The Type 26 Global Combat Ship – Equipment

There have been a number of studies and programmes that looked at a Type 22 and type 23 replacements, the Future Surface Combatant or FSC programme being the most recent. Future Surface Combatant assumed there would be two classes of ship, the C1 and c2.

An updated version is at the link below

https://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/the-type-26-frigate/

C1 was called the Task Group Enabled Surface Combatant that would undertake high intensity combat tasks such as Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW)

C2 was called the Stabilisation and General Purpose Combatant that would follow the C1, providing less capability than the C1 but at a lower cost

Supporting the FSC programme was the Naval Design partnership, an experimental commercial entity that comprised expertise from BAE Systems, BMT, Thales, VT Group, QinetiQ, Babcock and BMT with support from other industry partners like Rolls Royce and Converteam. The objective of the NDP was to translate the outline requirements into concept designs that could be advanced through to demonstration, construction and support.

The UK has spent a lot of time and money looking at a replacement including a range of exotic pentamaran designs but the latest, and now thankfully confirmed, programme is the Type 26 Global Combat Ship.

Following the 2010 SDSR two distinct changes took place; the first was to emphasise economies of scale in delivering the FSC requirement via single acoustically quiet hull, thus collapsing the previously different C1 and C2 designs into a single common hull.

The second was to concentrate much of the design effort into delivering a design that was both suitable and optimised for export.

The Global Combat Ship concept was born.

Since the March 2010 £127m assessment phase contract was let to BAE, leading the Naval Design Partnership, a couple of designs have emerged. The first included a stern ramp, a stepped hangar, offset Phalanx, Harpoon amidships and a curiously small superstructure.

Type 26 previous design
Type 26 previous design

I must admit to having some trouble with the length of time and cost for this given the modest technological ambition, expertise built up during the Type 45 and CVF design phase, modern computer aided design techniques and high degree of systems reuse from the Type 23/45/CVF but if it produces a stable exportable design that enables production to commence at a reasonable cost then who am I to argue, perhaps I am hopelessly underestimating the design effort, again!

People might look at other nation’s designs like the SIGMA, MEKO or FREMM for example and wonder why we can’t just buy from them but it is the government’s industrial policy to retain onshore the ability to design and manufacture complex warships with complex weapons.

This means BAE will be designing and building the Type 26 whether anyone likes it or not and because of the advantages of onshore design and build feeding money back into the economy, they might not be as expensive as imagined.

Whether Type 26 will actually find partner nations or overseas customers in such a crowded and well provisioned market is debatable.

Australia, Malaysia, India and Brazil have been mooted as potential partners. In January 2010 I wrote a short piece about ship design collaboration with Australia and New Zealand, picking up a Jane’s news story about information exchange agreements between the three.

Rather than exporting the whole ship I think we should concentrate on exporting sub systems like weapons, propulsion, combat management systems, sensors and countermeasures but we will see how the export potential of Type 26 plays out. There is also have the 15 year Terms of Business Agreement with BAE to consider, the build rate and location might dictate the overall cost, capability and quantity mix.

The latest design shown, the product of the Capability Decision Point programme milestone is the same, more or less, that the one seen earlier this year.

As is the norm with these things small pieces of the complex, ever changing and rather blurry jigsaw puzzle have started the slow process of slipping into place.

We must remember that Type 26 has only recently passed Main Gate 1, is not due into service for nearly a decade and the detailed design work that will conclude in a couple of more years will see many of the points of discussion and uncertainty eventually clarified until we can all be clear what the propulsion system is, what those mystery silos on the funnel actually contain and what type of land attack missile it might even be fitted for!

Type 26 Global Combat Ship DSEI 2013
Type 26 Global Combat Ship DSEI
Type 26 Global Combat Ship DSEI 2013
Type 26 Global Combat Ship DSEI
Type 26 Global Combat Ship DSEI 2013
Type 26 Global Combat Ship DSEI 01

The video above is obviously different from the first  iteration with the strange dog kennel hangar, Scan Eagle launch rail and rear boat ramp but still seems vague in some areas, exactly as one might expect for a design that has only had the basics confirmed. Some of the rendering looks incomplete and therefore any image analysis should have a very clear ‘subject to confirmation’ stamp right through it.

I am going to split this post into two parts, the ship itself and a later piece on its use and possible futures in a wider context.

This is what we know so far about the ship itself with a few guesses thrown in based on available information and the recent Type 45 and CVF builds.

Numbers

The working assumption is for 13 but we should be very clear that no final decision will be made until the Main Gate decision in a few years, after the design work has completed and equipment budgets confirmed for the crowded equipment plan.

Whether the Type 26 was supposed to replace the Type 23’s or both the Type 23’s and Type 22’s is open for discussion but it is unlikely that numbers will be greater than the stated assumption of 13.

There is a break point at 8 as this is the number of the expensive Sonar 2087 that are fully expected to transfer from the Type 23 to the Type 26.

The final quantity is wholly dependent on cost but it is hard to envisage less than this number.

The remainder will non ASW optimised general purpose variants.

Whether the General Purpose variant will be exactly the same as the ASW variant minus the Sonar 2087 is again, unclear.

Type 26 will therefore very likely be a ‘fleet within a fleet’ and it is these lower specification general purpose types that will probably be subject to any reductions in overall numbers.

A cynic might suggest they are the cannon fodder in the upcoming budget battle.

The oldest Type 23 is due out of service in 2023 with the rest following as the type 26 comes into service

The youngest Type 23 has an out of service date of 2036 so changes to those dates accepted, the Type 26 will be a long programme.

The envisaged out of service date for the Type 26 is 2060.

The target production price for a Type 26 is reportedly £250m to £350m each which might sound like a bargain (or not, depending on your perspective) but let’s not forget the major systems that are being pulled through from the Type 23 are both not included in that headline cost and represent major cost drivers in any naval ship.

Much like predicting night following day I don’t think I would be challenging Mystic Meg if I said the likely number of Type 26’s frigates is therefore going to be somewhere between 8 and 13.

General Design Approach

The Type 26 is a conservative design and the majority of systems are either already in service with the Royal Navy, will be in service with the Royal Navy or in service elsewhere.

There will be new systems but the Artisan radar, Sea Ceptor missile; combat management system, countermeasures, sonar and other sensors will likely be pulled through from the Type 23.

Missions bays are not at the cutting edge.

Of course we might all want to see sexy pentamaran designs combined with exotic waterjet propulsion and sharks with laser beams and everything but the grim reality for the Royal Navy, and other services, is that the days of risk taking with ambitious project specifications are well and truly over

Unrestrained cost growth in the majority of all the services recent major programmes have seen to that.

Risk is the new dirty word.

From a previous Royal Navy publication (page 120);

To reduce programme risk, and in keeping with the principles of through-life capability management, there is a drive to maximise pull-through from the Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers, Type 45 destroyers and ongoing Type 23 capability sustainment/upgrades, in an effort to both reduce risk and capitalise on previous investment, and/or existing system inventory. So while the Type 45 is characterised by approximately 80 per cent new to service equipment and 20 per cent reuse, these percentages will be effectively reversed for Type 26

In today’s climate I doubt very much whether the Type 45 would have progressed and the Type 26 has been characterised by many as an evolved Type 23, which is not that far from the truth.

As such, that is not necessarily a bad thing, the Type 23 has no doubt been a success story and a measured evolution, de risked on the Type 23 and Type 45, should see the Type 26 enter service with a reasonable expectation of cost restraint and likelihood that everything will work as advertised.

The value of everything working upon introduction is also not to be underestimated, for me at least, this is one of the best features of the Type 26 Global Combat Ship’s general design approach.

Hull and Accommodation

BAE state the hull will be

Approximately 148m length and maximum beam of 19m with a displacement of 5,400 tonnes

This is longer than the Type 23 at 133m long but only 10% or so.

The general trend for most types of military equipment is to increase in size so this is to be expected.

