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Defence Cooperation with Australia and the Type 26 Global Combat Ship


A lot of the news reporting this week has been focussed on the defence cooperation treaty the UK and Australian defence ministers signed and how it might relate to the Royal Navy’s planned Type 26 Global Combat Ship.

Exportability was always one of the central design drivers in the Type 26 so this is the fruit of that initial thinking. Unfortunately the UK does not have a happy recent history in complex warship building and although the QE Class carrier build programme is marching on at a steady pace there is still a lot of ground to recover. I am sure the Royal Australian Navy will be thinking about their trials and tribulations with HMAS Choules..

Phil Hammond said;

Areas of potential co-operation include future frigates, with the Royal Navy’s Type 26 design, a cutting-edge blueprint that could be the first of many opportunities for future collaboration. In times of budget pressures for all nations, it makes sense to maximise economies of scale and work with our friends to get the best value for money on all sides

What the final shape of such cooperation ends up being is open to discussion, everything from selling complete ships, sub system or design sharing seems possible but we will be seeing more of this as countries seek to maximise their investments in complex military equipment.

Australia has a well developed naval design, development, manufacturing and support infrastructure, a growing economy but several defence and defence funding challenges.

Read more about the Type 26 here

What do people think will be the final shape of such co-operation as it relates to the Type 26 and what implications are there for both countries?

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113 Responses

  1. They will probably by the F110. Australians want US kit and the Spanish integrate US systems into their ships. I like the idea of Australians and New Zealanders buying a common Commonwealth design but it won’t happen. Odd that the UK loses out on defence sales to a White Commonwealth country to a state it supports through EU contributions. I wonder how much Navantia is getting through the back door……..

  2. It would be great news, and just… nice, for once. I guess it depends on how ‘modular, open architecture, plug ‘n’ play, yadda, yadda’ the Type 26 design actually turns out to be.

    Nice, economical, long-legged Frigate hull (unlike the Spanish one), with the US bits and bobs that they’re already familiar with, and their domestic (with US involvement) new fixed plate radar – cool.

    Plus they get to crow that *their* version is much better and higher spec than the Poms’ own version: what’s not to like? :)

  3. The UK might not have a recent happy history in complex warship building, but nor does Australia lately, so I wouldn’t let that worry you too much. Indeed because Australia has had a rough history going it alone in complex programs, the fashion lately in Australia defence procurement (at both the political and departmental level) has been to partner with other nations provided that we can get in early enough and have enough sway over the final design to suit our requirements. Think P-8, BAMS, JLTV and JSF. That joint press release feels like the start of something similar.

    That said, even if it does become the preferred design, the usual practice is to take some sort of lower cost, less complex alternative to Cabinet as another option, and that probably would be a cutdown version of the Spanish AWD (less Aegis). In fact that is how we got the Spanish AWD in the first place when it went up against the ‘baby Burke’. So nothing is certain by any means.

  4. The T26 should be a no brainer for Australia. Given that its BAE thats going to be building it and the USA has no equivalent. I just hope designs are not too far along to let the Aussies properly participate.

    Its good to see the government taking an interest again in places like Australia but one has to think this treaty is nothing more than a paper exercise to grab a few headlines. it does not cover anything new that we did not already have with Australia. I would have liked to see this done as part of a broader move with Australia to reinforce the FPDA. Maybe atleast putting on a proper annual exercise focused on areas like ASW and MCM where we have a world lead and nations boardering china have a need.

    I would also like to see us getting back to RIMPAC. No point in having all our awesome new shinny kit like SAMPSON, Sea fox and 2087 if we can’t show it off to the people who actually need it an can afford to buy it.

    However its like everythng with this government all talk and no action. I think the Prime Minster could also have gotten off his ass and went out for the signing.

  5. Think the RAN is going to be busy intergrating the Horbarts to actually shop around in the near future, it’s going to be a while before anything gets finalised for the future frigate.

  6. RE “it’s going to be a while before anything gets finalised for the future frigate”
    – yep, they just modernised the AAW suite on their current frigates, and it has been deemed a roaring success (with very reasonable expenditure; the Canadians are trying to make theirs last much longer and are ripping apart each ship over an 18 month cycle and putting in completely new systems… on that one the jury is still out as for VFM)

  7. “Australia has a well developed naval design, development, manufacturing and support infrastructure, a growing economy but several defence and defence funding challenges.”

    No. It doesn’t. Really.

    Several challenges, yes. Manufacturing and support infrastructure, yes.

    Design and development? Absolutely not. There is a reason the Aussies have historically bought versions of other people’s designs and that is because (with the exception of some smaller patrol craft) they have never designed warships themselves and more importantly, nor have their shipyards. Starting that from scratch is an impossibility for a country with the industrial base they have, unfortunately. ASC and Deep Blue tech are the nearest thing they’ve got and they are busily waving dollars at anyone who will listen in the UK submarine building industry at the minute – which as you can imagine is going down very well in MoD, BAES and elsewhere, as Successor ramps up.

    I agree with X that the Aussies are more likely to go US in their kit requirements, which tends to count against T26, as BAES are loath to put any CS items that they don’t own or have a stake in, in their ships (one of the reasons export has been so poor). However, the interesting thing is the absence of a long-legged DD/FF hull in the US programme. The Aussies might still get tempted by the LCS, because actually it might work in the archipelagos north of them, but they’d need more hulls which they probably can’t afford. If they don’t then T26 has a slim chance.

    However, I’d personally keep an eye on South Korea. Japan makes superlative DD/FF, but are still potentially unacceptable politically for Australia. They may also have a constitutional ban on military exports. SK build ships that are approaching Japanese capability and have been entering a lot of export competitions recently. The writing was on the wall for the Europeans when the SKs entered the Omani competition that resulted in the Khareefs. Last time I looked, MEKO hasn’t done anything since the South African A200 ships, although they might be able to offer A200 for this.

  8. For Australia frigates are about the India Ocean.

    For their north coast I see a different future. The Armidale’s lack of “mass” point to it being replaced by one of those corvette like designs so beloved here fighting under RAAF top cover.

    I said Spain because of their current relationship. I think if F110 is “short legged” the issue would be a fudge even if it meant RAN acquiring more tankers. I can’t see the Spanish building a 45kt 5000t ship, that is just silly, I expect something a lot more sensible.

