Type 26 Frigate Exports

The Throughout the evolution of the Type 26 Frigate there has been a great deal of discussion and speculation about it’s export potential. Brazil, Australia, New Zealand and even the US have been linked with the Type 26 and yet not a great deal has been forthcoming.

The emergence of the Type 26 coincided with a new approach from the MoD that placed ‘exportability’ into the decision making process for investment in bespoke design and development. The general concept put forward by the MoD was if the nation is investing large chunks of cash in designs from scratch it had better have some export potential or else it wouldn’t be authorised.

This approach was included in the National Security Through Technology strategy published in 2012, click here to read.

In the past, the MOD has sometimes set its equipment requirements so high that the resulting systems exceeded any potential export customer’s needs or budget. As highlighted in the SDSR, we believe one way to increase the UK’s share of global defence exports is to consider export-related issues early in the MOD’s own acquisition cycle, while ensuring that our Armed Forces continue to receive the equipment capabilities and support they need. This approach was strongly supported in the Green Paper consultation responses.

There are some major equipment projects that will never be exported, Successor and Astute for example, or some crypto as another. For others, the discussion centred on how operational capabilities could be maintained whist still offering the same equipment for export in a competitive global market. It was recognised that exportability could not be tacked on at the end of the development cycle but had to be integral to the process from start to finish. Techniques such as modularity, open system exploitation and parallel development.

It also raised the prospect of compromising on specification in order to make equipment more exportable.

the MOD will adjust programmes, having considered the qualitative and quantitative benefits to be gained from exports, underpinned by robust market analysis of customer requirements in potential export markets.

A recent FOI release included a 2014 report from DSTL titled Embedding Exportability in the MoD which has a very interesting section on the Type 26, drawing a comparison between that and the Complex Weapons portfolio approach that has already seen some export success with the Common Anti Air Modular Missile (CAMM)

On Type 26 it said;

The Type 26 project team made an attempt at implementing exportability by identifying and consulting potential international partners/customers early in the projects lifecycle. This aspect was successful but did not occur early enough and there wasn’t a real appetite to compromise on UK requirements to accommodate export customers. The premise of achieving exports of the platform was also based on flawed market intelligence, leading to a poor export strategy.

Click here to read the full document, it is fascinating and complex subject with no easy soundbite solutions but at least on T26, the additional information is very interesting. It raises the same question the MoD has been grappling with for a very long time, should it compromise equipment specification (and thus, arguably operational effectiveness) for better exportability which offers the prospect of larger volume and lower overall programme cost. Or put another way, the balance between cost, specification and quantity.

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Challenger
Challenger
January 31, 2015 12:12 am

And to think back in 2011 it looked like Australia/New Zealand and Brazil were keen and Turkey and Canada were giving it a glance.

It’s good that Sea Ceptor has already got a couple of orders and i’m sure such an easy to use and cost effective bit of kit will get more interest.

Same old story with the UK and complex warships though, we won’t compromise on requirements thus rendering the whole design too uneconomical or inflexible for any potential export customer.

Maybe it’s time to give up the pretense that high-end warship construction can be part of a commercial concern and confine something so expensive, specialist but uncompetitive to a nationally owned and run shipyard.

Although to be fair if the UK was prepared to buy 16+ T26 over a couple of decades then surely that would both sustain a larger workforce and skills base and result in a cheaper, faster built design? I mean by the end of the program T23’s were being churned out in 3 years and for a good price.

Part of the problem is clearly the government of the day’s continual contraction of the Royal Navy and the knock on effect this has on shipbuilding, from unit prices soaring to a loss of skilled workers until we end up in the pitiful state of struggling to launch a complex warship every 2 years.

Then again i guess that’s what you get when supposedly free market companies are actually horrifically reliant on state handouts.

A vicious circle, who know’s what the answer is.

Mercator
Mercator
January 31, 2015 1:02 am

Part of a story in today’s Australian newspaper.

Defence procurement and co-op­eration will be discussed in Sydney on Monday during talks between Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, new Defence Minister Kevin Andrews, Britain’s Secret­ary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Philip Hammond and Secretary of State for Defence Michael Fallon.

The Abbott government has considered bringing forward the planned construction of eight frigates to bridge the work shortfall faced by the local shipbuilding industry once the navy’s new air warfare ­destroyers and giant landing ships are completed.

It has examined building the frigates on the same hull as the ­destroyers to ensure yards in Melbourne and Adelaide can build them. The British frigate would provide another option.

The choice of frigate and where it is built will prove crucial if the government opts to have new submarines built overseas, possibly in Japan.

Mr Fallon told The Weekend Australian the possibility of Britain and Australia co-operating on shipbuilding would be discussed at the Australia-United Kingdom Ministerial Consultations (AUKMIN) talks on Monday.

“We are both looking to replace our frigate fleets and we both have the challenge of sustaining our own shipbuilding industry. I think there is plenty of scope to a partnership approach to that,” Mr Fallon said. “There’s plenty to discuss.”

Design work on the Type 26 frigate had been completed and Mr Fallon said Britain had to make important decisions in the next couple of months, including how many of the warships should be built.

Mr Fallon said both nations faced the challenge of sustaining their shipbuilding industries. “I see the key to that as more partnership working between our respective yards and I don’t want to go further than that.”

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/foreign-affairs/british-foreign-affairs-talks-focus-on-security-and-ships/story-fn59nm2j-1227202874548

Remembering that work on adapting the F105 with CEA radars is also underway.

Engineer Tom
Engineer Tom
January 31, 2015 1:28 am

With Australia I think it will all come down to what happens with the AWD project, last I heard the government wasn’t happy with how the Australian Submarine Corporation was managing it, the option I heard was that BAE might take it on and thereby take over all major surface shipbuilding. If BAE is running the new frigate project then they are more likely to go with their design rather than the Navanti one, as a baseline.

Martin
Editor
January 31, 2015 4:31 am

BAE can’t get T26 to the position where the MOD will buy it. Costs a blooming before it’s even started and we are now talking about £450 million for a ship that we won’t even be buying a radar for.

While I was optimistic in the early days and now think there is zero chance of BAE winning nay international orders and certainly none for ships actually built in the UK.

The time has come for the UK government to step in an nationalize BAES surface operations and maybe the submarine ones as well. There is zero point in private ownership when there is only one company in the market and they have us over a barrel on capability sustainment and jobs.

Martin
Editor
January 31, 2015 4:39 am

http://www.scotsman.com/news/uk/shipbuilding-plan-secures-scots-work-for-25-years-1-3675418

Speech from Osborne on T26 calling for the building of one complex warship every 2 years and the renewal of the fleet every 25 years.

This would suggest 8 T26 and an eventual escort fleet of just 12. Certainly won’t sustain the current fleet of 19 warships.

Martin
Editor
January 31, 2015 4:40 am

Not much point in BAE building its frigate factory on the Clyde with numbers like that. One ship every two years is a pretty low rate even for a single yard.

monkey
monkey
January 31, 2015 7:18 am

I was under the impression the new frigate factory ,if they ever place an order to build it which is dependant on the gov placing an order for some ships or other its rumoured to want , was to build two at a time . That equates to four years on the stocks or half a yard empty building one every two years. In terms of exports I mentioned on another thread developing common NATO Standards on Naval vessels such as these to mostly stop the various manufactures charging governments for ‘developing new ‘ designs to achieve the same end saving the NATO tax payer money or more likely a better standard of ship for NATO sailors to operate. A long process I grant due to intransigence on the various parties but a more capable, more liveable and survivable fleet of ships for our sailors is surely a laudable goal and one our politicians should strive for as only they can make it happen. Industry and National Navies won’t :-(

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
January 31, 2015 8:02 am

RE” The general concept put forward by the MoD was if the nation is investing large chunks of cash in designs from scratch it had better have some export potential or else it wouldn’t be authorised.”

Japan takes a different approach: they plow in the money to cover the domestic requirement, but there is a formula for a share of profits, should any export orders materialise. This is how BAE supplying rear ends of F35 fuselages for Japan-built F35s came to nothing. The order has to go through a Japanese company, and they did not feel they could sign that clause (not enough initial profit after shsring, to warrant signing it), thus pulling out.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
January 31, 2015 8:06 am

,

Agree with the surface part in this “The time has come for the UK government to step in an nationalize BAES surface operations and maybe the submarine ones as well. There is zero point in private ownership when there is only one company in the market and they have us over a barrel on capability sustainment and jobs.”

However, SEPP for submarines works well as it is structured on thru-life basis, making BAE less dominant. I.e. there is genuine negotiation, not just with the customer, but within the consortium as well.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
January 31, 2015 8:16 am

@Monkey, where did you get the two at a time? Not doubting it, just interested.

Generally speaking, when concurrency between consequtive builds dips under a third any cost efficiencies quickly evaporate. NaB explained the reasons in detail, can’t remember what thread we were on at the time. A detailed study by Rand is available on the QE class (just one case, but a big ticket warrants more analysis… Who is saying that 13 x half a bn isn’t big? With my maths the sum comes out the same).

Mark
Mark
January 31, 2015 9:41 am

Same old same. One day MOD will learn about requirement spec but not anytime soon it would appear. If we can buy highly sensitive aircraft from overseas or consortiums there nothing special about ships.

Acc

Bae is supplying f35 rear fuselages for Japan as it is for everyone. MHI is/was looking to be a parts supplier to BAE on the rear fuse. Japan will have a final assembly line like italy.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
January 31, 2015 9:58 am

Mark, good to hear that.

