Does the Type 26 Need a Strike Length Vertical Launch System


Thought I would ask a controversial question!

so, the Type 26 is billed as the austerity frigate and the latest models on show at DSEi shows 16 Vertical Launch Cells (VLS) cells of the grown up, strike length variety (we assume)

So far, the majority of discussion has been about which type of VLS will be fitted, the Lockheed Martin Mk41 or DCNS SYLVER.

Recent news for the Mk41 has seen MBDA and Lockheed Martin demonstrate the launching of a Common Anti-Air Modular Missile (CAMM) missile from the ExLS silo.

CAMM launch from a Mk41 ExLS
CAMM launch from a Mk41 ExLS

The ExLS is a development of the existing Mk41 system that allows users to reduce integration cost by putting already cannistered missile inside the launcher. It is also available in single launcher variant as per the image below.

Lockheed Martin ExLS
Lockheed Martin ExLS

LM have also demonstrated a successful launch of the Long Range anti Ship Missile (LRAS) from a Mk41, the development momentum is clearly with the Mk41

SLYVER, on the other hand is already in service with the Royal Navy on the Type 45 Destroyers, it carrying the Aster missile

The model at DSEi showed a 2×8 silo arrangement and the conventional 2×4 module layout of the Mk41 would seem to fit within the models geometry. The SLYVER is also available in the same geometry so I don’t think we should read too much into the models and video either way.

SYLVER Data sheet

Mk41 Data Sheet

Defense Industry Daily on Mk41

The question remains though, do we actually need either of them as the Type 26 is introduced or do we need any at any rate?

A bit of a controversial question I know but by the time the Type 26 starts coming into service what will be in service that can be stuffed into either a Mk41 or SYLVER?

Anti Air; the Type 26 will be fitted with the Sea Ceptor system whose missile component has its very own cannister launch system and the missile itself is cold launched, therefore not requiring the exhaust management features of the Mk41 or SYLVER. Is it likely that Type 26 will ever be fitted Aster, unlikely to say the least so for for the anti air role, the cheaper CAMM silo is enough.

Anti Ballistic Missile: If the UK does follow through on its long term aspirations for a theatre ABM system it will likely utilise the Type 45 and Sea Viper system, not an SM-3 Block II launched from a Type 26

Anti Ship: the recent news about the Type 45 eventually getting the type 22 surplus Harpoon missiles is interesting but the Royal Navy currently has no programme for a Harpoon replacement. It might have more of those aspirations, it might have its eye on the recently tested from a Mk41 Long Range Anti Ship Missile (LRASM) but this is a a development programme with no firm future funding. Harpoon cannot be VLS launched and interestingly, the very sophisticated and all new Kongsberg Naval Strike Missile is box launched, not VLS launched. The air launched and improved variant of the NSM, the Kongsberg Joint Strike Missile that will be integrated with the F35 has been proposed for the US Navy Offensive Anti Surface Warfare (OASuW) requirement to include vertical launching, maybe there is some justification for the VLS if the UK were to join this programme, the Multi Mission Maritime Tomahawk has also been proposed as an interim measure.

Countermeasures: LM and BAE Australia have recently demonstrated launching a NULKA countermeasure from a Mk 41 but the RN’s existing countermeasures are conventional tube launched and Chemring have the Centurion launcher that seems to offer a much more flexible and capable solution than using an expensive VLS for countermeasures.

Deep Strike: The UK has a limited stock of Tomahawk Land attack Missiles (TLAM) that are submarine launched, the existing stock will be transferred to the Astute submarines as they come into service. The RAF also has the Tornado launched Storm Shadow and these will eventually be integrated with Typhoon. Then of course we are invested a huge sum of money in Carrier Strike which with its ‘stealthy’ F35B’s will be able to conduct those day 1 strike missions we hear a lot about. Whilst launch platform diversity is always a good thing does adding another platform for TLAM make sense in budgetary restricted times? Some future purchase of SCALP Naval or even a development like Perseus would require a VLS but within the timeframe for the initial contracts for Type 26, not so sure?

Anti Submarine: The US has a VLS launched anti submarine weapon which would be nice to have, it would be a new capability and it presumes that the existing combination of merlin HM2, Sonar 20187 and the relentless ASW training carried out by the Royal Navy is in some way in need of improvement. Another nice to have.

Land Attack; providing support for embarked forces will be delivered by whatever medium calibre gun is selected for the Type 26 and MIFSThe MBDA concept version for Hoplite makes for interesting reading, the video looks like it can launch from a cold launch CAMM cell, although the video shows it quad packed into a Mk41/SYLVER

So, it would seem the case for either the Mk41 and SLYVER is very weak for Type 26. As long as there is space to provide a degree of future proofing the initial main gate does not need to decide now.

If the UK buys into the NSM/JSM programme to replace Harpoon then the F35 and potential VLS option would provide justification but beyond that, arguing for a VLS on the basis of SCALP/TLAM whilst there is submarine launched TLAM, Storm Shadow and the multi gazillion billion Carrier Strike programme to bring into service and sustain seems like a rather difficult job.

All that said, with LM and MBDA pushing their agreement to integrate each others products there might be a chance to ditch SYLVER and go Mk41 throughout the RN surface fleet.

What was that, oh, you can get back up now!

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176 Responses

  1. No need to hurry. The decision on Sylver or Mk41 and what to put in them must not be taken today and can wait till the early twenties. There is no money to fill them anyway.
    Make sure there is space and weight margin allocated in the design for at least 16 strike length tubes, then wait and see how things evolve.

  2. Duh. If we want to actually fit weapons to the T26, as opposed to just providing Chinook landing spots, boat modules, marine detachments etc, we might as well fit the launcher everything else fits in: Mk41.

  3. T45 should have had some Mk41 strike cells from the outset (and perhaps smaller hanger and flight deck to work almost solely as a HVU fleet escort) and then I agree that the T26 could just go with plated over fitted for not with and put box launchers for a decent modern anti ship missile on top of the plated over cells.

    If we are to operated an effective carrier strike group against decent opposition, then F35 notwithstanding, I am sure we will want and need to lob some TLAMs in first. Putting MK41s on some surface ships will, with a modestly increased TLAM stop, give us the ability to put a couple of dozen on target rather than perhaps a handful from one or two astutes

    Perhaps where we could end up, no bad thing, is 8 T26s with TAS and Mk41, and 5 GP without either of those and instead just some AshMs

  4. Excellent article – mostly in terms of debunking the “Mk-41 can do everything” meme – sure, it can carry a lot, but most of those missiles are ones the RN is not interested in, and certainly not from the Type-26!

    Strike-length VLS is about one thing: Tomahawk.

    Given that we keep using them, and there is constant political demand for their use, and given that SSN launches are significantly more expensive than surface launches, a surface launcher will end up saving us money, and there is a ~need~ for that.

  5. TD has clearly written this in the hope of another marathon posting response.

    Maybe I’m a bit out of touch but I figure the T45 is a good ADD but lacks CEC and BMD capabilities. It has a helicopter and a gun but it is so scarce and underarmed that using it to ‘attack’ threats / NFS is not likely to happen.

    A submarine, as already pointed out elsewhere is most powerful when hidden. It has some TLAM but it gives the game away, is expensive and there aren’t many missiles on them.

    It is therefore essential that the frigates are fighty. They need weapons to be this – that needs VLSs.

    How are we going to sell these to other countries otherwise? – they didn’t fall for our Typhoon pitch and frankly the plane has much going for it, but if it is incomplete it won’t sell.

  6. I also think a LAM (Land Attack Missile) would be desirable as they have been so useful in recent conflicts and existing platforms seem inadequate. Using submarines for routine cruise missile strikes is expensive and undermines their primary function of being hidden and scary. Typhoon requires land bases reducing strike rates due to distance. F35 isn’t available in numbers for a while and limited aircraft carrier availability will focus coverage. Having strike silos on Type 26 would dramatically increase coverage, saturation and threat profile. For this reason it is almost certainly highly important for exports.

    People seem to assume that MK41 is self-evidently the best choice but I’m not so sure. Yes it gives access to US missiles but Europe has ambitions for missile self-sufficiency. The integration of MBDA products to MK41 launchers provides the best of both worlds but is almost certainly designed around capturing more of the European market and exports than a common launcher. Most importantly though, all the benefits of MK41 were likely known to Britain, France and Italy, Europe’s three most powerful naval countries, before the adoption of Sylver but they chose it anyway. This suggests to me that there is a significant political commitment behind the launcher that goes beyond the immediate advantages of MK41. Given that the Type 26 is operational from the 20’s I would not be surprised if Sylver a70 was chosen alongside a European LAM.

  7. @TD: whatever you like. That’s the point: VLS gives you flexibility to chop and change whenever you want, with guaranteed physical and launcher compatibility. If I had to be asked now, I would declare 32 strike length forward, 32 standard to the rear, filled with 64 Sea Ceptor, 16 TLAM (when deployed) , 16 AShM, and 16 VL-ASROC. Given we cannot reload except at port, that seems reasonable.

    @Radwulf: Europe has ambitions for lots of things. Being the worlds reserve currency, defence sufficiency, policing it’s own backyard. The last twenty years have taught the world it’s a failure at all of them. No need to further hitch our future to that lot :-(

  8. @ Mick P

    There is a lot of volume within T45. To keep RCS consistent moving the hangar further aft would increase that volume by even more not sure what we would have done with the space. As I have said loads of times now that Chinook fits on the flightdeck, which is huge you know you have walked across it, is more a function of the ship’s size. Actually moving the hangar aft would probably increase hangar space. The davits for the ships boats occupy the sides of the hangar “area” and these are accommodated in a conspicuous amount of space. At deck level I would say the width from the inner bulkhead that formers the hangar to the scuppers (it it had scuppers) is getting on for as wide as the hangar itself (same width as T23’s hangar). If T45 had been designed as a capital ship from the get go it would have been best to delete the hangar. Take advantage of the IEP to provide depth aft hen place a VLS where the hangar is now. And me being me I would probably have replicated Horizon’s gun position both for’ard and aft, basically a 76mm covering every quarter, and that obviously means two 76mm on each beam. There would be some distance between the mounts and that would make Phalanx look a bit meager both in bang and coverage………..

  9. The T26 won’t reach Main Gate until at least 2016 so what it will carry in RN service is still very much a work in progress and what can be squeezed into the cost cap is probably the main issue at the moment.

    That said, if you want to export ships, or just the design and equipment, you should be ensuring that the design is as flexible as possible.

    The UK has lost out almost completely on the international market for larger warships because you HAD a tendency to produce finished packages rather than meet customer demands.

    British Sonars and electric propulsion technology is probably the best in the world at the moment but a lot of your other stuff isn’t.

  10. I would personally leave an empty space big enough for either the mk41 strike length or the A70, then leave the decision of what to fit until nearer the time they are needed, or if we diecide we don’t need them leave the space as ‘fitted for but not with’. Also handy if we want to export without redesigning the area around.

  11. The cost of the launchers is estimated to be around $500,000 each so around $8 million per vessel. At that price for a $500 million warship why would we not fit them from the start. We know today we can fit TLAM and soon Quad packed CAMMS for sure which are both very useful and we can be 99% certain what ever replaces Harpoon in RN service will be a VLS missile and almost certainly compatible with mk41.

    Yes the RN has TLAM launched from subs but launching at best a handful of missiles from an already over stretched SSN fleet is more a token political capability than something truly useful on A battle field. Yes we will have carrier strike eventually but these will always require support from sea launched cruise missiles to overcome enemy air defences not to mention we can equip the entire RN fleet with Mk41 for the price of a single F35B. We will also likley only get 48 of these aircraft as well which would be insufficent on their own to provide a full strike capability. At $ 8 million per vessel I find it hard to argue why they should not be on T26 from day one given the massive capability they bring to the vessel.

  12. T45 – upgrade to full 64 x VLS and add 16 x Aster45 for ABM capability.
    T26 – fit for 32 x Mk41 with at least eight full of quad-packed CAMM.


    T45 – Type 45 Destroyer
    T26 – Type 26 Frigate
    VLS – Vertial Launch System
    ABM – Anti Balistic Missile
    CAMM – Common Anti-Air Modular Missile

  13. @x – agree if we’d had time, and money again, I would preferred a small class of double ended T45s for carrier escort. No need for hanger and could have doubled the number of launch cells. I guess a bit like the Bristol idea with CVA-01

    @Simon – I have though that 32 Mk41 up front replacing the both the 24 CAMM and 16 Mk41 in the current design would make a lot of sense as CAMM can be quad packed and there is a large extent of future proofing by having more Mk41s – even if they can’t all be filled immediately

    That gets me to:

    8 full T26s – TAS, 5″ gun, either 48 CAMM / 16 MK41 or 24 CAMM / 32 Mk41, 2 phalanx, 2 30mm
    5 GP T26s – 5″ gun, 48 CAMM, boxed launch AShM over Mk41 pit, 4 30mm

  14. @TD

    Did I understand correctly the TLAM submarine/torpedo version is now no longer made for the US? I think they swapped over to VLS versions. With that in mind the alternatives aren’t quite what they would seem. Certainly our habit of raiding the US stores won’t be possible if they aren’t held.

    Personally I’d be interested in the cost differential between a Sylver & Mk41 equipped T26 and the proposed CAMM & Mk41/Sylver version. I am not sure the Sylver could be fitted to the T23s so I presume it is considered a no-goer.

  15. I know money is tight but the strike length VLS seem to give a lot of flexibility for relatively little expenditure, so I would say the space for them has to be there at the very least.
    In terms of the missiles we would get a lot of deterrent value from qualifying a land attack missile, longer range SAM and an anti-ship missile and buying a small amount of them – the beauty of VLS of course being that the bad guy doesn’t know what (if anything!!) you are carrying. If you are sending a ship to the Gulf then you load it full of anti-air missiles to protect from swarming. If you are cruising off Africa you carry (or leak that you are carrying…) some land attack that can really mess up some dictator/warlord’s palace.
    We dont need to spend that much on missiles – the ships don’t all have to be fully loaded, some will not be at sea, and if things go bad quickly it is quicker to buy more missiles than install VLS systems, or short term get reloads off other Navy’s that are not immediately involved.
    How much of a deal is reloading VLS? Can you fly the canisters out to A N OTher port and use an existing crane to put them in overnight?

  16. @TD: if we cannot arm our warships, why are we buying them?

    At least “for but not with” allows us to quickly upgrade. Finding ourselves with a effectively useless set of equipment which we cannot afford to replace for 25 years seems a tad stupid.