    FWIW I can’t see NZ replacing their ANZACS with true frigates.

  9. One thing I can say for sure is that the new frigate will not have as strong an emphasis on anti-air as they already have the air defence destroyers for that. I think what they might be aiming for would be a GP frigate with a slight leaning towards anti-sub warfare, so any designs targeting that competition would do well to put in a bit more effort into sonar and towed arrays.

    I’d say NaB is probably right in that Korea would be a strong contender. Other possibles would be Spain as they already have an “in” with the new destroyers being Spanish and the French/Italian FREMM with massive equipment overhaul. It also depends on how much tech transfer is Australia looking for. If they insist on building a large chunk of the fleet in Australia, which is very likely, SK might balk as their ships tend to be shipped complete from their own yards, not assembled in someone else’s.

    “For Australia frigates are about the India Ocean.”

    Not bloody likely mate. Australia has absolutely zero interest beyond Indonesia. Their biggest headache right now would be the South China Seas for 2 reasons. 1) China is flexing muscle pretty hard. and 2) Their SLOC trade links with China.

  10. @ Observer

    Here is a map for you,

    Look there is Indonesia in the INDIAN OCEAN. I wonder which ocean ocean Australia’s oil has to cross? Could it be the INDIAN OCEAN per chance? Which ocean is the majority of the Anzac frigates and all the Collins SSKs based upon? Oh look it is the INDIAN OCEAN. Where are Australian forces currently engaged? Could it be South West Asia? I wonder which ocean has to be crossed to reach that region to support operations there? Wow! It is the INDIAN OCEAN. I think I am detecting a bit of pattern here. Could it be the INDIAN OCEAN is the key to Australian maritime security? Leaving smaller ships to deal with the II and drugs problem to the north.

  11. “I just hope designs are not too far along to let the Aussies properly participate.” I don’t want to be a party pooper on this but one of the things I found encouraging about the last two design updates released by BAe was that they actually showed very little change, which indicates that for once we are not endlessly faffing about with redesigns. If we let Oz in on the ground level won’t that just mean delay and more cost?

  12. ahhh a good x rant :D


    I think he was more referring to the islands themselves, like East Timor.

    T26 exports… when was the last time we built a brand new complex warship like a frigate for an export order?

    Looking at other potential customers… Canada wont be one, they’ve had enough peril from ex RN kit with ‘made in GB’ stickers.

  13. If the UK and Australia agree, that economies of scale are worth the cooperation, then T26 has good chances.

    HMAS Hobart is currently built by BAE Systems Australia, formerly Tenix. So much to relationships. What I could see as another result is a lot of cooperation in the field of submarines.

    The F-110 is actually a lot riskier than the T-26, as it is with current economic trends entirely unfeasible for the Spanish Navy. The basic layout seems uncertain, and if it turns trimaran, it will never achieve lower prices. But even if both problems vanish, T26 will still have a larger number of vessels built.

    Regardless what Oz chooses, i think NZ will follow suit with two units. The idea to comply to numerous local treaties with Otagos or even Otago+ is not managable. They will have to revisit the frigate-game sooner or later.

    And, MikeW, Canada will buy what Canada can afford. Their shipbuilding is devastated and needs investment, I really don’t know how they will re-invest in complex warship-building for little money. As they definitely have commonalities in requirements and operational doctrine, I wouldn’t write the T26 off too early.

    Amd then there are emerging Tiger-states without a Navy at al, but with mighty neighbours threatening their EEZ. Sri Lanka, Burma, Indonesia. (Damn, we need to widen the FPDA)

    But I also agree with NaB, as an outside contender to any frigate-contract in the next years, keep an eye on the FFX from Hyundai.

  14. Martin,

    Gotten off his ass? Think there’s a slightly more important set of issues closer to home that he needs to busy himself with. Like Europe.

    I don’t think BAE have a great reputation down there. Certainly they managed to screw up the RNZN OPV buy, and didn’t they cock-up the Hobart as well? I have an RNZN colleague who can’t say a nice word about them.

    Filed under ‘would be nice but not a lot of hope’.

  15. @SI

    Maybe a trip to Australia would keep him out of trouble and stop him fucking the countries position in Europe

  16. McZ

    “And, MikeW, Canada will buy what Canada can afford.”

    That must be another Mike. I wonder whether he is referring to the Upholder submarines.

  17. why would the t26 need to be produced in oz? there’s no reason why we can’t recruit oz workers here…we do for everything else! well at least the things that require some sense of personality!

    Great bunch of guys and gals. Puts us to shame.

  18. Mike said “I think he was more referring to the islands themselves, like East Timor.”

    I think I covered all that too. Armidales just aren’t big enough. They will be replaced by something larger with more bang bangs. There is a reason why they operated from the northern RAN bases. And if they have to fight Indonesia it will be at sea, under the RAAF, but close to Australia, they wouldn’t be going off to attack Indonesian islands as that would be, well, a bit silly.

    The RAN’s job will be too support USN in the Indian Ocean not send a few frigates to the South China Sea. By working with the USN it will free USN assets so they can support CBGs and ARGs. China needs resources. They have to cross the Indian Ocean. For the RAN that means frigates and SSKs. The Australians aren’t going to replace the Collins with smaller submarines for stooging around coasts, but larger ones that cope with greater distance. Why? The Indian Ocean.

  19. How adaptable is the basic T26 hull?

    If the Aussie’s want the ship would it suit the fitting of Mark 41 silo’s, Sea Sparrow, Sea Ram or whatever it is they prefer?

    The fact that they would almost certainly want American kit over British makes me think that although selling the basic hull design is very possible the idea of it being British built isn’t a likely outcome.

  20. It’s never going to be British built! Have you SEEN Williamstown? The only reason Canberra was built in Spain was size constraint.

    Last time I looked at T26, there were Mk 41 Strike length launchers in it. Shoulnd’t be a drama putting Mk 48s in if they want and Mk49 RAM is an add-on.

    However – whether the CSH, power distribution system, accommodation are set up to suit the Aussies is another question. T26 is the best part of 8000te full load displ at end of life. That’s plenty big enough to fit most things – if you have the money.

  21. @ NaB re “accommodation”

    On the two occasions I have visited an ANZAC it felt oddly RN with a subtle hint of USN. It was like a parallel universe……..

