It is currently envisioned that the Type 32 Frigate will be “a platform for autonomous systems”.

Kevan Jones, MP for North Durham,a sked in a Parliamentary written question:

“To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, when the Government plans to announce further details of the components of a Type 32 Frigate.”

Jeremy Quin, Minister of State for Ministry of Defence, answered:

“The programme and procurement strategy for Type 32 will be decided following the concept phase, which has not yet been launched.

Further work is required to develop the operational concept however it is envisioned that Type 32 will be a platform for autonomous systems, adding to the Navy’s capabilities for missions such as anti-submarine warfare and mine countermeasures.”

Quin also added that the number of ships in the class will be determined by the requirements placed on Defence by the Government, and the outcome of the development work on the operational concept.

The new Type 32 Frigate – What do we know?

Parliament has taken a keen interest in the procurement of the new warships and the Commons Library has published several briefing papers on this topic, this following is sourced from them.

What are the Royal Navy’s current plans?

The Royal Navy’s existing fleet of thirteen Type 23 frigates will begin to leave service on an annual basis from 2023.

Frigates can be used in a variety of roles, including warfighting, maritime security, counter piracy and international engagement. Some vessels are designed for a specialist anti-submarine warfare role with a quiet hull.

The Type 23 Frigates will be replaced by two new types of frigate:

Type 26 frigates

These will replace the specialist anti-submarine warfare (ASW) Type 23 frigates currently in service.

The Ministry of Defence has committed to buying eight Type 26 frigates and signed a contract for the first three in July 2017. The ships will be built at BAE Systems’ shipyards on the Clyde. The first in the City Class, HMS Glasgow, has an in-service date of 2027. The MOD says it expects to sign a contract for the second batch of five Type 26 frigates in the early 2020s.

Type 31 frigates

These will be general-purpose frigates to replace the non-ASW Type 23s. The MoD signed a contract with Babcock for five ships in November 2019. Manufacture will begin in 2021 with an in-service date of 2027. The overall programme cost is expected to be £2bn.

Surprise frigates?

The Government made a similar surprise announcement about frigates in the previous defence review, the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR), in 2015. Rather than confirming the expected build of 12 Type 26 frigates, the Government announced plans for eight Type 26s, supported by five new general-purpose frigates (the Type 31s).

The SDSR said:

“We will also launch a concept study and then design and build a new class of lighter, flexible general purpose frigates so that by the 2030s we can further increase the total number of frigates and destroyers.”

The Prime Minister’s announcement of the new Type 32 frigates comes in the context of the current defence review.

The 19th of  November statement on the integrated review also announced the review’s work would conclude in early 2021 and informed the House of Commons of its “first outcome”: an increase in defence spending of £24.1bn over the next four years.

What is the origin of the Type 32?

The first mention of a new Type 32 frigate came in the Prime Minister’s 19 November statement. He said: “We are going to develop the next generation of warships, including multi-role research vessels and Type 32 frigates.”

The Type 32 was not mentioned in the Government’s 2017 shipbuilding strategy, which overhauled the way the MOD procures warships for the Royal Navy. Nor was it mentioned in the review of the strategy published in November 2019.

Early speculation suggests they could be ‘batch II’ Type 31s, but not necessarily based on the Type 31 design. Several MPs have tabled questions on the Type 32. More information may be provided in the integrated review or in the update to the 30-year Naval Ship Acquisition Plan, due to be published after the integrated review.

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James Fennell

ASW and MCM are both ‘warfighting’ rather than maritime security roles. So a frigate designed from the outset to use off-board autonomous systems as its main sensors and weapon systems? The RN has carried out multiple experiments with XLUUVs, USVs, UAVs for surveilance and weapons delivery, swarming drones and has a new autonomus MCM system. Interesting times. The ships could host: XLUUVs with towed array sonars and able to carry smaller UUVs to deliver torpedos Swarms of small drones able to carry our surveillance and deliver weapons such as a torpedos and small anti-surface missiles (e.g. Martlet) Larger VSTOL UAVs… Read more »