  17. Excuse my ignorance, if what i say is daft, or indeed glowing with common sense. But i think there are some basic questions we need to ask, vis:

    a). What are the advantages of fitting a hole where these things will go (i’ll explain why i put it that way later)?

    b). What will be the disadvantages of such things?

    To me, the idea of having a multi-role/munition launch system has merit. I can see that it simplifies the systems, both types being ‘plug and play’. It means that less space is required within the ship for weapons systems, and less systems operators required. They offer, or will offer, a wide variety of munitions, giving flexibility. All of which IMO [In My Opinion] are very good things.


    On the other hand, i understand there is no reload at sea capability, (at least not without, either, crushing a number of matelots, and/or, skittling a few over the side) so consequently, once all the silos are empty, that’s the lovely grey fighty vessel, about as much use as a cardboard inner tube, for the immediate future anyway. Equally, it restricts the vessels mission to whatever has been parked in the tube. Which is fine until, being loaded for ‘bear’, A couple of JH7B lumping a load of YJ12*, pop-up, ready to put a bit of a downer on someone’s day. Or the mission is changed from ASW to support for landing forces. So flexibility reduced, unless you load for a number of taskings, and accept a reduced attack in the roles you’ve loaded for.

    So, to conclude, make the vessel capable of having them…and allow an export customer to specify which he wants. For RN use, don’t make them the only attack method- at the very least fit a re-loadable anti-air launcher. I’m arguing this on the basis, that every defensive layer will ‘leak’ and you don’t want your anti-air defensive layer to be the NAAFI manager with a ‘Gimpy’ gaffer-taped to the rail, stirling man tho’ he be.

    (Although, if someones develops a missile that’s capable of doing all the roles expected, in the one missile- please disregard the above!)

    * Chinese naval version of the Xian Flying Leopard attack aircraft, carrying the latest Chinese anti-shipping missile.

  18. @mickp

    Why would you not spread the weaponry ie load the ASW version with just CAMM and put the strike length VLS on the GP version with CAMM, also why would you replace the 2 phalanx on the GP version with 30mm, thereby reduciing it’s defence capabilities.

    As planned it is not a full T26 and a weak T26, it is a ASW version and a GP version. To me this should mean that we use the GP version for activities other than ASW.

  19. @Engineer Tom – because I have doubts we are ever going to see 13, hence focus first on 8 or 9 ‘full fat’ ships that can properly support the carrier task group, ASW and the ability to fire off TLAMs for example. The GP version to me and many others on here remains unclear. My thoughts were try and keep costs down to get hulls in the water and keep a capability that’s similar to existing non TAS T23s. Decent anti air self defence through CAMM, hull sonar, helo, 5″ for fire support, AShM. Swapping the 30mm for phalanx was meant to be cost saving (I’m assuming its cheaper?!) yet still have decent all round gun cover for small threats. Still better than T23

  20. I have to ask…if you can quad pack CAMM into either of the VLS systems (you could presumably do it with SYLVER too I think) why bother with the other launchers at all? It would seem to be simplest to just design the ship around slightly more VLS cells and be done with it rather than investing money in a one weapon launching system. I am presuming it is more of an export driven thing not really for Type 26 but for the missile itself as it would let the weapon be deployed on even smaller ships. Otherwise I don’t really get why one would bother.

  21. I believe it has an individual launcher so it can be fitted to the T23, and also as it is used in a land based package as well.

    But yes I would just quad pack it into the main VLS setup

    One aspect of the design we need to get right is the modularity of it, and I don’t mean fitting containers or being able to change its role quickly. Rather I mean that the export customer can pick off the shelf what kit they want on the ship. To me this means we design the mast to hold a ‘radar’ not to hold specifically Artisan, so if turkey decides to buy some T26’s they can choose a radar they want and there isn’t going to be much design change involved. The kit I would make easy to change would be; Main gun, radar, sonar, TAS, boat davits, CIWS/30mm’s, VLS and comm’s setup, everything else could be common. Just an idea to entice customers who don’t want to buy kit different to what they already use.

  22. @ Opinion 3

    “Did I understand correctly the TLAM submarine/torpedo version is now no longer made for the US?”

    The USN did seriously consider this then they realised just how many more missiles they could pack on an SSN if they also used the Torpedo room and decided to stick with both VLS and Torpedo tube launched TLAM. We currently are using the latest Block IV which should be available until at least 2030. I would also guess that anything that replaced TLAM would come in a Torpedo tube version as well. Currently the French are developing a sub launched version of Scalp (n)

    @ TD

    “What is the point of having the VLS if the RN has nothing to fill them with”

    Firstly if we have the launchers we can relatively quickly buy the missiles. In recent situations in Libya for instance if the USA had decided to take no part in the mission and we had several T26 with mk41 we could have had a bunch of missiles flown over from the USA and loaded on to our ships very quickly. That being said even our cash strapped armed forces should be able to run to the purchase of 50 or so surface launched TLAM’s. Same could be said in future with what-ever anti ship missile is chosen to replace harpoon. If we ever need allot of them there is a very good chance we can buy them quite rapidly from Uncle Sam. If we don’t have the launchers or just simply leave a potential space for them as with the T45 then this option is not available. So even with out spending the money on the actual missiles the launchers themselves give a great deal of capability for a very very small investment. I honestly can’t see any merit in not having them.

  23. Please forgive me but there seems to be a lot of chat on here about resupply at sea and that once the tubes are empty that the vessel (Type 26) will be come largely useless in the land attack role.

    However surely the same could be said for our current capability using submarines? (please correct me if i’m wrong)

    My point is that as far as I’m aware the subs have less TLAM’s on board anyway than the proposed 16 Strike Length VLS’s on the Type 26, so once expended would become equally useless in the land attack role, only far more quickly due to a lesser number of missiles carried onboard.

    Also as has already been pointed out a submarine must ‘clear the datum’ once they have fired as it gives away its position, so therefore makes it harder for it to fire salvo’s. Not an issue for the Type 26 as the enemy will already be largely aware of where the ship is. I.e a few warships makes for a very visual deterrent, where as I can’t think of any sub captain who would actually want to give away his position.

    In fact thinking about it having a vessel like the Type 26 or even the Type 45 sat off your coastline with the ability to launch multiple TLAM (or equivalent) at will is a hell of a show of force, especially if you throw a QE class carrier into the mix.

    So to conclude I think having a smaller fleet than ever before our ships should be able to take on more roles and have that flexibility to do more things with less numbers. So fitting strike length VLS onto the Type 26 would seem a very good idea. As for which to choose or what to fill them with……well that is question best answered by people with far more knowledge than I.

    Thank you for reading. (hope this post made sense)

  24. @ Jeremy M H
    “I have to ask…if you can quad pack CAMM into either of the VLS systems (you could presumably do it with SYLVER too I think) why bother with the other launchers at all?”

    For the same reason that we don’t standardise on the Trident D-5 launch tube to fire Seawolf from the front of a Type-23.
    CAMM is specifically designed to only require really short, light, and narrow launch tubes, that can be crammed into otherwise unused and ~unusable~ spaces on a ship.
    Conversely, strike length VLS systems are BIG, go down many decks (~3), are heavy, and have to be mounted in central hull positions.
    There ~is no room~ to put a strike-length VLS in the places where the 48 CAMM launchers are shown.
    It’s like… trying to standardise on the Challenger BMT turret for all our armoured vehicles, on the basis that “it is compatible with all our guns”.
    Also, standardising on a VLS system isn’t going to save you any money. The development costs have been paid for. In fact, it is more likely to waste money, as you will be carrying a bigger (heavier, more expensive) launcher than you need on that class of ship.

    Re: Reloading at sea:
    Based on the rate of usage in ’82, I’d say that the ship is more likely to get sunk than run out of AAM missiles.
    And the Tomahawks / Scalp-N are too big to reload at sea, regardless of the launch system.

    Oh, and a guy on the BAe stand at DSEI confirmed my suspicion; that the reason the new design shows 16 VLS rather than the 24 VLS on the older design, is because the old model showed Sylver, and the new ones shows the Mk-41; which despite being American, is fatter and heavier. (It turns out that Sylver also has wider exhaust vents, allowing a higher rate of fire as well, though that is more relevant for air defence than land attack.)

  25. @MW

    Fair enough. That makes some sense but does on some level seem silly to me still. The whole 48 CAMM launchers could be replaced by just having two 16 cell strike launchers. 32 cells hardly seems like that much of an imposition given the size of the ship. It gives you a good deal more flexibility than just having 16 cells for anything bigger than CAMM.

    Just a thought.

  26. Just trying to get a feel for the numbers in terms of deep strike. I believe an Astute can launch 38 projectiles in total, say 20 Tomahawks and 18 torpedoes. A Type 26 could launch a maximum of 16 Tomahawks from Mk41 silos. In the Iraq conflict on day 1 the Spruance class destroyer USS Fife launched 58 Tomahawks out of a total of 288 launched by 9 ships. Assad has over 200 mobile SAM batteries. A squadron of 12 F-35B’s could deliver 24 Storm Shadows in one sortie. A cruise missile costs around £800k a shot. A guided artillery shell a fraction of this, albeit not deep strike. If we bought them, I think a Poseidon P-8 can carry 6 SLAM-ER’s. So overall I agree with the author. With money being tight VLS is probably not urgent for the RN, just so long as the design anticipates it for export customers and for the RN later, especially if the money saved means we could have a couple more hulls.

  27. @ Peter P

    How much use is a TLAM or SS against a mobile launcher?

    I would rather launch 60 TLAM (other cruise missiles are available) at OPFOR’s fixed sites so my 12 F35b could get in and out or range further in country than not launch 60 TLAM and lose one or two F35b. Go look how many FJ we lost in FIW and GW1 then tell me the math doesn’t work. A frigate firing TLAM 100nm out would still out range F35b and SS. The idea that we can’t afford stuff and then saying using a plane we don’t yet possess would be cheaper is nonsensical. The more expensive F35b becomes the more reason there is to TLAM OPFOR back to the stone age. Of course there comes a point where it would be cheaper not to buy F35b if its unit cost is too high. We can’t do everything etc.etc. and so on. We will always be with the Americans etc. etc. and so on.

    Now an argument that we should buy ISTAR satellites would be more convincing. But not if the only rocks we can sling get slung from F35b in penny packets.

    Personally I think the place for TLAM/SCAL-N is T45 and you are right that a magazine full of PGM for the 5in would be a sensible buy. But 800k is dirt cheap. Heck it costs what £3 million to £5 million to train a pilot who may one day get to launch live ordinance costing what £1.2 million in twos (I think that is how much SS costs) from a £60 million plus plane we haven’t bought yet, supported by tanker aircraft costing £480 million per year. Yet 800k for TLAM is expensive…..

  28. x

    The type 45s costs £300m odd a year to run not counting there purchase price nor the upgrade deep maintenance cost. As your adding the tanker cost which seems to only get larger every time you post it only seems fair to compare the launch platforms cost.

  29. @ Mark

    My point was everything is expensive. Making it sound buying a dozen TLAM or whatever flavour of bang-bang you want to stuff into those tubes like a Trident replacement gets us nowhere.

    As for T45 you have to realise there is a difference between cost and value…….. :)

  30. Before the argument starts I’ve been meaning to ask…

    If all fixed wing aircraft were RAF (say) and it were stipulated that the RAF must be able to provide air defence and strike capability ANYWHERE in the world would the RAF build CVF and kit it out with F35B?

    The main reason I ask is that obviously T45 plays a large part in deployable air defence. T45/T26 could play a large part in 1st day strike capability, but so could a “proper” bomber.

  31. @simon-

    I have to say I doubt it…If they had the budget, they’d be off to the USA, see if they could get hold of a few preloved B1’s or B2’s. Which i could see the USAF giving.

    However, i can see the utility of a carrier, I just wish they had a proper carrier air group, with ASW (Anti-Submarine Warfare), AShW (Anti-Shipping Warfare),Elint, AWACs, Strike and fighter capability. The escorts should add further layers to all these roles. That way we could see a proper expeditionary capability and defence flexibility.

  32. My view on this is that, with so few escorts, all must have *some* capability in AAW, ASuW, ASW and Strike.

    If something blows up in a region, we have to go with the assets we have, not the ones we wished we had or the ones that we could buy if only we had the time. To me, this means that all need some capability in each area.

    I’m not saying that T26 has to have area AAW, or T45 has to have world-class ASW.

    I worry that RN surface vessels today are self-licking lollipops – they can move into an area and defend themselves. Where is the offensive capability? There’s nowhere near enough of it. Yes, a T45 can defend an area from air attacks. Yes, the T26 can defend an area from submarine attacks. But I’m just not sure that this gives us anything like enough threat from our surface assets.

    If the T45 and T26 have a strike capability, then that makes every RN escort vessel a significantly greater threat to potential enemies. Holding at threat targets up to 1000 miles inland from frigate and destroyer would be an excellent capability and a real offensive enhancement to vessels that look much too light in this area.

  33. @Martin

    thanks for the explanation re sub based TLAM


    I agree it seems bizzare that so little money might be saved for such a huge loss of capability, and without VLS we could have a big debate about what capabilities the T26 actually has.


    There seems to be a bit of a tendency to suggest that capabilities that haven’t been used for a while are old hat and obsolete. I disagree, different threats require different responses.

    The RN, on face value, is utterly redundant for our current operations – Afganistan doesn’t have the ponds to float the platforms. We thought lightweight, mobile LRs were an effective tool for land operations, and they were – and still are – in the right environment. I am not suggesting things haven’t moved on but this idea of permissive air operations is as fantastical as operations using the tent on wheels (LR)………possible, but not certain. Obviously currently MRAP is the name of the game.

    Do we need an alternative to planes – yes, an emphatic YES.

    Now to a general question has any country ever regenerated it’s Navy during wartime following an utterly conclusive naval defeat? I can’t think of any. Its been done with an Army, and an Airforce but not a navy. I suspect this may illustrate the need to have the assets upfront. So lets build them and arm them accordingly.

  34. @Simon and DH

    I think the bomber idea is actually quite interesting, even though doing it would probably require a complete re-assessment of priorities on the part of someone getting into that game. I think that it could be an interesting choice for a medium-range power to make to specialize in long range bombers and their associated standoff weapons.