  22. @NaB

    Nope never seen Williamstown, I take it from you’re response that it’s a big facility!

    I’m assuming when they say that T26 can/will be fitted with large VLS that it could easily be either MK 41 or A70 depending on the customer’s requirements.

    You make a good point about the size of the ship giving it a high degree of future proofing. I wasn’t so much questioning whether a buyer like Australia could give the basic hull it’s own weapon/sensor fit, more suggesting that the mere fact a lot of countries don’t want British systems makes building them here far more illogical and costly than if they simply wanted a direct copy of our version.

  23. It’s not that big (hence Canberras built in Spain) it’s just plenty big enough to build their own DD/FF, rather than build in UK.

  24. @x

    The green lines are oil pipelines. Notice something strange about their placement? Wonder why would they put their oil pipes on the opposite side of the country to their supply route? You would be right in the statement that the Indian Ocean would be Australia’s main oil supply route if oil came “ready to use”, but it doesn’t. Most of the cracking centers are in countries north of Australia, not West, hence the strange distribution.

    The Indian Ocean is a huge playground for the RAN, but it is NOT an area of concern. There is absolutely no threat value there, no African countries out to cross the huge empty ocean to invade Australia, no African refugees crossing the Indian Ocean to sneak into Aussieland and most shipping go through the East of Australia not West. Same thing like the oil, the middlemen distribution centers are to the North. The defence worries of Australia are to the North, the Pacific Ocean and the Phillipine Sea, where there are lots of other countries to stir the pot, not the huge no-man’s land of the Indian Ocean.

  25. Speaking from an Australian perspective, the RAN will only acquire the Type 26 if it first meets some basic criteria:

    1. It meets the RAN’s operational requirements in term of weapons, sensors, survivability, range and crew endurance in tropical environments.

    2. It is seamlessly inter-operable with the US Pacific Fleet.

    3. It is the best value for money when compared with other options. (The Australian Department of Defence has been rightly criticised in recent times for several projects that have run badly over budget and behind schedule).

    4. All the RAN’s ships are built in Australia.

    Nostalgia for the Commonwealth is nice, but it will count for little when billions of dollars are stake.

    In terms of geo-politics, Australian planners now refer to the “Indo-Pacific” (rather than “Asia Pacific”). This term encompasses:

    * Both the the Indian and Pacific Oceans – Australia straddles both.

    * Australia’s SLOC’s from our mineral and energy export ports on the Indian Ocean coast of Western Australia, though the straits (choke points) in Indonesian archipelago, and on through the South China Sea to our major export markets in China, Japan, South Korea and South East Asia.

    * Australia’s Pacific SLOC’s from the East/Pacific coast, past our Pacific Island neighbours (Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, New Caledonia and Vanuatu)and on to the markets mentioned above.

    * International SLOC’s carrying oil from the Middle East across the Indian Ocean, through the Malacca Strait to China, Japan, South Korea and South East Asia.

    On top of this it should be noted that Australia lives in a neighborhood that has been relatively unstable over the last 15 years. In may not be well known in the UK that Australia has had to lead military interventions in East Timor, Bougainville (in PNG) and Solomon Islands. Dozens of Australians have been killed in Islamist terrorist attacks in Indonesia. In addition, there have been major law and order problems in PNG, a series of military coups in Fiji, and separatist/Islamist insurgencies in parts of Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand – to name a few.

    Meanwhile, as most Asian countries are growing economically, they are spending more on defence and developing increasing sophisticated capabilities. This is steadily eroding the technological edge that Australia has enjoyed in the region since 1945. (At the same time the current Australian government has cut defence expenditure – that is a major debate in itself.)

    Thus, the defence equipment purchases that Australia makes in coming years will have to meet the needs of a demanding strategic environment. It will be interesting to see if the Type 26 measures up.

  26. Of course I should also mention the gorilla in the room when discussing Australia’s strategic environment – the rise of China as an economic and military power.

    On the one hand, China has become Australia’s largest export market and a major source of investment.

    On the other, China is an authoritarian one-party state that is rapidly developing it military and engaged in territorial disputes in the East China and South China Seas with several of its neighbours – Japan, the Philippines, Vietnam and Malaysia. Not to mention Beijing’s ongoing claim to Taiwan and its support of North Korea.

    The old Chinese curse applies – “may you live in interesting times”.

  27. Got a bit of bad news for you NGF, those points you brought up can almost be said to be the objectives of almost every shipbuilding project since 1970.

    How many actually succeeded is open to debate.

    As for Austalia’s problems, rest assured we do remember INTERFET and the Bali bombings.

  28. Fella’s,

    First, the first ANZAC will reach 25 in 2021 so a project to replace them will start in the second half of this decade, so the T26 is well placed assuming you can keep your schedule and the cost doesn’t blow out.

    Second no one in the RAN wants a bar of the LCS project. The requirement is for an ASW frigate to partner the Hobart Class AWD. So again the job is for the T26 to lose. There is some possibility that the next white paper due out by mid this year will authorise a 4th AWD largely because Canberra has learned the lession that peaks`and troughs in workload destroy skills and will likely leave politicians with red faces, as has been the case with the AWD build. Incidently, the prime contractor for the AWD is not BAe but ASC a government operation on South Australia.

    Thirdly, our Kiwi cousins, the OPV’s that they keep wingeing about were lowest tender, as was their new logistics ship (Canterbury). They bought cheap because their budget was limited and that is what they got, the lowest çompliant’offer. It is most unlikely that NZ will be able to replace their 2 ANZAC’s with T26’s or anything similar. Most Likely they will end up going for large OPV’s (something like a Thetis class). That is about as far as their budget is likly to last bercause in the same timescale they also have to replace both the RNZAF Orions and C130’s.

  29. My guess is that the New Zealanders will end up with something similar to a police interceptor than a warship, it would fit their budget and threat assessment. I really don’t envy their coming problems.

    The Franco/Italian FREMM does have a chance though, DSCN already has experience with a tech transfer program in the RSN Formidables, so they won’t have any qualms about building overseas, and they would have a “reference customer” with close RAN ties for a showroom ship.

    Rough guessimate, I’d say it might come down to France/Italy, Germany and Spain. BAe… the sections of Horbart made by them were incompatible with the other sections from other companies IIRC. Tough luck.

