Australia and the UK have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to cooperate on building new frigates, say the Ministry of Defence.

The MoU signed this week re-enforces the two countries’ commitment to working together on delivering the vessels.

“A key aspect of the MOU is a pledge on information exchange to ensure shipbuilding best practice is shared and that both frigate programmes deliver world beating maritime capabilities to the Royal Navy and Royal Australian Navy.”

The MoD say that the agreement also sets out a framework to enable both nations to utilise the T26 and Hunter programmes to create jobs and contribute to the growth of the UK and Australian economies, seeking to support small and medium-sized enterprises.

BAE imagery of a Type 26 tailored to Australian needs, known as the Hunter class.

The hope, it seems, is for each nation to share expertise from their own local programmes to build the Type 26 Frigate/Hunter class frigate.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said:

“The UK and Australia have always been natural allies. This agreement demonstrates this Government’s ongoing commitment to the Type 26 shipbuilding programme whilst supporting our Australian allies to design and build the Hunter class frigate.As we look to the future of our respective navies, our shared continued cooperation will benefit our close alliance and support the industrial supply chain to grow each nation’s shipbuilding sectors.”

The Type 26 Frigate how it will look in UK service.

Australian Minister for Defence, the Hon Linda Reynolds CSC said:

“There are currently seven Australian companies contracted for work on the UK’s Type 26 programmes and this agreement supports the close co-operation between UK and Australian industry. We are already seeing the benefits of cooperation on the two programmes, with Australian workers involved in the Type 26 build ready to come home and help build the Hunter class frigates in South Australia.

The Australian Government is committed to delivering a continuous naval shipbuilding programme and the Hunter and Type 26 programmes provide a great opportunity to capitalise on our shared industrial capability with the UK. The MoU will support the successful delivery of Australia’s Hunter Class Frigate Programme, while also growing key defence capabilities in Australia.”

Prototyping for the Hunter Class Frigate Programme will begin by the end of 2020.

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Mark B

It is good to see such cooperation with allies.


Thats good news and hopefully an ongoing cooperation now that our Frigate programmes are aligned with perhaps potential for the next destroyers too is the hull can also be utilised for that eventually.

Glass Half Full

If the UK decide to use the T26 platform for the next destroyer class, then leveraging the Australian experience adding the CEA Technologies fixed panel radar systems into the platform, with the associated design changes to support the weight up high, could mitigate design costs and risks, assuming the UK migrate at that stage to fixed panel X and S band (from CEA or someone else) versus current rotating S and L band.


Last year I was working with some Aussies who are currently doing the ANZAC upgrades. CEA panels are around about 2-5 mil AUD each. Thats around 20 mil quid for a full radar on each frigate!
Unless the price comes down its a none starter.


Gunbuster, always wanted to ask, why do we need such big ships for sub hunting.

Wouldn’t we be better off with a larger number of smaller faster vessels that have the capability to sink a sub

and on that note, once a T23 or T26 actually finds a sub, how is it going to execute an attack please?


Big is better. Steel and the air it surrounds is cheap. If you want to do upgrades you need growth margin which big ships give you. Thats why T42 and T22 frigates all got bigger in latter batches. Bigger also allows you to space things out so making things quieter through rafting and isolation of pipework is easier as you are not trying to squeeze it all into a small space. Attacking a sub is a helos job. With a Merlin prosecuting a target with its own sonobuoys or dipping sonar or a Vectac controlled Wildcat it doesnt matter which… Read more »


thanks Gunbuster

so in that case surely the key requirement of an ASW ships is multiple air assets that can search and destroy, which would indicate a bigger hanger.

my point on speed is to avoid being hit, but I defer to your greater knowledge.

Glass Half Full

IIRC you commented previously on this and mentioned the weight, I couldn’t recall the CEA Tech solution cost. Maybe Thales SeaFire or Leonardo’s Dual Band fixed panel solutions will be more affordable. Mind you with a 5″ gun system costing $60m, I’m not sure that £20m for the radar on an AAW frigate looks that expensive. The French are fitting the SeaFire (X and S band, with the latter to start with IIRC) to their Frégates de Taille Intermédiaire (FTI) and it looks like the Italians are fitting the Dual Band (X and C band) to the PPA Full variant,… Read more »


As a question, exactly what is the time frame for the roll out of the British iteration of the Type 26, because I’m pretty sure I read the last of the class HMS London won’t be taken on strength until 2036 at the earliest.

I somehow get the impression that the 8 Type 26s (which are replacing 13 type 22s) will be cut after the first 3 are built with the remainder changed to the Type 31 in which to save money.

Last edited 4 months ago by farouk
Daniele Mandelli

I don’t think it will be that bad. I think the RN will get 6, just like with T45.

The saved money might go on cheaper ships like T31 and then HMG will say they have increased the escort fleet, which technically they will have if we end up with 6×45, 6×36, and 8×31.

