The US Navy has released a request for proposals (RFP) for the guided missile frigate FFG(X) design and construction contract for the first 10 ships.

The RFP provides for a full competition and will result in a contract awarded to one company in fiscal year 2020.

“The guided missile frigate is an agile, multi-mission platform designed for operation in blue water and littoral environments”, says the RFP.

The FFG(X) will have multi-mission capability to conduct air warfare, anti-submarine warfare, surface warfare, electronic warfare and information operations.

Responders to the contract solicitation must propose an FFG(X) design based on a parent ship design that has been through production and demonstrated in full scale at sea.

To reach the US Navy’s full requirement of 20 FFG(X)s a second contract is planned closer to fiscal year 2025 for the next 10 ships to ensure more accurate pricing on out-year ships.

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It’s a pity the design must have already been to sea. If T26 hadn’t been delayed to the extent is has it would realistically only be going to sea now so still not qualify.


Personally I wonder if that wasn’t done specifically to keep the T26 out of the running. It would have made a strong contender vs US designs….


It’s possible they’d have made an exception if Glasgow was already in the water. After all, the USN was actually the one that suggested a common frigate, or at least some commonality between classes, for the USN, RN, RAN, and RCN. Now that exact thing has happened but the US has effectively ruled it out.

Paul T

To be honest when I saw the pic I thought it was a T26.


It’s ugly as hell, just like the yank littoral ships are ugly as hell and Zumwalt destroyers, the bridge windows look terrible on the littoral ships, I know looks don’t mean jack but it’s nice to have good looking ships to look at. I do like the look of the American AB destroyers though and they are nice multi purpose destroyers unlike our 45s unfortunately, I hope we get the fitted for but not installed MK41 silos put in in the near future, doubt it though.


I think the Zumwalt is one very cool looking ship. Too each his own I guess.

Meirion X

I think there’s more chance of the Type 45’s to be fitted with Sylver A70 cells, which can launch Tomahawk, SCALP, Aster 30 Block 1&2(NT)(BMD).


Wonder why the type 26 frigates are getting the mk41 then

Meirion X

I think it is because Mk. 41 VLS can launch
anti-submarine torpedos.


I suspect the Canadian version of T26 is exactly what the USN needs. Shame it is not even under consideration.


In some quarters in the US there is a lingering suspicion of the RN. It is probably historical from 1776.


There’s a good joke on one of the boards
“Last time the USN acquired a British frigate they paid rather less than a billion …”

Nigel Collins

Excuse my ignorance, but are they saying that the first ten are expected to be built by 2025?

David Barry

America can bang out resorces and have more than one yard…


No, they mean they will sign a contract for 10 more ships in 2025. Doesn’t mean the first 10 have to be done by then.


I doubt it, the U.S. congress has thrown a curved ball into this demanding a lot of the support equipment is sourced in the US.This means a lot of new development work to qualify replacement equipment from local suppliers.

Nigel Collins

Thank you for responding! I came across a video which suggested the first in service would be 2023 and armed to the teeth no doubt.

Apparently being considered for the GMF: Joint Strike Missile (JSM)

Quite an achievement when you consider the Type 26’s timeframe and numbers.

Pathetic in comparison.


I would expect probably 3 in service by 2025 with another 2 in service trials if all goes well.


It’s all about resources and political will.
They have it, we don’t.


Our Politicians have never been more clueless. I blame the Treasury for the inability to see the benefits of a vibrant and comprehensively equipped RN that might contribute by rebuilding our Shipbuilding Industry.


They plan on having the 9th and 10th ship start building in ’25, with 19th and 20th started in ’30. The plan has already slipped one year due to budgeting. With what we call the terrible ’20’s on our doorstep I suspect there will much more, “slipping” here in the U.S.


Would be interesting to see Babcock bid with an Arrowhead 140 variant. Iver Huitfeldt is already in the water after all :-). I’ll go and put my coat on…..

Nigel Collins

Some of the choices available in some detail.

“SNA 2018 Day 2: FFG(X) designs by GD BIW, TKMS/Atlas NA, Austal, Fincantieri”

peter Shaw

Is there any likelihood that the US navy might reconsider the type 26? It seems crazy that Canada, Australia, the UK use the same platform but the US opts for something that is an older design….maybe the logic of interoperability might dawn on US navy planners. I think they should reconsider the type 26 in my opinion.