Last edited 3 months ago by James Fennell
john melling

To do all that and have the usual standard equipment we will need a bigger class of ship They said “mother ship” so to me it needs to be a much larger dedicated vessel A T31/32 would at minimum need to be a stretched version As an example ORCA XLUUV is 15 metres long How many of those will we need ? on top of other USV, UAV, weapons, personnel and everything else… I posted in the last weeks T32 thread with saying along the same lines At best I think a stretched T31\T32 could act as a “host” for… Read more »

john melling

*Correction on the ORCA its longer


I cant see a need to be able to move something that big in a surface ship (defined by what w me build in numbers vs capital ships). Something like that stick it in a dock ship to get to theatre then leave it there. Or use a barge/flo flo for tpt. Once the unmanned vehicle gets to the size and endurance of these XLUUVs, why try and squeeze it onto/into a mothership? Let it operate from a base of some kind with a handful of larger (amphib) ships able to do sea basing if needed but dont blow the… Read more »

john melling

Morning Operating from a base depends on its location in theatre so yes it will also be able to go from a naval base but it need to get there via transportation ;P But within the RNs, Expeditionary roles aka Littoral Response Groups then you are using them as part of Littoral Strike, raiding a shore line, to be able to push forward ULUUVs and other UUV,UAV capable of carrying and using weapons will be a part of the doctrine , They however only so much endurance! So a Littoral Operation Vehicle (LOV) much like the Point Class RO-RO as… Read more »


I think we are agreeing – I dont see that the frigate end should be transporting something like this (XLUUV) because that drives frigate size up too much, but yes amphibs and littoral “strike” (daft, prefer “operations”) ships that have docks/large scale accomodation and aviation are suitable. Alternatively given this isnt really an “entirely global drop of the hat” requirement and we can pretty much guess that the Med and Arabian Sea are 99% of likely usage – then forward basing it is quite feasible. The issue there is we dont seem to have scope for seperate “heavy” amphibs such… Read more »


The Damen Crossover (combatant) would be a good starting point, good Sern and side multi mission bay with both stern ramp and side launch abilities, good weapons fit Gun, Anti Air and Anti Ship, frigate speed and 5,500 tons all at a reasonable price. Able to carry 120+ RMs and with some mix and match with the Amphib variant two medium size helicopters in hangers. As well as a possible Towed Array. As I said it is a good starting point or a concept to be built on. If we did go down that route then it is possible that… Read more »


The Danish Absalon class is also a reasonable starting point with the added advantage of the existing relationship with T31. It also actually exists in built form, so with a bit of cooperation, many of the modular systems may be able to be pre-tested.


The RFA Bay-class ships have been seeing a lot of use as motherships for minehunting and other purposes. Perhaps we should build more Bay-class vessels and call them frigates?

Dave G

It doesn’t necessarily have to do it all at once… attached 1 to a carrier group with a couple of t26 it wouldn’t need asw but mcm would be a good addition. Attached a couple to a littoral group without t26, you could have 1 asw and 1 mcm.

john melling

Good point Dave, Attaching MCM to a present/future LSG, ASG or Carrier group is normal I’m guessing In future the T31 will be as proposed or can be forward based, so can providing extra support for the above groups But for me the new T32 design will hopefully not be the familiar “Frigate” shape Lets be inventive with ship designs and play with drones fair enough But MCM should be a dedicated MCM only platform with an ability for self defence not a ASW / AAW warfighting guns blazing ship. As I mentioned above as has Dave we can provide… Read more »


Let’s hope the focus is not fully on autonomous, as these systems are mainly just paper platforms and in the meantime the platform needs to be able to defend itself and fight back, which means it needs missiles and helicopters, both of which are in short supply and costly.

I wonder if these frigates are what has become of the littoral assault ships, just glossed up as a frigate. Effectively a mothership for other platforms.

john melling

The point class aka Littoral Operation Vehicle (LOV) for Littoral Strike missions are a brilliant idea and T31 and this new T32 “idea” would be a mixture as part of any expeditionary force

That’s why the point class is being looked at! but for a T32 to do the job hmm sorry not for me


OK. But will the Type 32 Frigate also be expected launch these autonomous vessels (storage capacity on board etc) or are the drone vessels expected to have the same range as the Type 32 to be able to shadow it?

Also, why wouldn’t this capability be made available to all HMS ships anyway?

Steve R

Probably will in future, but have to start somewhere. Type 32 will probably be a test bed for these systems.

Guaranteed that Type 4X destroyer, when it comes, will have at least some of these unmanned systems on board.