Improved accommodation standards and more computing equipment are just two of the size drivers and designing in expansion space means adaptability and lower cost changes in the future.

148m for the Type 26 is only 5m shorter than the Type 45 which as we know is a pretty large ship.

The displacement figure quoted is ‘light’ so full displacement will be greater depending on what those big empty spaces will be filled with.

There has been some emphasis on construction modularity and ease of upgrade leading many to confuse this payload modularity like the US Navy Littoral Combat Ship but they are not the same and the vast majority of the Type 26’s systems will be ‘plumbed in’ in conventional style.

In line with contemporary ship construction methods there has and will be a great deal of thought and effort put into ease of upgrade, reflecting the likelihood of major systems change over the life cycle of the ships. Blown fibre optic cable, block construction, COTS computing hardware and prefabricated internal fixtures like accommodation spaces are just a few of the features that will keep construction and refit costs down.

The clean lines, facetted construction and carefully chosen materials are designed to reduce the ships electromagnetic signature although there are of course obvious limitations in this regard.

On the BAE datasheet it states there are 118 crew members with additional accommodation for 72 with these figures based on the May 2012 baseline design but older sources that describe the earlier design iteration states a larger crew of 130 with 36 embarked personnel.

If correct, and not a typing mistake, it would indicate a smaller core crew but with a larger number of embarked personnel, I assume, depending on whether the Sonar 2087 is fitted or how many helicopters, unmanned or other mission systems are embarked.

The Type 23 has a nominal crew of approximately between 170  and 185

Without seeing a detailed breakdown it is difficult to draw any firm conclusions but the cost savings of being able to operate a ship doing broadly an equivalent set of tasks with nearly 30% fewer crew will be significant.

A 1998 Parliamentary Answer on the crew size of the Type 23 is interesting

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans exist to reduce the complement of Type 23 frigates by refitting with less manpower-intensive equipment; and if he will make a statement. [27887]

Dr. Reid: There are no plans to reduce the complement of Type 23 frigates by refitting with less manpower-intensive equipment. Manning implications are taken into consideration when the Operational Requirement for future ships is considered; however, the size of the complement is affected by other considerations such as the manpower needed for damage control and fire-fighting.

The Type 23’s routinely embark more crew than they have bunks for so it will be interesting to see how the crew/embarked personnel mix works with the target reductions. These reductions are delivered by increasing automation and having more reliable equipment onboard that needs less routine maintenance but as the US Navy have discovered with their LCS programme, initial estimates of crew size that are supported by reliable equipment and automation do not always come to fruition.

By way of another contrast, a more recent ship like the Type 45 Destroyers that are still coming into service has a normal compliment of 185.

One thing is certain though, whatever the final number they will have much improved accommodation facilities compared to the Type 23, yes, including iPod charging points!

Accommodation spaces will probably be unisex and similar to those found on CVF and Type 45, as supplied by Strongbox Marine

CVF Accommodation - Strongbox Marine
CVF Accommodation – Strongbox Marine
CVF Accommodation - Strongbox Marine
CVF Accommodation – Strongbox Marine

Wonder whether they will go with the light oak, cherry or mahogany finish?

Click here to view the brochure.

There will no doubt be those that hark back to the good old days of mess decks but modern ships need modern people and modern people need modern accommodation. Those aboard will be deployed for long periods and I find nothing unusual whatsoever with wanting to provide them we as good facilities as reasonably practicable.

Retention of skilled personnel is an important factor in cost management and if people are leaving because their accommodation is more like the Cruel Sea than than a modern working environment then I would suggest those crusty old sea dogs take their nostalgia elsewhere, perhaps they miss weevils and scurvy as well!

Stern wedges or transom flaps as featured on the Type 23 will probably make their way into the Type 26 design as a means of reducing fuel consumption.

Power and Propulsion

The ASW mission influences the hull design and means of propulsion, the ability to tow a sonar array with a low acoustic signature hull and propulsion system and carry out ‘sprint and drift’ manoeuvres are essential to anti-submarine warfare. Whether this will continue to be the preferred tactic or off-board meshed sensors carried on UAV’s will become the preferred option in the future might inform discussion, but in the timescales that the Type 26 design must be finalised, those traditional concepts will still be relevant.

The commenters at Think Defence really are a keen eyed and knowledgeable lot, so far they have deduced from news reports that the oft rumoured CODLOG propulsion system seems increasingly likely.

From this story on Defense News;

The executive said the propulsion ITTs covered gas turbine, diesel engine, gearbox and electric motor systems

Jane’s backed this up with a confirmation and subsequent piece in the Engineer also described CODLOG as the preferred option.

So, CODLOG it is then.

Although this is the first absolute confirmation it has been widely predicted. If we go back to our discussion on the very first concepts in March 2010 a combined diesel/gas turbine was thought likely and a year later in the October 2011 DSEi edition of Warships Technology magazine options such as a Rolls Royce Compact MT30 or General Electric LM2500 were discussed in the same piece that pretty much confirmed they would be combined with diesels in a CODLOG setup. It had also been stated that CODLOG was the preferred baseline in the Royal Navy public ‘brochure’;  A Global Force 2011/12, click here to read.

The Royal Navy publication gave a little more information and stated that the power and propulsion system would comprise;

…combining four high-speed diesel generators and two electric motors (to achieve diesel-electric cruise speeds up to 18 knots) and gas turbine direct drive (for a threshold sprint speed of 26 knots)

Other systems will be available should customers want them and it did make the point that studies are still ongoing.

CODLOG stands for COmbined Diesel eLectric Or Gas although it is sometimes also called CODELOG

Diesel engines are used to power an electrical generator driving electric motors connected to the two drive shafts.

The single gas turbine is connected to the drive shafts via a gearbox.

The diesels are used for cruising speeds with the turbine being used for high speeds. This is economical but a single turbine is obviously a ‘single point of failure’

The Type 23’s use the CODLAG system, the crucial difference being the A for and, it is complicated stuff.

The intercooled and recuperated (ICR) WR-21 as fitted to the Type 45 is based on RB-211/Trent technology and is designed to provide high levels of economy at part loads, in comparison with other turbines which are less efficient at anything less than full load. The cost of the WR-21’s and associated machinery was £84 million for all 6 Type 45’s.

Click here for a detailed document on integration details for the WR-21, very interesting reading for people like me who don’t have a clue!

By using the Rolls Royce WR-21 turbine, the same as the Type 45, we can provision a simple extension to the recently signed 6 year £20m support contract that uses the Class Output Management approach, or contracting for availability.

That is one avenue to leverage commonality but the WR-21 implementation on the Type 45 is almost unique and considered by many to be an evolutionary dead end, the WR-21 was not specified for CVF for example.

The higher power (36kW instead of 25kW) Rolls Royce MT-30 turbine, based on the Trent, will be used in CVF.

If Type 26 uses the MT-30 then it would equally make sense to combine the support arrangements with CVF.

Rolls Royce MT30
Rolls Royce MT30

Either option provides commonality benefits but many consider the MT30 the better option of the two.

Rolls Royce MT30 Marine Turbine
Rolls Royce MT30 Marine Turbine

Although BAE have released requests for proposals/information from other propulsion manufacturers it would seem unlikely that anyone other than Rolls Royce would be selected.

Rolls Royce are developing a compact variant of the MT-30 and some reports indicate that this combined with 2 MTU diesels rather than the four in the RN magazine will be the preferred option for Type 26, although the final configuration remains unclear, as much of the Type 26.

The Tognum Group are joint owned by Rolls Royce and Daimler and MTU Friedrichshafen are a subsidiary of Tognum so the synergy is obvious, even though the Type 45 and CVF uses the Wartsila 12V200 generating set. CVF also uses the Wartsila 16V38 and 12v38 generators as well so using MTU diesels instead of of Wartsila ones would be a departure.

The drive shafts will likely be connected to low noise fixed pitch propellers as fitted to the Type 23 where each shaft can run on diesel powered electric drive at about 90 RPM or about 13 to 17 knots.