I have an inkling, though, that Japan will (within a decade?) come up with their own version. The hurdles should be less than for Israel who were disappointed with the access granted to software (not surprising if they are, at the same time, bettering the gubbings on Indian Suhois?).

Repulse
January 31, 2015 10:45 am

: “Mr Osborne said: “Asked @DefenceHQ to look at potential to build a new complex warship every 2 years – ­renewing @royalnavy fleet every 25 years.””…

Interesting statement, based on the fact that he did not want to be drawn on an announcement on how many T26s would be ordered. If 12 is going to be the future fleet number the T26 in its current expected form is not going to fit the AAW need. Every 2 years is a broad statement and a fleet of 14 ships would be 1 ship every 21 months which I think is more likely. My prediction is 8 T26s.

This to me confirms that the 3 new OPVs will be kept in addition to the current fleet. We would need more though if we are going to avoid deep cuts to peacetime commitments.

Martin
Editor
January 31, 2015 11:46 am

@ repulse – what’s even more depressing is that this announcement is being held as a good thing. Obviously no one in the press has enough of a clue to pull the Chancellor up on this.

Challenger
Challenger
January 31, 2015 12:21 pm

It’s so tragic it could almost be funny that after years of people clamoring for more cheap, low-end patrol vessels the RN could finally get some but that are inadequate for anything other than the simplest OPV role AND almost certainly offered in place of some much needed high-end frigates.

Worst of both worlds it seems.

Shark Bait
Shark Bait
January 31, 2015 12:41 pm

I think the T26 really needs to be focused on export. Their is serious money to be saved, and made in the frigate space right now. Militaries around the words are looking at acquiring 30 new frigates so there is a lot of potential out there.

If BAE are only building ships for us, then I agree nationilize the ship yard.

Now is the time to make sure the ships are delivered at a low cost, and the government needs to place a big order. Buying all 13 will decrease unit cost, signal confidence in the design, which may encourage other to get on board.

TAS
TAS
January 31, 2015 12:47 pm

Challenger, after so many years of clamouring for OPVs that we only need in fantastical parallel realities, it’s a case of ‘be careful what you wish for’. Looks like we’re about to get it.

Rocket Banana
January 31, 2015 12:47 pm

25 years at one ship every two years is 12.5 complex warships for the entire fleet.

Is he suggesting that aircraft carriers and landing ships are not complex? If not, why do they take so long to build and cost so much money?

Challenger
Challenger
January 31, 2015 1:28 pm

@TAS

Absolutely, i really wouldn’t be surprised at this point to see the retention of the new OPV’s strenuously promoted during SDSR 2015 as a boost in ship numbers and capability for the hard worked RN whilst at the same time T26 will see an order for 8 ships with the other 5 ‘still included in planning assumptions’ but which of course will never actually get built.

Instead they’ll be dropped as quietly as possible in a few years after the RN has spent a while making do with 14 high-end warships supplemented by a few OPV’s only good for the lightest of UK based ops and maybe shoehorned into the Caribbean counter narcotics and disaster relief roles for which they are woefully inadequate.

@Simon

I don’t think they really know what they are saying anymore. A typical announcement that doesn’t actually say anything.

I suspect it’s yet again linked to the minimum requirement to keep the Clyde ‘frigate factory’ going. As long as BAE gets it’s cash and the workers keep their jobs then who cares about national defence or what the RN needs to fulfill what’s asked of it.

Funny how the government doesn’t give a toss when other companies who employ thousands of people go belly up. If it’s a major high-street retailer or a company like City Link recently it’s a case of ‘well too bad but that’s what happens when a business isn’t competitive or profitable’. Yet if it’s anything to do with BAE and shipbuilding they can’t throw bundles of cash at them fast enough.

Rocket Banana
January 31, 2015 1:56 pm

Challenger,

BAE and the banks. They’ve thrown masses of money at the fat-cat bankers to make them even fatter.

I get you though, if it’s a minimum then it’s probably sensible for that minimum to be around 12 frigate type ships.

Overseas
Overseas
January 31, 2015 2:07 pm

, Challenger

Another thread and another poster found a report saying that the three new OPV’s will replace the existing Batch 1 River class.

@All

Will the reduction in escort vessels allow them to be fully crewed? Anyone have any idea on the manning capabilities of the RN?

Engineer Tom
Engineer Tom
January 31, 2015 2:26 pm

How would nationalising the shipyard save money, at least with a private company they have a chance (if they figure out how to write a decent contract) to offload some of the risk. What they need to do is figure out how to work with BAE and the other companies involved.

John Hartley
John Hartley
January 31, 2015 2:30 pm

I would still love to see 6 of the proposed AAW version of the T26 in RN service. A second variant gives more choice to export customers.
Is taking kit out to make it cheaper for export customers, a devious way of downgrading RN frigates while dodging the blame?

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
January 31, 2015 2:39 pm

Overseas,

The Fisheries Protection Sqdrn has been a way to protect (and train) RN manpower, another Ministry standing for the ships operating costs.

That they were bought outright so late in their lives (from a serviced lease agreement) points to an intention to sell?

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
January 31, 2015 2:46 pm

Should we seriously consider a class of vessels such as the French La Fayette and Floreal class to complement a core fleet of the high end escorts and maybe get some export orders from these vessels and build full fat for the Navy only to use in a task group or show of intent.

Overseas
Overseas
January 31, 2015 3:01 pm

@ ACC

Thanks, I didn’t realise the FPS running costs was paid outside of the MoD. RN should move a couple of the more cost intensive units to fisheries methinks.

Re the intention to sell, if that is the case it shows a fair degree of (fiscal) foresight from the RN.

McZ
McZ
January 31, 2015 3:18 pm

@Shark Bait
“Militaries around the words are looking at acquiring 30 new frigates so there is a lot of potential out there. {…} Now is the time to make sure the ships are delivered at a low cost”

Naivety about BAE offering something at a low cost, without competition or pressure, aside…

In 2011, the governments strategy re T26 was to get other nations aboard and make it exportable. #1 rule to achieve exports? Show resolve and trust in the concept! Which directly translates into: placing orders early in 2012.

Did we place an order? Are we even consider building a frigate, or is the term “cruiser” more appropriate? And if the RN really needs a “cruiser”, why is it insisting on a cruiser-only fleet?

IMO, the problem is not falling down to 12-14 high-end cruiser-like vessels. The problem is the failure to develop a complementary low-end-blue/green-water force like the US, Spain, Italy, France and Germany are doing. Some here are arguing, MHPC will deliver this. All indicators are telling: MHPC is ill-conceived (much to the “H”-part) and inherently dead.

In a situation, where BAE has a suitable corvette-design up and running, which could be the “working LCS (TM)” – a basic fighting vessel built to a family, evolving in design and adapting more roles in process – we order 30mm-equipped oversized OPVs.

This is mainly the RNs fault, playing long-trained political football with the treasury. Khareef is too fighty; let’s build some incapable-of-anything boats; then, they won’t cut into T26 numbers.

We don’t have a lack in strategy, so often contemplated here; in fact, we have too many strategies, resolving around “handling the gov” and competing for funds. At least, Mr Osborne just started to execute Mr Hammonds job to make everyone settle for one strategy.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
January 31, 2015 3:23 pm

“This is mainly the RNs fault, playing long-trained political football with the treasury. Khareef is too fighty; let’s build some incapable-of-anything boats; then, they won’t cut into T26 numbers”

Or alternatively let us builkd some vessels of a type which we utilise on ops around the UK 300 plus days a year and also in the FIs and at the moment in the west Indies rather than introduce something that requires more man power, brings in new weapon systems which all involve huge amounts more money in terms of support, logistics and training and at the end of the day is woefully unsuitable for current and projected RN ops being neither fish nor fowl.

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
January 31, 2015 3:34 pm

I wouldn’t read too much into Osborne’s statement. It’s not a million miles away from the drumbeat of the old Maritime Industrial Strategy that lead to BVT ships and then BAE Surface Ships. Nor does it necessarily mean 12.5 surface combatants for the fleet. If you put a 30 yr life on the T45, Daring doesn’t drop off the plot till the back end of the thirties. Short version is it’s an aspirational average throughput – but still doesn’t solve the problems.

The Clyde factory is supposed to be sized around having two ships in build concurrently. What that means is that you’ll have one ship structurally complete in the dock, undergoing further outfit and then test, STW and commissioning, while there is space for the blocks of the second to be erected in the other part of the dock. The sustainability bit is actually all about balancing off trades – you need the majority of the steel trades work done in the first half of the build, with lower numbers of outfit trades. that balance reverses as the ship becomes more complete.

I cannot for the life of me work out why some on here want to see the surface shipbuilding capability nationalised. Have any of you advocating this ever worked in a real nationalised industry? Look at DE&S (as was) for an example. Or even Dstl – that report (and I suspect I know the person who wrote it) is a masterpiece of generality, saying nothing of much import, other than “exporting is harder than we thought”. It’s not that the people are necessarily bad – it’s just that there is no incentive to actually get better. Succession planning would be an absolute nightmare to sort out because there is no incentive for the older guys to move on, so you end up with people who have great specialist knowledge, but no headroom to pass it on, so they become one deep. That’s not to say that BAES is the ideal solution – far from it – but the problem is organisational, rather than (as I suspect people think) profit driven. There’s a corporate outlook in BAES that basically means you walk into some meetings and they’ve brought three commercial staff with them, whereas none might actually be required. The MoD version of that is to walk into a meeting with a whole bunch of people, none of whom are actually empowered to make a decision. BAE force more commercial consideration than may strictly be required into the programme too early, which has MoD sucking it’s thumb and trying to decide who is in charge in order to make a decision – hence delay, which we should all know means cost. See T26 for more….