I would bet on the Type 45’s replacement being even bigger, steel is cheap after all! No, the main reason I predict that the ship will be bigger, is that the ship will operate a number of largish UAVs, but still require a manned helicopter, so a lot of space will be required for a larger hangar. The T4X will do the same job as the current T45, i.e. provide air defence for a task group. However, if she is protecting a small group and there is no carrier to provide AEW, they will have to rely on the ship’s… Read more »

Supportive Bloke

Last time we started discussing this and going into power and weight requirements our comments disappeared…..


This is the current problem, there are no UAV currently or in concept, big enough to replace merlin and carry what it does to do its missions. Also once they become big enough to do so, the cost will scale and complexity/maintenance will grow, resulting any savings from using UAV will be mainly lost.


Agreed. We did this originally with MATCH which became Wasp, because something that could move people and kit around was vastly more useful for a given level of spend (helipad/hangar, air vehicle, maintenance etc.) given that is about 95% of the taskings for shipborne helos. UAVs are an addition not replacement for helos, although arguably you could end up with a ASW specialised UAV just used when needed and a simpler utility helo for all the GP tasks. One issue is maintenance, having 2 different types of air vehicle on a ship is expensive in needing more people and more… Read more »


What’s the logic behind the numbering sequence for successive types: Type 23, Type 26, Type 31, Type 32?

Captain P Wash

To be honest mate, I’ve often wondered the same. We seem to skip a few, Type 24’s and 5’s seem to have passed through the net, as have Types 27, 28, 29 and 30. I’m guessing someone on here will soon offer some enlightenment !!!!


There is an article somewhere on the internet that details the proposed Type 24 and 25 that didn’t seem to go anywhere in the early 90’s. I think post the Falkland’s they just decided to build 1 decent frigate that could do everything and build lots of them rather than 3 different variants.
No idea how they jumped from T26 to T31 though unlss it was to differentiate more between ASW and GP.


T31 was created on think defence website – pretty arbitrarily really

Supportive Bloke

Post ’82 John Nott, the then Defence Secretary, thought you could do everything with small cheap ship and that big ships were ‘useless as they presented big targets’ and various other bits of rubbish along with aircraft carriers are useless because all aircraft will be shot down by missiles. So the other versions of the T23 were born. Thankfully that rubbish got shelved and we ended up with a pretty fully equipped T23 that has done the RN very well. Bear in mind that the cheapo though process did extend to the hull & machinery life of 18 years and… Read more »


I believe Type 27 was to have been a GP frigate to complement the Type 26, possibly using the same hull, but the plans changed and we got the Type 31 instead.

James Fennell

The current numbering system dates back to the early 1950s when the RN wanted a new family of fleet escorts. Type 1X for ASW, 4X AAW, 6X Aircraft Direction and 8X Multi-role. Type 1X became 2X when the numbers were used up. 3X is new – could either be a new ‘General Purpose’ category or a continuation of the ASW series. Probably the former.

Last edited 3 months ago by James Fennell

My thoughts exactly. The logic is likely that a 2X number would suggest a successor to T26 before its even built, and an 8X designation implies a follow-on to HMS Bristol as a big destroyer.

A new line of 3X vessels as spiritual successors to the Type 21s fits rather nicely: lighter frigates aimed at exportability.


If the T45’s had been fitted out as originally conceived with Harpoon, torpedo launchers and strike length VLS for Tomahawk then it would have been appropriate to call them the T83 class as proper successors to the larger, multi-role destroyers of old.


Hi Challenger, T8x was not just reserved for destroyers (T82 HMS Bristol) as the Type 81 was built as a sloop although entered service as a GP frigate. The original intention was to build the T81 as sloops so even though they were built in the ’60’s they were equipped to 2x 4.5″ open back gun turrets recovered from WWII destroyers. However, I believe they were the first RN ships to be equipped with a helicopter from the get go. They were single screwed ships to save money, but then someone more than blew the budget by making them the… Read more »

James Fennell

Type 24 and 25 were designed before Type 23! (or rather Type 23 was redesigned). Type 24 was an export ASW frigate (based on the original Type 23 concept) and Type 25 a cut down low cost version of the Type 22. I imagine the sequence jumped to Type 31 as they were not designed as ASW ships.

