HMS Dragon is scheduled to work alongside coalition and regional partners throughout her time away, say the Royal Navy.

According to a release, she will be focused on providing regional maritime security, including counter-terrorism and anti-smuggling activities.

Commander Michael Carter-Quinn, Commanding Officer of HMS Dragon, said:

“Today’s departure on operations has been achieved through the hard work and support of my ship’s company, their families and the wider defence enterprise in ensuring that we are materially and mentally ready to meet any of the challenges that we may face over the coming months.

We look forward to the opportunities that will present themselves over this deployment to promote the United Kingdom’s commitment to regional security, working with partner nation navies to maintain and develop relationships and common capabilities.”

The Type 45 destroyer is one of the most advanced air-defence vessels in the world. So powerful is the vessels SAMPSON radar, from a position near Glasgow, it could monitor the air traffic over all of Scotland.

The US Naval War College has suggested that the SAMPSON radar is capable of tracking 1,000 objects the size of a cricket ball travelling at three times the speed of sound

The UK’s National Audit Office reported that, during an “intensive attack”, a single Type 45 could simultaneously track, engage and destroy more targets than five Type 42 destroyers operating together.


  1. It’s all good that it can track cricket balls and is so advanced.

    There are only 6! So what’s that, 4 available? Too few.

    Should be 2 dedicated to the CBG at all times.

    Need lots more cheaper vessels for presence tasks.

    • With the state of funding at the moment, I would consider it a win if we saw one type 23 (and then 26) permanently assigned to each QE carrier. As far as a dedicated cbg (2 type 23s, 1 type 45 etc) permanently assigned for each rotation, it ain’t gonna happen. We don’t have the funding and the navy isn’t being designed in that fashion. Current planning I believe will allow for a one off cbg of 2 type 23s, one 45 and an astute (once we have 7), where the duties of the 23 and 45 are backfilled by other 23s, who themselves have their roles backfilled by two opvs (assuming we get 6 batch 2’s) and even that will be exceptional.
      Considering our state of funding I believe we have just the right number of type 45’s. Yes, ideally we would have two dedicated cbgs and 2 dedicated assault groups based around 2 helicopter carriers, to which our 6 type 45s would all be permanently assigned, with other more suitable vessels used for chasing drug smugglers and such like.

        • Hello Daniele. Yes I do believe the ratio would improve if we did get enough 31s and b2s in the water. Currently though, as others have said, we really need to get a grip on our man power and then spare parts availability. If we do achieve that, I would love to see an extra type 31 (pushing numbers from 5-6) however I appreciate that’s a way off at the moment though. Likewise it would be great if they stuck to their plan for 8 type 26s. Thinking about the type 45s, if there is some serious intent to use them for anti ballistic missile capability, then I do believe 6 won’t be enough. I get the feeling though that they are just playing with this capability as a ‘that might be useful to have at some point in the future’ rather than with the intent of deploying the ship on some sort of ABM rotation.

    • Rfn_Weston – the Harpoons are the recovered systems from the retired T22 Batch 3 Frigates,so enough to equip 4 out of the 6 T45’s,im not sure if they are rotated between vessels to suit deployments or are a permanent fixture though.

      • Whilst there have been many discussions about Type 45 armament, does anyone know why the Harpoon quad launchers were not removed from those vessels transferred to Chile? Or were they not fitted with Harpoon?

        • pompeyblokeinoxford – yes the three Type 23’s sold to Chile were indeed fitted with Harpoon,unless the customer specifies anything different I cant see why they would be removed as part of the deal.

      • Hi Paul T, yes I was aware we only had 4 systems between the 6 ships. I can’t for the life of me understand why, if a lack of available systems is the reason, that this deployment wasn’t deferred to allow Diamond to return to port and transmit the harpoon before Dragon set sail?! It really beggars belief.

        • And who do you think we will be firing harpoons at?? The RN hasn’t once fired a harpoon in anger at anyone ever, let’s keep a reality check on these things, an Astute will do fine if we have to take on another nations vessels, and on a routine deployment like this, id say the chances of that happening are pretty slim to zero.

          • You dont need Harpoon fitted all the time. Even the dedicated shooters, the T23s, don’t have all the launchers filled unless its an active deployment.
            And as stated…Harpoon is an RoE nightmare and unless its a Red Storm Rising blue water shooting war the chances of having to use it or get permission to use it are slim

          • Call me old fashioned but if a situation arose where we did require an anti ship missile capability and this asset is the forward deployed one, I’m not sure having to turn around and head to port to fit Harpoon would be the best option.