On standards and requirements. I can only think of a couple of areas where we might be more demanding than some. Specifically signatures and survivability. Those are real capability differentiators, but they cost money and actually you don’t want people (however close you are) knowing just how LO you can be (or not in some cases!). Someone mentioned NATO standards. There are shedloads of them – STANAGs to be precise, as well as Allied Engineering Pubs etc etc. The Naval Ship Code standardises a lot of the safety elements as well and is NATO-driven. Naval Ship Rules are also helping in this regard.

The reason why we don’t get export orders is primarily because the countries that would want to buy the sort of ship we need (long legged, survivable, good accommodation standards etc) all of which drive size upwards, in general either have their own industry to protect (France, Holland, Germany, Italy, US, Japan and possibly Canada and Australia) or are trying to develop their own industry (India, South Korea, Turkey, Canada, possibly Australia). There are off the top of my head about a dozen “western” shipyards capable of building such ships worldwide. BAES, DCN, ThyssenKrupp, Damen, Fincantieri, Navantia, GD BIW, HII, Mitsubishi and DSME, plus BAES Australia, one in Turkey. Then you’re into people like Cochin and GRSE in India, ST Marine in Singapore who are getting there at various rates. These guys will make life ever harder for the European concerns, because they can produce ships more suited to export requirements outside those “western” nations (smaller, lower manning, less likely to be truly deployable worldwide). The few export options for us would tend to require US combat system equipments, which is fine, but means that the T26 design ought to have been designed with them in mind as well as UK systems, which I don’t think it was.

People will immediately suggest a Eurobuild option as the solution to this, but it isn’t going to work like Panavia, Eurofighter, Airbus etc, because the volume isn’t there and actually, most of the development for naval ships is in the weapons systems and C4ISTAR, rather than the hullform and control system design and build. There is not the equivalent for a fifteen year design and development programme for a combat aircraft (or a transport come to that!) that could be offset by production recoveries.

That’s why what is required is a re-examination by the UK shipbuilding industry (and HMG). Industry has to be weaned off looking at MoD as sole source of income, but that means HMG being able to support industry by selectively waiving (or exiting) the EU competition framework for specific strategic industries, making decisions quicker (not easy when media-led “governance” witchhunts are prevalent) and being practical about developmental risk-share. Industry also needs to get sharper. That would allow a limited number of non-military contracts to flesh out the workload (we will never get back into volume commercial shipbuilding), which will also get best practice spread better across the industrial base.

John Hartley
John Hartley
January 31, 2015 3:37 pm

If you want a light frigate to keep RN numbers up, then I think the Lekiu ships the UK built for Malaysia, would be a good starting point. Sure you would swap the Sea Wolf for Sea Ceptor & Exocet for Harpoon. Do straight swaps of other systems kit for RN in service stuff. OK the 57mm would be new to the RN, but the Americans have adopted it, so we would use the same as our biggest ally. It would do the same role as the Leander/T21, & they were sent into battle in 1982.

Repulse
January 31, 2015 4:25 pm

@NaB: The wording Osbourne used was “renewing @royalnavy fleet every 25 years.”. Whilst I do not feel a fleet of 12 is on the cards a cut is definitely being discussed. The danger has always been with the navy going for an “all or nothing” strategy of fewer more complex ships it would end up with a single super warship that cannot leave port. Balance has to be the key, cutting a few FFs for more OPVs makes sense to me in a period of “peacetime” austerity.

monkey
monkey
January 31, 2015 4:50 pm

NaB points to a lack of decision on the part of the UK Gov representatives who I suspect , attend , listen to response’s from previous questions , note the answers , ask new/revised questions and defer to a ‘higher authority’ in response to pressure to taking the project to the next milestone. I have sat in many such meetings where those who can make the key decisions deliberately do not attend sending powerless subordinates to represent them. In terms of the present discussion BAES can charge for the time they spend on these projects and thus have little incentive to force the issue. At present there is a reasonable overlap between any T23 having to leave service before a fully worked up T26 replaces it but to my mind having a squadron of mothballed T23 with life in them in reserve is a worthy aim but if said boats are thrashed to their limits they will just become a reefs off the coast.

Mickp
Mickp
January 31, 2015 4:59 pm

@Jh there are lots of ships in the 99-110 metre range that would do. Personally for a presence patrol at some of our furthest outposts something like a Thetis class – long legged, robust,helo, even sonar. Would not look out of place in the atlantic doing TAPs. If we constantly pursue the high end route it is inevitable fewer hulls will result. We then either cut taskings or recognise we can do it with something lower end.

Chuck
Chuck
January 31, 2015 5:09 pm

Does no-one else think that even if BAE came up with some kind of whizz bang does everything super ship that only cost 50mil a pop we still wouldn’t get any more than it takes to keep the Clyde yards ticking over?

Military capability just isn’t the prime driver, frankly I think it’s just about stone dead last nowadays, despite a few valiant efforts to the contrary. It’s no longer about how much we can get within the budget we have and more about how little we can get away having.

Engineer Tom
Engineer Tom
January 31, 2015 5:10 pm

My ideal core Navy would be a 30 ship force where we replace one ship a year, 8 AAW Destroyers, 8 ASW frigates, 8 mid level GP frigates, 4 OPV’s (with a hangar), an icebreaker and a survey ship. The hull form and basic design could be reused across types if appropriate.

There is a problem with building 13 identical ships over 20 years, this is that the ship is designed before the building starts and then a small team is needed to carry out change work, but what happens to the rest of the design team, what do they do for 15 years until you start building up for the next project.

Repulse
January 31, 2015 6:13 pm

@EngineerTom: 30 globally deployable warships was the target up to the late 90s. The fact is that this is never going to be the case until the population is forced (by events) to get serious about defence. The best equivalent would be something in the order of 14 DDs/FFs, 12 OPVs (lite surveillance frigates) and the 4 survey craft (including the Ice Breaker).

Repulse
January 31, 2015 6:21 pm

@TD: Good in principle, but the reality is that there comes a point where a critical mass is reached and technology is no longer the answer. The risk is greater, one ship breaking down or having an accident or in the wrong place could cripple the navy.

I am a firm believer in a high end core, but around it a balanced force that meets the needs of the day. There is a benefit in having a larger number of less capable vessels as they can always be quickly up rated and the crew used as the core of a larger crew in wartime.

Fedaykin
January 31, 2015 8:48 pm

As APATS has correctly alluded to the UK doesn’t need a Corvette like the Khareef class it is nothing to do with being too fighty, an OPV is entirely suited to operations in UK home waters.

In the end it goes down to the difference between a modern OPV and Corvette!

Oman needs something that is fighty as in its neck of the woods there are a number of countries that have similar vessels and tensions are hot. What they don’t need is endurance, the crew of their Khareef class will spend more of the time dockside in barracks rather than sailing the high-seas. The crew facilities of the Khareef will not be suitable for long endurance operations.

The UK on the other hand has rather benign home waters with little need for anything particularly fighty, the crew of an OPV will also live mainly dockside and the crew facilities on the vessel are not optimised for long term operations.

Now you could build something like a Corvette with more endurance, better crew facilities and Diesel powered only, the French have been doing just that with vessels like the Lafayette class. But then you will find that you have something that is more of a Frigate and then it begs the question why not spend a bit more on it and get something that has gas turbines and other higher end systems.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
January 31, 2015 9:00 pm

@Fed

The facilities on an OPV are fine, in fact quite luxurious by comparison with other vessels, even the JRs being in 2 person en suite cabins. That however is a function of the fact that UK based River sails with 28-32 personnel and Clyde with just over 40.
Add in the extra weapons and sensors for a “Khareef” and you are up at 100 odd and that is just another reason why we do not need or want Corvettes. They are designed to provide fire power locally to their bases and not to support the sort of ops the RN conducts where fire power close to home is not required but the ability to deploy thousands of miles for months at a time is.

Mickp
Mickp
January 31, 2015 9:06 pm

, totally agree for UK waters. in answer to you last question, that’s the whole point, we don’t have a bit more money and GTs and high end kit would blow the budget. I don’t really like the term corvette and I only use Khareef as an existing reference point. I would argue that the French model ( ie light frigate with long legs) would allow us to retain global presence at reduced cost. Granted they are not ships that could go toe to toe with China, but they could cover at least FRE, APT (n and s) and anti piracy. A reduced high end dedicated largely to support CVF, in conjunction even with only our Europen allies would be a highly credible naval force against anyone.

The Other Chris
January 31, 2015 10:29 pm

@NaB “Specifically signatures and survivability.”

Quite interesting looking at the lengths you take to reduce signature, even down to cross section of dogging levers. Great level of detail.

Pte. James Frazer
Pte. James Frazer
January 31, 2015 10:53 pm

As I’ve advocated previously on another thread, I think there was a missed opportunity with Batch 2 Rivers being based on the Amazonas design rather than a stripped down Khareef sans heavy weapons that simply aren’t needed for UK & BOT patrols or other UN directed peacetime constabulary patrols and goodwill missions.