Last edited 3 months ago by James Fennell

At some point we are going to have to reset the Type’s though aren’t we?
(Though personally I always hated the Type X monicer, Iron Duke, Daring, City Class etc sounds so much better).


I believe the choice of T31 was supposed to invoke and reference the T21’s of the 1970’s which were the last cheap ‘general patrol’ frigates built for the Royal Navy.

I agree the Type X naming tradition is a bit dull! Although the current fleet are occasionally referred to as Daring or Duke class vessels and no doubt the T26 will sometimes be called the City class as well.

Mike Saul

Type 27 was suppose to be a low cost alternative to supplement the Type26, more of s corvette than a frigate. Of course this path was not selected at the time when it was decided to invest in only the T26 project.

Which then became too expensive so a low cost alternative was required, hence the Type 31.

Funny old world just going in circles repeating ourselves.


T31 is T27 basically but with a different branding. More sensible in some ways to differentiate ASW from GP. After Bristol and the cost/failure of the T82 program, I’d bet heavily against any T8X ever appearing again. Plus T45 would never have been in that series – with Bristol it became basically a ship that was 1st rate in AA 4X, AD 6X (now merged as AAW) and ASW 1/2X. Which as pointed out above is ironic since T81 was specifically intended to be 2nd rate in all! Torpedo tubes, Harpoons (always planned to be fitted as became available from… Read more »

john melling

All present ships have been playing with adding UAVs etc to their uses But if they want to play with T32 ship designs for that then they could look at the Thales and Stellar Systems TX for inspiration towards a capability. . And all that whilst keeping with in the usual “general purpose ship” label expected They will then contribute to an increase in much needed RN ship numbers and be a force multiplier for future Littoral Operations Any bigger mother ship expectations please look where 😉 aka LOV Good news for ship builders if the pen pushers pull their… Read more »

Mike Saul

Any warship is platform to or weapons, sensors and now unmanned systems.

Of course we want them look nice, but is all about affordability and capability.

Meirion X

A RN vessel that is platform for UUVs and drones, will become a target for adversaries vessels and aircraft, so would need to be armed with SAMs, ASMs abd guns.


That ‘Spartan’ by Steller Systems in the main picture looks great. Should have had them instead of T31!

4th watch

I agree looks great but I understand it never became more than a pretty basic design due to funding and resources. No side mission bays or bridge wings. Wasn’t the mission bay in the stern?


I actually think the T31 design looks quite good, the only problem is the equipment fit.

john melling

I actually liked Spartan and was hoping it got picked for T31 or anything else just for being the “wildcard”
And its would have given a boost to a smaller company instead of the big boys..

I think is had and still has potential to be a good ship as its modular and flexible

Perhaps it should be looked at again ;P


A dozen blokes got some good free PR for their little consultancy by showing off their CGI skills.

I see they’ve picked up a piece of RN work to build a scale model of a future USV – good luck to them

john melling

Stellar decided to enter the T31 race but lost to the big boys and they’re continuing to persevere and are in with THALES for this TX design aka WRAITH Wonder what the Future Commando Force developers think as they are playing with it? Its got potential for their fast insertions and drones of various requirements and its still being tested? And that’s how I prefer to see the future use UAVs, UUV in littoral missions as part of a ESF. And the deck which can be used by a Merlin or Wildcat But for their 750t size, a mothership to… Read more »

Rob Skarda

The Spartan design has a fully worked up Stability Model, General Arrangement, Propulsion System, Vulnerability Model and has had a lot of positive attention. The Garage in the back is 24m long and 14m wide with a 5m wide stern ramp. It is compliant with current MOD standards for stability and survivability, far higher than competitor designs and it is designed in the UK. IF my sons went into the Navy, I would want them in this. It can carry a range of vehicles and boats, including our Wraith UXV which we are in the process of testing a prototype… Read more »


I do wonder if we’re going to see the return of the helicopter cruiser concept, with the front end of a surface combatant welded onto the aft section of an assault ship. Back in the 20th century it was an inefficient hybrid, but in the future sustaining offboard sensors is likely to be just as important as the sensor package aboard the ship itself.