A scenario. Would folk accept 6 T26 instead of 8 if the saving then went on not only T31s but things like ASM for all escorts and a squadron of Osprey and extra Merlins?

Supportive Bloke

I don’t think it will go like that. Dom Cummings accepts that subs are a big threat and has called for more hunter killers. No easy way of making more astutes. So next best thing is T26 or P8. I’m pretty sure the P8 buy rate has been subtly accelerated. I think more people are on the same page than might be realised. A BII T31 is a real possibility if 1-3 are delivered to budget. And that is where fleet growth will come from. There is pretty much universal acceptance that surface fleet cuts have gone too far across… Read more »

Glass Half Full

In your list of ASW assets you probably ought to include XLUUV type programs, as well as smaller persistent UUV platforms such as sea gliders, for surveillance. T26 and P8 can’t be everywhere, but they can be where needed to prosecute an attack, if we leverage unmanned platforms for detection. Hence the MSUBS evaluation program. Its worth noting that Ben Wallace in a speech recently called out Space, Cyber and under-sea as areas of specific defence focus.

Daniele Mandelli

I certainly hope you’re right SB. I was not aware that DC had that view on ASW and SSN, so very hopeful if true.


Personally I think that would be a bad decision. 6 T26 realistically only gives you 4 available at any one time with 2 probably being in some form/stage of refit/workup. That’s a slim margin to work with.
B1 T31 aren’t cut out for ASW, so, if you configure any potential B2 build for ASW work, you will need to spend money on them. Won’t argue that it couldn’t be achieved, but , if they weren’t of the same ability, what would be the point? Would be a bit like bringing a knife to a shootout.

Daniele Mandelli

Thanks D32, and I agree with you. I hope the T26 remains as planned. Was just putting a scenario out there.


Yes, but unfortunately a bit too close to the mark perhaps. I can see something like that having a ready appeal to the purse string holders at HM Treasury. Hopefully not, with its protracted build programme there is surely wriggleroom regarding time to not have to make hasty decisions regarding T26 numbers!


I wouldn’t compare to t45, in that case it was originally planned for their to be 12 and then it was cut to 8 and finally 6.

Daniele Mandelli

I would. As T26 was to be 13, now 8, and might end up at 6!

That is why I compared!


HI Danielle, I think the frigate programme is safe [as it can be in the current environment] in part because any cut would be a political gift to the SNP – betrayal of Scottish Yards etc. Also, I think it would weeken our standing with the Australian and Canadian programmes, so damage co-operation / export* opportunities. However, I think there is a growing realisation in the UK that the escort force is way too small and that SDSR 2010 went too far. I don’t think we should ignore international factors either. Reducing our ASW capability any further would go down… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli


So there is hope then. As I have commented many times on here, for me it is the RN and the RAF who need prioritising, with our intelligence and SF assets.

Maybe that will come to pass.


HI Daniele, In the short term I am beginning to come round to the same thinking. However, I think the Army is already too small and its’ equipment especially its’ core AFV fleet is either a hotch potch of UOR procured vehicles or 30 or more years old! This awful situation has been tracked by the almost the total loss of any significant domestic AFV industrial base. I believe that would leave us in a very vulnerable place if we ever faced another serious conflict in Europe. So focus on the RN and RAF in the short to medium term.… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

You’re right CR. The army is too small, but for me the size of the RN and RAF matter more of the 3. And just to add on the small army bit, reading tweets that the army’s armoured brigades might be going down to 1! Hey ho!

Ryan Brewis

What on earth actually happened? Germany is busy replacing its Marders with Puma, putting Lynx and Boxer on the market, meanwhile we’re lurching all over the place while trying to keep Warrior going.
What are they doing that we aren’t?


Hi Ryan,

Simple answer, is making decisions and sticking to them. Basically, getting on with it!

Cheers CR

Paul T

HMS Glasgow should be handed over to the Royal Navy in 2025 for Extensive Sea Trials etc,then will be fully operational in 2027.HMS Cardiff started construction in August last year,so roughly each New Ship will start its build every two years.As this site recently reported Batch 2 are still under negotiation,and until SDSR 2020 is published anything is possible, but im still confident that Eight Ships will be built.

Paul C

I doubt that cuts will be made to the T26 programme and the first 6 at least should be safe. 3 full fat ASW frigates is just not credible and such a reduction would have serious implications for BAE shipbuilding in the UK. If cuts to the escort fleet are needed they are more likely to axe a couple of T45s early as we will probably go down to 4 hulls with T4X anyway.

Harry Bulpit

Some good news.


Is the Australian radar as good as our setup, looks better, just curious.

Jason Holmes

Its much more capable, its designed to have a destroyer like air defence ability


The Australian Ceafar is a 6 panel Aesa offering 360° coverage. It’s vastly superior to artisan.