  30. @ Observer

    The Franco/Italian FREMM does have a chance though, DSCN already has experience with a tech transfer program in the RSN Formidables, so they won’t have any qualms about building overseas, and they would have a “reference customer” with close RAN ties for a showroom ship.

    Do you not think FREMM might be a bit pricy for the Aussies current budget?

  31. Observer,

    Please, one 20M section was fooked up by BAE Australia!

    Given the modular building of CVF and T45 I am guessing that BAE when working from their own design are pretty competent at modular design and construction.

    Whatever they end up buying they will almost certainly be built in Australia. I just cannot see anyone getting anywhere near a deal without that being the case.

    Reading the paper that Adam sudgen linked to yesterday the acquisition costs were somewhere in the region of $10 billion AU which would place the cost per unit at twice what we are looking at buying our T26 for.

  32. It seems very likely that any deal with the Australian over T26 would result in the ships being built by them rather than in the UK and with quite a specific Aussie weapon/sensor fit. So all we would really be doing is selling the design, how much is that actually worth?

    Can the T26 have a successful export programme simply by selling the design for others to build?

  33. Another key point is that the T-26 is essentially still a powerpoint presentation while FREMM has in service hardware. Though how much of an edge it has is questionable when you have to gut the entire system and “Americanize” it. The torps would have commonality with the Eurotorp though. But if they want to use RUM ASROCs on a VLS, having all Mk 51s would be better logistically. Guess they could go either way, ASROC or no ASROC.

    APATS, fair point, only one section. Won’t mention which :) Guess this was probably a one off screwup, though a fairly serious one.

  34. Observer

    It was part of the keel. Type 26 has the advantage of being designed with a mission bay and for UAV operations from the outset. It may also already come with MK41 cells as part of the design.

  35. “Can the T26 have a successful export programme simply by selling the design for others to build?”

    Yes – many of the T12/Leander hulls in service with Commonwealth were actually built abroad. What it doesn’t do is “save the UK shipbuilding industry”, but it should provide some knock-on sustainment work (ie design authority, logs support etc).

    The design itself would probably be worth a few tens of million in licence fees. Remember the French paid £100M for access to the QEC design, although my information is that they were apopletic when they found how little had been done at the time!

  36. Know which section was distorted APATS, just didn’t want to point it out.

    Good point on the design from start part. Guess either way, there is still risk, a new design or an old design that might not be compatible with the new parts. Luck to them Aussies.

  37. Observer,

    FREMM is actually a really good example of how “different” the “same” Ship class can end up if you are involved in the design phase.

    The Italian vessels are 8M longer than the French.

    The Italians have gone for CODLAG whilst the French have CODOG. The GTs are the same but Genny sets are different and the Italians have an electric motor in there.

    They have different CMS, radars and combinations of VLS installations, guns, CIWS and fire control.

  38. I always think of ANZAC as a modern better T21 than a T23. (And Halifax as a T23 equivalent.) FREMM wouldn’t suit their needs.

  39. @NaB

    So the more design licence fees we sell and the more ‘knock-on’ sustainment those deals provide the more viable and economical it makes our own part of the programme?

    Id totally forgotten that the French paid for the QEC design a few years ago, not exactly money well spent!

  40. @X

    Putting aside the comparative costs and ship trends exactly why wouldn’t the Australians want FREMM?

  41. No. Our programme will have to stand on it’s own two feet. It cannot be dependent on exports or co-production. That way lies Typhoon/A400 madness and delay.

    However, what licence fees and sustainment work would do is help fund the basic UK overhead in design of complex warships.

  42. @APATS – I will believe the $10 billion budget when I see it. The Aussies are gretj.a for setting lofty program goals then failing to fund them.

  43. Martin,

    I was suprised to see the project cost as well but everything I can find indicates they have paid $8 billion AU for the 3 Hobarts.

  44. @x, January 20, 2013 at 18:21 “I just think these would be too small for Australia. 140 bods in 2500/3000 tonnes or so that would be cramped for Westerners. If it were 80 to 100 perhaps. 18 to 24 production run, now that is economies of scale.”

    The Asians do tend to minimize the size of their ships in their descriptions so it is probably 2500 tons light, probably over 3,000 tons full load. Still relatively small, smaller than the ANZACs, but about the same size as Type 21s or Leanders. Automation, more compact propulsion and components should make accommodations more nearly acceptable. A bit of a stretch might make it more acceptable, but still unlikely.

    The Koreans have also produced three classes of larger, more impressive designs as well. An update of this one might be seen as an appropriate complement to the Hobarts:

  45. Yes, they might “minimise” the descriptions, as per Chuck

    At the same time, they have coastal/ littoral navies
    – e.g. Singapore wanted the Lafayettes faster
    – they now are, making for a forey out, and quickly back ( but the range, compared to the French [long-range]patrol frigate design is a third less)

  46. The FREMM is not really an ASW platform and the RAN is suddenly interested in ASW again given the number of subs that are coming into service in the region.
    That also explains the use of the Ultra bow and towed array sonars on the Hobart AWD’s at the cost of a new bow design. The RAN has previously used Thales Sonars pretty exclusively (the ANZAC’s use Thales Sperion which were also retrofitted to the 4 upgraded FFG’s).

    The early fabrication problem on the Hobart class were nothing out of the ordinary. The block that buckled was the keel section of the fwd aux machinery room which suffered from weld shrinkage. It was a straight forward fix. The real problem was the DMO made a hash out of the sub contracts for block manufacture. The LHD project and The AWD project didn’t coordinate so BAe ended up with 13 modules for each of the AWD’s (of 31) plus 7 modules for each of the LHD’s. Presumably BAe said they could do it but they couldn’t hire enough labour fast enough. None of which excuses DMO because they should have seen thay were creating a huge risk at BAe and they didn’t need too because they were other fabricators looking for the work. Sorry, hobby horse, I hate DMO.

  47. Odd, thought the FREMM was either the general purpose or the ASW variant (Italian), you might be thinking of the FREDA which is air defence configured. And speaking of Thales, that might be an even better draw for Australia, both sonar and radar are already Thales products, so they can actually keep it in country as opposed to buying from the US again.

