UK have enough conventional forces to carry out this task? During the period of what is known as the Cold War the first line of defence for the North Atlantic Trade routes was the SOSUS line backed up by submarines and maritime surveillance aircraft. By the end of the USSR the responsibilities of the Royal Navy were the same as they are in 2018, However, the RN had to complete the task an early warning system in SOSUS, 31 submarines not including the SSBNs, 4 squadrons of Nimrud’s plus a reserve squadron (40 aircraft) and 20 frigates in service, 3 undergoing trials and four in the construction phase. What do we have now, well no SOSUS, no maritime surveillance aircraft, 13 frigates but only 8 with a variable depth sonar and 7 submarines.
    So, my question is this, does the British government think that the threat has reduced, has the area of ocean that needs to be controlled got smaller? As far as I am aware the Atlantic is the Atlantic, the UK-Iceland-Greenland gap is still the same. With a resurgent Russian Navy with over 20 fourth generation nuclear submarines can the 7 Astute class keep them at bay?
    The answer is No. With an Astute escorting a Carrier Battle Group, and Amphibious Landing Group an SSBN escort and one in refit that leaves three. Can these close the GAP, yes but what the UK government has done is taken a very good attack platform and made it into a defence platform. The Astute class was not designed to defend but to attack, more specifically to destroy enemy SSBNs, then anything else that would be of interest.
    It could be said that Norway and the US would help, but if the government would understand that Norway has a coastline greater than the USA and only 6 submarines built in the 1990s and the US could have their hands full in the Pacific notably with Russia, and an aggressive China, can help be relied on?
    4. Assistance to our overseas protectorates, friendly nations, anti-drug and anti-piracy patrols.
    The Royal Navy operates at a global level and carries out several tasks of international importance. Two of these tasks is the anti-drug patrols mostly in the Caribbean and the anti-piracy patrols in the Indian Ocean. However, is it the best use of a £500 million -£1 billion national asset to chase a skiff with four men and an AK-47. If these assets are not available, then we use Assault ships that don’t have the speed to get to the area quick enough. So again, it seems that we have either the very capable frigates and destroyers or very large Amphibious ships to do a job that none of them are designed for. It would appear to me that the concept of the Type 31 suits this purpose well but as I have said everything has gone very quiet on that front. The other question would be is five enough? Not really.
    With forward deployment and the areas of economic interest a minimum of of 12 T31e’s would be needed. The deployment areas would be 3 for Falklands-Caribbean, 3 Gibraltar-Cyprus, 3 Indian Ocean and 3 in the UK either undergoing refit or supporting the OPVs. This then would leave the T26’s T45s’ to act in there role as Carrier escorts, Amphibious escorts refits etc.
    Can this be achieved, as Pacman27 said yes for a build out plan that will cost about 3.5 billion per year over a period of time it can. It would also mean that UK shipbuilding will be on a stable footing and costs would be reduced. It is also possible that nations will take the UK more seriously if the nation was better prepared. It should be remembered that the Falkland conflict only happened because Argentina thought that the UK had lost interest in the Islands due to the defence cuts. The other issue is this, the RN has to be ready for war at all times, you cannot just get a new frigate or destroyer next week they take years to build, so the numbers you have are the ones that you have got and that’s it.

  22. The Leander design is growing on me, however the 2 features I would like to see is a bigger missile bay at the front that blends in with the superstructure. I think that might allow for strike length as well? And I would like to see a stern deck big enough to deploy at least a Pacific 24 ideally a lcvp or at least be able to load an lcvp. I am hoping that the sonar can come across from type 23. For me the wildcat needs enhancement in asw. Other than that it looks ok although still would like to see something nearer arrowhead 140 if possible utilising the venator design. I can’t understand other than internal company politics as to why the BMT design wasn’t worked on especially when there were noises that it fitted the bill.

    • I suspect that Leander is now the favourite with the RN, because there is a clear differentiation between it and the Type 26 in capabilities. The Arrowhead 140 is closer in size and displacement to the T26, and if it could be built for anywhere near the £250m budget (a big ‘if’), there is a danger that the government will decide that we can simply build those instead of the rest of the T26 hulls.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here