The Danes already have the Absalon-class frigate/support ships, from which the Iver Huitfeldts and the T31s evolved. Back in the 2000s we had concepts for a T45-based drone and helicopter cruiser.


if you look at a T45 or T26 – it has basically already happened as these are cruiser sized ships and have large open areas at the rear plus as with 26/31, hangars and spaces much karger than just for the assigned helo. But these sizes, in conjunction with the sensors and powerplants (noting still want high 2X kts) preclude going bigger. I suspect that the post war merger of all surface comabtants into the cruiser category (globally deployable, very situational aware and roled for both capital ship screening and “independent crusing” is bearly complete, and helos (and drones, plus… Read more »


There’s a fairly notable difference between an escort carrying a single or, rarely, a pair of helicopters, and a helicopter cruiser with a much more substantial permanent air wing. I’m not quite sure I understand your point regarding sizes. Are you claiming we couldn’t build ships any bigger than current escorts as we wouldn’t have a powerplant to get them up to speed? Unless you’re suggesting we simply stretch an existing design without changing anything else, it’s certainly not difficult to get a ship bigger than 10,000t to 30+ kts. We’ve been doing it since the First World War. I… Read more »


The limit on size is cost as well as practicalities of getting in and out of places. Of course we can build bigger, we have a 70k carrier and there are 500K plus tankers about. But we cant build numbers of that. As even the US has found (7x our populatikn and 10x the wealth), escalation in size comes with a impractical limit on numbers. Such helicopter ships miss the key issue, just like those with ideas for 100s of VLS, that the cost is the helicopter/missile. Merlin has been a vastly expensive project and remains so in terms of… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

This sounds exciting.

So the suggestions that the MCMV fleet will be replaced by extra frigates over the long term seem accurate.

Captain P Wash

No, not really. Nothing has been confirmed as of yet. I’d not be too quick getting Excited mate.

Mark B

Personally I think we should focus initially on the children not the Mother. If we can discover exactly what capabilities are needed of the children and indeed how many, we might then be able to deduce something about the Mother who has to give birth to them!

Glass Half Full

Well I keep banging on about it and at least we have a quote from a govt. minister now. If we look at UK govt/RN ambitions for a more global presence and capability, then that mitigates against smaller more specialised platforms like BMTs Venari or the Dutch/Belgian MCMV and more towards using frigate and survey ship platforms for MCM mission module deployment, along with using commercial vessels and shore based deployments in peacetime. We might use STUFT to expand platforms in a conflict, depending on where such platforms are deployed or use frigates/survey ships. This approach is predicated on a… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

Agreed GHF.


I agree on the move to more useful frigates vs single role specialised ships like MCMVs, however completely disagree on your modular approach. All the indicications are that this (indeed nearly any) capability just isnt modular, in terms of the specific demands it makes on a host vessel from space & power, through very capable davits and cranes, to the people required to work it all (and in a ships context need to be part of the crew to do all the general duties and form an effective cohesive team). The US LCS is a mess but how they have… Read more »

Glass Half Full

Interesting. Do you have any references for the indications you cite? One caveat regarding my perspective. I do not see modules and teams being switched in and out in hours, as was the original intent with the LCS program, and I suspect how many view mission module use. The modules might be capable of being swapped that quickly, if the need arose, but my view is that a module is expected to stay in place for a deployment at least. The goal in my view is to have flexibility for a ship’s role across its life, not flexibility within say… Read more »


must admit that I really do like the stellar systems spartan design. don’t know why. In a previous mail I have raised the view of a fleet of 12 x C1(T26), 12 x C2 (T31/32) and 25 x C3 (TBC) capability the C3 capability is the real game changer in all this as it essentially replaces the rivers, hunts and sundowns with an appropriately armed Corvette style vessel Taking this further I don’t envisage this asset having manned systems – but assets like Schiebel 200’s etc. We can keep around the 90 ship mark (inc RFA) and massively improve our… Read more »


You’ve just increased the T26 numbers by 50%, T31 by 120% and replaced 11 MCMVs, 2 E class survey ships and 7 Rivers (20 ships) with 25 larger better equipped ships. All on a kind of neutral/standing still fleet size wise basis. Do you think this is really reality? T32 will replace the MCMVs and “is” C3. The Rivers are young/brand new so not worth considering for replacement, whilst the older B1s are perfect for role and it would be insane to do fish boat jobs in anything more complex or expensive. The E class are full of interesting electronics… Read more »