What’s in a moniker? Rather than Adm Z’s dreaded corvette, or heaven forbid light frigate, read heavy OPV. Equipped with a helo hangar and engineering support, so that it can carry one when missions demand (e.g. counter narcotics/piracy), but other than that spec’ed like a River B2 (not Khareef) with in-service RN kit e.g. 2 x DS30M’s, Terma Scanter and EO pods for surveillance and gun control. Maybe ‘fitted for but not with’ Sea Ceptor. Air weapons mag? Fitted but not routinely used. Khareef presumably has one but 80% rule is for Wildcat with a 0.5″ gun or marine sniper for contemplated missions and not routine carriage of Stingray, FASGW(L) & (H).

Manning? Well as systems are as River B2 + helo – so River B2 manning + 11/12 (when helo carried) + a few = 50?, i.e. still pretty lean. That would imply there might be space in a Khareef for every matelot to have a cruise cabin each. Endurance? Well if bunkerage and other essentials can’t easily be increased on Khareef, several previous threads here have discussed forward basing. We have those specks of rock / lilypads at our disposal. Bahrain anyone? Rotation of crews not ships could be applied in this case too.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
January 31, 2015 11:00 pm

@PJF

“Maybe ‘fitted for but not with’ Sea Ceptor”

So just bolt on a silo and all the associated gubbins? What about the command system to allow a system like Sea Ceptor to function? Link etc

It si not like a shopping list in a supermarket, every single bit of kit fitted comes with requirements and consequences in terms of other pieces of kit, support, maintenance and personnel.

Pte. James Frazer
Pte. James Frazer
January 31, 2015 11:27 pm

Addendum to previous post:

A stripped Khareef class as above would also be more cogent from a military industrial strategy point of view by keeping BAES in the customisable / affordable / exportable end of the market and keeping up a drum beat, alternating delivery with the ‘complex warship’ every other year perhaps, assuming they’ve got the talent to figure that one out.

One or two of the class might even be used as test beds for new emerging concepts (think NaB suggested something similar) e.g. Chemring Centurion, Sea Brimstone/SPEAR in order to iron out the wrinkles before they’re deemed mature enough for consideration to be adopted / retrofitted across the larger escorts.

Pte. James Frazer
Pte. James Frazer
January 31, 2015 11:50 pm

APAS

Understood, emphasis in my comment above re Sea Ceptor is on the ‘maybe’, although River B2 is advertised as being fitted with CMS-1 (not sure whether the Sea Ceptor / Link ‘module’ will be installed on them, but there’s an upgrade path if desired as it’s grandfathered on T45 and to be adopted on T26 presumably), and shared infrastructure operating system.

Martin
Editor
February 1, 2015 4:04 am

@ TD and Engineer Tom

My issue with BAE is two fold. Firstly any job they do is cost + profit. That’s fine if you consider they add more value than the profit they take. Since BAE got into shipbuilding they have managed to run every project over budget. Quite frankly they are not very good at what they are doing.

As a Defence contractor they have zero desire to pursue commercial contracts and I don’t think the RN has a big enough fleet to keep a viable industry supplied.

T26 should have been a piece of piss. It was a great idea, build a new hull and transfer the mature systems across from the T23. Now BAE have screwed this up as well.

I am generally in favor of having free markets but there is little benefit in my opinion when there is only a single private company in the market. Especially when that company is a bloated defense business that has sold off all of its commercial activities and can only survive in markets like the US and UK with large government subsidies.

Martin
Editor
February 1, 2015 4:10 am

@ James – I agree that a stripped down khareef would have been a better option than an Amazon. With its better speed and a hanger it could have made a serious contribution to a stretched fleet.

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
February 1, 2015 8:19 am

‘alternatively let us builkd some vessels of a type which we utilise on ops around the UK 300 plus days’

‘end of the day is woefully unsuitable for current and projected RN ops being neither fish nor fowl.’

Really? the only sole RN operation at the moment is Kipion is it not, do we need a full fat escort for that tasking when we already have MCM vessels in the area? FI is covered by an OPV (where there is a belligerent threat) the Caribbean is covered by an RFA vessel 365 days of the year and when you consider that the last vessel we sent to Libya was a survey ship can the argument that every vessel we have should be high end in the current climate of trying to get more for our money be sustained?

The Other Chris
February 1, 2015 9:04 am

HMS Dragon is also in the vicinity of the FI at the moment. HMS Clyde is the more permanent presence for EEZ patrol.

The Echo’s are very high end, commercial equivalents are eye wateringly expensive and their operators command large fees for their services. They were much needed to map the port areas in Libya to assist with reestablishing commerce, plus they added to our own hydrographic knowledge of the region.

Anything the U.S. military asks from an Ally for in spades is normally high end, which the Hunts and Sandowns clearly are.

None of the vessels described (other than Dragon) is particularly fighty, it behooves protecting these high end but less glamorous assets with fighty vessels in turn, n’es pas?

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
February 1, 2015 9:20 am

‘HMS Dragon is also in the vicinity of the FI at the moment’

For how long?

‘it behooves protecting these high end but less glamorous assets with fighty vessels in turn’

What did we send to Libya to protect the Echo class? Do we need a high end vessel for the everyday stuff? would a light frigate be good enough with a capability of escorting STUFT in a time of war, so as to keep our high end vessels for a task force etc?

Challenger
Challenger
February 1, 2015 11:52 am

Completely agree with the above sentiments.

The desire to nationalize UK shipbuilding is an act of desperation, a reaction to the clearly ineffective state of affairs that doesn’t have a simple solution.

BAE operates a commercial subsidiary which has zero incentive to innovate or pursue commercial contracts because it has a monopoly on UK warship construction and know’s full well that the national policy is to preserve this residual capability at any cost.

And as you say it’s not even as if they are particularly good at it. The tensions between what they say they can deliver and what we actually end up with are glaringly obvious.

I would say though that it is a two way street. 15+ years of the UK governments of the day lowering the baseline, steadily reducing the size of the Royal Navy and down-scaling shipbuilding doesn’t exactly help.

Also the issue with T26 sounds more complicated than a typical BAE balls-up. A changing of the goal posts in terms of the ratio between weight and capability to try and produce an all singing, all dancing platform that’s under 6,000 tons must be a major source of the current problems.

All in all if the shipbuilding strategy was consistent with sufficient orders then we would still be dealing with a monopolized industry but it might at least work more effectively.

Peter Elliott
February 1, 2015 1:00 pm

Have to say I agree that much of the blame for the current T26 schermoszzle comes from the failure of MOD to be an effective customer. Both in terms of understanding and fixing the requirement, being prepared to trade capability, scale and cost, and keeping to the timelines and workflow necessary for industrial sustainment. In that situation is it any wonder that the potential export customers have drifted away.

For me it comes back to a failure of any one party to own the design. Its worth noting that up to Type 23 HMG owned the design process, construction was then contracted to the shipyards. Even in Alliance working there has to be a boss and the Naval Design Partnership seems not to have a boss. The old fashioned title is Director of Naval Construction. But it basically means a career expert with job security who understands the subject and can knock heads together in the public interest. This doesn’t require nationalisation. But it does require government to grow up and take charge. And that is essentially a political problem.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
February 1, 2015 1:15 pm

@DN

“alternatively let us builkd some vessels of a type which we utilise on ops around the UK 300 plus days’
‘end of the day is woefully unsuitable for current and projected RN ops being neither fish nor fowl.’
Really? the only sole RN operation at the moment is Kipion is it not, do we need a full fat escort for that tasking when we already have MCM vessels in the area? FI is covered by an OPV (where there is a belligerent threat) the Caribbean is covered by an RFA vessel 365 days of the year and when you consider that the last vessel we sent to Libya was a survey ship can the argument that every vessel we have should be high end in the current climate of trying to get more for our money be sustained”

The FF/DD presence in the Gulf AOR fulfils quite a few functions and contingencies. Part of it is to act as the “MCM cover unit”. They also self deploy. There is an FF/DD “tasked” to the FI, its precise vicinity being intel driven but to suggest that the FI is only covered by an OPV is abject nonsense. The Caribbean is not and never has been covered 365 days a year by the RFA.
Echo visited Libya post conflict on her way home as a port visit and to do some survey work. that is what she does.

The Other Chris
February 1, 2015 3:32 pm

The kind of work the Echo’s do, often under the protection of the host nation:

https://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2013/10/ship-shore-logistics-14-expeditionary-port-access-concept-1-survey-munitions-clearance/

How long until Dragon is rotated out of the South Atlantic? No idea, nor which FF/DD will rotate in her place. It’s determinable from public information if you want to look at specifics.

The Bahrain extensions will mean more RN protection for the MCM and other vessels in the area, without relying on “someone else” covering them.

Donald of Tokyo
Donald of Tokyo
February 1, 2015 3:33 pm

A couple of simple comments:

– “build a new complex warship every 2 years”: I think this is enough for a single yard. We in Japan are building one submarine annually, using the two boat builders, Kawasaki and Mitsubishi. Thus, each yard builds one submarine every 2 years. This worked well for more than 30 years. France did the same for Georges Leygues-class frigate, as well. I think making it a ship per 2.5 years would also work. It will be also much better than having long gap before Daring replacement takes place.

– British frigate for export: looking from Japan, T23 was a very nice frigate. I suppose it had the highest possibility for export among the frigates UK has built after Leanders. But still, it was too expensive to gain export sells (e.g. ANZAC…). I’m afraid the reason is simple: i.e. “Pound is too expensive,” caused by your very strong financial sector. Maybe your ship building sector is doing their best, but the currency causes the big difficulty. Anyway, I think the best case in T26 is to export only the design, while the ships are built locally, i.e. not in UK. Maybe Canada or Brazil?