The image below shows a Type 23 propeller as displayed in the National Maritime Museum.

Type 23 Fixed Pitch Propellor
Type 23 Fixed Pitch Propellor

The slow rotation speed and fixed pitch propellers are used to lower the cavitation generation speed and radiated noise that might interfere with the sonar systems.

The general purpose variant of Type 26 could possibly use a different type of propeller which might offer advantages.

Speed for the Type 26 is quoted as 28 knots plus with a range (at 15 knots) of 7,000nm, a comparison between the Type 26 and Type 23 will be difficult at this stage though.

Sensors and Systems

Computing Environment

BAE will be introducing a shared computing environment based on modern blade server architecture and operating systems virtualisation on the Type 23 and this will be transferred to the Type 26. Given the rapid rate of development in computing equipment and long timescales between design and introduction of the Type 26 this kind of technology, mundane and ordinary in the civilian world, will allow the ships computing environment to avoid obsolescence issues that limit effectiveness and drive up support costs as manufacturers struggle to find stocks of Intel 486 processors for example.

The pace of change in IT equipment seems as rapid as ever and in a decades time when the Type 26 is in service the computing power on offer in the open market will no doubt be hugely different than that today.

By the time Type 26 leaves service in 2060 who knows what will be the norm at PC World.

Data growth is a key issue and by enabling the use of commercial hardware, opportunities to exploit this increasing amount of data can be realised at reasonable costs.

Future unmanned systems will no doubt add to this data growth and the Type 26 must be ready for it.

If I was looking for a stand-out item from the recent news on Type 26, this would be it.

Combat Management System

The primary interface between the ships equipment and its crew will be the combat management system and this will likely be the latest iteration of the Outfit DNA(2)/CMS-1 from BAE.

In January 2011 BAE were awarded a £47m contract to support the combat management systems aboard the Type 23 Frigates and RFA Argus.

A good description of what a CMS does can be found at the BAE contract award press release;

The CMS assists a ship’s command in detecting and countering threats to the ship and any surrounding forces by managing all relevant external and internal information provided by the ship’s radars. It integrates this information with the activities of the anti-air weapons systems as well as other sensors and weapons.

The press release describes the Joint Support Solution which is a wider commercial framework incorporating the same systems on the Type 45, CVF and future ships.

In March this year BAE were awarded another related contract, in conjunction with QinetiQ. The £45m awardcovers specialist test, integration and approval of naval combat management systems and this, or at least a future extension/variant, will likely include work on the Type 26 programme.

BAE DNA2 Combat Management System
BAE DNA2 Combat Management System

The Surface Ship Combat Systems (SSCS) DNA system has had a difficult introduction into service.

Originating in the Surface Ship Command System (SSSC) programme it was selected in 1989 after another advanced combat management system had failed. Does anyone remember Token Ring or IEE802.5, DNA(1) used this with fibre optic networking and combined such cutting edge systems as 3.2Gb storage arrays, Pentium processors and colour displays!

The Type 45 command and combat system is an evolved derivative of the DNA(1) system with elements from other programmes and run over a fast Ethernet network.

It wasn’t until 2010 that the first Type 23, HMS Montrose, put to sea with the upgraded DNA(2) system, 4 years after the initial contract award to BAE that would also see the same system being deployed on future surface vessels and another variant for submarines. A significant feature of DNA(2) is that it is based on commercial hardware and software.

Problems soon became apparent including an incident on HMS Argyll in which she was unable to engage with her Seawolf missiles and inconsistent air contact tracking between consoles.

These have been overcome now and by the time Type 26 enters service the system should be fully mature, phew

Electronic Support Measures

One of the great capabilities of the Type 22 was an advanced set of signals intelligence systems.  A recent announcement that the 6 Type 45′s will probably get the latest US ‘Ship’s Signal Exploitation Equipment (SSEE) Increment F’ system from Argon ST was very good news.

This from ASD News

The UK is procuring SSEE increment F as a Cryptologic Electronic Warfare Support Measure (CESM) replacement program for the Cooperative Outboard Logistics Update (COBLU) currently fitted on Type 22 Frigates and it will be the future maritime CESM system fitted on the Type 45 Destroyers. It is expected the UK will be able to fully absorb and utilize the Communications Intelligence (COMINT) system and capability.

SSEE is an evolutionary programme designed to be incrementally upgraded with new computing and storage systems, exploiting the rapid advances in commercial computing systems.

The official notice of a foreign military sale said;

The Government of the United Kingdom (UK) has requested the sale of seven Ship’s Signal Exploitation Equipment (SSEE) Increment F, seven Selective Availability Anti-Spoofing Modules (SAASM) GPS Receivers, and seven System Signal and Direction Finding Stimulator packages, spare and repair parts, personnel training and training equipment, support equipment, U.S. Government and contractor engineering, logistics, and technical support services, testing, publications and technical documentation, Fleet Information Operation Center upgrades, installation, life cycle support, and other related elements of logistics support. The estimated cost is $90 million.

The system has been delivered under a joint US/UK project called COBLU or Cooperative Outboard Logistics Update which was to replace the existing AN/SSQ-108 based OUTBOARD system

It would be nice to think that the Type 26 would get the same.

In May 2012 Thales announced the award of an earlier contract to upgrade the Royal Navy major surface fleet with their Fully Digital Radar Electronic Support Measures (RESM) as part of the UAT Mod 2 programme.

Under the terms of the new contract – the UAT MOD 2.1 & 2.3, advanced technology will be now be introduced to the UAT RESM equipments fitted across the RN surface fleet and associated land-based training equipments.

The technology provides excellent system performance in the modern dense radar environment. This enables the ship to operate in all operational maritime theatres, including the littoral environment, and provides the RN with world leading electronic warfare support and emitter identification technology.

By digitising the RF signal at the antenna, the majority of the receiver functionality is implemented using software and firmware algorithms. The system is therefore easily upgraded and new signal analysis tools are easily introduced, keeping the RESM capability current in a rapidly evolving operational environment.

The approach also maximises the use of commercial off-the-shelf hardware, making the RESM significantly more reliable, easier to maintain and lowers the total cost of ownership.

The brochure says this;

They also contribute to tactical situation awareness by identifying emitters, reporting new activity and generating signals intelligence data in real time

The Type 23 uses the Thales Scorpion Radar Electronic Counter Measures System, click here for a brochure

One would also hope that the Type 26 will be similarly equipped.

Cooperative Engagement Capability

In the latest images, the square panels underneath the Artisan radar are for the Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC) but it was announced recently that whilst there was a desire to incorporate CEC it has been taken off the shopping list for the Royal Navy.

Maybe at some point it will be purchased but it does seem unlikely, there are more important things to spend a finite budget on and with data linking available via other means maybe the benefits of CEC are overplayed?

Type 26 Mast Details
Type 26 Mast Details

The main mast design is reminiscent of the Type 45 and in stark contrast to the Type 23 and even the newer USN ships; this is an area where the RN and other European naval forces are way ahead.

Radars

Having invested so much money in BAE/QinetiQ ARTISAN Type 997 3D E/F-band radar and other electro optical and ESM systems across the Type 45 and Type 23 it would seem basic common sense to fit them to the Type 26 and this seems to be the case.

Click here for a brochure.

There will also be a number of smaller radars for flight control and navigation.

Sonars

Sonar 2087 is an installed variant of the Thales CAPTAS 4 and is a very high specification Low Frequency Active Sonar (LFAS) fitted to 8 of the Type 23’s.

Although it was primarily designed for blue water operation it still has a great deal of utility on the Type 26, despite the increasing trend towards operations in shallower waters.

The image below shows the Towed Body being deployed, this being the transmitter

Sonar 2087
Sonar 2087

The Towed Array receiver is deployed through the bell shaped entry on the centreline.

Sonar 2087 Stern Arrangements
Sonar 2087 Stern Arrangements

The Type 26 graphics show a similar arrangement although the apertures are protected by retractable panels to reduce signatures when not deployed.

