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Britain’s Future Frigates: Type 26 & 27 Global Combat Ships

Discussion in 'Naval Warfare' started by AMDR, Nov 4, 2014.

  1. AMDR


    Sep 28, 2014
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    United States
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    Britain’s Future Frigates: Type 26 & 27 Global Combat Ships

    Britain’s “Future Surface Combatant” program is slated to replace the existing fleet of Type 22 Broadsword Class and Type 23 Duke Class frigates with 2 new ship classes. Outside attention often focuses on big-ticket ships likeaircraft carriers, submarines, and advanced destroyers – but the frigate is the real backbone of most modern navies.

    Lord Nelson loved his HMS Victory 29a1684554939699ce73a36c6660daea.png and her fellow first-rate ships of the line, but he asked the admiralty for more cruisers 29a1684554939699ce73a36c6660daea.png because he knew their versatile value as the “eyes of the fleet.” Modern multi-role frigates that can engage threats on the water, under water, and in the air fill that same role today, protecting other navy ships or undertaking independent action away from their task group. The Type 26 multi-role frigate will have to fill that niche – but first, its requirements and design must be defined.


    Britain’s Future Surface Combatants
    Of Britain’s 30 frigates built – 14 Type 22s and 16 Type 23s – 17 (4 Type 22s, 13 Type 23s) still serve in the Royal Navy, and some of the Type 23s have received modern refits to keep them going a bit longer. All remain outclassed by more modern designs. Another 10 frigates of these types have been sold abroad to Brazil, Chile, and Romania, and 3 Type 22s have been deliberately scrapped or sunk. The 2010 SDSR decided that the rest of the Type 22s will join their fellows abroad, or in the scrapyard, leaving just the Type 23 Duke Class. Fortunately, the Type 23s have been doing a lot of sailing in less strenuous environments than the treacherous North Atlantic seas they were designed for. That has helped them to last longer, but no ship lasts forever, and replacements are needed.

    Type 26 frigates are actually the 1st of 2 classes of ships to be built under the Royal Navy’s Future Surface Combatant program, also known as Global Combat Ships. Key Type 26 design criteria include multi-role versatility, flexibility in adapting to future needs, affordability in both construction and through-life support costs, and exportability. In reality, these requirements represent a set of key trade-offs. Some can be complementary, such as cost and exportability. Other pairings usually come at each other’s expense, such as the desire for high-end multi-role capability within a small ship footprint, versus the desire to keep initial purchase costs low.

    The current Assessment Phase was designed to make many of these trade-offs, and the program was timed so it can take the 2010 Strategic Defence Review into account. Initial reports indicate an imagined cost of about GBP 400 million per ship, but the Royal Navy is no better than the American Navy at shipbuilding cost estimates.

    The first ships of the Type 26 class are due to enter service in the early 2020s, and Britain envisions at least 12-13 of them. The current Type 26 plan involves 5 basic frigates, and another 8 ships with additional anti-submarine warfare equipment.

    By the 2030s, around half of front line Royal Navy personnel are expected to operate on a either a Type 26 frigate, or the 2nd “Type 27″ FSC variant.

    Type 26: Design
    At present, there is no full detail design, and hence no defined equipment set for the Type 26. BAE’s original working baseline reportedly involved a 141m, 6,850t ship, but reductions in target cost led them to publish figures of 148m but just 5,400t. The crew would be just 118, with room for 72 embarked troops.

    The ship will use a CODOG (Combined Diesel Electric or Gas Turbine) propulsion system, with a 36MW MT30 turbine from design partner Rolls-Royce, unspecified MTU diesel generator sets, and a gear box via David Brown Gear Systems Ltd. GE will be the overall integrator for the diesel-electric system. Current plans state a top ship speed of 28+ knots, with 60 days endurance and a range of 7,000 miles/ 11,000 km) at normal steaming speed of 15 knots/ 28 kmh.

    Armament will include the standard BAE 127mm gun, and the new MBDA/Thales CAMM (Common Anti-air Modular Missile) for short range air defense, to replace the current Seawolf system. CAMM/FLAADS-M benefits from carrying an active radar seeker, reducing the need to rely on a ship’s own radar illumination for targeting during saturation attacks. The Ministry of Defence has also reiterated that the ship would have a mission bay for “unmanned air, surface and underwater vehicles, or additional boats.”

    Little is certain beyond that. The big outstanding questions involve radars, the vertical launch system (which helps determine eligible missiles), the combat system, and secondary weapons.