            Someone else mentioned the cost of rectifying the capability gap is an almost insignificant amount vs the capability upgrade. Those that say RN doctrine is for Astute to tackle surface combatants… that’s just the doctrine being tailored to the budget. Unfortunately budget dictates the majority of our defence strategy as opposed to a comprehensive review of what we wish our forces to be capable of and allocating the correct and appropriate funding to suit.

      • @Rfn_weston

        If rectifying a shortfall in capability requires a new system, it is not cheap or easy.
        Those that espouses “plug and play” “bolt on systems” etc have no clue what is involved with fitting and integrating a system onto a complex warship.
        Cabling removal for old systems, new cabling to go in. Hull Strengthening. New deck mount steel work. Interfaces to the Combat system. Mutual Interference conformity. Extra Fire fighting equipment. Training and Documentation. Shore Support . Shore maintenance and repair facilities. Changes to tactics and operational SOPs. Risk mitigation for accident and wartime damage.
        If it was easy and cheap the RN would do it… because they haven’t it isn’t cheap or easy.

  2. Good spot. No harpoons on deck.
    These ships should really get the strike length mk41 vl system fitted so they can really be air warfare destroyers but have a limited and better general purpose application. I think they have top weight and space for 3-4 6 cell mk41 vl systems?
    We need to get them fitted. I cannot for the love of me understand why the RN cannot get permission and funds to do this. We already have too few warships, this is about maximising the arnaments and application of what little we have got left. The type 45 still has a good 15-20 years service life left in them.

    • Good evening Mr. Bell

      I completely agree with you but read somewhere before – and I’m not sure how accurate this is so take it for what it’s worth – but the money allocated for Mk41 VLS on the Type 45 was diverted to pay for the propulsion issues. Sorry state of affairs but none of us on this site are surprised any more.

      In my opinion, they will never get the VLS; HMG will wait until the Type26 come online which are supposed to have them and not bother to fit them to the Type 45s.

      • I agree with your opinion David. A T45 participated a couple of years ago (or thereabouts) in a joint ABM exercise, from memory off the West coast of Scotland I think, where she participated in tracking the target but obviously couldn’t engage. I can see that as the RN model going forward, a T45 tracking and cueing a launch from a T26’s Mk41 if the RN ever gets serious about adding ABM capability. And those T26 Mk41 will give the RN at least some surface vessels capable of launching TLAM too. I can see those ABM & TLAM scenarios, in HMG/MoD’s mind, obviating the need for Mk41 on T45 hence they won’t get them.

  3. We need to stop buying cheap and invest heavily in all branches of our armed forces.

    Double the number of Type 45’s, increase the number of Type 26’s and build the Iver Huitfeldt frigates instead of the planned Type 23e.

    We are so far behind the start line now that the work could be shared across all UK yards as well as building some of the Iver Huitfeldt frigates in Denmark also.

    Compare the cost of the Iver Huitfeldt class against the Type 26’s and you’ll see its great value for the money.

    • For the record the Iver Huitfeldt frigates were only assembled in Denmark using blocks built in Estonia and Lithuania.

      • Thank you Pompeyblokeinoxford, hence the good quality builds at a respectable price!

        Just had some work finished on the house by these guys, very hard working and not one complaint.

          • “Crikey how does one get Estonian and Lithuanian ship builders to work on ones House?”

            Not recommended. I had some fitted bookshelves done. They nearly burned the house down when they tried to weld them in place 🙂

  4. Have they informed the Tug Master that his services may be called upon once they enter the warm gulf waters?
    Doesn’t Matter how many ‘Cricket Balls’ it can cope with, if it doesn’t have the power to track and destroy…
    As for ‘less is more’ regarding type 42, other potential hostile nations have expanded their navies since then!
    It’s truly mind boggling how reckless we can be with our defence capabilities, or should I say, incapabilities?

  5. Well Harpoon and engine trouble aside that is a fantastic picture!!

    Can anyone tell me how common the personalisation (dragon on the bow) is on RN vessels? I am not sure I have seen it so prominently on other ships.