Type 26 Frigate
Type 26 Frigate

The schematic below shows the handling equipment layout for both the Towed Body and Towed Array.

Sonar 2087 General Layout
Sonar 2087 General Layout

Sonar 2087 can be operated ‘hands free’ up to Sea State 6 and to a depth of 250m.

Detection in shallow waters is a problem because underwater obstacles might prevent the safe deployment of long towed arrays, fresh/sea water mixes, tidal impacts on water conditions, unpredictable and variable salinity/temperature, reflections from the sea bed and underwater obstacles and even concerns about underwater wildlife may limit the use of low frequency devices. Ambient and directional noise from man made and natural sources also confuses the overall acoustic picture.

Because of the smaller areas involved accurate sea bed surveys and sediment analysis, sometimes called Rapid Environmental Assessments, can be used for ASW. This kind of technology and processes are more often used for survey and mine countermeasures but research continues at a pace and one capability may very well utilise another. We might see the kinds of USV’s now routinely used for covert survey and seabed analysis carried aboard a Type 26 in the future. Other promising research avenues include exploiting so called ‘non-cooperative’ sound sources of opportunity, other ships that just happen to be in the area for example. The returns from these can be passively received into the detection and analysis software, cunning eh.

To cover the shallow water detection requirement active dipping sonars from a Merlin helicopter and hull mounted high frequency sonars seem to be the way to go for the short term although the subject is a fiendishly complex one, real science.

In the future, these higher frequency systems may be operated from unmanned surface vessels or even helicopter type UAV’s with sensor information relayed back to the Type 26 or an airborne Merlin.

The large mission bay could be used to carry this type of unmanned surface and sub-surface vessel.

The hull mounted Ferranti/Thomson Sintra Type 2050 sonar on the Type 23’s has a long and complex history with many changes of ownership but the base product is now part of the Thales UMS 4110 family and utilises much of the processing and display console systems as the CAPTAS 4 or 2087.

From Jane’s;

Sonar 2050 is the medium-range, medium-frequency hull-mounted attack sonar for the Royal Navy fitted to the Type 42 destroyers and Type 23 and Type 22 frigates. It is the successor to Sonar 2016 and is compatible with both bow and keel variants of the Sonar 2016 array

Whether the Type 2050’s will be transferred to the Type 26 or a new purchase of the UMS 4110 (or another type), is not yet known.

Thales are responsible supporting Royal navy major sonar support including the 2087 out to 2018 as part of a 10 year £230m contract.

Communications and Other Systems

The Type 26 will most likely be fitted with the full and usual compliment of LF, HF, VHF, UHF, internal wireless, SHF satellite communication systems and Link 11, 14 and 16 JTIDS.

It might even get Link 22

The Type 45 communications were designed and installed by BAE, Thales and EADS Astrium, the latter responsible for the Satellite Communication Onboard Terminal (SCOT) 3 equipment with Tods radomes.

Paradigm Secure will now likely design and install any SCOT systems on board the Type 26, with the new SCOT 5

(incidentally, the SCOT 5 link has some interesting information on Skynet 5, REACHER and the new BANTAM terminals)

Meteorological, navigation, IFF and platform management systems might be transferred or taken from the Type 45 design, including those from Kelvin Hughes, Raytheon, Rockwell and Northrop Grumman.

The Mission Space

A modern, flexible and multi role these days is nothing without a ‘mission bay’

The previous design iterations had a multi-purpose mission bay underneath the flight deck with a stern ramp but the current design looks like it will be co-located with the aviation hanger.

Type 26 Stern Ramp
Type 26 Stern Ramp
Type 26 Frigate Stern Ramp and Mission Bay
Type 26 Frigate Stern Ramp and Mission Bay

I suspect this change has been prompted by the difficulties in integrating a flexible mission space with the physical needs of the Sonar 2087 components and torpedo defence system, when these are installed there is very little space for anything else, certainly not a launching ramp and handling equipment for anything beyond the smallest boats.

If you compare the image above with the Sonar 2087 arrangement further up in the post it seems to be lacking in provision for the towed array.

The centreline boat ramp is exactly where the 2087 array opening is which makes me think the original design omitted this, was this an oversight or something deliberate?

If it was an oversight then that is pretty significant, wonder if the MoD paid for that ‘correction’?

I have commented before that most major military systems must now have as part of their sales pitch the words ‘humanitarian assistance’ and the Type 26, it would seem, is no different.

The T26 GCS will be a multi-mission warship designed for joint and multinational operations including complex combat operations, maritime security operations such as counter piracy, as well as humanitarian and disaster relief work around the world.

Sir Mark Stanhope

Whilst the Type 26 will be multi-purpose I would much prefer those purposes be wholly military in nature, delivering a tiny volume of humanitarian or disaster assistance from one of the most sophisticated surface combatants in the world does seem rather wasteful, perhaps we should drop the pretence and just admit that it is a warship

Go on MoD, don’t be ashamed.

That aside, the removal of the stern ramp is interesting; the stern ramp method allows launch and recovery of small boats and potentially in the future, unmanned surface craft, whilst the ship is underway at a reasonable speed and sea state.

Conventional davits will have to be used now but that doesn’t necessarily mean it is compromised

A stern ramp might allows small craft to be deployed at higher ships speeds but will be constrained by greater sea states, sea states that can still be accommodated using davits.

Much like many of these detailed design decisions, there are no right or wrong answers, just a different set of compromises to meet a range of requirements.

Click here for an interesting paper on the pros and cons of different approaches.

As the Royal Navy Mine Countermeasures, Hydrography and Patrol Capability (MHPC) programme moves forward and starts to deliver it will be interesting to see what might end up on the Type 26. MHPC is not about a ship but is more about the systems used to deliver those requirements and we may yet see a Type 26 carrying systems from the programme.

Click here for information on Royal Navy mine countermeasures

Access to the mission space will be challenging, depending on the internal arrangements it might be either through the aviation hangar or side access door(s). Moving 4 tonne when empty 20’ ISO containers, securing and then connecting them to ship services will be no easy feat and unless some of the more advanced fastening and securing methods are used they will have to be secured using traditional chain and jacks, this creates some measure of space inefficiency in an already space constrained space.

A single, partitioned, space with an overhead gantry crane that is combined with the aviation hangar would offer the maximum flexibility and again, this might have been one of the drivers for the change. Using the additional space for an extra helicopter or handful of UAV’s would not have been possible if it were under the helicopter landing deck.

Whether this single combined space is feasible, safe or desirable, not really sure?

The latest graphics show a number of retractable doors providing access to the mission space and/or boat hangars and the BAE web page says;

A key feature is the ship’s flexible mission space, which can accommodate up to four 12 metre sea boats, a range of manned and unmanned air, surface or underwater vehicles or up to 11 20ft containers or ‘capability modules’, and the most advanced sensors available to the fleet

11 20’ ISO containers represents a big space, so whether this text actually relates to the new design is open for discussion, I am sceptical that it will be able to carry 11 20′ ISO containers.

I also tend to think that the ‘mission bay’ on a vessel the size of Type 26 is a bit ‘trendy vicar’ and its utility somewhat over stated.

With accommodation for embarked personnel in the main ship, most of the offensive and defensive systems already designed in and space limited it is difficult to see in the short term what the mission space will be used for beyond the Captain’s Range Rover, a gym or stores for an embarked force.

The point is though, to be prepared as they develop, as the undoubtedly will.

Weapons and Countermeasures

The Type 26 will have a plethora of weapons and countermeasures, it is a combat ship after all.

Countermeasures

Countermeasures are not often discussed but are advancing all the time and many consider them more effective at protecting against anti-ship missiles than CIWS.

In 1994 GEC Marconi were awarded an £80m contract to develop their Siren system to fulfil the Royal Navy ‘Outfit DLH’ requirement.