    From what I can find, the IR tracker, Herakles radar and sonar are all Thales, so it has Thales Australia products intergrated since the onset and the Eurotorp is already in use in Australia. That is going to cut development costs by a fair bit and already has parts commonality. That leaves the intergration of the Mk41 as the biggest question mark.

  48. @ Aussie j

    Do you think the RAN could be interested in our 2087 towed array as its also Thales.

  49. @ observer

    As Aussie John says the ran wont need these ships until the-mid 2020 s. fremm is going to be pretty long in the tooth buy then t26 feels like a better fit and its designed from the outset to accept European and us kit not to mention its nearly half the cost if BAE hit their target.

  50. Martin, the Ultra Sonars purchased for the Hobart class have never been named but comprise a bow dome mounted Sonar big enough for the Spanish to have to redesign the bow module of the ships, plus a towed array which seems to be both active and passive.
    Ultra’s web site doesn’t contain much information on its range but in selecting the Ultra units the RAN passed over Thales which raised a bit of a stink as they were binning something like 30 years of past investment in the Sonar business of Thales Aust.
    Conclusion, what ever we bought from Ultra, it must be considered pretty good.
    Thales Aust hasn’t had a great run lately, both the RAAF and the RAN selected the Eurotorp MU90 to replace the Mk 46 but the MU90 is a real pain to integrate into US systems so we are in the less than wonderful position of having the MU90 in the Mk 32 launchers on the RAN FFG’s and ANZAC’s and RAAF Orions and RAN Seahawks using US torps (Mk56). Another DMO mess, but to be fair it is really about the US declining to release technical data to the French, particularly software. Which is another mark against the FREMM when you consider Aust’s preference for US stuff.

  51. Point wrt the age of the design. If that is the case, the T-26 should have ships off the drawing board to compare to by that time as well, so hardware to hardware comparison should be possible then.

    I’ll die laughing if they called it the Global Wombat Ship.

    Now for tech specifications.

    I’d say other than the standard radar/sonar/towed array they’d probably have a 24-32 VLS system Mk 57, a 5-inch main gun, a pair of 25-30mm gun mounts with hanger space for a helicopter, 2 twin or triple torpedo tube mounts and 1-2 quad pack of harpoons.

    If they are going to use RUMs in the VLS, I think they’ll probably go all Mk 56, but if they don’t, the MU90 would probably be used for fleet commonality

    The above is a fairly conservative fit for a frigate. Anyone think the RAN is going to pull a few surprises in the loadout?

  52. Observer,

    I would think that they will stick with the Mk41 rather than the bigger Mk57 being designed for the Zumwalt.
    I would think that they would want at least 32Mk41/Mk57 cells. 5 inch gun, either BAE as used by US or Oto Breda. Mission space for containers or big rhibs, hangar for at least 1 helo and possibly UAV simultaneously. CIWS system of some type and remote weapon mounts. perhaps a magazine torpedo launch system.
    It may decide to use a multi role pahsed array radar.

  53. FREMM is an yes, but all frigates with that level of equipment are GP. FREMM is the Italian and French navies’ modern fleet ASW escort; that is the gap it fills. FREDA only came about because Horizon is expensive. And if all it takes is a 5in gun for a ship to be labelled land attack it is a bit thin. Too much concentration on TAS again…….

    I don’t think Australia will manage a class as sophisticated as FREMM AND a big class of even more sophisticate submarines. It would be amusing if they just went for 12 big modern frigates with a complete ASW suite (hull sonars and TAS) and say two large ASW helicopters (rather like the Canadians used to do) and not bothered with submarines. The only difference then between the RN and RAN would be 3 destroyers. Again threat focuses the state’s mind on defence.

  54. Thought both the VLSs were about the same size. Interesting.

    Your read is more or less similar to mine, only exception being the container. Don’t think the Aussies or anyone else are going that route anytime soon.

    Personally though, and this is fantasy ship land, not RAN shipbuilding philosophy, I would have swapped the CIWS for another VLS 8 pack if possible, with quadpacked ESSM, it’s 32 missiles as compared to the 42 for the dual RAM setup, but a VLS is a lot more flexible in usage. No mission bay, but a pair of torpedo armed USVs on davits in side bays. This gives the ship 3 platforms to harass subs with, the helo and the two USV hounds, without needing to get close. I’d assume RHIBs would be a terrible torpedo target, with their shallow draft and all.

  55. @ APATS

    As we are discussing escorts I didn’t think I had to add “in terms of escorts” on to my mutterings.

    But as escorts are the back bone of a force you have to ask who in that situation who would be in the better position? Us by 3 hulls. Even the Ozzies’ new AAW destroyers will have a proper ASW fit out….

  56. X,

    I was making a bit of a joke with the elephant, white elephant thing.

    I cannot see the ozzies dropping their submarine program as the capability it bring is simply too useful. Ref the sonar on the Hobarts,I could not find any specifics anywhere.

  57. For my money they will refurbish and upgrade the landed Mk45 mounts from the decommissioning Anzacs and port them across, plus the ASMD masts and the tactical length Mk41 modules from the FFH’s and FFG’s and save themselves a tidy sum. T26 is being designed to accept a 5″ mount and the Mk45 must be considered representative. The CEA fitout wouldnt seem to present any great concerns in the sense of topweight given the 20m beam noted for the class.

    A refurbished Mk41 tactical length module forward of the 26’s bank of Strike-length cells, which I expect they’ll keep – seeings LACM capability is clearly cited in SEA5000, and another (poss FFBNW at first) alongside the funnel group, where RN hulls will have the second bank of FLAADS cells, provides a significant embarked ESSM loadout and multiple launcher scheduling and redundancy benefits.

    Aussie-isation of the design looks fairly straightforward….radar integration may be a bit of a challenge but that will largely depend on the CMS selection much farther down the track. Other than that maybe something like a higher spec HVAC fit than the UK variant might be called for but I dont see why there shouldnt be quite a lot of pull-through. If they re-use most of their weapons and sensors as we plan to do could even be a fairly controlled spend.

  58. How much kit could they pull through from those going out of service, like the RN will do with pretty much everything but the door handles!

    Is the answer to ease/cost/likelihood sitting in that area

  59. @ APATS

    I am going through a phase of things not sounding right (if they ever do) both reading and writing. So sorry.