  6. So we can’t even afford or have the capability to deploy an obsolete missile system to protect a 1 billion pound asset, Nevermind looking to equip it with something like the nsm as a stopgap until a missile with the capability that we should have now comes along. A supposed Tier 1/2 military power the modernising defence programme needs to solve this! It is idiotic that it could shoot all the cricket balls down (missiles) but could end up being destroyed by naval gun! The embarked wildcat/merlin doesn’t even have ASM capability! And helicopters never got unserviceable do they! Get vls mk41, nsm/advanced harpoon, asroc on these ships now! How are we supposed to dissuade Russian aggression/flagwave with this kind of pathetic armament? Maybe with all the talk of cricket balls the navy has a stock they can throw at the enemy! It is like HMS victory deploying with only muskets and deck guns! Britannia rules the waves not … it’s depressing. The Americans equivalent ship is armed to the teeth! What is up with us? We seem to want to have ships with no missiles, deployable vehicles with no more than a 40mm cannon to protect themselves, an mbt with an obsolete gun. Everyone else seems to be looking at 120mm mortars, 130mm mbt guns, strike missiles etc. And generally increasing firepower – you can only outthink an enemy so much you do need to engage and kill at some point Aargh!

    • A. A Type 45 would never be defeated by a naval gun. They do have two Phalanx CIWS to deal with that.
      B. Whilst it is true that currently Wildcat/Merlin don’t have any AShM capability this will soon be rectified with the introduction of Martlet and Sea Venom missiles.
      C. Theres not point putting ASROC on the Type 45 since they only have limited anti-submarine capabilities (a hull mounted sonar i believe). Best leave anti submarine warfare to the experts in the T23s.
      D. If it can detect a cricket ball then i think its defiantly well suited to detecting something a lot larger. Larger something like a anti-ship missile or an aircraft and destroy them with its Aster missiles – definitely not what i would call pathetic.
      E. Whilst it is true that we do deploy vehicles with 40mm cannons i see very few other counties doing much better. Even the US Army only deal with 25mm cannons on their Bradleys etc.
      F. The Challenger 2 and its gun are far from obsolete, especially with the LEP underway.
      G. The Army, Navy and RAF are doing the best they can with the money they currently have. Theres no point playing fantasy fleets, armies and air forces if there isn’t the money to go around.

      Hope that cleared a few things up for you. Cheers.

      • Chris – while I agree with some of your points I have some questions, (A) how can a Phalanx ciws deal with Naval Gunfire ? A simple OTO 76mm mount would outrange it,while it may cope with a few rounds once it gets to 80+ rounds per minute it would be saturated surely – one for Gunbuster perhaps. (C) ASROC is an interesting option,yes as you say leave it to the T23/26 ASW specialists,but as we know hulls are too few,one ship can only be in one place at one time.If a T45 (with bow sonar) lacks ASW capability then it makes sense to give it some.(F) The 120mm gun on Challenger 2 is obsolete,especially in regards to the Ammunition,everyone and his dog (bar India) has gone smoothbore ,despite the trail its just not cost effective and practical to convert the C2 gun ,lack of storage space in the Turret being the main issue,so its stuck with the L30A1,even the manufacture of Ammunition now is an issue.

  7. Robbing Peter to pay Paul. The MOD make me want to bang my head against the wall. We could solve out srmsnemt issues with a hand shake and a swipe of a credit card and the UK would carry on ticking just fine.

  8. How the hell did we get to the poin that knowingly we would have 10 or more years between getting rid of an already obsolete missile and getting a new capable one installed. I mean to actually start a feasibility study barely a few years before removing the former suggests no one even thought about it though I guess in truth untill recently they thought flag waving was all the destroyers were needed for.

      • The RN has much more Important things to spend it’s money on then to keep an obsolete weapon system in service that has never been used and more then likely never will.

        • That’s fine Robert I don’t disagree that there are other priorities.

          It is the capability of actually having some sort of ASM system. I think that is what galls people, certainly me.

          Other ships of navies around the world have them and they might be even less likely to use them.

          If having an ASM system is desirable then a billion pound asset should indeed have one IMO.

          And that does not answer Spy’s question concerning lack of interest in a replacement.

          Maybe also having an obsolete weapon is better than no weapon at all? The Russians I believe are excellent at that, even keeping WW2 artillery and T34 Tanks.