– I think recently reported “growth” of T26 up to ~8000t FL design not only makes export less likely, but also the hull number to be reduced down to 8. This is nearly going back to the original design using the same hull of T45s. I thought the smaller (~6000t FL) frigate design once discussed would have been much better. In that case, there was a possibility to build as high as 12 vessels (but maybe not 13).

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
February 1, 2015 3:52 pm

@APATS

‘The Caribbean is not and never has been covered 365 days a year by the RFA.’

RFA Wave Knight home from Caribbean
http://www.royalnavy.mod.uk/news-and-latest-activity/news/2014/april/25/140425-rfa-wave-knight-home
Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) Wave Knight returned to Portland, Dorset, yesterday following a 15-month deployment to the Caribbean.

I should have said HMS Enterprise in relation to Libya.

More than 100 Britons evacuated from Libyan slaughter arrive in Malta aboard HMS Enterprise
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2714573/Royal-Navy-ship-preparing-evacuate-British-citizens-Libya-fighting-control-Tripoli-s-airport-kills-22.html#ixzz3QVbmDmQ0

The persistant presence is covered by HMS Clyde is it not? whether or not a FF/DD flits in and out of the waters is imaterial. If we had some light frigates we would not need either HMS Clyde or the visits by an FF/DD as that vessel would suffice, same goes for use as an MCM cover unit.

Peter Elliott
February 1, 2015 3:53 pm

If we had had 12 Type 45 built fully fitted with multi role kit as originally planned then we would now be looking at a much lighter more exportable ASW frigate design.

But we didn’t which is why Type 26 is much more of a multi role Destroyer itself. Actions have consequences.

The Other Chris
February 1, 2015 3:58 pm

Clyde covers the EEZ, the FF/DD handles the patrol.

Presence of an RFA for a period of time does not equate to a patrol cover. The question is “Who’s covering?”.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
February 1, 2015 4:02 pm

@DN

You neglected to mention the 7 months the T23 was also on station. We used to have a Frigate and a tanker. On this occasion we were able to keep the tanker.
Enterprise was the closest available ship but she had plenty of cover.

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
February 1, 2015 4:20 pm

‘Clyde covers the EEZ, the FF/DD handles the patrol.’

A light frigate could handle both.

‘Presence of an RFA for a period of time does not equate to a patrol cover’

I’m not advocating using an RFA for patrol cover, I’m suggesting building some light frigates in the same way the French have for the purposes of deployment’s such as the Caribbean, Falklands and Op Kipion.

@APATS

‘You neglected to mention the 7 months the T23 was also on station.’

I didn’t it’s irrelevant to my point about the RFA, It does however highlight the point about using high end vessels for policing duties, who are we deterring militarily by sending a frigate to those waters? If we built some light frigates (which may get some export orders) they would still have uses and would allow us to have a fleet of top end surface combatants for when they are required.

The Other Chris
February 1, 2015 4:29 pm

I think you’re associating the South Atlantic work with the day to day work around the Falkland Islands.

Clyde covers FI EEZ.

The patrol covers the South Atlantic.

If the patrol is north of St. Helena, they can’t SAR fishing vessels off Stanley, but they can still interdict military vessels in a short space of time.

Frigate/Destroyer for Patrol and OPV for FI EEZ with associated support vessels are the high-low mix currently suited for the region.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
February 1, 2015 4:35 pm

The fact that we had a T23 on station for 7 months is irrelevant? The high low mix of FF/DD and OPV is best suited to maintaing capability whilst covering tasking.

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
February 1, 2015 5:03 pm

‘Frigate/Destroyer for Patrol and OPV for FI EEZ with associated support vessels are the high-low mix currently suited for the region.’

It does not mean however that the high-low mix requires a high end combatant in the high end of the mix, a light frigate would suffice.

‘The fact that we had a T23 on station for 7 months is irrelevant?’

Yes, as I explained earlier it is irrelevant to the point about the RFA.

‘The high low mix of FF/DD and OPV is best suited to maintaing capability whilst covering tasking.’

Apart from home waters where exactly do we send our OPV’s? There is nothing to say that the high part of the mix needs to be a full fat surface combatant in the roles stated. Who are we deterring militarily that it requires the presence of an FF/DD in the area of the Caribbean? you can still maintain capability with a fleet of light frigates to compliment the shrinking full fat escorts.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
February 1, 2015 5:54 pm

@DN

You claimed the Caribbean was covered 365/24/7 by the RFA and neglected to mention the presence of a T23 frigate for 7 whole months.

“It does not mean however that the high-low mix requires a high end combatant in the high end of the mix, a light frigate would suffice.”

Actually the powers that be disagree with this opinion of yours.

The Caribbean is currently being “covered” by an OPV with the prospect of its relief also being an OPV. The simple fact is that we are moving towards a high low mix of FF/DD and OPV. The OPVs are cheaper to operate and man than a “light frigate”, introduce minimal new systems and support apparatus and conduct the tasks that you would use a more expensive light frigate for which would cut high end escort numbers even further and not be used for tasks like Kipion and the FI are neither high nor low end but somewhere in the middle offering less capability than a 45/23/26 but costing lots more than an OPV.
Basically, they do not fit our operational profile.

Rocket Banana
February 1, 2015 6:43 pm

From what APATS has said over the years, four ships will keep one deployed and one in UK waters, which can be ready to sail with the RFTG.

To me, this means we need 8 AAW and 8 ASW escorts so that we can sail the RFTG quickly with two of each and supplement/rotate them with the on-task and in-transit ships as soon as is realistically required and possible.

The fact that we only have 6 AAW escorts leads me to believe there is something else that can be sneakily done to make sure we can sail the RFTG and still maintain our tasking.

So we therefore need somewhere between 6 and 8 AAW and ASW ships.

What we might want is probably substantially more, but not actually required. Any tasking requirements that mean more than 16 escorts, should really mean building a ship dedicated to those requirements. So if policing the sea lanes from pirates in skiffs can be done with something else then great, as long as we actually need it and can’t use an existing escort (or RFA for that matter) for the job.

I’d very much like to examine our tasking and the physical requirements at the other end. For example, I can’t imagine we actually need a deployed ASW capability at the moment? Yes, we need a couple to be able to sail with the RFTG, but deployed and active?

The Other Chris
February 1, 2015 6:57 pm

Need them deployed and active to keep up the skills. e.g. Experience of filtering the biologic in a variety of environments for when you’ll need to do so in action.

Challenger
Challenger
February 1, 2015 7:48 pm

It interesting reading the arguments over a British presence in the Caribbean.

It has always struck me that actually a frigate/destroyer, or an OPV, or a tanker/stores ship, or some combination of the above are all either unsuited to the task or much needed elsewhere.

I see it as a special case among the Royal Navies many standing commitments in that it’s wholly a constabulary/counter narcotics and humanitarian role.

The best solution would be a converted merchant ship (ala Argus or Diligence) RFA manned and specifically tasked to the role with facilities for a couple of helicopters and a boarding team, some fast boats and full to the brim with humanitarian aid.

A couple of OPV’s for the Falklands and actually the rest of the fleet could and should be focused on the twin pillars of a carrier/amphibious group and a presence in the Gulf. The Mediterranean should be an important area of focus but rather than the permanent presence of a frigate or patrol vessel which would have minimal impact a sizable RFTG exercising around the Med for a few months every year could keep us sufficiently engaged.

Rocket Banana
February 1, 2015 7:52 pm

ToC,

Point taken, but again, they don’t need to be deployed to practice ASW – there’s plenty of subs lurking around the north of these pretty islands!

I’m completely happy if we just happen to provide ASW (or even just 2087) capability to wider NATO activities. That makes sense and gives a genuine reason why we need a deployed ASW capability.

Perhaps APATS can comment on how and what our T45s are actually used for… just general warships, or do they deploy to provide area AAW to a task force somewhere?

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
February 1, 2015 7:52 pm

‘Need them deployed and active to keep up the skills. e.g.’

That’s what exercises are for.

‘neglected to mention the presence of a T23 frigate for 7 whole months.’

While the RFA was there for a whole 15 months?

‘Actually the powers that be disagree with this opinion of yours.’

The same powers that be who have managed the budget so well for decades and piss poorly managed our last two major ops, and who are now being forced to deploy OPV’s further afield because they have not managed to build the last two class of surface vessels on time and on budget and are failing to build the current T26 on time and budget which has in turn forced us to purchase 3 vessels that the navy did not want and will probably eat into the final T26 numbers. Are these the powers that be to whom you are referring?

‘neither high nor low end but somewhere in the middle offering less capability than a 45/23/26’

Is that not the point in having them and the reason the French use them? Not as expensive to purchase and run as a 45/23/26 but offering more of a presence and deterrent by way of better armament than an OPV.

The Other Chris
February 1, 2015 9:46 pm

How much have you ever forgotten?

Reading music, knitting, Latin, dead reckoning, Futhark, 3.14159 times table (very useful in a former life), countless stories (just realised I’ve read The Giver after watching the film), to name some I know I’ve lost ability in.

How many teams playing reserve matches only (“Exercises”) do well in the Champions League? None.

ASW and similar skills are not like riding a bike, if you want to be up to speed when you need them you must constantly practice them.

As for environment, the Norwegian Sea and neighbouring ponds my be teeming with Submarines, but if you chase a sub in those environments you only know that you know (q.v. Rumsfeld / Dunning-Kruger) how to (maybe) chase a sub for certain in that environment only.