  35. @Nobby Stiles

    ‘I worry that RN surface vessels today are self-licking lollipops – they can move into an area and defend themselves. Where is the offensive capability? There’s nowhere near enough of it. Yes, a T45 can defend an area from air attacks. Yes, the T26 can defend an area from submarine attacks. But I’m just not sure that this gives us anything like enough threat from our surface assets’

    My thoughts exactly. Things have already gone too far in that direction, we should be ideally looking to regenerate a 21st century version of traditional offensive capabilities or at the very least fitting our ships ‘for but not with’ (which to be fair we are largely doing). Building ships with strike length silo’s doesn’t mean we have to commit to any particular weaponry/systems there and then. Pay a modest amount to get the silo’s on-board, fill them with CAMM for the first few years if you like but then they are at least in place for when/if the RN does decide it wants to use them.

    Can a frigate (or global combat ship) significantly justify it’s own expense, it’s own existence even if all it brings to the party is a main gun (nice to have but hardly a game changer), a towed sonar, facilities for one Merlin (you don’t need to spend 350 million for a hangar/flight-deck) and the ability to defend itself with short range missiles and close in weapons systems?

  36. “worry that RN surface vessels today are self-licking lollipops – they can move into an area and defend themselves. Where is the offensive capability? ”

    I think they have been since the threat of the Red Banner fleet disappeared. I think the concept of having a high end AAW Destroyer with limited ASW and a High end ASW Frigate with limited AAW is the right way to go. But 90% of the time neither of these roles will be required and the ships must be able to perform a wide range of missions on their own.

    With out a large launch of TLAM or equivalent i am not sure how anyone would propose to conduct a SEAD operation against even a relatively basic air defence let alone a double digit defence with S300 etc. If we cannot launch such an operation with out relying 100% on the USA to do the job for us then we have to question the wisdom of the entire UK armed forces. IS there any point in spending the money we do if we have zero sovereign operating capability. Sea launched cruise missiles is an area where no one outside the USA has any real capability. Even with the French development of SCALP (n) Europes capability will be severely lacking. For such a small investment on our existing platforms this is really one area the UK should look to pick up the slack.

    Stand off weapons like Storm shadow give aircraft an ability to perform part of this mission but sending them against high value targets like phased array early warning radars guarded by S300 or S400 missiles is like sending Elephants to hunt elephant guns. Air craft even stealth ones armed with stand off weapons should very much be seen as a second wave designed to mop up the enemy air defence.

  37. @Challenger

    ‘Can a frigate (or global combat ship) significantly justify it’s own expense, it’s own existence even if all it brings to the party is a main gun (nice to have but hardly a game changer), a towed sonar, facilities for one Merlin (you don’t need to spend 350 million for a hangar/flight-deck) and the ability to defend itself with short range missiles and close in weapons systems?’

    No, simply. And Martin I agree, since the end of the cold war the strategy and thinking for the RN has become muddled. We still don’t really know what we want to do with the carriers.

    Personally I would sacrifice some amphibious capability for building the RN around two fully functioning rotating strike groups – CVFs with a package built around 24 F35 / ASW capability, escort squadron with T45 / T26, TLAM and AshM. Astute in support. A clear position that independently we can put a naval group off anyones coast line that can strike well inland and conduct at sea offensive ops. I would have a ‘home / EEZ’ ‘fleet’ of layered patrol capability with a decent bite against asymmetric threats and the ability to put big holes in any maritime threat. The Albions / Bays would be there if needed but they and their replacements would have to find a day job (like the mothership role) as the remote possibility of ever needing to land an RM battlegroup would not be sufficient in itself to justify keeping them all.

  38. Agreed that a frigate should be able to stand up against enemy ships, but a strike mission? Maybe we should leave that to a bigger ship with the capacity for it? Unless you are trying to design an assault frigate, I would say the role of a frigate is more defensive than offensive, AAW/ASuW/AShW, basically area denial and defence of HVUs. Land attack would require additional investment of space, cost and tonnage, which might end up driving the frigate out of the frigate category and into the destroyer/cruiser cost-tonnage bracket.

    Frigates are meant to be cheap and useful. No point batting for 50%.

  39. Observer,

    In their wartime role I totally agree with you. Defend the HVU.

    I just have this uneasy feeling that they become pretty expensive and impotent for the “fly the flag” type ops that are asked of them in peacetime. They can’t be used for gunboat diplomacy. 16 x TLAM sitting within strike range of a new Uranium enriching plant must be of use?

  40. Defend the HVU -> Attacking a nuclear production facility.

    Might I suggest that there seems to be a bit of capability creep here? :)

    And 16 TLAMs is almost 50% or slightly less of a frigate’s total VLS cell payload. It’s going to cut into function. That is IF the SYLVER 70 can be squashed into the T-26’s hull without compromising the number of cells it can hold.

    I won’t mind if a frigate can get a TLAM capability, but I won’t be too bothered if it doesn’t either. TLAM is a bonus, not a core capability. Besides, don’t TLAMs need to have additional systems installed for missile control? More stuff to squeeze into an already small frigate.

  41. @ Observer

    A Frigate these days is just a name, there is room on the T26 to fit these cells so why not fit them or at the very least allow room for them to be fitted in the future, a) it will give them a role in every conflict we are involved with, b) it will be a huge selling point for exports.

    The only other vessel we could fit them to is the T45 and the cost of fitting them on their will be more than fitting them from the start to a T26.

    Also how is adding 16 TLAM restricting the use of VLS, currently the design is for 16 mk41/A70(this is down from 24 rumoured to be due to using the mk41 instead of A70) and 48 CAMM, how is that restricting the load out, what else would we put in the strike length VLS apart from more CAMM.

  42. Tom, I said restricting the function of the ship, not restricting the use of the VLS. The frigate is meant as a defensive unit, not an assault one, filling the VLS cells with TLAMs means that they are not filled with ASTER 30s which dovetails into the role the ship is to be used for.

    TLAMs would mean capability and job creep, which isn’t really that bad, but to take up all of the available space for ASTER 30s means that it would no longer have an aerial area defence role.

    As I said, I’m indifferent to TLAM, if you can squeeze it in without compromising the frigate role, good for you. If you can’t, no big loss as land attack was never a big part of the T-26’s portfolio.

  43. @ Observer

    I was unaware that the T26 had capability to fire Aster 30, mainly due to the fact that it has Artisan rather than Sampson.

  44. @Simon and Observer. Tend to agree. Frigates are defensive assets. But Global Combat ships? @X – agree, the government wants global influence for the UK and an expeditionary capability. For gunboat diplomacy you could put TLAM on Type 45. That would work, but would this clash with BMD strategy? Too few ships really. But if you did then in an expeditionary operation the Type 45 could take out say 20 fixed radar sites and then provide the air defence bubble while you land a company of marines from the carrier. I could be wrong but I don’t think HMG envisages more than a Falklands or Sierra Leone scale operation on our own, if that. Iraq and Libya involved firing 200+ TLAMs. Syria would have required many more ( the United States military doesn’t do pin pricks says Mr Obama). Where are these to come from? The 4 US destroyers in the Med would have had to up anchor to reload. For the UK and France between them to take on such an assault would require the entire future fleets of Type 26 and Fremm frigates. And who supplies the boots on the ground? Syria is not Libya or Iraq. I read somewhere ( Ligers blog I think) that the RN is thinking in terms of a future VLS missile which combines ASROC, over the horizon antiship and land attack capabilities; sort of a multi-role Otomat Teseo. I can see the value of this concept. The Arctic is melting and the Chinese are funding the comstruction of wider alternative to the Panama Canal. We need more ships, but we probably have enough TLAM’s for the moment.

  45. If the T26 is not to have an offensive capability beyond that provided by its helicopter and gun, I wonder if we could not provide more ASW escorts at a lower cost.

    The requirement for an ASW escort would seem to be a vessel that can keep up with the “Fleet” (including doing sprints and drift manoeuvres) whilst pulling a 2087 tail. Anti-air defence can be provided by the T45’s and the actual prosecution of contacts is a helicopter job anyway, we will have nothing else save the Astutes, and the major vessels being escorted, be they carriers, T45s or RFAs, will have the helicopters.

    So a smallish (deep-water trawler sized), stealth ship with only minimal armament (enough to keep off pirates and speedboats) ought to be able to do the escort job as well as a capon of a vessel like the T26 is promising to be. Make it as small and a stealthy as possible (give it a flight deck as an emergency diversion platform if you must). As an ASW escort would that not be enough?

  46. @ Paul Padley

    if the US had stayed out of Libya I think eventually EU NATO would have taken on the mission on our own and then a few frigates with TLAM would have been very handy. I think we would have had a more gradual approach to taking down Libyas’s air defence than the USA did but there is more than one way to skin a cat. both T45 and T26 should really have mk41.

    launching TLAM has been the major high intensity war time use for surface vessels since 1991 a mission we seem to perform around once every 2 years or so.

  47. As Paul said a traditional frigate was a defensive platform, towing a sonar and providing close-in anti-air support. The T26 isn’t going to be a traditional frigate though, in the same way that the T45 shouldn’t be (and to an extent already isn’t) a traditional destroyer. The future is combat ships, you can have a different emphasis with different variants but ultimately all high-end surface ships are going to have to have general-purpose functionality and utility beyond what the last generation of ships had in order to justify their cost and make up for the smaller amount of vessels in service.

    At the very least I think all current and future RN surface ships need to be able to handle themselves against other ships with AShM and have provisional space and an accommodating design for greater offensive capabilities.

    Martin I agree that since the disappearance of the Red Banner Fleet in 1991 the RN has had a muddled strategy and has struggled to firmly define it’s role after decades of Cold War certainty.

    Mickp I agree that fielding a comprehensive carrier group with decent air-borne and ship-borne offensive capabilities so that it can loiter off of a coastline and project firepower should be the RN’s focus. Amphibious shipping is valuable and I wouldn’t dream of scrapping any-more of it, but I think you make a good point when you say that they, like all ships these days, need to be more general-purpose and find ‘day jobs’ in place of their very specialized but rarely needed primary role.

  48. @ hurstlama

    It might be enough for ASW but I doubt it would save much money once you factor in noise reduction etc and it would be bugger all use for anything other than a mission we have barley carried out for real since 1945.

  49. HurstLlama,

    But the frigates still need to be able to escort other things individually (e.g. RFA), so need to provide air defence too :-)

  50. Looking at the T23, the old seawolf VLS cell can fit 4 CAMM missiles, so must be similar in size to the mk41 or Sylver, I wonder why they didn’t upgrade the cells when they changed missiles.

    Regards, T26 air defence they will have CAMM which is local airdefence, but they are not meant to provide air defence to more than 1 maybe 2 other vessels as that is the role of the T45, if you want an escort to do both AAW and ASW why not just stick a Sonar and TAS on a T45. A T45 is also there to protect T23/26’s as well, from long range air attack.

  51. @Simon

    Fair go, Mr Simon, and I am not proposing the end of warships below the T45 class. However, not every T26 is scheduled to have a towed array so one without that is escorting a RFA and bumps into an enemy submarine may be discomforted. However, with a cheap and cheerful TAS tug along they would get through.

    I think my point is that there is no purpose in having an escort that cannot defend against the threat. Suppose we cut the numbers of T26 and used the money to provide a much bigger number of ASW escorts, capable of detecting submarines but not prosecuting them. The modern-day equivalent of the Flower Class versus the Tribal Class if you like,

  52. @ Engineer Tom

    “I wonder why they didn’t upgrade the cells when they changed missiles.”

    The Mk41 stretches down three decks while the Sea Wolf VSL basically just sits on top of the deck. T23 could never take Mk41 VLS. The only boats ever retrofitted where the early Ticonderogas.

    @ Hurst Lama

    ” The modern-day equivalent of the Flower Class versus the Tribal Class if you like”

    I think you over estimate the T26 because thats basically what we are getting. It’s been significantly scaled down from the original Global Combat Ship design and it very much a slightly bigger T23 with a module bay.

    Not that thats a bad thing I think it many ways it’s the right ship for the job (especially as the USN lacks an equivalent) and it looks quite pretty which is always a big plus in my book :-)

  53. I agree with MickP that the obvious RN mission at this point should be forming two capable task groups around its carriers. The RN will be hard pressed to do even that given the numbers situation if it wants to keep deploying amphibious groups by themselves and surface by themselves or in small groups.

    The escort situation is 6 Type 45’s and 13 Type 23/26’s and they will be fairly hard pressed to cover those carrier groups and meet other commitments and MX downtime I would think. This is also where I would disagree a bit with Martin on the specialization of the various escorts. For air defense you are really limited if you only have 1 type 45 along for the ride. Two is a bit better but you are still at that point probably talking about pretty much riding shotgun with the carrier and doing little else. You run into much the same problem with the ASW escorts as well. Ideally you want to be able to reconfigure your screen shape depending on the threat but if you have a group of say 1 type 45 and 2 type 26’s you don’t have a ton of flexibility in that regard. If you had 3 ships that could all do both missions reasonably well you would have considerably more options.

    You could beef up the screen but that would basically speak for all the escorts in the RN much of the time to keep the two carrier groups screened and also has UNREP implications as well. But at least supporting two carrier groups gives the RN a pretty clear mission.

  54. @ Martin

    That explains it then, I knew there must be a reason just didn’t know what it was.

    I always find it interesting when people say the T26 is an ASW vessel and yes most of the class is but shouldn’t we find a use for the other 5 vessels, maybe make them ASuW/Land attack vessels and load them with TLAM and Harpoon, I’m thinking the 16xStrike length for TLAM then finding a place for 2 quad harpoon launchers (currently on T23). Use the 16 x Strike length on the ASW version for ASW missiles.

  55. Regards carrier groups, if we had just the two ‘Fleets’ we could have:

    1 x QEC
    2 x T45
    2 x T26(ASW)
    1 x T26(GP)
    2-3 x Amphib
    Plus RFA

    If you rotated the two fleets ie 6 months at sea alternating, that would leave 2 x T45, 4 x T26(ASW) & 3 x T26(GP) for other duties, of which you should be able to keep 6 deployed at any one time.

    Stopping the deployment of more than 2 fleets (i.e. based on amphib task groups) would allow this increase in the defence of each fleet.

  56. It will be interesting to see what is defined to be part of the RFTG when CVF comes on line in terms of escorts.

    I’d very much hope for at least one T45 and two T26s along with a Wave class tanker. I think the current asumption is only a single T23 (the TAPS, I presume), but I don’t think this is enough to cover the flanks of such large a ship as CVF.

    Of these two frigates I’d want them both to be ASW variants (for redundancy). This would likely leave three other active ASW frigates to provide two standing ASW centric tasks.