It was designed to seduce inbound anti-ship missiles using a launched RF countermeasure (Mk 251 Active Decoy Round) fired from standard 130mm SeaGnat launchers. The system was also to utilise the existing Seagnat launch control systems.

21 ship sets and 720 rounds were obtained with the final cost being in the order of £103m.

BAE Siren Naval Countermeasure (Outfit DLH)
BAE Siren Naval Countermeasure (Outfit DLH)

It did not enter service until 2004, 10 years after contract award.

The product description is;

Siren is an advanced decoy system designed to protect ships from missile threats by luring incoming anti-ship missiles away from their target. Launched from a 130mm decoy launcher it uses a two stage parachute system which slows the decoy round down at a pre-programmed time before deploying a second stage parawing, under which the advanced programmable electronic payload descends to detect and counter the missile threat.

The ability of Siren to generate sophisticated jamming waveforms is unique amongst the worlds limited types of naval decoys. The Siren payload contains some of the most up to date RF, digital and analogue electronic circuitry available, enabling the round to quickly detect, identify and track threats to ships. Siren is able to handle multiple threats simultaneously even in dense RF environments.

Siren eventually passed to BAE and then to Selex, a Finmeccanica company; click here for the brochure.

Type 23 frigates also use the Mk 251 Siren so again, a straight transfer to the Type 26 might be the most appropriate solution and there are possibly some left over from the Type 22 depending on shelf life, which also used Outfit DLH and a range of decoy rounds. The Type 23 uses the ALEX system to manage inputs from the ships ESM system and control launch.

In March this year Navy News covered the Type 45’s decoy trials, click here to read.

In addition to the advanced Mk 251 Siren the Outfit launcher systems can also use RF distraction (chaff) and IR decoys such as the Chemring Mk 216 Mk 1 Mod 1 and Chemring Mk 245 IR

BAE Siren Naval Countemeasure round being loaded aboard HMS Ocean
BAE Siren Naval Countemeasure round being loaded aboard HMS Ocean

Chemring manufacture the NATO Standard Chaff round but also produce a newer range of slightly larger rounds including IR and RF rounds. To support increasingly larger decoy payloads they have also created an oversize round that still uses the 130mm form factor called the Large Payload Carrier that looks like an RPG-7 round.

Instead of using the traditional fixed tube launchers Chemring have also recently developed the Centurion trainable launcher that can carry 12 130mm rounds.

The Centurion is so cool it has it has its own web site.

Because it is trainable instead of the fixed launcher of the Seagnat it can more precisely deploy the decoy rounds and has some degree of independence of ship position. In November 2011 Chemring finished a successful demonstration of Centurion to the Royal Navy but orders have yet to materialise.

Perhaps the Type 26 will be the launch customer for Centurion?

Fitted to the Type 45 is the Airborne Systems IDS300 inflatable RF decoy could also be installed to provide additional defence. This is a self-inflating octahedral shaped corner reflector that floats on the surface and unlike chaff, is persistent, able to float for 3 hours in sea state 4

It is a simple and low cost system.

Short range protection against torpedoes for the Type 23 is provided by the Ultra Sonar S2170 Sea Sentor Surface Ship Torpedo Defence System that comprises;

an acoustic passive towed array, towed acoustic countermeasure, single-drum winch, processing cabinet, display consoles, 2 expendable acoustic device launchers and 16 expendable acoustic devices.

The image below shows the Sea Sentor decoy launcher

Type 26 Frigate details showing Sea Sentor submarine decoy system
Type 26 Frigate details showing Sea Sentor submarine decoy system

The second rear door on the stern on the new graphics will be for the towed elements of the S2170 system.

This is an impressive system and likely to transfer to the Type 26.

Surface water drenching systems can also be used to reduce IR signatures in addition to the passive techniques of shaping and masking.

The Royal Navy is one of the few to have suffered at the hands of anti-ship missiles and it should come as no surprise that there exists a comprehensive set of countermeasures on existing surface combatants, the Type 26 should hopefully be no different.

Close in Weapon System

The position of the Phalanx Close in Weapon System (CIWS) has been the subject of much debate.

On the Type 45 they are amidships as shown in the image below from one of our commenters, ‘Desk Jockey’

Type 45 Destroyer and Phalanx CIWS
Type 45 Destroyer and Phalanx CIWS

From Babcock Marine;

Babcock undertakes equipment procurement from the US original equipment manufacturer (OEM) Raytheon, and will supervise the installation in HMS Daring at Portsmouth Naval Base. Once the installation of the two systems is complete Babcock engineers will then commission the systems, culminating in Naval Weapon Sea Trial (NWST) including a towed target firing.

The installation of Phalanx 1B in HMS Daring represents the 5th and 6th fit of the 1B system. Under a contract held by Babcock as prime contractor to upgrade 16 Phalanx systems to the 1B system capability on Royal Navy vessels, the company has previously been responsible for two installations of the upgraded systems on Type 42 destroyer HMS York and on fleet replenishment ship RFA Fort Victoria.

In addition to providing the 1B upgrade installations, Babcock has a ten year support contract for the 36 Phalanx systems, based on providing availability of the systems throughout their life on board ship.

Putting the Phalanx fore and aft provides good arcs of fire in the longitudinal direction and allows the ship to be turned so as to present a smaller aspect to an incoming missile whilst still retaining the innermost layer but there might be issues with ammunition resupply and maintenance given its close proximity to the Vertical Launch Silos. Although arguably unlikely, having a team in this area replenishing ammunition would prevent a missile launch. The mount immediately in front of the aviation deck and on top of the hangar area might also cause problems in use by showering expended link onto the deck that would need clearing before helicopter operations could commence.

It is interesting to wonder why the Type 26 will differ from the Type 45 in this regard.

No doubt detailed airflow and operational analysis will determine the optimal position.

By the time the Type 26 comes into service the Phalanx may just be leaving and there is the small point that the Type 23 isn’t fitted with them anyway. With usage in a land role, likely deployment on other ships and the withdrawal of Goalkeeper there might not be enough to equip the Type 26.

The latest graphics seems to indicate a Phalanx type system but closer inspection throws up an interesting possibility.

This is a bit of fun, making too much of an incomplete rendering in response to a jolly wheeze on behalf of the graphic artist but those shown could easily be mistaken for a Raytheon Defender, the laser version of the Phalanx.

Type 26 CIWS Detail
Type 26 CIWS Detail
Raytheon Defender Laser CIWS
Raytheon Defender Laser CIWS

From the Raytheon website

The Navy-Raytheon team combined the Navy’s Phalanx Close-in Weapon System’s sensor suite, used for terminal defense to protect ships from missile or artillery attack, with six solid-state fiber lasers. Simultaneously focusing on airborne targets, the team shot down four unmanned aircraft over the Pacific Ocean to mark the first successful laser shoot-down over water

Click here to see the laser Phalanx in action

Whether Type 26 will have enough power anyway for a laser Phalanx is a point for discussion in the future.

One might even argue the need for a CIWS has been reduced given the likely efficiency of Sea Ceptor and the increasing effectiveness of soft kill systems, but if this ship is intended to go into harm’s way then I think it is not unreasonable to suggest a CIWS should be fitted as part of a layered defence, or at the very list, the ship fitted for one.

Anti-Air Missiles

In January this year further details on the Sea Ceptor were revealed, a missile that will be replacing Sea Wolf on a one for one basis aboard the Type 23 Frigates (although other videos show a 2×6 quad packed cell arrangement) and transferred to the Type 26 as it comes into service. The Type 23’s Sea Wolf missiles will start the upgrade path to Sea Ceptor before the Type 26 build process and Sea Ceptor will also be fitted to Type 26.

Sea Ceptor is part of the wider complex weapons commercial construct and will be developed in a £438m contract with MBDA and was previously called the Common Anti Air Missile (Maritime)

A number of silo arrangements are possible, using a Sea Ceptor specific design or quad packing in Sylver silos, multiple versions have appeared in the various marketing videos released so far.