What does it take to pick up on an Iranian midget sub near Bahrain? Does the freshwater pouring out of the Nile have an impact on your sets? Ever know how a MAD boom represents an oddity in the magnetic field in the Southern Hemisphere?

Easiest way to get to the top and stay at the top is to train, exercise, and practice out in the actual wild every day you’re out there.

So send your ASW frigates out on boring counter-narcotics / humanitarian missions / whatever and listen closely to the water while you’re out there…

shark bait
shark bait
February 1, 2015 9:51 pm

, I totally agree with your statement on the khareef class and our OPV’s. Its madness!

However I quite like the MHCP, more specifically the back swan concept, they are small enough to be built at any of the yards in the uk which hopefully means they won’t be BAE built, and will stand more of a chance of being delivered well. The design seems reasonable to be, not a war fighter , but a large hanger and deck to launch unmand vehicle, to provide a variety of capability, including war fighting .

McZ
McZ
February 1, 2015 10:49 pm

@APATS
According to MoD marketing, River B3 is intended to do anti-piracy and counter-terrorism. So, good bye, home waters, hello Manama and Djibouti! For those tasks, they will need a 70+ complement like their Brazilian brethren. And then, they would still lack any viable means to provide sustainable effects over the horizon.

I agree, we need a low end. But not too low. If BAE can convert the 4,000 nm Amazonas into a 5,500 nn River B3, then they can also take Khareef and convert them into a leaner manned (by omitting Exocet) and longer legged OPV. Then we’d have a real Holland-class/BAM/Floreal equivalent.

The RN is already spread thin with currently 19 escorts, and we are wearing down the remaining vessels very fast. To make do, we are employing hydrography and auxiliary vessels for major patrol tasks and alerts.

Optimistically, 13 T26 (aka “complex warships”), one every two years, clear and plain means: first delivered in 2020, last in 2046. All T23s will be gone by 2036 (if you want to believe this, I’m not), replaced by 8 or 9 new builds; T45 will be then gone by 2045, with a final surface force of 13.

The whole plan seems to be setting on longer service life, which from an engineering standpoint is orthogonal to low numbers and the inherent higher wear. IMO, this will break our neck.

Gordan Evans Van Hook
Gordan Evans Van Hook
February 1, 2015 11:27 pm

Separate the payloads from the platforms. Go for an IPhone frigate common platform with a modular set of weapons and sensors with common interfaces. Then you outfit it for national requirements and allow the foreign purchaser to choose from an a la carte menu of releasable systems. Can’t be done? Check out the Danish Absalon and Iver Huitfeldt designs and STANFLEX systems – that’s only scratching the surface. Make a common platform and let the app designers innovate.

Martin
Editor
February 2, 2015 3:02 am

@ Gordan Evans Van Hook

The T26 is suppose to be able to do just that. However the cost of the platform is in the signature reduction and propulsion technology.

I have allot of respect for what the Danes have done with the Iver Huitfeldt design but I doubt I would want to try and hunt a Russia submarine in them.

Bhodie
Bhodie
February 2, 2015 3:45 am

Has anything come about from the Aussies studying the viability of the CEAFAR/CEAMOUNT mast & American kit being able to be fitted to the T26?

Sounds like the AWD hull option is the front runner for the RAN at the moment.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
February 2, 2015 8:50 am

Bhodie, I think we will hear in March as the review of driving up productivity in the construction of that AWD (hull) class, going forward, is due to complete. Minister’s answers from a transcript of last June:

“And there’s been suggestions Minister that if we – and the impression I get here is what’s planned – consider building the Frigates on an Air Warfare Destroyer hull that those hulls would be too noisy for anti-submarine work, is that a fact?

MINISTER

That is exactly what the $78.2 million is set to find out.

The hull was originally designed by Navantia to be an anti-submarine warfare hull, so I’m reasonably confident that with the right construction, the right noise-suppression systems, it will be a very suitable hull for us.

But the essence of the Future Frigate program is the CEAFAR Active Phased Array Radar used in conjunction with the Evolved Sea Sparrow and the Saab 9LV Combat Management System, now that is all Australian product and I must say I am extremely proud of the manufacturers of those products.

We have seen a way forward for us to – for the first time – have an almost totally indigenous Command and Control structure that is world-class on frigates.”

Basically he is saying that it is the overall Australian content that matters (that combat mgt system was moved to Oz by Saab in 1990 – a clever move). If the F105 productivity can’t be assessed to be on the mend, I see a restricted competition coming up:
– ASC bidding F105
– BAE bidding T26
– Australian (Saab 9LV) systems as a given for both… ” you guys are the businessmen, we are the customer. Here’s the money and the must-have requirement. Sort it”
– a better line to take than micro-managing, which is a bad half-way house between competition and national(ised) industry. Too close to the latter, on that continuum, actually.

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
February 2, 2015 9:58 am

‘How much have you ever forgotten?’

That’s what exercises are for.

The Other Chris
February 2, 2015 10:43 am

And what do you do between exercises? Or are you advocating a cycle of forgetting skills?

Engineer Tom
Engineer Tom
February 2, 2015 11:51 am

There are two simple reasons for Amazonas over Khareef, a) Cost, we could barely afford to buy one Khareef, and b) RN living standards, the JR’s on a Khareef live in 25 man dorms.

Is the problem with the MOD the lack of consistency, if they had a lead procurement team where the staff (including the technical staff i.e. RN personnel) stayed in post more than two years, then they could form working relationships and also might lead to fewer changes during the lifecycle of a project.

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
February 2, 2015 11:56 am

‘And what do you do between exercises?’

The same as you do between deployments.

Peter Elliott
February 2, 2015 12:12 pm

The ‘technical staff’ for ship procurement should not be RN personnel. They should be naval architects. Driving a ship does not qualify you to build a ship or buy a ship.

The Other Chris
February 2, 2015 12:17 pm

@DN

Nothing prepares you for more than asking your team to perform a task for real, day-to-day, in a shifting environment.

If you believe you can achieve a best-in-breed level of ability through exercises, simulations and training courses alone, you crack on.

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
February 2, 2015 12:34 pm

@TOC
‘If you believe you can achieve a best-in-breed level of ability through exercises, simulations and training courses alone, you crack on.’

Even listening to marine biology while searching for drug running speed boats will not get you that, nothing comes close to doing things for real in war time conditions. Exercises are just as good at preparing people as any other method and can be tailored to the task and be just as intense (especially if going against an opfor) and arduous.

The Other Chris
February 2, 2015 12:38 pm

Do you truly believe that or are you just playing devil’s advocate for the sake of good conversation?

Engineer Tom
Engineer Tom
February 2, 2015 12:56 pm

@ PE
Technical staff was probably the wrong phrase, but the RN does have and needs to retain an influence over the ships being built, as they have the knowledge about how they will use the ship. The issue is when the RN personnel change the new guy will often have a different way of doing things and will influence change mid project.

Chris
Chris
February 2, 2015 1:14 pm

ET, PE – its a long-standing problem, mostly caused by the pace of procurement. FRES has been the worst example, having been started (under different study names) in the late 80s and not yet delivered, but most programmes run for 6 or more years between the start gun and delivery – in that time not only do the personnel change, but so does the threat, the likely theatres and the technology available on the market. It was a bitter quip when Typhoon made ISD that it was the best Cold War fighter we had ever had (the Cold War having finished some years before). The real issue in my opinion is the slow march of procurement. If projects were brought into service, say, three years after the requirement was set, then there would be a much greater likelihood that:

1) The project kept the original requirements unchanged;
2) The MOD staff (civilian & military) would remain through the procurement;
3) The project would still be relevant & useful against the current threats;
4) The project would be considerably cheaper, being designed just the once.

Buying fast & cheaper would open the possibility of choosing whether to upgrade or replace or simply buy more of the same as time moved forward.

But it would never happen. So we just have to put up with the consequences.

Bhodie
Bhodie
February 2, 2015 1:17 pm

@ArmChairCivvy

Thanks for that. I wasn’t aware the 9LV system was effectively Australian now, although it seemed clear the radar & weapon systems were going to be a “non-negotiable” for them.

Regarding CEAFAR, although nothing is ever released about it’s exact capabilities, I had heard (and take this with a big grain of salt) that it was about 85% of the capability of AN/SPY-1 with significant weight & power requirement reductions. Officially, the RAN has only ever said that it had “proven itself beyond expectations”. Whatever it can do, they seem pretty happy with it, backed up by it being a requirement for their future frigate.

Topman
Topman
February 2, 2015 1:59 pm

@ Chris

‘Buying fast & cheaper would open the possibility of choosing whether to upgrade or replace or simply buy more of the same as time moved forward.

But it would never happen. So we just have to put up with the consequences.’

But would even want to? Looking at it from an aircraft angle, what sort of aircraft could we set the requirement, test, build and accept into service in 3 years? I honestly can’t think you would get a great deal, some sort of basic trainer?

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
February 2, 2015 2:08 pm

@TOC

Why is it an inferior method? we have managed to launch operations on a nearly constant basis for the last two decades using just that method of training. How is using a sonar in peace time conditions in the Caribbean a better method of training over hunting a real sub on exercise?

Chris
Chris
February 2, 2015 2:23 pm

Topman – OK so airframes take longer (as no doubt do ship hulls) but the laws of physics are fairly stable? In much the same way there is a discussion point above on whether T45 basic hull would do for T26 or whether a generic quiet hull could be designed early on for different ship/role types, I could see a case for designing the flighty bit of fast jets and testing them to make them available for roles downstream – much the same presumably as MRCA and EFA were generic before being made into separate aircraft for the buying nations?