  57. The amount of “mission creep” we have by some poster on here beggars belief. It is all about invading A or bombarding B. If we do and I believe we will get a strike length Silo on T26 we will have the capacity to fit 208 Land attack Missiles on surface vessels. Well that’s more than 3 times the current stock. Of course not forgetting that Storm Shadow has a range of 300 miles and F35B can easily add another 35 onto that so Carrier Strike from 700 plus miles from the target.
    Yes that is a lovely capability but not really what T26 is about.
    It is about being a multi mission Frigate doing the jobs that we actually do day in and day out but doing them better. Until Sea Wolf had a Mid Life Upgrade it could not even reengage something like Exocet if it missed. It could only cover a couple of angles and minimal targets. t26 can reach out to 15NM+ engaging multiple targets and providing Defence for an RFA close in or act as Goal Keeper for an HVU. If Mk41 was fitted a single T26 acting a a Goal Keeper on an HVU could carry 112 Sea Ceptor if required.
    It is about defending sea Lanes of Communications against possible Submarine Threats utilising TAS and quite propulsion with a Merlin.
    it is about defending OPLATS in the Gulf with organic UAV and Wildcat as well as better Rhibs thank to the mission bay.
    It is about Caribbean tasking with increased space for disaster relief stores and UAVs to help find smugglers.
    It could be about a land attack mission but that is definitely a secondary role and the gun should not be underestimated. Coastal radar stations are very fragile and the ability to lurk 40NM off the coast and drop STOT munitions with GPS guidance on 5 or 6 radars up to 15NM inland will be a very handy capability. Or 4 or 5 “terrorist tents.

    What T26 is not about and never has been is providing the RN with a “Cruise” so that we can attack countries with super sophisticated AD capabilities because make no doubt about it something like S300/400 (though Storm Shadow outranges both) combined with a viable AEW capability and the means to link them together whilst also monitoring offshore traffic accurately is possessed by and not a definitive list but. (western Nations excluded)

    Russia 16 AEW Aircraft and S300/400
    China 4 AEW Aircraft and S300
    India 3 AEW aircraft but no real long range SAM capability
    Egypt 6 AEW aircraft but no long range SAM system

    Although not “Western Nations” I have excluded Brazil who have 5 AEW aircraft, Taiwan 6, ROK 4 and Singapore 4 as they are friendly nations.

    So unless we are going to to go to war with Russia or China then we are not facing the sort of integrated challenges many here like to portray.

    Those that think we are going to war with Russia or China in anything other than a last resort everyone in WW scenario please put down Tom Clancy and pick up Defence Planning Assumptions.

  58. @ Jeremy MH
    “I agree with MickP that the obvious RN mission at this point should be forming two capable task groups around its carriers. The RN will be hard pressed to do even that given the numbers situation if it wants to keep deploying amphibious groups by themselves and surface by themselves or in small groups.”

    That’s what the single RFTG is and when QE comes in no doubt it will replace the LPH. That being said in peace time or even a Libya style conflict it does not need its full battle time compliment of 2 T45 and 2/3 T23 so why not use those other ships for useful tasks when not required to guard the RFTG. Most of those deployed vessels are likely to be in UK waters the Med or Western Indian ocean so could likely reach the RFTG in a short period of time should the situation require.

    If things ever did really kick off big time then we could put together a force of 2 CVF, 4 T45 and 8 T26 with 3-4 Astute and an amphibious brigade. That’s quite a force and I don’t think there are many foes that could attack it. But we lack the resources or need to sail around like that all the time as the USN does.
    @ Engineer Tom
    “I always find it interesting when people say the T26 is an ASW vessel and yes most of the class is but shouldn’t we find a use for the other 5 vessels,”
    The T23 is an ASW vessel even though only 8 of them have towed array. The other 5 are still an ASW asset i.e. Merlin, quiet engines onboard sonar etc. I seriously doubt the RN will chose a different engine fit for these two types and in the end I’m sure the entire fleet will be almost identical.
    The GP concept is more to do with 1) exports and 2) the original T26 concept which was a much bigger vessel where the GP version would have optimized for land attack perhaps with more strike VLS and a 155mm gun but that concept is pretty dead now

  59. APATS, which come down to the question posed in this post, apart from flexibility, exportability and some measure of future proofing, what is the point of spending on Mk41 or SYLVER, what would we fill them with apart from CAMM, which comes with its own cheaper VLS?

    Just struggling with the whole Mk41 fetish to be honest

  60. @Martin

    Two points.

    First I think the have other ships doing other useful task comment gets to the heart of the issue many have raised which is the self-licking lollipop. What exactly are those ships doing by themselves? Yes, they are providing a presence somewhere, or air defense somewhere or ASW somewhere. But to what ultimate end? If you had to state in one sentence or so what the most important thing the RN is doing is what would that be and how are those deployments supporting that mission?

    I get that but fleet operations is something one really has to train on and almost as importantly experiment with to do well. Your commanders need to get the experience of operating such a force as well. Yes, you can cobble together the ships in a hurry in many situations but that does not necessarily make for a proper task force. Is there time to train that way and then send everything on its way to do whatever the other stuff is? Possibly. But it puts more pressure on the schedules for everything I would think.

  61. I keep getting the urge to call it the Global Wombat Ship considering that one of the sales target is Australia. :)

    Some of you have to keep in mind that “Combat Ship” isn’t a real designation but something marketing made up to sell the damn things. So frankly “Combat Ship” can mean anything you want as there is no official consensus to what makes up a “Combat Ship”. Harpoons? TLAMs? ICBMs? Nuclear round firing cannons? Anything you want.

    Personally, I prefer to keep the roles to sea denial and asset protection, though if you can manage to get 16 strike length VLS into the ship, I am not adverse to a temporary land attack role where a single T-23 is designated as an assault frigate and filled with TLAMs instead of ASTERs and sent to “teach someone a lesson”, but this should never detract from the fact that the frigate’s role is protection, not invasion. Fire the lot off and go get ASTERs reloaded.

  62. @ TD

    If we don’t put TLAM, or possibly a VLS ASW missile, on T26 then I wouldn’t fit mk41 though I would keep the possibility in the design for exports, and use the space below for something useful such as a Brig or Gym(I believe that is what they used it for on T45).

    On the other hand I feel we need the capability to launch TLAM from surface assets, and I would choose the T26 over the T45 for this role.

    @ Observer

    T23/26 don’t carry Aster the ship isn’t designed to cary it and the radar isn’t capable of firing it as far as I know.

    Also if a frigate is a defensive ship and our destroyers are also defensive ships what offensive ships do we have.

  63. I think the Mk41s would give political options.
    They don’t even need to be loaded for the ship to change from
    “HMS X is off [naughty country Y]” – “Big wow, we are really scared of that gun and helicopter”
    “HMS X is off [naughty country Y] with cruise missiles that can hit [press use Wikipedia to find a range]”

    It is a bigger threat, and a bigger statement of opposition (or support to a threatened ally).
    At the current moment a T26 off Somalia for anti-piracy could lob a couple of cruise missiles into an Al Shabab training base as a statement. (whether you want politicians to have that option is of course another question…)

  64. @TD

    The reason is flexibility,ex portability and flexibility again. Not to mention that I bet you a pint it would probably cost us more to get BAE to take them out of the design than simply build them in. How much cehaper are 4 CAMM cells than a single Mk41 cell with 4 CAMM quad packed? How much more flexible is a cell than take 4 CAMM/TLAM/LRASM plus maybe some other goodies? How much easier does that make future mission planning?
    For relatively little extra expense you get a huge boost in flexibility.
    ny argument is not that we should not have them but that 16 is not enough. i hope BAE have a plan B for export that fits 32 on the front end along with something like EMPAR or other similar sized radar capable of providing target illumination for longer range missiles than Sea Ceptor. This would give all the AAW capability most nations would want in a multi role package at hopefully a decent price.

  65. @APATS and TD

    I think you have the right question which is really if the Type 26 needs a strike capability at all but that to me still comes back to what the core function of the RN is going to be. If its main goal is to conduct anti-submarine operations and some humanitarian/police functions then leaving the cells out makes very good sense on a lot of levels. But is or should that be the core mission for the RN?

    Some clearly think that expeditionary warfare should be its key calling card and it is hard to blame them as the message coming from the RN seems decidedly mixed. There is a large amphibious fleet and there will soon be two very large carriers in operation.

    Within NATO in the Cold War the RN’s niche was ASW. But I can see a good argument that within the EU and post Cold War NATO (ie with the US) that the UK would get more use and more political clout by focusing on its expeditionary and strike capabilities rather than ASW and patrol/presence missions with frigates.


    I agree with you 100% that it makes a lot of sense to just put on 32 VLS cells. The ship should be able to take at least that many at the size it is. That gives you the flexibility and options both in operation and in the export market. TLAM is only a small part of that equation for me.

  66. Tom, the 2 carriers and the subs. Concept of arms for the RN currently relies on the carriers to provide for striking power and for subs to perform TLAM strikes. Not the frigates or destroyers.

    As for ASTER, as long as you fit in a SYLVER 50, you should be able to pack ASTER 30s

    Re: Artisan, from what I can see, Artisan is not a fire control radar, it’s a search and navigation radar, so it is not going to be used for weapons control. There would be another tracking radar for weapons and target tracking and it’s the tracking radar that needs to be ASTER compatible. Even the old T-23 had fire control radars in addition to the Artisan. Would happily be corrected on this if wrong. APATs? Is my rough summary within the ballpark?

  67. @ Observer

    Seawolf used two radars a surveilence radar to detect targets and then a tracking radar to guide the missile onto the target, the CAMM system has an active homing radar seeker so that it doesn’t need the tracking radar and can hit non-LOS targets.

  68. @Observer

    Wasn’t one of the major points of CAMM to do away with the targeting radars? Essentially they are saying that Artisan will provide accurate enough information for the missile to fly into its active homing range using just the search radar and a data link to put the missile where it needs to be to conduct the terminal engagement.

  69. @JMH

    I made a typo in my post. That’s what i get for attempting to do it in a hurry. what i meant was that for the RN I believe we should have the 16 strike Length Cells and was arguing against posters who were attempting to make the case that this was not a useful enough capability. I do think it should be offered with 32 strike length cells and a different radar as an AAW export version. It would give smaller nations the opportunity to consolidate on a single hull type with strike Cells for longer range AAW plus 24 Sea Ceptor for shorter range, A mission bay and a quite propulsion system, long legs and a TAS if required.

    In very simple terms and I use update rate as a broad term covering multiple technical reason such as radar face numbers, rotation rates, beam steering capability, beams generated etc.
    The range that Sea Ceptor goes active at and the comparatively short range of the engagement means that the update rate of Artisan is sufficient to make sure it heads for the correct target. Aster does not update (scan) quickly enough to provide the sort of update rate that something Like an Aster 30 requires to head for a long range target prior to the missile going active. Both systems are better than dedicate Fire control radars as they allow the engagement of more targets. Type 42 for instance had 2 FC channels with 2 909 Radars.
    So to engage long range targets you need a Multi Function Phased array radar with a high enough update rate to steer the missile until it goes active or you need to add dedicated FC radars.
    The reason Iron duke has retained the 911 trackers with Artisan is she still has Sea Wolf and that is a Command Line of Sight Missile, receiving guidance from the trackers via sensors in the missile tail.

  70. So…

    …is it fair to say that there is an incompatibility between the “export” spec of the ship and the things required by the Royal Navy.

    Hopefully those that buy the T26 will realise that there’s little point in a warship that can’t wage war. Much better to put all your eggs in one basket called CVF :-(

    SEAD, SEAD… for gods sake… SEAD. Most of the sorties flown in the last few decades have been SEAD. What is wrong with this country? F35B + Storm Shadow is not even as good as a Buccanner with dumb bombs for taking out a runway. We have no long-range bombers to call up from the RAF.

    Just replay 1982 with TLAM and T45 and you barely need a carrier at all.

  71. @Simon

    No the only incompatibility would be if an export customer wanted to prioritise AAW.

    I take it you have kept your Clancy and ignored your DPAS then? Have we struggled to take out runways or do SEAD? Did you read the countries that actually have decent SAM and AEW capability? Are we likely to go to war with them? CVF F35B with storm shadow or successor combined with strike length Cells on T26 and SSN combined with the new Gun gives us an amazing uplift in strike capability. That is without even factoring in any land based support.

    T26 is a multi mission Frigate not a tool for Air Suppression. Countries that buy it especially in an AD variant would be buying a single long legged, quiet, mission bay equipped, Sonar Towing Hull with 32 strike length Cells for Long range AD and 24 Sea Ceptor cells. what is not to like?

    It would be about doing what they do now but with a far better capability. Not pretending they want to launch hundreds of cruise missiles at somebody.

    Could a Buccaneer launch it dumb bombs 300 miles from the target? No of course it couldn’t.

  72. I have been having a look at both T45 and T26 and seeing what I think they should have and comparing it to what they do have.

    The RN’s combat vessel’s

    T45 – Current:

    AAW – 48 x Aster30/Aster15
    ASW – Sonar(surprised me) and Helo launched stingray
    ASuW – 8 x Harpoon
    Other – 4.5′ Gun, 2 x 30mm, 2 x Phalanx, 2 x Minigun, 6 x GPMG

    T45 – Proposed:

    AAW – 24 x Aster30, 96 x CAMM
    ASW – Sonar, Helo launched stingray, 4 x ASW missile
    ASuW – 8 x Harpoon
    BMD – 4 x BMD Missile
    Land Attack – 4 x TLAM
    Other – 4.5′ Gun, 2 x 30mm, 2 x Phalanx, 2 x Minigun, 6 x GPMG
    (This can be achieved by adding the 12 x mk41 VLS cells and swapping out Aster 15 for CAMM)

    T26 – Currently Proposed:

    AAW – 48 x CAMM
    ASW – Sonar, TAS and helo launched stingray
    Land attack – 16 x TLAM
    Other – 5′ Gun, 2 x 30mm, 2 x Phalanx, 2 x Minigun, 4 x GPMG

    T26 – Proposed:

    AAW – 48 x CAMM
    ASW – Sonar, TAS, helo launched stingray, 6 x ASW missile
    ASuW – 8 x Harpoon
    Land attack – 10 x TLAM
    Other – 5′ Gun, 2 x 30mm, 2 x Phalanx, 2 x Minigun, 4 x GPMG

    Overall this means we have a few TLAM’s sitting (possibly no one will know) on every ship we send out so that if needed we can strike anywhere in the world very quickly. It also boosts the close in defenses of the T45 by swapping to CAMM. It also gives every ship ASuW what does it matter if the enemy sub is destroyed if his destroyer can sail in unopposed (can Astute keep up with QEC). And finally some ASW missiles seem handy.