Thought I came across an article a while back were someone within the US department was saying the very thing that the USN should be looking at the t26 even though they are not in service yet, because of their modern design & adaptability, the commonality of having the model of ships throughout these navies that work so close together. So maybe they may look again & adapt the conditions for the competition.


Go tell them then.


I agree but yanks are to proud to pick a British design.


But not too proud to pick an Italian or Australian design? Just another ignorant anti-American cheap shot. Grow up,

Steve R

Not too proud to pick a British design; after all, the US Marines have for years and still use Harriers. No, they’ll use other nation’s designs; they’ll just insist on them being built in the US to protect their own shipyards and workers and industry. Which is fair enough, and what we should be doing. It’s not just about size and the clout they have; they have the will. Our government don’t. They just care about spending as little as possible. We’ll likely get all 13 Type 26 ships in the end but by the time the last one enters… Read more »

Rob Young

One problem with that is that, once a spec is issued with this type of restriction, a change would result in everybody that put something forward under that restriction would sue the US government if they lost to one of the newcomers.


No BAE have all ready said they won’t bid as they are not compliant with the requirements.


Let them run the competition, decide they don’t like any of them, delay for 12 months, and then buy T26.

Chris H

That description of “multi-mission capability to conduct air warfare, anti-submarine warfare, surface warfare, electronic warfare and information operations” sounds like a smaller AB. It seems the USN are still hooked on the concept of having every ship a jack of all trades but none as masters of anything in particular. Its especially confusing given as others have said the USA has the money and political will (let alone the industrial capacity) to build and operate specialist ships. The UK may indeed have smaller numbers but in their own individual spheres of operation they are each the best in the world.… Read more »


Indeed, so ( in the RN) what is the relevance of a ‘general purpose’ frigate? Just asking….
Ought not the T31 x 5 program actually produce +2 ASW ships, + 2 AAW ships and another River 2 OPV?

Chris H

@ Paul P – My understanding is that the GP Frigates would relieve more capable Frigates for the ASW and Carrier support work. Having said that I suspect the new Rivers would be as capable as a GP Frigate on those more ‘Littoral’ and enforcement duties (although I am happy to be corrected by Gunbuster and other ex Andrews). But to your point: the 5 x T31s are budgetted @ £1.25 Bn, a T26 @ £1 Bn each and a T45 @ £1 Bn in 2000 money. So with the best will in the world we lose 5 x GPs… Read more »


Well I confess I was playing at being the Devil’s advocate. Your point on costs is well made and does suggest to me that the the Arrowhead 140 might be the best choice for R31, sort of along the same lines of thinking as the Italian navy PPA idea – a 140m OPV ffbnw the ability for midlife upgrade – VLS to AAW and / or electric ‘good enough’ ASW drive. One could argue that Arrowhead at 140m, is just 9m short of what the RN really wanted…another 5 Type 26 without the expensive gold plated ASW engine drive sound… Read more »


The Italian PPA idea is interesting. 10 identical hulls, 3 equipt as frigates, 3 as corvettes and 4 as OPV. €3.9B for the first 7 is quite expensive though.


Yes, if you carve out ASW and AAW as specialised ( and expensive) ships ( Fremm/ Freda/ T26/ T45/ Horizon) then it seems they have defined everything else as a GP hull.
In a way I think that BAE would like the fairly successful Khareef /River 2 hull to be the basis of similar family of vessels but they are coming at the concept very late, decades behind Blohm and Voss with the Mekos.
Arrowhead 140 could be our PPA.

Paul T

At roughly £500 million per ship for the first 7 id say that it represents good value – yes they are being built with different equipment levels but it will be interesting to see how they perform once in service.A comparison is the order for the first 3 Type 26 Frigates is in the same ballpark.


The problem with specialist ships is they have a disturbing habit of never being in the right place. This was true in the past and is true today. For an example when recently has the RN consistently deployed T45s and T23s in concert with each other? There is the argument that the USN could procure more of each type, but that falls apart when you think about how many more responsibilities the USN has. Then of course you have to ask the question what is during a engagement (or even during transit due to a accident/engineering casualty)the ship that is… Read more »


My take on it is that with the numbers the USN fleet has they can afford to have specialist escorts, but with our tiny fleet we simply cannot afford to have anything but good all-rounders.

We should’ve moved heaven & earth to get the T26 into the running by cracking on with the 1st RN T26 so it could’ve qualified.


‘We should’ve moved heaven and earth’. When did that ever happen in Treasury World especially under Hammonds dead (weight) hand?