Anyway its never going to happen so its entirely academic.

Peter Elliott
February 2, 2015 2:33 pm

No argument from me for the need for 5 year rather than 2 year positings for the forces representatives to procurement projects.

Over and above them there is also a need for a very small number of subject experts, not necessarily service personnel, on 10 year or longer contracts, such as the mooted re-introduction of a ‘Director of Naval Construction’ for ships, and perhaps counterparts for each of Rotary, Fixed Wing and Ground Vehicles. This would give the necessary strategic overview of multiple different projects, their organisation, aligninment of out of service dates, and when to generalise and when to niche-buy particular capabilities.

The Other Chris
February 2, 2015 2:40 pm

@DN

What we do is simulate, train, exercise and put into practice the work daily, globally. That’s why we have a good reputation.

You’re suggesting we can stop at the simulation, training and exercising part and be just as effective.

It only gets you so far. If you want to be the best (When it comes to ASW in particular we do, right? Or did I miss a suggestion?) then you have to employ what you’ve learned for real: Get your metaphorical ears in the water and start listening. Why can’t you “see” the ROV that a salvager is known to be employing nearby? Are you able to track that biologic as they cruise away at 15kts? Can you filter out that vibration you only seem to hear at 5 degrees and a given salinity PSU? Have you been aware of that odd return your equipment is reading in this neck of the woods before, or is it something… new?

This is what @NAB and @APATS have been getting at with regards to us deploying our “high end” kit on “low end” tasks.

The crews are employing their training, developing beyond exercises, engaging in Sea Control wherever they are rather than acting as a Fleet in Being back in Port while the OPV’s motor along with a (comparatively) limited sphere of awareness.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
February 2, 2015 3:03 pm

From me neither
“No argument from me for the need for 5 year rather than 2 year positings for the forces representatives to procurement projects.”

In fact, it is another ” small” thing buried in the 10-year equipment plan text: end of mandatory 2 yr rotation, and being (becoming!) an expert for/over 5 yrs not held against you in promotions.

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
February 2, 2015 3:05 pm

‘engaging in Sea Control wherever they are rather than acting as a Fleet in Being back in Port’

Why are you assuming they would be back in port? you could do two 3 month exercises with a small gap in between and get just as much benefit as you would a 7 month deployment. Everything you have listed can be done on exercise and against a real opfor and if you don’t improve with every exercise.

‘while the OPV’s motor along with a (comparatively) limited sphere of awareness.’

I did not advocate the use of OPV’s I said light frigates such as the French use.

Topman
Topman
February 2, 2015 3:33 pm

‘No argument from me for the need for 5 year rather than 2 year positings for the forces representatives to procurement projects’

In the NEM is a plan for different streams of officer, those that rotate quickly now and those that will give stability to postings that need them to remain in post. Although I think the plan is that they sacrifice a route to the higher ranks in exchange for a more stable career. Don’t think it’s nailed on yet I suppose we’ll find out later in the year.

@ TD

Any plans for a post on NEM when it rolls out?

The Other Chris
February 2, 2015 3:42 pm

@DN

There’s the difference in opinion: Obtaining the same benefit from a 3 month exercise verses adding on a 7 month deployment (or similar).

The RN’s current method of Exercise plus Deployment of the same high-end equipment used the in simulation/training/exercise (T45, T23 ASW, T26 ASW in future, etc) earns more benefit by a league.

Apologies for the OPV/Frigate switch, not deliberate. A fleet of predominantly GP frigates with a handful of ASW variants skilling-up only via exercises still loses that valuable opportunity to apply your trade in the wild.

I value that practical edge highly.

How much are we talking to achieve this? Price of T26 hasn’t been fixed yet, ball-park would likely be the difference in equipment and workstations (capital expenditure amortised over life) over a GP version of the same platform. Shame the equipment is not more easily lifted from the ASW equipped vessels and dropped/plugged into the awaiting GP vessels when rotating.

Maybe @Simon can run a spreadsheet to see how many sets we’d need to rotate them across taskings in a feasible manner?

MikeKiloPapa
MikeKiloPapa
February 2, 2015 4:30 pm

“I have allot of respect for what the Danes have done with the Iver Huitfeldt design but I doubt I would want to try and hunt a Russia submarine in them.”

Actually the Huitfelds design (and to a somewhat lesser extent the Absalons) incorporates significant signature reduction/management, both acoustic, thermal and rcs etc… and were you to fit them with a modern high end TAS/VDS (for which they are prepared) , they could easily be a competent part of a anti-submarine screen for instance .
Though with their twin CP propellers ,mechanical gearbox and diesel propulsion machinery, they will never be first rate ASW vessels. But then they really are more the analog of T45 and not the T26.

MikeKiloPapa
MikeKiloPapa
February 2, 2015 4:36 pm

“But the essence of the Future Frigate program is the CEAFAR Active Phased Array Radar used in conjunction with the Evolved Sea Sparrow and the Saab 9LV Combat Management System, now that is all Australian product ”

I think the Americans and Swedes might take issue with that statement ;-)

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
February 2, 2015 4:39 pm

@TOC

‘Obtaining the same benefit from a 3 month exercise verses adding on a 7 month deployment (or similar)’

The difference between the exercise and the 7 month deployment is focus. With the exercise you would concentrate on your core warfare skills at a higher tempo but for a shorter period. I know when the RN deploy they do some training with other nations etc but what is the intensity? out of 7 months how many months are at a war footing so to speak? anti piracy etc is fine but are the navy actually learning to fight the ship against a peer this way?

‘skilling-up only via exercises still loses that valuable opportunity to apply your trade in the wild.’

This would still be possible as the crews could rotate from the light frigates which would be doing a majority of the deployments in the same way as the FF/DD’s do now. I was envisioning two task groups one built around a carrier and the other around the amphibs.

Would it be possible to assign 2 T45’s to each one then have 2 in maintenance/deployed/surge.
How many T26 would we need to cover the 2 groups, 6 again? the standing tasks would be carried out by the light frigates so we would need 6 again (assuming the 3 new rivers do not permanently inherit Atlantic Patrol Tasking North)? It would be a benefit if the systems were modular.

MikeKiloPapa
MikeKiloPapa
February 2, 2015 4:47 pm

@Bhodie

“Thanks for that. I wasn’t aware the 9LV system was effectively Australian now,”

Well strictly speaking it isn’t

http://www.saabgroup.com/en/Naval/Precision-Engagement/Weapon_Control_Systems/9LV_CMS_Combat_Management_System/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/9LV

Though the version of it you use in OZ is developed by Saab Australia, as is the consoles, it’s still an evolution of the earlier Swedish 9LV systems and you can still get a purely Swedish version of the CMS today.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
February 2, 2015 4:49 pm

@MKP, re

“I think the Americans and Swedes might take issue with that statement ;-)”

I think the transcript missed one word (“it”) and the Minister was referring only to the last of the three, the 9LV.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
February 2, 2015 5:06 pm

When you have a minister speaking about procurement, what matters to him/ gvmnt/ party campaign is Australian content (Balance of Payments aspects of the policy).

He is basically saying to the domestic shipbuilders that if you are incompetent (productivity wise), don’t count on getting the order as we can have someone else build the hulls and stuff them full of Australian goodness (the more expensive bits). From the same transcript:

“The international benchmark is 60 man-hours per tonne, we set the benchmark for that program at 80 man-hours per tonne, currently it is running at 150 man-hours per tonne, now if that’s a fake emergency – well I just think that is the most ridiculous statement I’ve ever heard.
Getting back on track is essential to the future of naval shipbuilding, we want to get the program back up because it is potentially a very, very strong program.
Never forget that when we went into East Timor we had to have the assistance of firstly a British and then a United States air warfare destroyer.

This is a vital program.”

The Other Chris
February 2, 2015 5:18 pm

@TD/@DN

E-3D, RC-135, Sentinel R1?

Exercises and simulators and… deployments?

We don’t train our Sentry crew in exercises and simulators then send them up in a Voyager most of the time. Do we? ;)

Next time you have surgery ask the Consultant how many times they’ve completed the procedure in simulations, how many times they’ve assisted an experienced surgeon, and how many times they’ve completed the procedure themselves.

Ripley: How many drops for you is this, lieutenant?
Gorman: Thirty-eight. Simulated.
Vasquez: How many combat drops?
Gorman: Uh, two. Including this one.

Inspiring… ;)

monkey
monkey
February 2, 2015 5:35 pm

“Vasquez: How many combat drops?
Gorman: Uh, two. Including this one.”
They got on like a house on fire in the end

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
February 2, 2015 5:40 pm

@TOC

Why are you assuming an exercise would not be as close to the real thing as you can get, and a deployment would give you a better level of training at a specific task? how many times do we hunt subs on Kipion? ;-) How many times has a crew fired a live sea wolf or harpoon on deployment?

monkey
monkey
February 2, 2015 5:47 pm

For the distant future why don’t we get on board with the US on their replacement for the Arleigh Burke’s. They are multirole and not much bigger than a T45 , in the same way we got a work share on the F35 we could participate in that programme too. By the time the T45 needs replacing the USN will have had them in the water for years and have ironed all the bugs out of the hull and systems. Then as the T26’s need replacing we could continue with the same production run and have a fleet of vessels with a lot of commonality with our biggest ally.