  73. @Simon: not sure that we could fire enough TLAM to disable everywhere that a fighter plane could fly from in Southern Argentina for a period of a month. In fact, I’m not sure the USN could either. And we’re still stuck with the major problem of being unable to see or hit low level targets until they breach 40km or so, since without fighters, preferably with AEW, we cannot. The Argentinians, on the other hand, can afford to fly all the P2 sorties they want, radar emitting at all times, knowing that their only threat is something that cannot reposition faster than 30 knots at best. How were we supposed to steam into San Carlos with the element of surprise now? Moreover, they could push their tankers far further forward, allowing more time on target and the consequent ability to mass attacks, and more of the attacks on San Carlos to arrive from the east, where the primary stop would be Rapier and Blowpipe, with an honourable mention for GPMG.

    Nope, we would have lost.

  74. @ Jeremy MH
    “get that but fleet operations is something one really has to train on and almost as importantly experiment with to do well.”
    That’s true but as APATS and other’s point out when the RN vessels are not on a forward deployment on a 2-7 basis they don’t just go on holiday. They spend much of the rest of the time practicing. You can practice a fleet action of Plymouth just as well as anywhere else. Also as with T45 in the pacific a lot of that time is spent working with allies learning how to operate inside their fleets and share best practice. I dare say that’s a much better piece time use of scarce resources than sailing up and down the Solent surrounding the carrier 24/7.
    @ TD
    “APATS, which come down to the question posed in this post, apart from flexibility, exportability and some measure of future proofing, what is the point of spending on Mk41”
    Its hardly future proofing when the chaces are that by the time the vessel comes into service its primary anti ship weapon is likely to be VLS launched. Indeed the removal of the harpoon launchers from the recent models would certainly indicate this is the RN’s thinking.
    @ Engineer Tom
    “(can Astute keep up with QEC).”
    I dare say she can run rings around QEC despite the dodgy gear box :-)

    @ Wf
    “not sure that we could fire enough TLAM to disable everywhere that a fighter plane could fly from in Southern Argentina for a period of a month.”
    It was only four runways. Short work for 20 – 30 TLAM’s. Would not get everything but it could have caused a major disruption and with the state of modern naval AAW all of their tactics then and now would likely be little more than an embarrassing turkey shoot.
    “Moreover, they could push their tankers far further forward”
    The only ever had two C130’s AAR refueling capability, hardly enough for massed air attacks and most of their airforce aircraft could not use AAR. Since they still fly what’s left of the same crappy planes they had in 1982 I don’t see it as a major threat.
    Honestly I think the Battle of Britain memorial squadron (who’s planes are only 10 years older than the Argies Sky hawks) would have a better chance using Tall boy bombs.
    “knowing that their only threat is something that cannot reposition faster than 30 knots at best.”
    Yeah but they don’t know where it is to begin with and it carries a missile with a 100KM range the can reposition at Mach 4. Not the kind of thing you want to accidentally fly near.

  75. Tom, ASTERs are also active radar guided, but APATs has covered the why. Update rate of Artisan isn’t fast enough for long range. Interesting. It’s also cost cutting too close to the bone IMO. Countries that are looking for a GP frigate also want the ship to act as an air defence screen for other assets. Being range limited reduces the ability to protect and screen, a frigate’s main job. Unless this can be improved, the Type 26 is going to be competing at a disadvantage.

    Simon, if you used a frigate for SEAD, you are using the wrong tool for the job. Go get your carrier or TLAM stocked sub.

  76. @martin: I’m assuming this is 82 except T45 and TLAM, which is what @simon wanted AFAIK.

    A4’s quite happily fly from roads, in fact some did during the war. Not with the same sortie rate of course. TLAM doesn’t dive onto targets AFAIK, so isn’t going to make a big hole in runways.

    T45’s are hard to miss, since they are a big zero without their radar on. As I pointed out previously, absent a fighter threat, AR P2 Neptunes don’t have to worry about leaving their radar on at all times, which has a range considerably greater than 100km. For them, it goes from a hairy mission to something approaching risk free…so the AR knows where all our ships are, at all times. Doesn’t “hack the shad” ring any bells? It was the stated Cold War mission for the Sea Harrier :-)

  77. Day 1: TLAM – 16 or so from 2 T45, 4 T26 and 2 Astute (128) and F35 + Storm Shadow (128).
    Day 2-5: CAP/CAS and interdiction by F35s.

    By putting TLAM on my surface combatants I double the day one force.

    Is that really so Tom Clancy?

  78. @ various:
    You cannot just replace 4x CAMM cells with a strike length VLS, because CAMM launchers are only ~2m deep whilst strike length VLS are ~7m deep.
    Please, take a drawing of a Type-26, and draw in a block projecting 5m above where the existing CAMM cells are shown, and then realise that the resulting ship is top-heavy.

    @ APATS: absolutely, a crazy amount of mission/threat creep going on here.

    @ Simon:
    Re: “1982 with TLAM and T45, but no carriers”, that sounds like a scenario well worth running.
    (a) Half the enemy aircraft shoot-downs were by Harriers vectored onto the targets by the Type-42s. We’d need a good sim to work out how well Aster would do by comparison.
    (b) How many land targets did the harriers attack? It seems to have been a lot more than the 16 TLAM that you could add to a Type-45. What happens if those bombing raids don’t happen, but instead you have your 16 TLAM strikes against e.g. airfields on the mainland?

    Speaking of that and self-licking lollipops: one of the prime roles of a Frigate is to escort the Amphibs & transports until the army can win the war on land. CAMM is great for that sort of scenario, e.g. 8 enemy jets coming out of ground clutter at 10 miles. In practice, I think we are going to get tons of use out of CAMM – I think it is one of the real high points of the design.
    Likewise, in terms of land attack, sure I can see the use of TLAM, but again in practice, I foresee us getting a lot more use from the advanced medium-calibre gun (MCG) – 100 mile range precision fire support and ~hundreds~ of rounds, not just the 16 shots from TLAM. Oh, and those rounds can be reloaded at sea.

  79. @ Observer

    Do not mix up the fact that Artisan is only a single plate 3D phased array radar which limits its update rate to control longer range missiles with it being cost cutting. FREMM costs £500 million a pop and does not come with a mission Bay and arguably less AAW capability.
    The French “ASW” version comes with only 16 Sylver 43 Cells so you only get aster 15. You also get 16 Sylver 70 for SCALP. So a very slightly more capable Missile, a much more expensive radar but only a third of the missiles.
    The last 2 French FREMM built to be FREDA AAW platforms lose the Sylver 43 and 70 cells for 32 Sylver 50 and 32 aster 30 missiles carried.
    The Italian FREMM has 16 Sylver 50 cells so can carry 16 aster 15 or 30 missiles.

    The German F125 Frigate costs £520 million a pop and has no sonar and only 2 RAM launchers for AAW.

    Considering Sea Wolf could not even attack a non threatening target so missiles could fly through gaps in the screen then this is a huge step forward at a good price. Remember that Artisan and Sea Ceptor are a UK fit and whilst it is extremely capable for an ASW or GP frigate an export custome more concerned with AAW could specify a different Cell arrangement up front, a more expensive multi faced phased array on the mast and retain the aft Sea Ceptor silo. Giving a greater AAW capability than FREMM at a very competitive price.

  80. @Simon
    Day 1: TLAM – 16 or so from 2 T45, 4 T26 and 2 Astute (128) and F35 + Storm Shadow (128).
    Day 2-5: CAP/CAS and interdiction by F35s.

    By putting TLAM on my surface combatants I double the day one force.

    Is that really so Tom Clancy?

    No and I agree that this is what we would be capable of delivering if we fit the T26 with the proposed number of strike length cells. it is extremely unlikely we would ever want to do so or need to do so but we would have built in that capability. My point about AEW capability and SAM systems was merely there to illustrate just how few and far between air defence systems are that actually threaten aircraft launching cruise missiles from 300 miles from their target. even China has only 5 AEW aircraft to look after its entire airspace.

    Nobody is suggesting simply swapping them, it would be specified at the order stage and built to fit.

  81. @ Simon

    Know it is not Tom Clancy but it is not required beyond the 16 Cells on each T26 and The F35 and Storm shadow (mk2?) capability. see my list of how few countries actually have a proper IAD with long range SAM and AEW aircraft.

  82. Although not many countries have decent air defences I think that Syria is a harbinger for things to come and increasingly the UK/Europe will require cruise missile SEAD/DEAD capabilities as the US focuses elsewhere. Given that we don’t have enough ships for a decent non-dedicated LAM contribution and aircraft are best sent in after the initial wave, perhaps this is the time to bring into service arsenal ships? A bare bones ship with remote targetting and 50+ LAMs that is permanently attached to the carrier would be a real step change in a commonly used ability. There should be room given the LHDs are likely to be merged into the carriers.

    SEAD/DEAD – Suppression/Destruction of Enemy Air Defences
    LAM – Land Attack Missile
    LHD – Landing Helicopter Dock

  83. Since I’ve not had a chance to play “fantasy fleet” before, and so the professionals can have a good laugh / kindly explain to me why I am wrong, here are my equipment wish lists:

    Medium term:

    Medium Calibre Gun:
    – advanced 127mm weapon with lots* of 100nm ranged precision rounds.
    Main VLS:
    – Convert some* to A-70 beneath the decks.
    – Add 2 x 8 cell Mk-41
    – Buy some* SM-3, TacTom, Scalp-N, Exocet MM40 (vertical launch qualified), and whatever the future vertical launch anti-ship missile the Americans end up building, assuming they ever do.
    – Qualify effective anti-ship and close-air-support weapons on the Wildcat.
    – Add 24 CAMM elsewhere on the ship, in spaces too small for a normal VLS.
    – Add two sigma gun/missile mounts.

    Medium Calibre Gun:
    – advanced 127mm weapon with lots* of 100nm ranged precision rounds.
    Main VLS:
    – 3 x 8 Sylver A-70
    – Buy some* TacTom, Scalp-N, Exocet MM40 (vertical launch qualified), and whatever the future vertical launch anti-ship missile the Americans end up building, assuming they ever do.
    – Qualify effective anti-ship and close-air-support weapons on the Wildcat.
    – 2 x 24 CAMM elsewhere on the ship, in spaces too small for a normal VLS.
    – Add two sigma gun/missile mounts.

    (* some = I’m not telling you how many, and I vary it depending on deployment, to make it impossible for you to plan against, mwahhahaha.)

  84. Surely the headline question is does the UK need to perform strike operations (yes / no), then if yes, a further discussion on required ranges, effects at the target end, expected time from flash to bang, ideal tasking chains, ISTAR assets to support whatever level of rigour of ROE are likely to be imposed.

    Only then should we be looking at the range of possibilities that might deliver those effects. Anything from James Bond to some refurbished B1B Lancers might be possibilities, via cyber warfare to distributing tin foil lines over the power cables. And, of course, TLAM and SS take their place in the mix. Even candidate upgrades for TLAM and SS: what about a SS-Ext Range launched from a tube? Might be a useful answer. What about TLAM launched from a MCM-size ship, or air-dropped from a C-17? Within that discussion, we already have TLAM with its’ current launch modes: is that adequate? Does the equation change if we change the loadout of an ASTUTE to carry only 2 torpedoes (because it’s a risk balance case: how many torpedoes do we routinely use?).

    Then, and only when the required effects have turned themselves into candidate weapons systems should we look at the launch platform, and again there are multiple choices. At which point we have to work out what other tasks those platforms have got that might make it in theory a launch platform choice, but in practice there’s too many other downsides for the other roles.

    This discussion seems to have jumped straight into the “solutioneering” space, which is about the last place that we should be starting.

  85. Actually I would scrap the T45’s for a 76mm Oto Melera . It will never see the shore, well too often, but another AAW system would come in useful.

    I was going to ramble on about this but once again feel too carsick.

    Can you all try keep the thread going until Friday please? Thanks.

  86. @ RT

    Are you suggesting SS VLS? It exists. It is called SCALP-N. There is a video on YouTube.

    Much better of course to hang the missiles off an aircraft and have them hours out than do something silly like having them sitting in a ship a 100nm offshore…….. :)

  87. @RT

    Normally you would be correct but in this case we are building a platform to continue the conduct of multiple other tasks which can for not an awful lot of extra money be upgraded to include a capability which will offer the possibility of operating an established Land Attack Capability. It will also offer the opportunity to carry more AAW missiles of the type already being ordered or fitting an anti ship missile or in the future even a rocket launched ASW torpedo derivative.
    We also need to make a decision (though we appear to have) shortly in order to stop faffing around and allow for “polishing” and problem solving within a finalised design.
    The question surely is should we build this flexibility into the T26 platform at relatively little cost.

    The question about whether the UK conducts strike was made long ago when we bought TLAM and Storm Shadow, the question now is about which firing platforms they should be integrated on.

  88. …. X got in with his comment while I was editing, but this only to observe that OWOB and DSTL between them have a pretty significantly good modelling / simulation capability. Coupled with the sort of mathematical modelling tools they have and the latest generation of GIS and visualisation software (I’ve seen it in action – pretty cool stuff) all sorts of scenarios can be cross-checked against each other with great rapidity.

    Lastly, of course there is overall lifetime cost, development timelines, acquisition cost, and spin off benefits (eg export), which will probably combine to make final candidate 2 better than final candidate 1.

  89. Having come across a report by the GAO on the gulf war air operation i thought it would be of benefit to repeat there conclusion on tlam

    “sum, TLAMs were initially believed to be extremely successful in hitting—and therefore damaging—their targets; however, subsequent intensive analysis shows that the hit rate for 230 TLAM Cs and D-Is was [DELETED] percent. Moreover, a stricter definition of a “hit” indicates a slightly lower rate of [DELETED] percent. TLAMs were aimed at just 38 targets, perhaps based on their limited capabilities against reinforced targets. While TLAMs offered a distinct alternative to having to deliver weapons from a manned aircraft, the data from Desert Storm suggest that there are important limitations to their effectiveness in terms of hit rate and capability of damaging a wide range of targets.”

    Of the countries likely to purchase a type 26 what capabilities do they likely have to exploit 32 strike length silos to be armed with anything other than surface to air missiles. They are unlikely to have the targeting assets for tlam equivalent missiles, nor I suggest would the uks have for fleet wide fitting of hundreds of tlam cells.

  90. I would like to see all our ships have some sort of offensive capability, both land attack, and anti-shipping. It makes sense to have the ability to act quickly, if required.

    I’m a little concerned, about the number of people on here that seem to be totally sure that we are never going to see naval engagements anymore- I wish i had their crystal ball- I’d be minting it.