    I can’t see the Ozzies giving up submarines either. But I can’t see them operating submarines, sophisticated AAW destroyers, and a large class of sophisticated ASW frigates. ANZACs aren’t T23s (or a Halifax) and FREMM isn’t a natural replacement for ANZAC. They are struggling for sailors now. ** Again I see the Danish Iver Huitfeldt hull (sans AAW fit) as being a good fit for them. Submarine wise they are snookered. Everybody in the West who operates over large distances like the Indian Ocean operates SSN. The Germans and Swedes are more interested in waters closer to home. We mustn’t confuse Western SSKs deploying at great distances in peace time (support by other allied navies) as an indication of their performance in war.

    ** As I understand it. Why RN matelots aren’t flocking to join the RAN and RNZN I don’t know.

  60. @X

    I agree the Aussie sub program is in a strange spot. They could possibly work with Japan but I worry about that learning curve for both sides in playing well together as Japanese defense industry has been so isolated for so long. Frankly I think the best thing Australia could do to ensure its maritime security would be to buy a fleet of 6 or so nuclear subs.

  61. @TD

    You must remember that the major equipment we are looking to pull across is either brand new in service or not even in service yet. Artisan, 2087, Sea Ceptor. We are in all probability going to go with a new main gun and whilst we look like staying with phalanx (they are not fitted on T23 so any purchase must be funded and the most cost effective off the shelf product would make sense.

    The 5 inch mod 2 gun and thompson hull mount sonar will both be very long in the tooth by the time the replacements are required. the ASMD upgraded mast with the CEAFAR and CEAMOUNT could be transferred and would allow SM2/3 or ESSM missiles to be used from the VLS.


    yes the sort of range and reach the ozzies want from an SSK is only really available from a couple of the latest and largest AIP models such as the Japanese Soryu class.

  62. @ Jeremy M H

    Yes I agree. But their green lobby is very big. Unlike our green lobby it has actually got broad support. Understandable really given so much remains unspoilt and also in contrast the results of man’s interference in nature are very evident there too.

  63. @ APATS

    I once read that modern SSKs were like mines that could move and “reload”. Our post-war O-boats, as good as they were, operated in a very small area which I think gets forgotten. But their job was different to what the Australians want from their submarines which resemble more the “secret squirrel” missions our SSNs perform (as well as sinking things etc.)

    (It should be noted that German SSKs of WW2 were a different beasty altogether and though conducted wide ranging operations across the whole Atlantic it was different time with different technologies. Perhaps a better parallel would be RN submarine operations in the Med’ where there were more eyes pushing the submarines down?)

  64. @ X strange the Aussies Green movement gets in a tiz over nuclear but does not seem to mind being the biggest per capita CO2 producer in the industrialised world :-)

    It would be really great to see the Aussies operating Virginia or Astute but it’s not going to happen as you say. I am also very dubious if the government will actually commit the funds they were talking about for 12 of these massive long range SSK’s

  65. The biggest problem with AIP is the speed at which you can operate efficiently. The 6ish knots of cruising speed won’t even really let you shadow merchants effectively. AIP is really useful for tooling around a small-defined patrol area without being easy to detect so would probably be great in some choke points. For wider ranging operations it just does not seem to be a great fit. I would not want to try to actively hunt a group of surface ships with it for example.

  66. @Martin

    Well if the Aussie’s follow our example then they will want 12 SSK’s, say they can’t manage with less than 8 and end up with 6!

  67. @APATS

    Make and mends preferable to buying new?!.

    Mod 2’s are a little old in the tooth but the upgrade path is well established and can be done a couple at a time as mounts become available and required for new builds. US$7mn isnt a huge amount for one of the ships primary weapons systems brought up to latest-greatest spec!.

    As to whats brought over…the MCG as noted…SSGW will port over plus any associated consoles if still separate and required…SAM/SHORADS launchers/missiles/fire control/TI all port over. Only really the below water combat systems that will see a need to reach for the catalogue in terms of the ships fighty systems. Clearly thats just one element of build costs…it is usually a large chunk of change though…and one you’d think worth eliminating.


    The Aussies ministry types have backed away from SSN citing a lack of nuclear berths and no budget to build them didnt they?.

  68. Jonesy,

    Even the Mod 4 is already looking a little outdated if you compare it to an Oto Breda 127/64.

    The Mod 4 must be manned in sustained fire mode, reloading is manual, on fully automatic it can only fire 20 rounds in approximately 1 minute before reloading is required. Going to the 62 calibre instead of 54 has given a nice range increase. Currently tehre are no plans for it to have guided or extended range munitions however or clever fusing and digital ballistics.

    The Oto Breda 127/64 is supplied by 4 14 round drums which can be automatically reloaded from the magazine whilst firing and can be loaded with different types of ammo. It has extended range ammo and intelligent fuse programming.

    The issue is cost, Germany have paid $21 million per mount compared with the $7.5 million to refurbish.

    As long as the ASMD mast transfers then whatever is in the ANZAC Mk41 silos will be compatible with new Mk41 silos. Harpoon will not be around when the replacement is required and the other stuff will be easy to swap if so required or desired.

  69. @Jonsey

    I am sure they have and that it won’t happen. I just think that were I Australia I would trade general purpose escorts (ASW ones in particular) for SSN’s. Particularly I would be looking to get some of the ones with the Virignia Payload Module that would let them carry 28 VLS cruise missiles (TLAM or whatever replaces it). That would give you a considerable deterrent effect in my view and is worth far more than a few general purpose skimmers.

  70. I dont know APATS I think the mod4 is ONLY looking dated if you compare it to the OTO127!. I dont think there’s much doubt it will still be a very common and well-supported mount in the SEA5000 timeframe. On paper the OTO mount is indeed far superior in its capabilities, but, its still got some way to go to prove endurance and reliability.

    The cost is indeed the issue though. 8 hulls outfitted with a proven MCG, that they have training/logistics streams already setup for, for the cost of 3 OTO mounts. $60mn plays $168mn (plus support costs) in todays rough figures – see earlier ‘chunk of change’ comment!. Super Gucci gun-system or, maybe, a set of towed arrays…or an extra couple of choppers…or an additional corvette maybe…not an easy call.