Sea Septor Missile Graphic (FLAADS(M))
Sea Septor Missile Graphic (FLAADS(M))

One of the advantages of a complex vertical launch silo is its ability to be filled with different types of weapons, given the Sea Ceptor is both compact and likely the only anti air missile carried it makes little sense to put them in the SLYVER silo. Sea Ceptor uses a soft launch mechanism, the missile is pushed clear of the silo by compressed gas before the rocket motor ignites. The SYLVER’s hot exhaust gas management system would therefore be redundant; hence the graphics seen so far have shown Sea Ceptor in its own simple silo arrangement, 4 missiles per silo.

This video below shows it aboard what looks like a Type 23 although the missile shape, size and number of missiles per silo seems incorrect.

The new graphics show a split silo configuration.

Type 26 VLS Details
Type 26 VLS Detail

The smaller cells seem to be arranged in two 3×4 blocks, if these were the quad packed version as shown on the graphics and video above that would indicate a total missile capacity of 96, well in excess of the Types 23’s 32 Sea Wolf missiles.

There is also the matter of the mystery silo on the funnel.

Type 26 Funnel VLS
Type 26 Funnel VLS

They appear to be two rows of 12 and very similar in appearance to the front pair. If these were for Sea Ceptor then that would mean a potential missile fit of the same number, 96.

Does anyone else have doubts that the Royal Navy will have a ship that carries 192 anti-air missiles, a six fold increase on its predecessor?

Apart from the obvious answer that it is a joke designed to get the online world abuzz it might be some form of vent or possibly a vertical launch system for decoys.

Another possibility is that each cell is actually a single missile, this would put a completely different spin on the arrangement with 24 missiles in the forward area and 24 missiles in the funnel VLS for a total of 48 missiles, much more credible.

Who knows, whatever the final arrangements, Sea Ceptor will be a significant improvement on the already potent Sea Wolf.

Medium Calibre Gun

The Future Maritime Fires Concept Phase is due to complete in around now so no doubt the lessons from Libya, where HMS Liverpoll fired over 200 rounds of 4.5” ammunition, will have played a large part in informing the study. With the cancelling of the BAe 155mm TMF project that used the gun system from the As90 Self Propelled Gun, the choice of a naval gun has narrowed.

Question

Julian Lewis (New Forest East, Conservative)

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what his policy is on the replacement of existing warship guns by ones of 155mm; and if he will make a statement on his policy, with special reference to (a) the future frigate fleet and (b) Type 45 destroyers.

Answer

Peter Luff (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Defence Equipment, Support and Technology), Defence; Mid Worcestershire, Conservative)

No decision on the calibre of the new Maritime Indirect Fire System (the new naval gun) has yet been made. This will be taken when work to consider the available options under the Future Maritime Fires Concept Phase is complete in around mid-2012.

The Maritime Fires Concept, of which the Maritime Indirect Fire System (MIFS) is part, is being delivered in conjunction with the Niteworks Partnership and is expected to be met by a medium calibre gun (MCG). The other part of MFS is the Maritime Indirect Fire Precision Attack (MIFPA) is expected to be delivered using missile systems, potentially Fire Shadow.

Maritime Indirect Fires (MIFS)
Maritime Indirect Fires (MIFS)
Future Maritime Indirect Fires project
Future Maritime Indirect Fires project

Naval Gunfire Support has a great deal of utility and used much more often that many of the more esoteric systems, the Falklands, Iraq and Libya being recent outings; it is much cheaper than using air delivered munitions if circumstances permit and can use a graduated force model where a well-aimed smoke or illumination round that signals loud and clear the next one will be of the type that goes bang can influence subsequent activity or neutralise threats both on land and at sea.

The existing 115mm/4.5” Mark 8 Mod 1 gun aboard Royal Navy vessels has its origins in the late sixties and has given excellent service but how reliable they are now is apparently an open question. The HE Extended Range round uses base bleed to propel the round to a maximum range of 27.5km and the existing illumination nature is also still available. In order to maintain a sustained rate of fire of 16-20 rounds per minute and accommodate the more powerful ammunition types the barrel is 62 calibres long. It has seen extensive service including action off the Falkland Islands (8,000 rounds), Iraq and Libya.

As we know though, there is not a large installed base on which to spread development costs of precision, proximity, IR illumination or smoke natures so the open market seems an obvious place to look, especially given the 155mm TMF concept has now been cancelled.

There are a number of options but probably only two realistic ones, the BAE 5” Mark 45 and the Oto Melara 127mm Compact and Lightweight.

The Mark 45 Mod 4 from BAE, as used by the US Navy, South Korea, Denmark, Australia and others, is a 5”/127mm system with a 62 calibre barrel and is capable of a rate of fire up to 20 rounds per minute.

The Oto Melara system comes in a Compact form and the newer Lightweight version with a 64 calibre barrel.

In 2010 Babcock and Oto Melara signed a Memorandum of Understanding to offer the Light Weight Medium Calibre Gun System to the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) for the Type 26 frigate.

To quote the sales blurb;

The Oto Melara 127/64 LW gun is capable of firing up to 35 rounds per minute. The production turret weighs less than 29 tons and the ‘peppered’ muzzle brake with an aluminium shield keeps cost down, improves maintenance and reduces radar cross-section. The gun uses an advanced ammunition handling system, consisting of four revolving drum magazines holding 56 ready-to-fire rounds of more than four different types, allowing flexibility in ammunition selection and a high rate of sustained fire. It is capable of anti-surface and anti-air defence, and area engagement. The new Vulcano ammunition is capable of precision engagement at ranges previously only achievable by missile systems but at a fraction of the cost.

After many years of very expensive trials the US Extended Range Guided Munition was cancelled, leaving the USN without precision gun launched land attack round but Oto Melara have continued to persevere and have introduced the Vulcano range of munitions.

Vulcano has both an extended range unguided and long range guided nature that is used with the 127mm gun to deliver rounds out to 120km.

The Type 26 doesn’t necessarily need the precision guided ammunition straight away, it would provide a simple upgrade path and despite doubts about the explosive content of guided shells it would still offer a significant capability, have the potential to reduce the need (therefore cost) for air delivered precision munitions and allow the Royal Navy to take advantage of a mature user base.

The Royal Navy finds itself in a good place in this equipment choice, both are mature and effective systems with growth and an established logistics base i.e., they are supportable.

Land and Maritime Surface Attack Missiles

The first design iteration of the Type 26 showed amidships Harpoon launchers but they have disappeared in the latest version.

The ship launched anti-ship missile is somewhat of a curates egg, of course a modern combat vessel has to be able to destroy the enemy’s vessels but this has both a low probability of use, complications with identification in cluttered environments and complex rules of engagement issues that lead many to question the value of them.

The Wildcat, and possibly Merlin HM2, will carry the Sea Skua replacement, the MBDA Future Anti Surface Guided Weapon (FASGW), click here for a brochure.

This might provide the optimal solution when combined with the Wildcat launched LMM for smaller vessels and it could be argued that the real ship killers are submarines anyway. We might also consider the ability of modern fast air delivered weapons in the anti-ship role as a realistic alternative.

Perhaps of greater benefit and likelihood of use would be some form of long range (beyond the range of helicopter launched systems and the medium calibre gun) land attack missile.

When we discuss missiles for the Type 26 many people automatically assume that it should include Tomahawk and whilst having diversity of launch platform is always ‘a good thing’ it would take up a lot of space and add significant cost as we would need to introduce the US Mk 41 vertical launch silo.

A post Libya Jane’s Defence Weekly reported on a Royal Navy lessons learned document in which the two major shortcomings were a lack of precision land attack capability and organic unmanned ISR.

It quoted Colonel Pierson RM, the Deputy Director of NATO Operations in Libya;

It was evident that the Libya campaign showed the need for precision fires, [perhaps the Lockheed Martin] Guided Multiple Rocket Launch System (GMLRS), from the sea base, deep into enemy littoral territory.