    Sorry but bollox- you can’t be sure, and it’ll be too late when all our ships are smoking ruins, after all the matelots had to fight off an enemy frigate was a couple of gimpy’s gaffer-taped to the rail. It makes sense to have the capability, and the training…If nothing else, if you know you’re going to have to take on something that is very capable of giving you a good f**king, you’re going to have thoughts, aren’t you. It’ll be a deterrent.

    As for aircraft being a second wave? Well yeah, only the carrier stuff… Lets face it, the septics do not maintain fleets of B1’s, B2’s and ancient B52’s, for mopping-up. They keep them for the initial strike, with stand-off or dropped munitions, because they give a big, hard, sudden hit, from nowhere. Very good for spanking air defences or ground defences prior to a precise, TLAM or stand-off munitions from carrier aircraft, hit on key targets. Then you wallop in with a beach landing with marines, then when established the army.

    I would like the RAF to have a long-range strike capability. As we are trying to reconfigure our forces to an expeditionary force, i think it’s a capability we will need in the future. Not instead of the carriers, but complimentary.

    Layers again….

  91. The GAO’s summing up of tlam. Perhaps it adds some reality to what it can achieve. I’m not sure exactly what export customers would gain having 32 strike length cells. There unlikely to have the capability to use tlam and I doubt the ability to use heavy anti ship missiles are different to us and there budget will most likely not stretch to loads of missiles.

    “sum, TLAMs were initially believed to be extremely successful in hitting—and therefore damaging—their targets; however, subsequent intensive analysis shows that the hit rate for 230 TLAM Cs and D-Is was [DELETED] percent. Moreover, a stricter definition of a “hit” indicates a slightly lower rate of [DELETED] percent. TLAMs were aimed at just 38 targets, perhaps based on their limited capabilities against reinforced targets. While TLAMs offered a distinct alternative to having to deliver weapons from a manned aircraft, the data from Desert Storm suggest that there are important limitations to their effectiveness in terms of hit rate and capability of damaging a wide range of targets.”

  92. @ Mark

    If the export version was to have 32 strike Length Cells it would be because the customer wanted the ability to utilise longer range AAW missiles.

  93. APATS,

    If the export version was to have 32 strike Length Cells it would be because the customer wanted the ability to utilise longer range AAW missiles.

    Or the customer wishes to pack 32 quad-packed CAMM, 8 AShM and 16 TLAM ;-)

    PS: I use the word TLAM to mean cruise missile. In any of my previous statements it could be a ship-launched Storm Shadow or something new.


    Shame the percentages are [DELETED]. Also it would be interesting to know if it were the TLAM that failed to hit or they were shot down.

    Also, I thought TLAM were GPS, INS and that terrain following thingamabob? They should therefore require very little in the way of targeting assets (other than sneaky chaps with a Garmin).

  94. @Simon
    Possibly an AsHM but the sort of customers who would be interested in a good all rounder like the T26 with extra AAW capability generally do not share our fetish for intervention outside their own backyard and their Navies are configured far more defensively.

  95. APATs, exactly, which was my point concerning the radar, a greater degree of defensive capability but that is a minor matter. A foreign sale would allow the customer to fit whatever radar he wants as part of customization so it really isn’t a big deal as external sales. Just very curious as to why a radar that could control some ASTER 30s was not considered, unless it was thought that the CAMM would have been sufficient. As a supplement to the AAW screen, it would be a help and extending the AAW envelope, even for self defence isn’t a bad thing.

    But as you said, guess it’s what you are used to. If you want/can squeeze in TLAMs, that is all fine and good, but my suspicions are that you would get more utility loading ASTERs rather than TLAMs (utility, not usage) as the role of the frigate is supposed to be defensive, not a replacement missile cruiser. Beauty of VLS is, you can actually do both by mixing the loadout at port, though not both at once, too few cells to do both effectively at the same time.

    Not too worried about CAMM, worst case, bolt on a SeaRAM to supplement the point defence while reserving the VLS for more capable weapons. Don’t see much of a point wasting volume on something that can be bolted on topside, and VLS space is precious. The ability to reload at sea is a bonus.

  96. I notice many here are assuming that F35 will get Strom shadow integrated on it. It’s a big assumption given how slow we have moved to do so on Typhoon and with only 48 aircraft in our inventory and no one else other than Italy using the F35/Storm shadow configuration one that may not happen.
    We can possibly equip the entire Frigate force with Mk41 for $108 million. How much to put SS on F35? I’m guessing more.

    @ Mark
    Desert Storm suggest that there are important limitations to their effectiveness in terms of hit rate and capability of damaging a wide range of targets.”

    That was 22 years ago. TLAM is a very different weapon system today with far far more accuracy.

    @ APATS
    “If the export version was to have 32 strike Length Cells it would be because the customer wanted the ability to utilise longer range AAW missiles.”
    Good point, I am guessing with this in mind BAE has probably left space under the forward Sea captor cells to fit strike length launchers.

  97. martin, the small number may be why the SS/Typhoon integration got dragged on as long as it has, along with the fact that the Typhoon was earmarked as an air superiority fighter, not ground attack, which was a role/frame mismatch. The fact that there are a lot more F-35s planned worldwide may mitigate the numbers problem to an extent.

    Your best sales bet would be to target those countries that are wary of US IP dickering, their IP stonewalling can get irritating at times and that is something many countries are not comfortable with, especially those with clear and present threats. Not a good frame of mind to be in when you think that an enemy could attack you at any time and someone half a planet away in a comfortable office and armchair could yank your defence strategy from under you by cutting off your parts and ammunition resupply line. Hell, it may not even be an accident of mood or media, a manufactured caucus beli painting the attacked country as morally corrupt is often the first act of a war and if done right, will also affect Congressional mood. No one likes a Suez Crisis number 2.

  98. Well, I assume the target export is the Adelaide class and various Brazillian frigates?

    If so, 16 Mk41 should indeed be enough (assuming a VLS AShM exists to go in it).

    However, with just 16, I’d rather have FREMM (more flexibility).

  99. Seeing the problems with their SSKs and the F111 gap I think you are right that Oz could look to T26 as an ANZAC replacement.

  100. I could see the RAN & further into the future the RNZN replacing the ANZAC with T26, to change out the weapons fit is easy i.e. ESSM for CAMM, (I believe ESSM is similar in size to the CAMM) if not it can be quad packed into the mk41, currently that is the setup of the ANZAC, 32 ESSM in 8 Mk41 cells, this would at the very least double the number of ESSM carried. The main gun is the same as being proposed for T26 I believe, and adding 30mm and phalanx would be a big increase in defensive capability. Regards sensors, they would of course use whatever radar/sonar they wanted and if they want TAS they would have that as well. Overall they have roughly similar requirements for the vessel, an emphasis on ASW whilst being able to carry out other duties, and if they need it they could fit better radar and the extra mk41 will allow them to also carry longer range missiles.

    Also might be a chance to open up the Australian market to MBDA products if they want CAMM over ESSM, just a thought. If MBDA were smart they might be ITAR-free.

  101. @ Observer

    “The fact that there are a lot more F-35s planned worldwide may mitigate the numbers problem to an extent.”

    But only 100 out of 3,000 or so will operate Storm Shadow so it means that we will have to foot the bill for integration. One could use the same argument with F35 as with T26. Why pay to integrate weapons that can be carried on other platforms i.e. Typhoon surely its better to get more F35’s than have lots of weapons on them that can be carried by other platforms.

    @ Simon

    “However, with just 16, I’d rather have FREMM (more flexibility).”

    I would say T26 is still more versatile as it can carry it’s primary AAW weapon in a different launcher. The performance of CAMM’s and Aster 15 is nearly identical. FREMM is also coming in at nearly double the cost so you end up with a smaller less versatile fleet with FREMM.

  102. For offensive operations I have always considered the ability to be able to demonstrate the ability to strike as important. Let me explain this further.

    A ship, particularly a destroyer or frigate is able to get quite close to a country’s border and demonstrate it’s ability to strike without needing to raise the temperature and bring about conflict. Can an armed force or a plane do the same? Or even an aircraft carrier for that matter?

    I believe having Land Attack capabilities, to answer RT’s question, is a vital capability. It is needed both as ‘threat/stick’ for adversaries to see, and one that can be effectively deployed. RT suggested there are many ways to deploy – agreed – but most of the other options are very confrontational and require allies. This may not be desirable, the best result maybe no conflict.

    It takes us can to horses for horses, layed responses. A submarine is possibly too discreet, and bombers flying sorties might risk radar lock-on and from that a response. A frigate armed with VLS offers a lot of capability, far beyond the TLAM/Scalp-N destructive capability.

    Obviously, the above is considering the usefulness of VLS before and during the first stages of conflict. Once conflict has started, you use your best strategies to achieve your goals. Some assets will be useful, some completely irrelevant to the conflict. But generally extra assets and options are a good thing.

  103. Martin,

    Well if FREMM is as expensive as you say were on to a winner with T26. Only time will tell.

  104. There was a question about who would want TLAM style capability in a frigate, and might have targeting capability.
    Arent we selling various Arabs Storm Shadow for air launch?
    Australia likes to have intervention capability, and has targeting assets
    Brazil wants to be taken seriously, being able to offer cruise missiles to a coalition would help that (as long as they aren’t offering them to their southern neighbours…). This would also apply to some other countries. Are we still selling the Saffers such things?

  105. @Engineer Tom
    “I believe ESSM is similar in size to the CAMM”

    Nope, ESSM is a much more massive weapon, due to it’s Sea Sparrow heritage.

    What I especially like about CAMM is that MBDA seems to have a clear development path on that missile family, as the Hoplite-concept suggests. If we once end with a family of RAM-powered 120km+ weapons, fulfilling a variety of needs from AD over AA, over maybe AR (which is a good mission-kill capability in a naval environment, too), swarm-blasting, precision attack a.s.o., I would not complain.

    To the wider question if T26 needs a strike length VLS; basically, the RN has two tasks for the TLAM to fulfil. The first is the occasional high-precision strike on a single target, with a requirement of stealth. Astute is the perfect platform for this, maybe apart from launching those weapons through torpedo tubes.

    The second would be a massive de-capitation strike on day one of a conflict, a capability we never had, but which we required not so long ago in Libya, when the USN delivered it through an SSGN. In Libya, far over 100 missiles were fired. We would need 7-8 vessels with 16 TLAMs each to deliver a capability. Vessels we don’t have, if we are required to protect a task group and commit to our standing tasks. The resilience of such a solution is also constrained by the availability of a port. So, carrying around weapons we don’t need during patrols, which are insufficient on one task and overkill on another, makes no sense. It would only gold-plate a vessel we desperately need in numbers.

    Clearly, a SSGN solution would be prohibitively costly. Once again, I propose RFA Kick Ass(ad), a fast, preferably double-hulled and Kevlar-protected container-vessel-derivative carrying around 200 VLS cells and possessing the capability to reload them from containerized stocks aboard, having a 50/50 RN and RFA crew. Alternatively, a semi-submersible firing-platform, to be towed into theatre, submerged and waiting for firing orders.

  106. @ Observer

    I think that the reason a radar that could control Aster 30 was not considered ran to a few factors. One is obviously cost and another may have been to do with the extra space required to actually carry Aster 30, it is a bigger missile and would have driven overall numbers down. especially if we were to retain strike length Silos as well. As for expanding the AAW screen. well it would certainly have expanded the max range of engagement but the increased capability of CAMM is actually a quantum leap forward in AAW screening vs missiles.
    The gap between the units in the outer ASW screen is decided by numbers, sonar performance figures and threat. Sea Ceptor on T26 will cover this gap. Currently missiles can simply fly between T23 armed with Wolf, Sea Ceptor will allow the T26 to engage missiles as they fly between them. Also a GP version close in to the HVU offer an excellent Goal Keeping capability.
    Also as a self deployed non escorting platform missiles do not kill you when they are 15 miles away. A “miss is as good as a mile”.

    However, with just 16, I’d rather have FREMM (more flexibility).

    Let us actually examine this Flexibility. The French ASW version has 16 Sylver 43 Cells so can only carry 16 Aster 15 in total and has 16 Sylver 70 cells for Scalp. So 16 2strike length cells like T26 and 16 dedicated AAW cells vs 48 for T26. The 2 FREDA versions lose both Sylver 43 and Sylver 70 to put in 32 Sylver 50 cells so can only carry Aster 15 or 30. Good AAW capability but limited flexibility. None of them have a Mission Bay but they do all carry 8 MM40. They do not have a long range gun.
    The Italian FREMM are fitted with 16 Sylver 50 cells so can only carry 16 aster 15/30, space has been reserved for 16 Sylver 70 launchers. Dependent upon being ASW or GP they get 2 76MM or 1 76MM and 1 127/64 LW but again no mission bay.
    So in terms of flexibility offered by VLS there is very little in it but surely the T26 Mission bay makes it a far more flexible platform.
    FREMM may be costing just North of £500 million but remember our T26 is cheap because the bill for Artisan will be in the T23 refit bill. we will be bringing command systems, 2087 sonars, Sea Ceptor missiles across with us.
    Will be interesting to see the cost of an export version but with minimal design changes required I think they should still undercut FREMM.

  107. @MCZ

    When you are launching a missile with a range of 1000 miles then sneaking in stealthily is not as important. few things are as unstealthy as an SSN that has just blown its launch basket :) 4 missiles and bug out.

    I do not believe we will ever need the sort of massive day 1 strike capability seen in Libya to be conducted by ourselves. But remember before this strike even happened the French were flying strike and recon missions and the Italians recon mission without any huge SEAD strike. The ability to launch a medium scale strike of approximately 30-40 TLAM either as part of a coalition or as part of a UK only small scale op would be important, especially when backed up by F35 with SS and precision NGS.

  108. APATS

    “…etc, etc, etc…but surely the T26 Mission bay makes it a far more flexible platform.”

    In retrospect I think I will have to retract my statement about FREMM. I thought there were 32 strike-length rather than only 16 and another 16 of something else. Silly me.

  109. Thanks APATs. The reasoning does make sense, though it isn’t one that I might have made myself, but as long as there is a clearly thought out reason behind it, I can accept that.

    One of the reasons I have for a more area defence preference is due to the proposed roles of the ships, all the talk centers on them being used as escorts for the carriers, and I do see how it could go both ways with AAW tactics, less but longer ranged missiles to slowly wear down an incoming strike or shorter ranged but more numerous missiles to counter an incoming wave in a heavy counterstroke. Both could work.