    Early Concept
    Type 26 Mission Bay

    Radars. Based on the drawings of the May 2012 design, the long-range volume search radar atop the integrated mast would be a Type 997 Artisan system, which is also slated to equip Britain’s future carriers and upgraded Type 23 frigates. The drawings also show the compact antenna faceplates of an active array radar mounted around the integrated ship’s mast, however, similar to Australia’s CEAFAR/ CEAMOUNT solution. At the very top end, a dedicated air defense variant of the ship could use the SMART-L derived S1850M radar that equips British Type 45 destroyers.

    VLS. The May 2012 design’s 48 illustrated vertical launch missile silos combine 24 larger Mk.41 or Sylver cells and 24 shorter cells. The VLS systems do come in different lengths, and the smaller cells would probably be slated for the short-range CAMM air defense missile.

    Combat system. The use of CAMM means that at least some aspects of the PAAMS combat system will find their way onto the ship, but that area is still very unclear. What is clear, is that the ships will lack America’s Cooperative Engagement Capability, which allows participating ships to see, track, and even fire on targets illuminated by any other CEC-equipped ship or plane. CEC makes a big difference to roles like wide-area air defense, and to ship’s potential for use in anti-ballistic missile networks. Its presence would have pushed the Type 26 toward a positioning as a high end frigate, especially in conjunction with a very long-range radar like the S1850M. Instead, the Type 26 looks set to become a versatile mid-budget “value play” within the global export market.

    Secondary Weapons. The displayed layout shows a last-ditch CIWS gatling gun, and its positioning would allow Thales’ through-deck 30mm Goalkeeper. On the other hand, Britain has now used Raytheon’s smaller, bolt-on 20mm Phalanx system on its Type 45 destroyers, so either choice would just expand existing buys. The Goalkeeper has more stopping power, but the Admiralty could decide that Phalanx’s expandability makes it the more desirable option. The ability to convert a MK15 Phalanx mount into an 11-missile “MK15, MOD31″ SeaRAM launcher, or some kind of future “laser Phalanx,” is something Goalkeeper doesn’t have.

    Industrial Team
    BAE Systems has made 10 selections so far, and expects another 19-20 agreements in 2014, before the production contract is signed. Official selections so far include:


    Targeting Exports
    Both British FSC variants will also be developed with an eye to export orders, in hopes of to spreading development costs over more vessels, getting more benefit from the manufacturing learning curve, reducing costs per ship thanks to volume orders, and sustaining the UK’s naval shipbuilding industry.

    Rumored design options for export customers include a choice of gas turbine engines for maximum speed, or a slower but more efficient all-diesel design; as well as optional ship equipment fit-outs focused on either anti-submarine warfare (ASW) or air defense.

    So far, countries that have been reported as expressing some level of interest have included Australia, Brazil, Canada, India, Malaysia, New Zealand, and Turkey.

    Talks do not a deal make, however, and Britain will have a formidable set of established competitors to contend with.

    While the Americans have more or less abandoned this field, the Franco-Italian FREMM 29a1684554939699ce73a36c6660daea.png program offers a fully modern design, using the same MBDA PAAMS air defense missiles and DCNS SYLVER vertical launch systems as Britain’s Type 45 air-defense destroyers. Meanwhile, variants of France’s Lafayette Class 29a1684554939699ce73a36c6660daea.png stealth frigate design remain popular around the world.

    The German-Dutch F124 29a1684554939699ce73a36c6660daea.png air defense frigates offer stealth and advanced air defense via active array radars, while using the ubiquitous American Mk.41 vertical launch system for their missiles. Lower down the scale, ThyssenKrupp Marine’s globally popular MEKO Class 29a1684554939699ce73a36c6660daea.png family of ships provides a budget alternative. So does Damen Schelde’s modular Sigma Class 29a1684554939699ce73a36c6660daea.png , which can be built as anything from an Offshore Patrol Vessel to a full-size frigate.

    Beyond the standard competitors, and countries like Russia with their own separate set of naval clients, China has recently begun exporting frigates 29a1684554939699ce73a36c6660daea.png in Asia. They will soon be joined by South Korea’s very capable naval shipbuilding industry, which has demonstrated success in fielding modern domestic warships, and has a very strong commercial shipbuilding base to draw from.

  2. TimeTraveller

    TimeTraveller FULL MEMBER

    Aug 9, 2014
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