Hi Pigeon T26 would replace T23 ASW and T45 so actually a reduction of 2 which helps us buy 4 additional T31 Its a 25 year build plan – so we won’t scrap anything or build these in a year or 2 so yes we need to think about replacing the whole fleet. You have however hit the nail on the head, I am keeping numbers the same but improving every single vessel (hopefully with less crew as well) and banking on the scale of each class to drive costs down through commonality of parts/design and keeping a constant tempo… Read more »


T26 replace T45? I think that isn’t workable. T45s Sea Vioer fit isnt going to fit into T26, nor is a likely Sea Vioer successor in the same way Sea Dart couldnt go in Counties and Sea Viper couldnt go in T42s. T45 is a very specialist ship focussed on supporting the Sea Viper systems – the electical power for instance. The rationalisation of hulls for logistics and training makes sense – but misses we need a drumbeat of variety to keep industrial expertise to create them, and from which they are sustained. T4X in the late 2030s is an… Read more »


I don’t intend for Sea Viper VLS to migrate over Sea Ceptor is as good or better than the Aster 15 missile, and the Aster 30 or NT can be loaded into the Mk41 silo if need be. we could certainly place the 32/48 Sea Viper VLS onto a T26 and quad pack 16/24 with SeaCeptor and put Aster 30’s in the other as these are not strike length VLS is probably not the issue, Radar placement and weight is far more invasive in this upgrade, but as the Australians and Canadians are showing, doable. A T26 is better than… Read more »


Sea Viper is so much more than Aster missiles and a radar, I think you are seriously missing an understanding of what is in a T45 and what it takes to do what is does. For instance, on T26 the berths filled by the ASW personnel would be AAW people on T45. The ops room complex isnt sized to have all the FC positions. T26 isnt big enough to do both either by equipment or people. Once you specialise the hulls you may as well stick with T45s. The RAN/RCN have different requirements, the RAN has the Hobarts and the… Read more »

James Fennell

Japan, South Korea and Singapore have all come up with Frigate / Mothership concepts recently – this is the Korean design

Last edited 3 months ago by James Fennell
Paul T

Mmm, sort of looks like a French FTI Belharra on Steroids.

Mike O

It says so much that a few days ago people thought type 32 might be a typo 😁.

I am imagining a venari 85 looking ship for type 32. But better armed of course.

Martyn Parker

Having read the comments of the more knowledgeable people here and seeing that the general consensus seems to be the mother ship for drones concept would a smaller or redesigned class based on HMS Albion not be a logical choice for such a type having a flight a larger flight deck to launch airborne drones from and the dock for launching surface and sub-surface drones, other than designing in autonomous systems to reduce staffing levels is there really any reason to redesign the wheel?

James Fennell

Good point – and in many ways these designs are half-way between a logistics vessel and frigate in design. However if they need to make 28-30kts to escort the carrier strike group and hunt nuclear submarines, which is critical if thare are going to be used for ASW. So a 30kt Albion! If they are only used for MCM and supporting littoral operations then they can be in the 18-20kt range like most LPDs. Here is the Singaporean navy’s design for their next generation frigates which combine high speed with a capability to launch autonomous systems.comment image

Last edited 3 months ago by James Fennell
Martyn Parker

So what is it that stops an Albion class from making those speeds, is it merely engines or is hull shape also a limiting factor?


Hull form is definitely a limiting factor. Where with a frigate the primary driver for hull form may be speed or quiet running for ASW, with a carrier/assault ship it may be that speed is slightly sacrificed in favour of greater stability.


The Stellar Systems Spartan Type 31 proposal had a stern ‘garage’ which looked promising for launching drones.

john melling

Cant believe its been 3 years since we were all chatting about Spartan!

Adrian Cockerill

that by the 2030s we can further increase the total number of frigates and destroyers

Love that statement, so 19 is an increase from which number considering that’s the lowest number the UK has had in generations

James Fennell

However we will loose the dedicated MCMVs – so some of these new ships will also have to host the autonomous MCM capabilies too. Numbers are not quite as fancy in reality. Neverless the expensive MCM systems will be bought separately and could be deployed on vessels of opportunity if needed (commercial logistics vessels) so flexibility is much greater.


I think Fleet numbers will stay around the 90 mark all in (RFA inc.)