    That is of course IF there is even an incoming missile wave, I believe historically, most engagements involved less than a handful of missiles fired at a single target? But Cold War worst case planning scenarios do involve a squadron level attacks by Tu-22 bombers, so planning for that level of defence would ensure that any “surprises” remain happy ones. Or at least as happy as anyone can get when someone is shooting at them.

    Anyway, land attack and frigates? Think that might be a role too far for them. Why not let the destroyers handle it? They have the space for 16(?) strike length VLS, and have slightly more volume to spare compared to the frigates. Right ship for the right role. Frigates for defence, destroyers for a mix of defence/offensive capability.

    And mission creep is never a good thing.. :(

  110. @ Observer

    We only have 6 T45 so in a scenario where we are likely to be launching some form of land attack much easier to cut a Frigate loose than a T45. These have been designed with space for 16 strike length silos from the outset.
    I think in this day and age we need to get away from the whole Frigate/Destroyer classification. especially with the multi mission capability offered by VLS systems and things like Mission Bays.

  111. APATs, it’s the compulsive organiser in me. Slotting things into roles helps keep thinking tidy. Or at least it helps keep my thinking tidy. :)

  112. APATS

    I completely agree T26 is the easier platform to put TLAM on (though I would prefer it on both), this is as it stands

    a) The T45 has no strike length VLS and only has provision for 12 if needed, whilst the current design of T26 has it with 16 strike length VLS.

    b) It will probably cost more to add it to the T45 than to just build the T26 with it, which is the plan.

    c) What else are we going to put in the VLS-SL on T26 as it can’t make use of Aster & Harpoon isn’t VLS.

    d) T26 isn’t an AAW escort that is what T45 is for and QEC is not meant to go to sea without at least one T45 if not 2 in escort for AAW.

    e) T26 is going to also be used more as a multipurpose vessel than the T45 due to its mission bay so why not give it the long range strike task as well.

    If any vessel in the fleet is the escort it is T45

  113. @ET

    “What else are we going to put in the VLS-SL on T26 as it can’t make use of Aster & Harpoon isn’t VLS”

    By the time T26 is in service so will the Harpoon replacement and that will be VLS capable. Possibly some form of future ASROC or quad packed Sea Ceptor? Maybe nothing :) Unless it has a solid cap like an empty sea wolf cell, the beauty of a VLS cell is that the only certain people know what if anything is inside.

  114. APATS, re submarines blowing their launch position: what is the state of the current, RN thinking on this?

    If an ASTUTE had cause to fire say 4 TLAMs……

    – Pre-firing, typically how confident is the CO that he’s currently undetected?
    – (Without breaching OPSEC) how much risk does he take to receive his targeting instructions?
    – Roughly how quickly can he launch the 4 missiles (minutes? towards an hour? upwards of an hour?)
    – Once missile number 4 is away, he’s into get the hell out of there mode, and clearly there will be a balance to be struck in between creeping away quietly but slowly and reaching ramming speed. Is it hours or days before he’s convinced that he’s made good his escape and is as confident as he was pre-firing that no one knows where he is?

    Clearly, lots of variables in there, but for sake of argument, he’s in deepish water offshore by 500 miles and OFOR might have a couple of SSK for him to be worried about, anywhere in a 100 mile circle.

  115. @RT

    AS a non Submariner I would be venturing onto unfamiliar territory here. In your scenario he would probably receive his targets before he entered the firing area. Pick a launch basket well away from shipping lanes, creep in slowly passive sonar and then come to PD clear the surface picture and maybe get a final go from satcom.
    Make launch depth fire 4 missiles (minutes) then clear the area at a speed that avoids cavitation, making frequent course changes to clear his baffles and best utilise his passive sensors.
    No point in sprinting blind as you could simply run into 1 of your 2 SSKs, much better to remain quiet. If the SSKs decide to sprint towards the launch area assuming they can localise it then they go noisy and become the hunted.
    500 miles offshore the biggest threat to not clearing the area quickly would be a ship with a helo equipped with dipping sonar.
    Those are my thoughts but as I said I am not a Submariner. they have perisher to teach them how to think through all this stuff ;)

  116. Astute is a very expensive TLAM platform with a very low rate of fire. Moreover, when it fires, it loses it’s most important quality: stealth. Not that we should pull them out, but it shouldn’t be a preferred platform.

    Surface ships are a lot cheaper, and can produce a far higher rate of fire, as well being able to target time critical targets. I cannot see any reason why all our frigates and destroyers shouldn’t *all* have some TLAM compatible silos, when the marginal cost is sod all compared to a F35.

  117. @APATs / ET

    Agree, there is much value and flexibility in putting 16 Mk41s in the outset. Even if they only sail around with a couple of TLAMs and a few quad packed CAMMs (or even some quad packed anti swarm missiles) for starters, from what people saying is a no brainer from a cost point of view to fit them in the build stage rather than later. The Govt would be crazy (hmmm) if they built a ship of that size without a multipurpose VLS.

    Need to start cutting steel then and I’d go with the model at DSEI for main gate design – get 8 ordered pronto as batch 1 – 16MK41, 48 CAMM, TAS, 5″, CIWS, 30mm, helo. That will be a very decent ship. Don’t intermingle a GP variant, just go batch 2 later and take into account any changing circumstances. That may well be designed for 32 Mk41s up front and 24 CAMM cells but who knows. The T26 has to be multipurpose being able to defend itself against all threats in hostile environments, provide screening to task force in terms of ASW mainly but adding to the AAW with CAMM, and also be able to dish it out on land / sea with TLAM, 5″ gun and a VLS AShM

    I would focus T45 on being HVU escort and upgrade over life accordingly – any more cells would be defensive Aster / ABM related, ultimately upgrade harpoons for a more modern medium type missile (not to go off solo hunting to be able to eliminate threats to the task group), upgrade sonar and ASW capabilities perhaps and as someone said above, replace 4.5″ with something more relevant to its role – 3″ strales say (if only we’d gone for the horizon layou t ostart with)

    Let’s not forget putting CAMM on CVF and Albion.

    Then a few Venator 110’s for patrol purposes to ease the strain on the ‘combat fleet’

  118. Wow, didn’t even make it half way down the post list before getting bored of fantasy fleet action and skipping to the end.

    At this point it does not matter what we install. A vertical launcher is a vertical launcher. Leave a big square hole deep enough for whatever. For the sake of export interest leave the options open. Any potential export customer can decide if they want to buy missiles from Europe or America. Export interest and committment is, frankly, becoming a strategic issue for us – unless we bring down the unit cost, we will not get the numbers of hulls we need and our ability to maintain deployed tasks vanishes down the plughole. We need a minimum, absolute minuimum of 1-4-1 replacement of the T23’s or else we will burn out our people. We’re already doing that, and is anyone cutting steel? No, they’re poncing about waiting for the Scottish to decide if Scotland Borough Council wants to waste tens of millions of taxpayers money on a pointless debate, or hundreds of millions.

    UK Type 26 frigates will carry SeaCeptor. SeaCeptor will fit into both Mk41 and Sylver. It will also come in a purpose-built launcher that will arm Type 23. So it’s irrelevant. SeaCeptor and SeaWolf are in no way, shape or form even remotely compatible. A custom tube is required – that is, a bit of drain pipe with a moveable or shatter-able lid that will cost a fraction of the cost of a Sylver or Mk41. SeaCeptor will fit quad-packed in the Sylver, so problem solved for T45.

    If you want toys like TLAM, ASROC, etc, the question is simple. Which defence capability are you prepared to give up to pay for a nice-to-have toy?

  119. “Does the Type 26 Need a Strike Length Vertical Launch System” – Yes. Don’t forget the cut in SSN numbers, down from 12 to (hopefully at least) 7; and as wf says above an SSN “shouldn’t be a preferred platform” for launching TLAM. Good option to have for a stealthy strike, though, while a surface ship is, by it’s nature, more of a deterrence.

    More generally on T26, I agree partly with mickp above – get the “full fat” frigates built first before the Treasury succeeds in cutting the numbers. But then get the AAW version built; the GP version can wait, if they survive at all. I wouldn’t want to see a Venator/Black Swan production line opened while we’re still building T26, because there’s a danger of the former being seen as a cheaper alternative to the latter, even on a one for one basis.

  120. SR,

    Which defence capability are you prepared to give up to pay for a nice-to-have toy?

    The 13th T26 would probably cover 16 TLAM and silos on all 18 escorts. However, I have this funny feeling we’ll only ever get 8-10 T26 anyway*. C’est la vie!

    * Which, the way we’re going, is all we need. Ditch some standing deployments and concentrate on a CBG with piffling supplemental amphibiosity rather than the whole shebang done properly. Not my choice but I’ll put money on it happening :-(

  121. “Which defence capability are you prepared to give up to pay for a nice-to-have toy?”

    Grumpy PWO’s………………

    EDIT: Grumpy gunners…… :)

  122. @ WiseApe

    Why would the RN want a AAW T26 they have the T45 for that, it is much more suited to the role, all the T26 is needed to do is defend itself and maybe another vessel if it is operating on it’s own. If we go down the route of using a AAW T26 instead of the purpose designed T45 to defend HVU’s we are creating a worse situation than we would have.

    The RN philosophy is to have T45 and T26 working together to defend a fleet, dedicated to their task whilst retaining limited abilities in the other’s so that they can defend themselves and aren’t a burden.

    @ SR

    The ship’s are currently spec’d to have strike length VLS so surely we don’t have to give up capability if we retain the current spec i.e. 48 CAAM, 16 VLS.

  123. @SR

    We would not be giving up any Military capabilities. we would be getting the Ship built as specced. My last boss was big in Military sales and he will tell you that it is far more difficult to sell something that differs from what you have. So actually putting the VLS Strike Silo in will make the design far more exportable than leaving yet another “hole” gym or fitted for but not with. We can worry about what to put in our cells when we actually have a date to get one in service.

    Unfortunately the Scottish referendum may (unlikely) have a major affect on where and how we build Ships so we have to wait until it is over. The phrase “Scotland Borough Council” is not one I would expect to see posted on the internet by a Commissioned Officer in HM Forces :)

  124. @SomewhatRemoved

    I’m with APATS on this, despite our collective wisdom here on TD there will hopefully we a bunch of estimators, engineers and accountants designing, modifying and ultimately proposing at Main Gate a design that has a clear specification and cost. No proposals have ever excluded some form of VLS, so one should be able to assume it is affordable.

    It is fair to say most budget over runs lately have been caused by changing the delivery/ production timetable or specification. There has been a habit of woolly/fantasy proposals in the past but the type 26 should be pretty risk free design wise. There will always be the tendency to fit for but not with though.

    A submarine is a show of force like an undercover policeman. If there is need to show a presence then surely a baton is needed. I really don’t think the submarine can achieve all the objectives likely to be required of the Navy. Just like the undercover and uniformed branches of the police they each have a role to play.

    If I was to fit VLS to the T45s it would be for BMD. Therefore the T26s need VLS from the start.

    As for export – well, I think it is essential. The typhoon doesn’t sell not because it isn’t good enough but because it has lacked a development path for potential purchasers to believe in. There has been too little funding devoted to integration. The T26 can’t make the same mistake, it needs the option probably to be able to take Sylver and Mk41s from the outset.

  125. @ SR

    “We’re already doing that, and is anyone cutting steel? No, they’re poncing about waiting for the Scottish to decide if Scotland Borough Council wants to waste tens of millions of taxpayers money on a pointless debate, or hundreds of millions.”

    That’s just b**locks. Please keep such comments for where they belong at the bottom of the Daily fail comment section. As you should know main gate decision on T26 has zero to do with the Scottish referendum which the MOD is quite rightly ignoring and main gate was set long before there was even to be a Scottish referendum and as for pointless debate is called democracy.

    Now i can go back to playing fantasy fleets with my antiship missile armed frigate’s :-)

  126. HMG may be giving Wee Eck’s referendum a stiff ignoring, but BAE aren’t. It would be unfortunate for BAE if they found their marine access to the RN the wrong side of a border, with consequent competition implications.

    There are other reasons why steel isn’t being cut yet and there’s a way to go before they’re fixed. Just because someone has a nice CGI render with some VL tubes, radars and helos does not necessarily mean they have a viable design.

    Just a thought……..

  127. What we really need to discuss is, what if F35 gets cancelled?. If, big if, that was to happen then our contribution to a strike effort would be missiles only (until we got Typhoon into theatre. **)

    Can’t believe a serving member of the RN is arguing against building a ship to include growth margins for strike length missiles.

    ** Where are we again with conformal tanks for Typhoon? I note there are F/A 18s flying with conformal tanks. Wouldn’t it be a laugh if F35b got cancelled and we ended up by buying F/A 18 (a carrier aircraft) with conformal tanks as a bomber to launch a short range European missile because the costs of adding strike length cells to T45 and then T26, filling them with TLAM, fitting CVF with cats and traps was just too much? That would be true arse about face British strategic management………

  128. x,

    I think the “what if F35 gets cancelled” deserves a whole post of its own.

    I’ve been working on the premise that is DOES get cancelled for some time now and simply see there being no Royal Navy if we don’t get cruise missiles on lots of ships. Obviously I hope (and expect) that I’m wrong.

    It appears as though MoD procurement do not understand the term “contingency”.

  129. The chances of the F-35 getting cancelled are very low. Too many people with money in the pot. If pushed, they will probably IOC the current plane and fix any operational problems while it is in service. Translation, if the pot runs out, they’ll be forced to roll out the half finished plane rather than junk the whole deal.

    The F-35 is here to stay. The question is not if we will get it, the real question is “What did we get?”.

  130. As I said big if………

    F35 being cancelled isn’t as big a problem for the RN as it is for the RAF. The RN ends up with a big helicopter carrier that still can be used for al sorts of stuff. The RAF needs to start to working up a manned aircraft to overlap Typhoon without F35 what is there? More Typhoon I suppose? I don’t know

  131. @x: more Typhoon? I’m sure the RAF have no problem with that, just like the USN are rather relaxed about “more F18E/F rather than JSF”. Bird in hand and all that

  132. I suppose it might be worth exploring the importance of the “bits” of the F35B. Obviously it needs to takeoff and land but after that what is the most important thing?

    1. AMRAAM
    2. ASRAAM
    4. Storm Shadow
    5. Paveway
    6. Brimstone

    Funny, but I don’t see an anti-radiation missile on the weapons list at all. Is the AGM-88 scheduled to be integrated yet?