    SEA5000’s earliest listed IOC is 2027, 14yrs from now, at which time ANZAC would be more than 30yrs in commission!. You can only perceive the naval threat environment as increasingly challenging in that region and the early IOC being the desirable one. You are sure that Harpoon BlkII will be out of service in 14yrs…I think I’d float a small wager that that may not be the case!.

  71. Australia getting nuclear subs is similar to the UK going pro-France. Possible but seriously unlikely.

    This is complicated by the fact that the Kiwis banned ALL nuclear ships in their territory, so it would mean access to a large chunk of western operating area cut off right there.

  72. If anyone has read the Coles report on support of the Collins class, you would realise that the Aussies are struggling to support relatively simple boats.

    The additional support infrastructure and expertise to go nuclear is almost certainly beyond the capacity of Australia to sustain. The UK is marginal and that’s with having run boats for 50 years.

  73. Well, to be fair, I have argued that even if the Collins had sunk 2 minutes after launch, it would still have served its purpose, which was a starter sub for the Australian shipbuilding industry to learn submarine design.

  74. @Martin

    Are our quoted costs for the T26 net of the T23 equipment fit such as Seawolf, the 2087 etc. Oz would presumably incur a gross cost.

  75. Some new pics of the type 26 and cvf

    “In addition to the general-purpose and anti-ship warfare versions, at least one export buyer is considering an air-defense variant of the Type 26 that isn’t in the U.K. plan. In the long term, such a ship could serve as a replacement for Britain’s Type 45 destroyers, Braham said.”

  76. @TOC

    Every pic or model seems subtly different. This one appears to have 24 Sea Ceptor cells in front of another type of larger cell on the bow and 24 Sea Ceptor Cells aft of the funnel.
    More worryingly where have the mission bay doors gone?

  77. And here was me thinking we had a design that looked right from a non naval eye.

    Nab sounds ominous budget issues or design issues or both?

  78. Various changes

    Strike length VLS have reduced in quantity from 24 to 16
    Don’t understand the point of the flight deck “wells” (my word).
    Extra doors in hangar.
    Silos above hangar twisted 90 degrees (these look strike length but are probably only CAMM (maybe strike capable for export)).
    Chemring? decoys moved from front to next to Phanlax.
    Noticed the bridge windows are very different. 7,2,3 Now it is 5,2,2. Hopefully indicating bigger windows and not a smaller bridge.

    The original design was two story. The mission bay was beneath the hangar. The last redesign had a combined hangar mission bay that was both deeper and provided more height. The operation of the boats was changed at the same time. Seemed like a sensible move, although a larger hangar door would be sensible.

  79. Can’t say much more. Let’s just say that the next 12 months will be “interesting”. Primarily design not budget issues. We will all just have to wait and see.

  80. I was starting to think that they were deliberately fielding different designs for T26 each time. It seems they can’t quite settle on the layout, which is not surprising given the “flexibility” and “jack of all trades” they are trying to build in.

  81. A couple of years ago I was talking to a colleague at one of the UK defence manufacturers about the opportunities that were worth investigating in through-deck tactical modules. Not quite TD’s favourite ISO boxes, but similar concept as in fixed footprint, common lockdown system, easy exchange. The sort of things we talked about were radar modules, CIWS modules, ASM modules, accommodation modules, medical unit modules, workshop modules etc. Much as we were discussing a week or so back on another thread, the hull would have sockets a bit like container carriers but far fewer in appropriate locations; much of the superstructure would be standard independent of the interchangeable modules – bridge, ops room, crew accommodation, machinery spaces etc all being needed no matter what. The result could be smaller vessels with focused roles but common design hulls with common support. Well I thought it was a snazzy idea anyway.

    Then this week I opened my Jane’s IDR to read a report on modular warships, complete with photo of a through-deck module being craned into a Royal Danish Navy Flyvefisken vessel, and description of US LCS aims.

    It seems blindingly obvious to me that the bits that are likely to be upgraded most regularly (weapon and sensor systems) ought to be capable of replacement without gutting the hull to make modifications. If in doing that the basic ship becomes quickly reconfigurable for different duties, all the better.

    I went to an IMechE talk on T26, and was moderately disappointed the BAE team was firmly into designing a ship class with systems distributed throughout the hull like all the older designs had. Quite the opposite of the drive towards modularity in ground vehicles – a common defined data network (VGA) onto which self-contained systems can be clipped with high confidence they would be plug&play, with the intent that the basic mechanical vehicle can be upgraded and re-roled as easily as possible. Perhaps the general structure of the modular vessel might resemble HNLMS Groningen (at DSEi this week) with multiple deck levels to the front of the standard bridge/superstructure and a large deck area aft.

    No doubt the response will be SIDS – that’s “Ships Is Different, See?” – and many will say its the wrong way to make a navy, but with ever smaller budgets it seems right to maximize the utility of the expensive hull/machinery/common sensors/bridge systems/ops room systems/comms systems/accommodation by being able to fit/exchange smaller gucci fightability modules as their technology and need develops.

  82. The Danes found with the Flyvefisken( only 1 left in service) some sold to Lithuania that the modules were rarely swapped and the Ships set up for certain tasking were generally tasked in this way. The same thing with Absalom.
    I agree with the theory but have some reservations based on the fact that Ships actually are different.
    1. As you alter the Shape of the ship you alter the RCS/ESM emmisions and IR profile meaning you need to test each profile and write a different response to each threat per profile.
    2. Mutual interference issues become more complex.
    3. The Danes did not change the modules very often and LCS is an expensive nightmare.
    4. T26 is going to use transferred tech from T23 to keep costs down.
    5. The basic requirements of ability to “build” the air, surface and sub surface picture, defends yourself against threats in all 3 environments, share the picture, communicate securely etc drives a pretty standardised looking weapons and sensor fit. You are hardly just going to drop in a strike length VLS silo at the weekend.
    6. Offboard systems and a “mission bay” allow for much of what you are talking about with less impact on ships operations in both training on a bit of kit that was not there last week and procedures as detailed at point 1. So if Mar surv is the order of the day with no ASW threat out goes the Merlin and in comes a Wildcat/ UAV combo. Disaster relief sees a medical unit and stores. Anti Piracy maybe a USV and bigger rhibs for boarding parties with a UAV.

  83. And here was me thinking they had the T26 design nailed down (a good looking/sounding one at that!) and at least from a design, if not a budgetary perspective, it was plain sailing from here. How foolish of me!