We aren’t getting more ships, but I think the mix we get will be totally different backed up by a massive fleet of enabling technology such as the MCM capability, scan eagle, Schiebel 200 and probably even unmanned subs/ loitering large torpedoes.

That would be my proposal

Mark F

What happens to all your autonomous toys once the mothership is sunk? Unless you have a decent defensive aids suite to protect all these assets it counts as nothing. Is this all being done the cheap for inflated profit margins? I fear it will be just that. Our potential adversaries are already developing countermeasures and weapon systems to counter this. Satellites are vulnerable with little to combat the threat. Its a case of game over surely! No one wins. What we needed to do a while back was to protect our own research and development and information tech as national… Read more »

James Fennell

Yes they need to have effective self defence weapons. Expect to see direct energy weapons and cyber defence suites in addtional to traditional air and missile defence and anti submarine defensive systems. The Korean concept has capacity for eight small autoomous quadcopters for a variety of tasks (resupply, delivery of small UUVs for ISTAR and ASW swarm attacks, surface surveillance etc.) two larger VSTOL UAVs which operate with an onboard helicopter as force multipliers (loyal wingmen), as well as USVs for MCM, ASW, ISTAR and force protection and provsion for an XLUUV for ASW and ISTAR. They also have a… Read more »


Which is negated by a T32 frigate mothership having frigate self defences such as Sea Ceptor, 40/57mm guns and all the (actually far more important) situational awareness sensors and links elsewhere, integrated command systems and softkill defences.

Conpared to the manually aimed 30mm gun on an MCMV and little more than the crews eyes.

This is actually a quantum leap forward in the defencability of MCM ops.


Would not a small carrier like HMS Ocean, now sold, do a better job

Tim uk

What about a missile mothership ! We need fire power not youtuber drones ! Turn em into barrage ships that within the hour can take down any middling powers ports and power.


May I ask who you think such a weapon would be used against and why? I can’t think why we would need it.

Levi Goldsteinberg

Iran would be one. Any rogue state is going to think twice about threatening sea lanes if there’s a floating missile factory capable of effectively destroying an entire air force on the ground and navy in port just off their coast

James Fennell

I imagine these vessels wil focus on ASW and MCM, both areas where seeing the target first is a critical survival strategy. Offensive capability is against subs is helicopters and armed drones. As far as the anti-surface mission goes, I’m sure they will have AShMs (although I should point out than NO vessel has ever been damaged by a ship bourne anti-ship missile since the 1970s, although many have been sunk by ground and air launched AshMs).

James Fennell

if you can’t see the target first then all your missiles will do is make a bigger bang when you are hit yourself. Seeing the target first is behind all modern warfare concepts – whether its F-35, Tempest or Astute subs. Automomous capabilites are designed to enable our ships to see further than the bad guys, and thus we can use our weapons before they see us. One missile on target is worth 100 still in their VLS tubes when the ship is hit.


I assume a reasonable volume is necessary due to need to overcome ever better wide and local area defence systems and to avoid the need to sail several thousand KM to a friendly base to re arm after only a couple of engagements.

Can really see the merit in any ship on ship engagement in being able to launch a clutch of relatively lower cost spear 3 to swamp / drain defences followed immediately by the likes of an NSM.



It does seem as though UUV technology is the design driver for T32. The RN perceived this general direction with the Type 26 which has a large, flexible and capable mission bay. I think the Rolls Royce handling system crane can load a 20 foot container or launch and recover a 24ft RHIB: but not an ORCA UUV; which I am thinking is something of a game changer. ORCA has long range and endurance and is conceived as a land launched vehicle, but I wonder if the RN is thinking what if they could include them with a carrier task… Read more »


i wonder if the type 31 going to be long the lines of the concepts in the black swan paper.


Seems a sensible idea, recognise a future MCMV will be a mothership to USV/UUV/UAVs and thus much larger to accomodate them all, and combine that with a light frigate armament to get a “MCM Frigate”. Deals with the MCMV slow/global deployment issues and gives a much more flexible platform than one purely MCM focussed (and Hunts/Sandowns were not cheap). Looking at the new Dutch-Belgian ships for all the step forward in umnanned capability, they are still quite one trick ponies with about the same SA and self defence as what they replaced. So growing one of those to add a… Read more »

Captain P Wash

Would love to see an article about the Chinese Military Build up, in particular the PLAN. Any chance George ?