6 panels for the basic system . Add in the long range air surveilance part that is now being fitted to ANZACs and you need twice as many.
Cooling the system is difficult …it needs a lot of Chilled water at the top of the mast. Its also expensive. The panels are between 1-3 mil GBP each. As I said thats a big expense. I think SAMPSON on a T4 is actually cheaper than the combined price .


if i was sailor on a warship going into harms way hang the expense i want the best i can get as an australian then ceafar radar is it. i think you have commented before about ceafar radar do you know what range the of the new l band radar is being fitted to current anzac frigates, with the hunter frigates being a high powered version at a guess what do think the range be as that information is rated as classified


yep its classified but its definitely better than the radars it is replacing.


so i will guess as you have been on the anzac’s frigates you are duty bound not to divulge information relating to ceafar radar which is understandable although i would love to know those little details but alas cheers


Yep thats pretty much it. As a former Weaponeer I get some leeway and usually get the gold plated tours for systems on the ships i work on but i wont divulge anything regarding performance that’s not in open media.


well thats fair enough although it was worth a try cheers


The Australian CEAFAR radar is better than Artisan for air defence, yes. The official line is that the RAN wants their Hunter class to be more of a multirole warship whereas the RN is content to have Type 26 as an ASW focussed ship with Type 45 providing the specialised AAW capability.


The image used in the article for the Hunter class FFG is old and inaccurate, see the link below to the RAN website, the radar mast is very different: Both the RN T26 and RAN T26 will have very similar ASW capabilities (Hunter class will also have shipboard MU90 torpedoes), the big difference will be in regard to Air Warfare, the Hunters will be significantly more capable. In RAN service both the Hobart DDG and Hunter FFG classes will be fitted with the Aegis CMS and also CEC (Cooperative Engagement Capability), both will be armed with ESSM and SM-2… Read more »


Feeling a lit bit jealous. When you’re Hunter’s come into service, they will be a force to be reckoned with. They will be a lot more flexible and capable than the base T26 that we are getting.


I agree with most on this thread that the Aussies have once again hit it out of the park.

surely the UK can add the necessary funds to make our T26 as capable as the Hunter class, it does seem a wasted opportunity, especially given we can then merge T23 and T45 into 1 class.

CEC is incredibly important in my view and I am amazed the RN has not adopted it across the combat fleet at least.


Yes CEC is going to be an important capability, the RAN has already tested CEC with two of the Hobart DDGs sharing targeting data and also with a USN DDG as well. The RAN, alone or in company with USN ships, will be able to share data across a widely spread taskforce to provide the optimum firing solution to either protect the taskforce or prosecute an attack. Having both the DDG and FFG classes equipped with CEC is certainly a force multiplier for the RAN. One more thing, the Hunters will also be equipped with a modern AShM, could be… Read more »


In what I’m about to say I’m in no way criticising the Hunter class, they’re great vessels and the Aussies should be rightly proud of them. But, while it is not a lot bigger by length of hull and beam, a T45 is a deck higher than a T26 and carries its radar at 40 m from sea level. That’s apparently (according to STRN) almost twice the height of an Arleigh Burke.I can’t find a source for how high the T26/Hunter carry their radars, but I’m willing to bet it’s not 40 m, and may be more in the Burke… Read more »

Paul T

On the top T26 Picture the Artisan sits very High on its Mast,i wonder how that compares to the T45 ?.As has been explained on here previously ( Gunbuster ) the weight margins on a Warship Design regarding Topweight are finite,its not as easy as it seems to substitute one Radar System for another,especially when all its ancillaries have to be factored in.

Glass Half Full

Arleigh Burke SPY-1 is mounted below the bridge, Hunter radar panels are well above the bridge (albeit with different bridge heights probable) and Artisan is as high as you can get on a T26 … not T45 high AFAICT but high enough for its tasks IMO. In a recent comment Gunbuster expressed surprise at the relative height of Artisan on T23 versus radars on Arleigh Burke, when he saw both moored alongside close to each other. BTW, in theory Arleigh Burke’s should also be using AN/SPS-73(V)12 X-band radars higher up the mast for surface and low altitude search, with the… Read more »


John , really informative link…..MOD should read it…..Aussie ships come with all the bells and whistles…..first ship start date 2020 delivered mid 20’s they are building 9/to replace 8 but those 8 will stay in service till mid 2040’s


Hunters will have 2 different torpedoes the same as the ANZACs do . MU90 for its STWS tubes but also MK50 for its Seahawk helo. Mu90 isnt cleared for the Seahawk so they need to carry 2 types of weapon which limits your total magazine capacity. The RAF has a similar issue with the P8 in that its not cleared to carry MK 75 Sting Ray so they have had to compromise on the far less capable US supplied MK50. AEGIS is nothing special its a command system. It displays the inputs from the sensors and automates your weapon control.… Read more »