  84. He means Ships Is Different (to aircraft, land vehicles etc), which unfortunately for Chris is true. Rather uniquely, ships (and submarines which are even more different!) are required to sustain their crews aboard them without support for up to several weeks, in an environment whose only positive contributions are the rather benevolent support offered by Mr Archimedes and the cooling possibilities offered by the sea. Somewhat offset by the propensity to move about in a rather rough and structurally challenging way on a regular basis, irrespective of whatever the oppo is doing.

  85. @chris

    Sometimes something is just true :) I at least backed my argument up with some points.

    To elaborate on my point. I see the normal mission given to Ships and especially our falling number of escorts to require the flexibility to deal with threats in all 3 environments so the basic weapon and sensor load out is set. Gun/SAM/ASM/Point Defence/Radar/Hull Sonar/Helo/Comms. This is your basic package and without these systems you cannot really train across all 3 environments.

    Now if I was in charge it is from this baseline that you would “plug and play” mission specifics but in a manner that allows more flexibility for even a mid deployment “role” change and minimise impact.

    1. Common Missile Silo: So that a unit can have the optimum mix of Anti Air/ Anti Ship or Land Attack missiles all carried in a common silo and the ability to air deploy and change mix alongside is retained.
    2. Proper Mission Bay: The ability to host USV/UUV/Large Rhibs/Armoured FP boats/Specialised Medical “Containers”/Portable Laboratory containers etc as required and be able to swap these around via air deployment whilst deployed.
    3. Aviation Facilities: Capable of at least carrying 1 Merlin and 1Wildcat and small UAV. Flight Deck Chinook capable. The force mix able to be altered during deployment.
    4. Investigate the ability to make a TAS a fit as required piece of equipment. Given the specialised nature of TAS ops this would have to be fitted prior to work up.

    This set up I believe offers the max flexibility around a realistic baseline capability.

  86. Chris & Challenger – Ah. ‘Fraid I skimmed a couple of posts (what with being at work at all) and missed its previous appearance.

    Being from a medical family, my first thought was a rather more tragic SIDS.

  87. @NaB: you are a tease. Obviously, by “design” you don’t mean that we’ve all come to our senses and agreed on a first rate UK “Arleigh Burke” class to replace both some of the T23s and ultimately the T45s – with money to spare for some Patrol / Surveillance ships… thought not. Guess it’s something boring such as too much top weight :)

  88. Tom, ouch. Any infant death is a tragedy.

    Chris, I’m not sure about the rest, but the radar is something you CANNOT plug and play. The problem isn’t with the plugging in, it’s with the location. If you placed any objects that emit near each other, there is a chance of interference patterns, which means that unless you pre-plan your radar’s location, there is a chance that your navigation/search radar or communications equipment might end up blinding yourself. Since the radar location is more or less fixed to prevent interference, you might as well hard install it. Can’t think of many situations where you would not want a radar anyway.

  89. x, nothing is for free and a second helicopter increases the support space needed, what are you willing to trade for the second helo? :)

    Less VLS? Slower speed? Operational range? The mission bay?

    Personally, my gut feeling tells me to get rid of the missions bay, but if the future is USVs/RHIBs, that would be a wrong move, and I can’t really recommend reducing VLS cells any more. What about doing something very radical and removing the gun totally, move the VLS to the front, and use the opened rear space to accommodate the extra helicopter? No more NGS, but the medium calibers and torpedoes should suffice for close range anti-ship work.

    So maybe that would be my answer, sacrifice the main gun for another helo.

    What would you give up?

  90. Obs – quite agree for standard fit nav & surveillance radars, but if you wanted a specific additional capability then like evil 909 or the US Aegis panels I’m sure you can build a picture with sector/conical scan components from locations outboard of sensitive equipment. At least that’s what my Tactical Radar for Dummies book tells me…

  91. “All I wanted is a two Merlin capability”

    Quite a modest requirement. However, if it hasn’t got a tail (and a 2087 or better at that) then why bother? A fisheries protection vessel or, as our US cousins call them, a littoral combat ship can be had for much less and everyone can pretend to be designing modular capabilities until the cows come home, well until someone wiith a few semi-modern subs decides to actually come out and play.

  92. @ Mark

    No. I mean hangar space. The phrase two Merlin capability doesn’t imply additional purchases of the helicopter.

  93. @ HurstLlama

    There is owning subMARINEs and then there is being effective in their use. Helicopters have more uses than ASW.

  94. Observer said: “a second helicopter increases the support space needed, what are you willing to trade for the second helo”

    Well, yes, but…… have you ever actually been on a warship ? Been in the hanger ? Actually belay that, I am not sure if Singapore has anything big enough to illustrate my point, but I can assure you, the “support space” is far less than the “parking space” for the actual cab in the hanger. If shipping 2 x Merlin the biggest thing you need space for is possibly 2 spare RTM322 (which are quite big I suppose).

    But your certainly not getting less speed, or range !

  95. The Type 26 design is arguably meeting all of our requirements and desires. It’s easy to feel there are design features missing but if it is fitted with strike length Mk57/Mk41 pretty much all bases are covered.

    Chinook capable and 24 strike length silos would be my only suggestion, I am not sure to what extent room has been saved by the silo reduction but I imagine as they are in a straight line it is a reduction in the ‘smaller’ spaces rather than the hangar. I did wonder if the rear silos are strike capable – they might be (for export reasons).

    I would like to see CEC fitted, it isn’t at the moment, these should be BMD capable and would be with CEC.

  96. What jars with me is all this raspberry flan spoken about modules and ships. Suggest putting a “module space” of the optimum size that is one big enough to house an “aviation module” aka a helicopter in the optimum place, well away from the the confined innards of water tight zones and indeed the water, next to the only large open space in an escort the flight deck so “modules” can be craned on and off easier, and there is a panic. Having space for an extra helicopter if needed is a big increase in the ships combat power without having to modify the ship.

  97. Not necessarily the case but the biggest impact having two copters would have is the double rate of fuel use. So by rights (which, as I say, is not necessarily true) you’ll need 200t of aviation over an approximate guess of 100t for normal ops. Now that is a lot of space, but still only 1/5 of the space needed to park the second Merlin.

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