More details are emerging on the Type 26 Combat Ship.
The contract is for the assessment phase only, 4 years and £127 million
It is being termed the ‘Combat Ship’ and likely to be the larger of the Future Surface Combatant, so the C1/C2 concept seems to be still alive.
The baseline design suggests a 141m long vessel, displacing 6,850 tonnes equipped with a towed low frequency sonar array and two launchers for the Future Local Area Air Defence (Maritime) system firing the Common Anti Air Modular Missile.
Other options include a vertical launch system for Tomahawk, SCALP or a modified GMLRS. Harpoon and a main gun also remain options, a choice of 127mm, 155mm or even a refurbished 114mm weapon.
Aviation facilities include a Chinook flight deck and hangar for a Merlin and UAV, the UAV possibly housed in a supplementary ‘dog kennel’ hangar.
Beneath the flight deck will be a large mission bay and stern dock to hold 4 9m RHIB’s, a torpedo system and a wide variety of mission modules.
It is also anticipated that the Type 26 will have an ether all electric or hybrid electric propulsion system providing a range of 7000nm at 18 knots. The ships compliment is expected to be in the region of 150 plus an embarked force of over 30.
Current planning assumptions are for a quantity of 10, so that will be 6 then as the detailed assessment phase delivers a better understanding of the Type 26′s capabilities.
Main Gate is anticipated towards the end of 2013 with production starting soon after, the lead ship is planned to be in service in 2021, some 8-9 years after main gate.
The initial element in the assessment phase will be an 18 month assessment of options, looking at what combinations of equipment like weapons and sensors will make the final cut. The last element will comprise detailed design work.
The plan calls for a yearly drumbeat starting at 2021. This means the Royal Navy escort fleet will be reduced to 15 as the Type 22′s and Type 23′s are withdrawn, up to 16 in 2037 and back up to 17 in 2038.
Of course this is all subject to those best laid plans and even if those plans actually come to fruition the first of the type will come into service 27 years after we started the process.
Future Surface Combatant has been held up in various design studies for years in a parallel with the CVR(T) replacement we looked at in an earlier post. The Future Escort project started in 1994 as a study to investigate options for the replacement of the Type 22 and Type 23 frigates. In response to a 1998 question in the House of Commons, the government stated that it was still a feasibility study.
As the years rolled yet more studies and yet more in service date extensions came out of the MoD, the only tangible result was a shed load of artists impressions, models and a whopping bill.
So here we are in 2010 with a cast iron firm commitment, to, err, do some more designing and studying.
Back to square one, except this time we are paying BAe to do it for us.
Well thats alright then.