Meirion X

I do agree with you Chris, I would have thought that the USN is lacking in specialist ASW warships, including all that hull quieting tech, which the AB’s don’t have. An USN ASW frigate would need to be able to defend its self when operating alone ahead of carrier battle fleets. Is this what the role of an ASW frigate be, searching for submarines some distance, ahead of fleets, Not escorting CBG like RN doctrine? Would a fleet of Type 26 frigates fulfill that rrequirement? It would be very interesting to know how the USN would arm a Type 26… Read more »

Paul T

Both the proposed Australian and Canadian versions seem to be equipped with mainly American systems and Weapons so I wouldn’t expect there to be much difference to an imaginary USN variant.

Joseph R

would be very interested to see more on what mission requirements and what corresponding specifications of critical hardware to support those. It was my understanding that the LCS ended up being a lesser valuable and somewhat vulnerable asset; the predecessor Perry class FFGs were also regarded as somewhat vulnerable. One wonders what is in store for this eventual replacement – and why the US Navy would bother with it, when it already fields large numbers of the very capable Arleigh Burkes (the gold standard in multi-mission combat platforms). No doubt there is a doctrinal reason behind it – but I… Read more »


The doctrinal reason is the USN never intended for patrol, anti-piracy, freedom of navigation patrols and presence missions to be done by DDGs. Back in the 80s and 90s the Navy didn’t have to send a Burkes and Spruance/Kidd class DDGs worse Ticonderoga CGs all over the place doing what amounts to busy work. Doing that puts wear on the platforms and crews. In addition to playing hell with finding the escorts for CSGs and ships capable of launching meaningful cruise missile strikes when used in concert. The current state of affairs was caused by the lack of frigate construction… Read more »

Joseph R

good answer, Elliott – thanks for that. and I agree with you on the LCS – I was just trying to put it in kinder language.. on the flipside though, despite having had DDGs / CGs deploy for this type of tasking – we have also seen FFGs ending up deployed in higher threat environments, in which they have suffered capability shortfalls. on paper I agree with the doctrinal explanation you cite – however in practice I guess you’ll never know exactly what you’ll be running into.. no plan ever survives first contact with the enemy. at least it’s a… Read more »


Apparently the USN has finally come to the (very) belated recognition that the LCS in its current configuration is a non player in pretty much any role outside of the most low threat missions. This Hellfire package will be useful against small boats and patrol craft but for anything else is effectively useless. Note however, that the USS Montgomery which is an Independence class (and the most successful design) LCS has apparently deployed with the Kongsberg NSM. If so, it’s a very good step in the right direction. Face it, the LCS should be heavily armed, high speed, and unfortunately… Read more »


My concern is this is the USA’s low end platform. Our T31 would be lucky to be accepted as a coastguard vessel over there yet we will be sailing it all over world and into dangerous areas. Italy building the PPA, an OPV that will totally outclass the T31. As I’ve said before, if the role of T31 is anti piracy and flag waving then River 2 is plenty so just build more of these and save some money. If not, the T31 should be something similar to what the USA are considering with this frigate. No outright specialities but… Read more »


I suspect you have just enunciated how it went down. Act 1 Scene 1 RN..we would like 13 T26 8000 ton Arleigh Burkes MOD : you can only afford 8 RN : ( sighing) well ok, but the other 5 need to be 4000 ton ‘credible’ frigates MOD: they can’t cost more than £250m each. BAE -smiling aside to audience ( good job we spent that design money hardening Amazonas/ Khareef hull for that overpriced R2) BAE : we have just the thing…Avenger… A bargain at £250m apiece. MOD: not a credible frigate and anyway your reputation is &&ite BAE:… Read more »


Very good..


In line with your post T.S.,

I really believe the FREMM is going to be the winning design for the USN. To meet requirements as you outline above, the design is receiving major armaments and capabilities upgrades.



I agree that the FREMM is the most likely winner. For two reasons the first being it is the largest and most capable option (and more expensive) all of which appeal to the Navy. The second reason is political and industrial. Austal likely has more transport contracts in the future. Bath can keep building Destroyers till the next class comes on line. HII is always busy. But Fincantieri’s Marinette Marine shipyard would be left without any likely orders in the future. Not something usually done in a swing state or when the Navy (and Congress) is desperate to keep as… Read more »


That’s been one of my points in past posts as well Elliot, all of the other yards involved here would have continuing contracts while Marinette would have neither the FFGX or GD’s Freedom class LCS.