The Naval Strike Missile from Kongsberg might be an interesting option. This will also be integrated onto the F35 so commonality benefits could be realised if we chose to purchase it for the F35’s, unlikely, but it is an option. With a 150km range the NSM weighs 400Kg with a 125kg warhead and can attack a mix of land and surface targets. This would also have the added benefit of being integrated onto the F35 for commonality all round.

The NSM has been criticised by some because it is not hypersonic or other sci-fi features but I think that is misplaced, the NSM has taken a reasonable line with regards to balancing capabilities against cost and development time. It would be a great addition to the RN and RAF armoury but whether it would find a place in the equipment programme with the Complex Weapons initiative commercial complications are another matter. The Stand Off Land Attack Missile, based on the Harpoon is another option and there one or two others but neither of these fit into a vertical launch silo so if the graphics are correct, not likely to be obtained.

A cheaper option might be to use the Team Complex Weapons Fire Shadow loitering munition although it would be no substitute for a land attack cruise missile or dedicated anti ship missile.

These might be silo launched but one would have to ask the question why, there is no need for salvo launching and the simple box/rail launch method is cheap.

Silo launching might look good but it adds additional cost.

The next most obvious contender (despite me thinking that a navalised GMLRS would be very cool) is the SCALP(N), a variant of the RAF Storm Shadow missile with much greater range (reportedly in excess of 1,000km) with the ability to be launched from the SLYVER A70 silo system and even a submarine.

The French Navy will be receiving SCALP(N) 150 missiles to arm their FREMM frigates.

If we really want to spend a fortune, the CVS401 Perseus concept missile from MBDA (click here for a brochure) will also provide plenty of options, potentially replacing Storm Shadow for cross service commonality post 2030.

These choices will also impact the decision on which vertical launch silo to fit, the US Mk41 that we would need for Tomahawk or the DCNS SYLVER that would be needed for SCALP(N) and Perseus.

We already have the SYLVER in service on the Type 45, although in the shorter A50 version and the image below does have a whiff of SLYVER about it, we can easily convince ourselves it is an A70 in a triple 4×2 configuration.

Type 26 Forward VLS Details
Type 26 Forward VLS Details

This would therefore lead the discussion towards the SCALP(N) and Perseus rather than Tomahawk.

The image below shows an A70 silo being fitted to one of the new French FREMM frigates, the Aquitaine

Sylver A70 Vertical Launch Silo
Sylver A70 Vertical Launch Silo

As we discuss these things we should  stop and ask ourselves why the Type 26 needs a long range land attack weapon when there already exists two launch platforms for the Tomahawk and Storm Shadow anyway, the Trafalgar class SSN and Tornado with Typhoon and Astute in the future.

If we do integrate Storm Shadow on the F35B that will be another, crucially, a sea based aircraft.

Launch platform diversity is never a bad thing and the cost differential between a submarine launched Tomahawk and a Mk41 launched version is significant but is it enough of a difference to overcome the additional cost of the Mk41, I doubt it?

Would the cost of integrating Storm Shadow on the F35B be less than fitting SLYVER 70’s and SCALP Naval to the Type 26?

From the early 2020’s, when Type 26 will be entering service, the UK will have the ability to fire Tomahawks from Astute submarines and possibly, Storm Shadow from Typhoon. If we add Storm Shadow, F35B and CVF to that list we would have a flexible and powerful combination able to launch precision cruise missiles with different capabilities from both land and sea.

Despite the images and mood music about cruise missiles and the Type 26 I have to wonder if there are better things to spend our diminishing budget on.

Land attack cruise missiles would therefore be at the bottom of the shopping list for Type 26 which would also make the Vertical launch Silo’s for anything but Sea Ceptor also of questionable value.

Small Calibre Automatic Weapons

The new images show both M2 and Dillon Aerospace M134 Miniguns (click here for a brochure) in 12.7mm and 7.62mm calibres respectively.

It is not unlikely that a selection of automatic weapons will find their way onto the Type 26 to provide local defence.

Fitted to both the Type 45 and Type 23 are the MSI 30mm systems.

These mounts have a long heritage with the first designs being introduced in the early eighties with the 30mm RARDEN cannon. In the mid-eighties the Royal Navy selected the Oerlikon 30 mm KCB to replace all existing 20mm and 40mm automatic cannons as a post Falklands lessons learned exercise. First entering service in 1988 they have been continually refined and the latest version is the DS 30B Mk2 equipped with offboard sensors, the ATK 30mm Bushmater Mk44 cannon (instead of the Oerlikon) and Seahawk fire control systems that are replacing all previous versions on the Type 23 by 2014 in a £15m contract with MSI.

It is officially called the Automated Small Calibre Gun (ASCG)

MSI Defence DS30M Mk2 Automated Small Calibre Gun (ASG)
MSI Defence DS30M Mk2 Automated Small Calibre Gun (ASG)

The Seahawk fire control system uses an electro optical detector and laser rangefinder developed by Chess Dynamics.

Seahawk Electro Optical Fire Control System
Seahawk Electro Optical Fire Control System

Click here for a brochure.

MSI Defence has also developed the Seahawk SIGMA, a remote controlled system that combines the Seahawk Mk2 already in service with the Royal Navy with a 7 cell Lightweight Multirole Missile

MSI Seahawk Sigma 30mm ATK and Thales Lightweight Multirole Missile (LMM)
MSI Seahawk Sigma 30mm ATK and Thales Lightweight Multirole Missile (LMM)

The LMM will be coming into service with the Royal Navy soon and carried aboard the Wildcat helicopter so may well be being carried aboard anyway when a Wildcat is embarked instead of a Merlin.

It might seem like overkill but it does provide a relatively low cost weapon that exceeds the range of the 30mm cannon without using an expensive Sea Ceptor (should that be delivered with an anti-surface capability)

It also provides a low cost defence against UAV’s

Seriously, what’s not to like?

On the Type 26 graphics the 30mm systems are mounted near the hangar on sponsons to provide excellent arcs of fire.

Type 26 Frigate DS30M 30mm Gun Mount Position
Type 26 Frigate DS30M 30mm Gun Mount Position

Of course, they will be direct transfers from the Type 23’s.

There has been some discussion about swapping the Bushmaster Mk44 for the 40mm CTA cannon that will be installed on the Army’s FRES and Warrior vehicles.

Normally, I am all for ruthless commonality and would this is generally a good idea, not least because of the extra punch and sharing of support costs as the Mk44 is unique to the RN in the British armed forces, but swapping would not be simple or cheap.

The weapon, fire control and each ammunition nature would need to be certified for naval use in a highly complex EM environment, the fire control system modified and the mount completely changed to accommodate the CTA’s unusual feed mechanism.

ATK also manufacture an air bursting nature, the PABM-T, should that be deemed worthwhile and negates one of the stated advantages of the CTA cannon.

Extra cost for marginal benefit so not sure it would be worth it.

If commonality were a driver then we might also look at the M230LF used on the Apache attack helicopter.

ATK are currently exploring marinisation of this weapon in the United States, one to watch perhaps.

Torpedoes

The Type 23 has a Magazine Launched Torpedo System (MTLS) that uses 2 twin launchers for the 324mm Stingray Mod 1 lightweight torpedo. There is an automatic reload system that has 5 torpedoes for each launcher, a total of 18 torpedoes are therefore available although I am not sure if these are routinely carried.