  9. I’m suprised it got to keep the red dragon, I wonder how much longer before it removed.

    On a more serous note, when did people start throwing cricket balls at ships and how on earth do they get them to three times the speed of sound.

  10. I have a friend who is a naval officer and whilst the wasn’t happy at the lack of a dedicated antiship missile, he did say that the aster missiles could do the job if needs be.
    But what do you defend your ship with if you’ve fired all your anti aircraft/missile missiles at ships and not what they were intended for

  11. With so much negative news around the engines and breakdowns, i wonder why they decided to send to the gulf, an area with very warm waters that are likely to cause further problems. Would seem better to wait until the fix before sending to the region, especially as the carriers are not ready yet, and so no pressing reason to do it instead of a frigate.

  12. So a billion pound warship is going to be used for anti-piracy and anti-smuggling activities? Send a
    patrol ship for that!

    • We don’t appear to have any!

      I agree with the sentiment. River Batch 2, T31, some number of cheaper assets are needed to relieve our first line vessels.

      How about more RFA type vessels instead of a warship? Acting as a floating mother ship?

      With a det of RM.
      With helicopters.
      With UAV.
      With ORC / RRC / RIB

      Could this be a cheaper yet still effective option?

      No wonder the QEC will have no escorts if they are all off doing this sort of stuff.

  13. Not just from when I was serving on ships in the Gulf but I also have lots of experience with T23 and T45 working in the Gulf and the temperatures experienced there.
    Currently at 0600 its a balmy 34 degs at around 50% humidity and it should peak at around 39 degs at 80+% this afternoon. Its basically a 2 pairs of overalls day…again!
    Sea temp is sat around the low 30s Degs.
    By the time Dragon gets here the air temps will start to come down to mid 20s or lower and the sea temp will drop off considerably.( Bliss!)
    The Software and Inter-cooler issues for the propulsion systems are mostly sorted out. The last T45 in theater had no issues and spent around 90% of its time on GTA power with the DGs only being on, in a standby condition to take load, for specials or high risk evolution’s.

    As for a weapon fit…a T45 has what it needs.
    ASW conditions in the Gulf are borderline at best. Its around 60m in depth on average. Its easier to see a Sub from a helo using a look down TV camera with polarising light filters fitted, than it is to find it on Sonar. That said you stand a better chance with an active set than a passive set due to the water depth, lack of meaningful layers, reverb off the bottom, iffy salinity (Costal De Sal Plants are a nightmare) and the amount of background noise ( Rigs, ships, boats, marine life).
    Surface warfare is limited again by surface traffic. Ferry’s, Cargo Vessels from intercostal tankers to VLCC tankers, Dhows, Oil Rigs, islands. You do not want to let loose a fire and forget, dumb harpoon from 60+miles away unless you are 100% sure you are going to hit your target and only your target. When doing a Harpoon engagement Plan you always need to consider what happens if a military target deploys decoys and diverts a 500 pound Semi Armoured Piercing warhead into a ferry full of civilians. Regarding the fitting of ASMs …Prior to their disposal the T22 frigates sailed around with empty Exocet containers on the front. The maintainer had the easiest job onboard!
    As for the pirate and drug busts that’s part and parcel of Maritime Security Patrols. Not only doing the hearts and minds stuff of offering help to dhow crews when they need it but also stopping the terror/organised crime money made from drugs.
    A recent RAN vessel I worked with made over 2 BILLION aussie dollars worth of drugs intercepts. That is a lot of money that dd not get into the bad peoples hands. Not everything is glamorous whoosh and bang systems . Most of the time its down to Jack and Jill in a RHIB climbing rope ladders and doing searches.

  14. We really do need to increase the defence budget. Six type 45 destroyers is simply not enough for our operations, the same with just 8 type 26 frigates and seven Astute submarines. The obvious place to look for cash is the very bloated overseas aid budget. That budget is nearly 1/3 of our entire defence budget for god’s sake! Anyone who argues that it should be 0.7% is clearly insane. I would trim it to 0.001% of GDP and transfer the bulk to the MoD. In many ways the military have been doing peace keeping and humanitarian activities over decades so this make sense. Indeed the overseas aid budget has come at the expense of the defence budget anyone.

    • Who determined that foreign aid should be 0.7 % of GNP? A committee of civilians I’ll bet. Make it 0.6 % and that yields 2.7 billion or so for the MoD. Then cobble up some fancy term that makes it sound like “aid”.


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