  133. Just looking at whati think it should be capable of deploying.

    Air to air: ASRAAM, AMRAAM, Meteor
    Air to ground – missile: Brimstone, Maverick, ALARM, Harpoon
    Air to ground – bomb: Paveway, Iron bombs with JDAM
    Stand off strikes: Storm Shadow

    That would for me be the starting point from which to improve on if needed.

  134. @ NAB

    “HMG may be giving Wee Eck’s referendum a stiff ignoring, but BAE aren’t. ”

    Yet they are closing Portsmouth and retaining the Clyde Yards. Please guys don’t turn this into a site where people make stuff up to score some right wing political point. Steel is not being cut because the ship has not been designed yet or funded and since T22 Batch 3 was paid off the first ship is not needed until 2021.

  135. “I note there are F/A 18s flying with conformal tanks.”

    Even better boeing paid for the development. Can’t see BAE or EADS doing that for Typhoon.

  136. @Simon

    You like your equipment don’t you? Nothing wrong with that, can I ask you what equipment you would use to say stand in the way of Syria threatening say Jordan (hypothetical).

    Do planes help? For the purpose of the question please ignore our access to Cyprus, and work on the basis that we aren’t spoiling for a fight.

  137. @ Simon

    “Is the AGM-88 scheduled to be integrated yet?”

    The missile is too old and useless to make F35 integration worth while. It also requires a specially modified aircraft like Tornado EC version of F18G to fire it.

    I’m guessing the update version of AGM -88 will be more like ALARM and not require special kit to fire it but still no plans for F35 integration. Looks like we will be using Spear 3 in this role relying on precision strike rather than anti radiation. The USAF would seem to be going down the same road as only the USN has signed up for updated version of AGM – 88.

  138. No political point-scoring intended and your info is duff.

    Portsmouth is not set to close. What is set to close is the Portsmouth Ship Factory (ie the large building hall on 3 basin), provided that the referendum says no to independence. Primary ship support would remain at Portsmouth, but shipbuild would be on the Clyde in a downsized combination of Scotstoun & Govan). It is the preferred strategy of the BAE head-shed, but has not been implemented primarily because of the potential impact of a yes vote on the ability of the Clyde yards to access HMG funding.

    Steel is not yet being cut, because despite spending £130M on the assessment phase (ie designing the ship and specifying its systems), the result still has one or two significant issues.

    As for cancelling F35B, you guys are about three years behind the debate. Catch up here…..

  139. The reason steel hasn’t been cut is that they are still building QEC so can’t afford it yet, and also they never planned there to be too much overlap i.e. they would be outfitting the PoW by the time they came to build T26 number 1. So all running as planned.

    Saying that the Scottish issue is a consideration they have to take into account though it isn’t affecting the program yet. As it increasingly looks like they won’t become independent I don’t see it effecting the program, though if by a miracle they did then become independent this will of course mean that the Clyde yards are out and so the build program will have to be rethought, but the odds of that are so small they are pretty safe ignoring it for now.

  140. @martin: since the USN handles electronic attack for all the US air forces with the Growler, this might explain why only they are buying the next version of HARM.

    F35 is supposed to have an emitter location system, so a updated Meteor could perform the same role. HARM already has it’s own radar to confirm target recognition, so I reckon the changes would be confined to the warhead.

  141. “So all running as planned”

    Time will tell. As recently as the MPR 2011 report (post SDSR), MG2 approval was expected in Q4 2013. The latest MPR has this “somewhere in teh middle of the decade”.

    How much of PoW steelwork do you think is left to complete before the platers, shipwrights and welders (as opposed to other, outfit trades) run out of work?

  142. @ NAB

    So far since the 2010 contract was signed, we have had non of the big delays that usually occur, as long as the construction starts in 2016 I see that as going as planned. I would say that there are about two years of work left before PoW is onto outfit. There is also the other aspect we can’t build everything at once because what happens when T26 is finished if we build it at the same time as QEC. So when the QE arrives in Portsmouth in 2016 this to me is when construction of the T26 should start.

  143. Tom

    Here’s a little bit of help.

    Note how, discussion of QE is almost entirely on outfit. Also note how PoW LB02 (the only big block from Portsmouth) is substantially complete in terms of steelwork (as is CB03) and the primary effort is now outfit. There are the two small stern blocks to progress for that ship and then that’s largely it for the steel trades.

    Understand entirely about concurrency of build and am quite familiar with the old Maritime Industrial Strategy on which most of this is based . I can remember working in a yard with five different ships of three different classes in build simultaneously and the big issue is always making sure there is work for the steel trades once the ship is mostly finished in the shed. All that abortive talk about ordering a couple of OPVs from Portsmouth was entirely based on the knowledge that steel work would run out early. Some has been reprogrammed from the Tyne and the Mersey, but the short version is, under the terms of the TOBA, the taxpayer is going to cough for the costs of keeping those steel trades “employed”. That’s to do with industrial loading and is actually being compounded by the failure to rationalise onto either Portsmouth or the Clyde.

  144. Re: Arsenal-ships,

    Maybe these should be consider – within my Chess analogy – as the pawns? Consider my opinion:

    We will need loads (as we do not know how our opponent will attack, and from which direction) and our opponents are many,
    Knights (T23/26 ASW) can pick them off from the “get-go”,
    Bishops (T23/26 GP) can exploit the gaps they leave to pick-off HVU,
    Rooks (T45) will hope for an early action just to sweep across the board,
    Queens (QEC) will treat them as consumables, and
    Kings (Amphibs) will rarely meet an opposing pawn (and if they do then heads should roll).

    The chance of a pawn (Arsenal-ship) become a “game-changer” is marginal. It will have to navigate to the opponents coast (be “queened”) to become effective; it is not surprising that such marginal units need to be deployed in such numbers. Even taking the German approach – sorry Sven – of invoking obscure rules-of-war – (cf. “Panzerschiff” and the ’em-passant’ defence) will rarely seek a satisfactory result.


    ASW: Plate-over; add SSMs on-top as required.
    GP: VLS; Recycled Aster from T45 once the MLRF switches to Mk41?

    I think that we play too much “Top-Trumps” and should rethink about deployment (Draughts) and strategy (Chess)….

  145. martin September 26, 2013 at 9:36 am

    Please guys don’t turn this into a site where people make stuff up to score some right wing political point.

    Good point: IIRC the steel has yet to be ordered.

    “Shipyards are busy,
    And Iron-ore in the ground.
    Designs still yet developed,
    With “Ayes” to be dotted, tees still uncrossed!
    So don’t you worry, baby;
    Them ship orders are around….”


    Politics should be left elsewhere: Apart from the medicated banter….

    Sorry Boss….

  146. Not a Boffin September 26, 2013 at 11:17 am

    That’s to do with industrial loading and is actually being compounded by the failure to rationalise onto either Portsmouth or the Clyde.

    I heard from someone (who I trust completely) a few years-ago that Scotstoun was beseiged by Glasgow housing developments on all sides (save the wet part). As such it was the design-bureaux of Clydeside shipbuilding.

    Is there a rational behind Scotstoun? In which way is it a better shipyard than Portsmouth?

    [Goes of to [re-]open an 1/600th Airfix scale-model of HMS Belfast to factor costs…. :) ]

  147. Sure I’ve posted to this effect before, but can’t find it.

    In essence, Clyde = Scotstoun + Govan. Both interdependent as most machining and outfit workshops at Scotstoun, but girls shed and panel line. Big boys shed, berth and panel line at Govan. No room to replicate “missing” facilities at either yard, hence essentially one unit. Historically (if not necessarily any more) lots of warship design experience.

    Portsmouth = big boys shed, new panel line, all the outfit trades you’ll ever need, allegedly more expensive launch method, may not be capable of building the largest ships (a la Govan), but you’re talking 200m plus ships here. warship design capability based on old VT staff, plus some newer add-ons. Centre for support for in-service ships.

    Only one of Portsmouth & Clyde can survive. Logically, the place that can both build and support through life ought to be the cheapest – even with a “novel” launch method. However, that logic also means being the CEO that tells HMG and Wee Eck that centuries of shipbuilding on the Clyde must end (standfast Fergies).

    Lack of intestinal fortitude = fudge = keep Clyde for build, keep Pompey for support.

  148. Thank you for your reply NaB,

    The “Warship1” and “defencetalk” blog-threads mention EU-law being the death of ‘The Clyde’. I suppose it all depends upon the international payers and receivers of defence-contracts coming to a sensible solution….

  149. Opinion3,

    You like your equipment don’t you? Nothing wrong with that, can I ask you what equipment you would use to say stand in the way of Syria threatening say Jordan (hypothetical).

    Do planes help? For the purpose of the question please ignore our access to Cyprus, and work on the basis that we aren’t spoiling for a fight.

    I like “capability” and equipment (I like to call them tools) are usually needed to deliver a capability. I am, after all, an engineer ;-)

    Not quite sure what you’re getting at with the Syria/Jordan thing. Not quite sure which of my statements has made you ask. However, I’ll answer (even if it does make me appear a little two-faced).

    Yup, jets on a carrier would be great to enforce a no-fly-zone.

    So would Daring off the coast of Israel. Might force them to amass a land offensive east of Amman which could be protected using anti-air batteries of SAMP-T (or equivalent).

    If we were happy to get down and dirty I think some long-range Tornado strikes with anti-runway weapons and some TLAM strikes on the 15 airforce bases south of Hamha might disrupt their air power enough to make them rethink their strategy. So, 120 TLAM should do the trick along with a rapid shipment of our “in storage” Chally2s to their front line.

  150. @WF and Martin

    AARGM isn’t anything like ALARM or really HARM. It is are HARM missile with a MMW imaging radar seeker attached to it to allow it to prosecute targets regardless of if the radar is emitting or not. Different solution to the same problem of radar shutdown really.

  151. Martin said “Please guys don’t turn this into a site where people make stuff up to score some right wing political point.”

    Would have sounded better if you had missed out the words in bold and italics as all you did was make a political point yourself. ;)

  152. @Engineer Tom – “Why would the RN want a AAW T26 they have the T45 for that…” – Apologies for the tardy response time, just back off my hols. The RN wanted 12 T45. They were promised 8. They have ended up with 6. So, a batch of say 3 T26 with Aster 30 would be a nice supplement (I’d put that in italics if I could) to the T45s.

  153. I’ve said this before the only part of the fast jet capability the UK requires that typhoon cannot support is landing on ship. F35b is being pocured for that mission if its canned so I would quess will be the requirement for fastjets on a ship.

    x I believe typhoons were provided air defence for Cyprus prior to hms dragon arriving on station :). The program your looking for is I believe called the uk future combat aircraft capability study.

    F18 is not flying with conformal fuel tanks. It is flying with aerodynamic representations for flight test data. If the us navy want to invest Boeing stands ready to spend there money.

    As this is one of our naval thread I read on the rn website that bulwark did a 14 hr replenishment at sea in the Red Sea is that normal? It seems a awfully long time.

  154. @ Mark

    Has Eurofighter flown with even aerodynamic representations of tanks?

    Will Typhoon prices dip by much if we have to plug a “F35 Gap”?

  155. x

    It has not only got as far as wind tunnel models as far as I know. No ones asked for them yet but will likely come along probably for a overseas customer prior to RAF. The typhoon price is cheaper for the uk than f35 at this stage if it was to buy additional airframes.

  156. @ Mark

    Apart from integrating SS and other whizbangs is there anything Typhoon is missing that we could buy using the cost difference between F35 and Typhoon?

    How much extra range would we gain with tanks? Could we move Typhoon say to Sicily and be able to range out near to North Africa?

    What would we lose payload wise?

  157. Engineer Tom September 26, 2013 at 6:22 pm

    Surely the F35 price is only going to go up from here, whilst Typhoon might go down.

    I seriously doubt that either Germany, Italy or Spain are going to buy their current T3B allocations: Her Majesty’ Government have no long-term interest in maintaining their [EADS and Finmeccanica] defence industries (or Geoff Hoon’s Italian-Government pension-plan)!

    However attractive developing new Tiffies may be (and I’d agree with you that it would make sense) the fact that we are enmeshed with Europeans [all-other-adjectives-omitted] means that Dave is the only medium-term solution. Apart from Italy[?] which Eurozone country is actually a serious investor in Defence at the moment…?

  158. x

    Typhoon can and does carry tanks up to 3 of them. What conformals does is allow you to carry the fuel and free the wing stations that would have carried fuel (or carry both) for other stores as well as reduce some drag they also have disadvantages. A more advanced recon capability than currently available along the lines of raptor would be high on the list.

    You could integrate almost anything you like, you have the ability to control uavs, or perhaps use the 2 seat version and integrate something like a growler capability not cheap that thou.

    You have a aircraft empty weight and a mtow the difference is your fuel and payload what combination you choose is up to you for that particular mission though there will also be max zero fuel weight.

    I think well operate both platforms for some time I would be very surprised if f35 is binned now unless something unexpected happens in testing. Hopefully one of the fleets will be of sufficient size to support a sustained deployment at this time I would expect that will be typhoon.

  159. @Mark

    given the way the USAF seemed to be enthusiastic about integrating the load carrying ability of Euro Fighter and stealth of F22 in an integrated package could you see something similar with F35B and Typhoon? I can certainly think of a few ways of using their divergent strengths in an integrated package but I am not an expert other than in shooting them down :)

  160. @ Mark

    I will be surprised if F35 gets the Comanche treatment too. But the US runs out of money October 17 (?) so I don’t think we should completely consider the project a forgone conclusion. Therefore I want to consider other options which means more Typhoon, more tankers etc. leaving CVF to host helicopters especially ASaC/AEW to make the most of what will be a missile (and gun and soft kill) air defence.

  161. @mark

    I can visualise the F35B in a land based role acting almost like a scout sniper. Internal munitions only job to degrade Air Defence capabilities and open the way for the load carrying kinematic superior Typhoon.

  162. Hmm, fleets of AH-1Z and MV-22 to go with your increased Typhoon and Tanker purchases as a Plan B?

    Or increased fleets of Wildcat, Merlin and CH-47’s?

    Or both?

  163. @ TOC

    Hands off my money dude. 24 extra Typhoon that’s all. I am putting the rest of the money towards my class of 3 large fast lpd to partner CVF….

  164. I would be looking for more Apache, Chinook and Merlin, maybe also extending the order of Wildcat along with more Typhoon and Tanker assets.

    I would rather not add new models and increase the variety of spares etc. I only see MV-22 filling a niche until a new generation with a pressurized cabin. The USMC uses the AH-1Z as they have been refused permission on numerous occasions, and also we already use it in the naval role so why not just get a few more.

  165. Not convinced of the need for more wildcats! The money would be better spent on the Apaches and extra navalisation of their replacements.

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