A Stingray Training Variant Torpedo is fired from Type 23 frigate HMS Westminster during an exercise. After spending much of her 7 month deployment in the Gulf and Indian Ocean region conducting maritime security operations in support of the UK's long standing commitment in the area, Royal Navy warship HMS Westminster took some time out to undertake valuable training. During this training period, the ship undertook her keyrole training in the form of Anti Submarine Warfare and tested her torpedo firing skills. The TVT (training variant torpedo) as it is commonly known was fired to test the launching capabilities and also to test the sonar capablilites and training of the operators. Within minutes of the training finishing, HMS Westminster undertook a spot of gunnery training.
A Stingray Training Variant Torpedo is fired from Type 23 frigate HMS Westminster during an exercise. After spending much of her 7 month deployment in the Gulf and Indian Ocean region conducting maritime security operations in support of the UK’s long standing commitment in the area, Royal Navy warship HMS Westminster took some time out to undertake valuable training. During this training period, the ship undertook her key role training in the form of Anti Submarine Warfare and tested her torpedo firing skills. The TVT (training variant torpedo) as it is commonly known was fired to test the launching capabilities and also to test the sonar capablilites and training of the operators. Within minutes of the training finishing, HMS Westminster undertook a spot of gunnery training.

The recent article in the Engineer indicated that the Type 26 would carry a similar system so this would likely be another system directly transferred from the Type 23’s.

Click here for a brochure and here for an image of the launcher

Helicopters, Small Boats and Unmanned Systems

Helicopters and Hangar

As covered in the mission space section the helicopter hangar may be combined with it.

The latest graphic shows a single roller shutter type door that provides access to the hangar and it will be likely fitted with an overhead gantry crane like the one designed by Seward Wyon for the Type 45.

Royal Navy Merlin Mark 2 Helicopter
Royal Navy Merlin Mark 2 Helicopter

The Merlin HM2 will normally be carried by the Type 26 although the naval Wildcat may also be used depending on requirements. The HM2 version on the Merlin is an incredibly powerful and sophisticated system that is combined with the numerous capabilities of the Type 23 to create a formidable team.

The Wildcat, as we know, will be replacing the Lynx.

Royal Navy Wildcat helicopter trials onboard RFA Argus
Royal Navy Wildcat helicopter trials onboard RFA Argus

Equipped with a range of sensors and weapons it will be a worthy successor to the Lynx, in the maritime context it makes a lot of sense.

The two missiles carried will be the Sea Skua replacement, the MBDA Future Anti Surface Guided Weapon (FASGW), click here for a brochure, and the Lightweight Multirole Missile.

FASGW(H) Missile
FASGW(H) Missile

As part of the Team Complex Weapons construct the LMM was ‘reversed’ into an existing production and long term support contract, thought to be for Starstreak. Because the threat that Starstreak is designed to counter is considered lower than when it was placed in production this seems like a sensible and flexible approach. Thales have a support contract with the MoD for Starstreak out to 2020 but it is not known if the commercial arrangements have also been modified to account for fewer of those missiles and the introduction of LMM, one would imagine it’s all in the small print.

Fulfilling the Future Air-to-Surface Guided Weapon (Light) requirement it will be one of the primary weapons of the maritime variant of the Wildcat helicopter.

Wildcat Helicopter and FASGW-L (Thales Lightweight Multirole Missile LMM)
Wildcat Helicopter and FASGW-L (Thales Lightweight Multirole Missile LMM)

Aboard the Wildcat it has been shown in a couple of configurations, 5 and 7 round launchers

Designed to attack small targets like inflatables, fast attack craft and surfaced submarines for example, what marks the LMM as something rather special is its relatively low cost, the motor for example was value engineered by Roxel to a specific cost and the guidance and much of the control system has been taken from the Starstreak.

The second distinguishing feature is its small warhead when compared to the larger Hellfire or Brimstone missile. This precise and low collateral damage warhead will allow it to be used against a much wider variety of targets. The warhead is a blast/fragmentation type weighing 3kg; compare this with 9kg on a Hellfire and 8.4kg on a Javelin.

The missile weighs 13kg and range is given as 8km with only a small minimal range, 400m, unlike the precision guided 70mm rockets that need a considerable distance. The fuse uses a laser proximity system and the missile itself is only 76mm in diameter with a length of 1.3m. The use of a laser proximity fuse is designed to allow the missile to be used against non-metallic targets, inflatable boats being the obvious example.

If we take the overhead view and apply some very approximate scaling, the helicopter landing area is approximately 30m long by 19m wide.

Type 26 Overhead View
Type 26 Overhead View

A Chinook is just over 30m with the blades turning with a 6m overhang from the front of the fuselage to the tip of the front rotor; evidently, it will be a tight fit.

Merlin is just under 23m tip to tip.

Boats

The BAE Type 26 datasheet states that it will be able to carry up to four 12m sea boats in its ‘flexible mission space’

The Type 23’s are equipped with a pair of BAE Pacific 22 Inflatable Raiding Craft (IRC) which use an inboard engine driving a waterjet propulsion system. They are fitted with a range of communication and navigation equipment, use a single Henriksen hook for lifting and lowering and operate at speeds in excess of 30 knots

Pacific 22 RHIB
Pacific 22 RHIB

These 7.4m 2.2 tonne boats may well be transferred or newer boats purchased such as the BAE Pacific 950’s or even the Holyhead Marine Offshore Raiding Craft in service with 539 Assault Squadron Royal Marines.

The retractable doors covering the boat hangar/mission space present a number of problems for boat launch and recovery, the Type 45 faced the same issues.

On the Type 45 the launch and recovery systems were provided by the Italian company MEP Pellegrini supplied through MET Marine

In the video below (from about 40 seconds) the Pacific 22 and Pellegrini retractable launch and recovery system is shown.

A similar system may well be fitted to the Type 26 although it will need to handle the larger 12m boats.

Unmanned Systems

I must admit to a fundamental dislike of the word ‘drone’ as it portrays a lack of understanding and amateurishness, the unmanned systems carried aboard type 26 will be exhibit anything but drone like behaviour.

Even at the lower spectrum of operations the enormous flexibility and capability enabled by unmanned systems is a real force multiplier (sorry to use that term by the way)

It is depressing to think that the Royal Navy has been so slow to unmanned party, the reasons are of course largely financial but despite testing a number of systems like the Insitu Scan Eagle several years ago nothing has been introduced into service.

The Boeing/Insitu ScanEagle has an interesting history, initially designed to assist tuna fishing fleets it has evolved into a mature, low cost, flexible and highly effective family of vehicles and payloads. A few months ago it notched up its half million flying hours milestone.

ScanEagle Launch and Recovery
ScanEagle Launch and Recovery
ScanEagle Launch and Recovery
ScanEagle Launch and Recovery

The same Libya lessons learned document mentioned above also added that there was a requirement on RN Warships for;

Unmanned intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR), such as the brilliant live feed, full motion video provided by [Boeing] Scan Eagle unmanned aerial vehicle

This would be an immediately available and capable system but with minimal industry involvement, anyone see a problem.

Despite testing the Scan Eagle as part of the JUEP programme some years ago the MoD has now published details of a requirement for a rotary wing maritime UAV.

From Flight Global last month;

The UK Ministry of Defence plans to complete a capability concept demonstrator (CCD) programme by March 2015 to investigate the utility of equipping the Royal Navy with a rotary-wing unmanned air system (RWUAS) post-2020

There a range of off the shelf rotary wing maritime UAV’s such as the Saab Skeldar, Schiebel Camcopter and Northrop Grumman MQ-8B Firescout but a cynic might say none of these are AgustaWestland and therefore unlikely to be adopted. QinetiQ proposed reusing Gazelle airframes but this would be trying to use an obsolete airframe that might have issues with support in the long term.

Agusta Westland (now owners of the Polish helicopter manufacturer PZL-Swidnick) have proposed a conversion of their SW-4 light helicopter.

PZL SW-4 Unmanned concept for the Royal Navy
PZL SW-4 Unmanned concept for the Royal Navy

Any takers?

We should not overlook the potential for surface and subsurface unmanned systems, again, studies are still in their early stages and related to the MHPC programme.

Summary

The Type 26 will be a powerful and flexible surface combatant with a wide range of systems, sensors and weapons to support its diverse mission requirements.

CVF has now been settled, more or less, the next focus for the Royal Navy will be the Type 26 and specifically, cost constraint.

In the next post I am going to have a go at trying to put all this techno hardware into some sort of operational context.

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