Engineer Tom
Engineer Tom
February 2, 2015 5:52 pm

Does anyone know the difference between the AWD and LPH projects at the moment in terms of how the two shipbuilders are viewed, I know they are in very different places right now, but I was under the impression LPH had got past it’s issues and was doing well, whereas AWD still had big issues. The point being are they going to build the new frigates in Australia and if so which yard would they go with?

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
February 2, 2015 5:53 pm

I suspect you’ll find that your RAF fighter johnnies keep up their air-to-air skills with a significant number of 1v1 , 2v1 and similar sorties as part of their regular training regime from Coningsby and Lossie, possibly with 100Sqn as OPFOR – I don’t know – I’m sure Topman or similar will confirm / correct. Just like if you look at 736NAS flypro there are usually some AI or BFM sorties programmed in the week, usually with Freddie participation as well. “Exercises” as you refer to them might be more focussed with the aim of sharing force best practice (like the NATO TFM, Red Flag etc).

Not sure whether RTR do regular range work (as opposed to going to BATUS for an “Exercise” or doing a battle group ex on SPTA), but pretty sure that your basic infantry soldier does a fair amount of live fire practice on the ranges, which you don’t count as an exercise.

You can do some limited ASW currency with simulation tapes, but there’s only a certain amount you can do. ASW is known to be one of the more perishable skills and has been flagged as a major concern for the last decade or more. It’s also definitely a team sport and requires a lot of time to get right. There’s one other thing people tend to forget – live contact time with real OPFOR is generally limited outside actual operations for most forces. You rarely have land forces manoeuvring / targetting each other in peacetime because its f8cking dangerous doing that in proximity. Likewise in the air and on the sea surface and there are protocols in place to avoid unpleasntness. Doesn’t work like that underwater – not least because one side is nominally “undeclared”. You’re also getting real time intel on signatures which is always worthwhile.

Still, don’t let that get in the way of another “WIGS is just a jolly” thread. There doesn’t seem to be any recognition it involves a two-way transit of the Atlantic, playtime with the USN (see ASW teamwork) or visiting AUTEC, time in SouthLant or dodging tropical storms. It’s all obviously a big con by the RN to somehow avoid having light frigates, thereby getting more EPP money and screwing the pongoes – I guess………

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
February 2, 2015 6:01 pm

On AWD vs LHD I think the issue might be that they’re building AWD in Australia in blocks, whereas the LHD was constructed in Spain (the island being the only Aussie built block). As I’m sure you’re aware, it’s more difficult to get a complex curved shape with all sorts of WT requirements wrong than it is an oblong block sitting on the ships upper deck. Plus ASC don’t exactly have a long track record in surface ship construction.

The Other Chris
February 2, 2015 6:02 pm

Indeed! Not much closer to the real thing… than the real thing.

No assumption needed.

Peter Elliott
February 2, 2015 6:03 pm

Not sure the RN could live with ships designed around USN manning levels. They take a lot more people to sea than we do. The operating cost of a common design with them would therefore probably be prohibitive for us.

A joint design with our EU allies would make more sense militarily. But we tried that in the 1980s and 90s and it was a political fiasco leading directly to a lot of today’s problems. [Cost growth of T45 leading to numbers being cut and the multi-role equipment being omitted, leading to the current difficulty in defining T26’s role as anything less than a task group Destroyer] So don’t expect us to try that particular plan again really soon.

Of course it could happen simply by attrition. If HMG drops the ball like it usually does and countries like Spain and Italy continue to hit the buffers economically then the French and Germans could end up as Europes’s only military shipbuilders almost by default. Given a hard choice between buying our next surface combatant from either an American or a Franco/German design I would actually expect us to go with the Franco/German one.

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
February 2, 2015 6:18 pm

@NAB
‘You rarely have land forces manoeuvring / targetting each other in peacetime because its f8cking dangerous doing that in proximity’

Happens on a regular basis in both the UK and Canada.

‘playtime with the USN (see ASW teamwork) or visiting AUTEC,’

How much playtime on a typical deployment, 2 months? less/more?

‘It’s all obviously a big con by the RN to somehow avoid having light frigates, thereby getting more EPP money and screwing the pongoes – I guess………’

1. I never said it was a jolly.
2. Never said it was a big conspiracy by the RN to screw over the Army.

How many T26 are the navy going to get? your part of the programme you should have an idea, is it going to be the 12 they want or less? and if it is going to be less what are the navy going to do about having less escorts, stamp their feet and demand more money (fat chance of that happening) or find other ways of fulfilling their standing deployments without hemorrhaging personnel due to constant times away?

The last part of the question is never even remotely considered or answered by the usual navy commentators, why is that?

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
February 2, 2015 6:21 pm

Re:

“The point being are they going to build the new frigates in Australia and if so which yard would they go with?”

Not that simple. The submarines might be beyond the domestic skills base,however puffed up by contracts now delivered or almost delivered. For the subs to come from abroad (no hurry,as they can’t even man the current ones), the frigates will have to come from domestic yards. But will we see the great, forced consolidation game played out again: who will be the integrator, keeping the existing yards working and the gvmnt off the hook for another plunder?

Dunservin
Dunservin
February 2, 2015 6:28 pm

“What’s that, sir? Hang on. I wasn’t in post for last year’s multi-threat exercise but I’ve got some notes somewhere covering the immediate action drill for situations like this…

Oh shit!”

Q. Why can’t the RN be satisfied with the same ships, systems and level of operational training as everyone else?

A. Because RN ships and submarines are deployed worldwide for months on end and can’t reasonably be expected to prevail over any potential adversary without having superior tactics, equipment and skilled personnel, maintained at their peak performance on a daily basis. 80% won’t cut it against an 80% enemy, much less a 90% enemy, unless prepared to accept inordinate casualties. Even numerical superiority won’t help if the enemy has better C4I, longer-reaching sensors and weapons or, in certain cases, chooses to indulge in asymmetric warfare, particularly the self-sacrificing variety. Whatever a ship’s primary task, every training opportunity is exploited. Units must be ready for the unexpected and be capable of dealing with whatever, wherever and whenever it appears, particularly if the cavalry is too far away to be of any immediate help. Sadly, it hasn’t always worked out that way.

@TD

ASW training in the Bahamas? Now you’re talking. Been there. Done that. ;-)

http://www.navsea.navy.mil/nuwc/newport/autec/default.aspx

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atlantic_Undersea_Test_and_Evaluation_Center

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
February 2, 2015 6:29 pm

‘Indeed! Not much closer to the real thing… than the real thing.’

If you do not fire a live weapon at the target it’s a simulation and still not the real thing regardless. You are just rehearsing your TTP’s or in other words an exercise.

monkey
monkey
February 2, 2015 6:43 pm

To improve retention and recruitment why aren’t their more ‘jollies’ I pretty sure most of our BOT’s , lets exclude the South Atlantic ;-) , are in sunny places surrounded by warm seas so why not make a deployment include a week, two week good will visit with plenty of time for R&R? If in the middle of a deployment to the nicer parts of the globe such a stopover would keep moral up.

Not A Boffin
Not A Boffin
February 2, 2015 6:49 pm

DN – The “jolly” comment wasn’t aimed at your grid ref….

As for land forces in the UK or at BATUS – I’m very surprised we’ve got ISIS, Terry T, Ivan etc rotating through those facilities to provide a real (as opposed to exercise) OPFOR. Does Theresa May know?

The point I was making was that at sea you meet the real OPFOR and his kit – outside of any exercises – without much in way of restrictions. You don’t do that on SPTA or BATUS, you meet the exercise OPFOR. There is a difference – not knocking that kind of training at all, but you simply don’t get to play against the other side in the same way as you do at sea. Same applies in the air – you don’t do BFM vs foreign aircraft you may meet, you follow the agreed protocols.

As for time away on deployments, it’s for exactly that reason that specific deployments (APT and KIPION) are being extended to 9 months with “guaranteed” leave periods during the deployment and intervals between successive deployments are being implemented. As APATS and others included me have mentioned previously. Whether that does the trick is tbd, but at least the issue is recognised.

rec
rec
February 2, 2015 7:21 pm

A BAE comment recently talked of at anyone time 2 ships under construction, I had hear elsewhere that to make the Frigate Factory viable BAE need a minimum of 12 Type 26s, Since their planning permission includes both their shipyards, it might be they expect to build some RFAs too?

AW1
AW1
February 2, 2015 9:15 pm

@All,

T26 keeps getting mentioned as a modular design, that when exported, the purchaser can swap in the radar, missiles, prop plant etc of choice. Over the last few years, we keep seeing potential customers fall off the plot and we all then moan about poor export sales. We could take a slightly different view… Sea Ceptor exported to NZ (is Brazil a done deal?), MT-30 exported to the US and Korea, and smaller stuff such as Salts RO plants to various civilian organisations. It seems a bit like the modular option left out has been the hull!

AW1
AW1
February 2, 2015 10:07 pm

@DN (and others)

Not trying to cast the light frigate idea out without talking about it, but I really struggle to understand what one would actually look like. I get that it’s supposed to be something between an OPV and a T26, but I don’t understand what that concept really means. If we start with the RCOPVB2 as our OPV, what can we add?

A bigger gun? (How big? 50mm, 76mm, 4.5″, 5″?). Do we need a better radar for that make better use of it, or indeed any use of it? Probably, and definitely if it’s the bigger option.

How about no bigger gun, but a towed array (the old TAS tug idea). Again, which? If we go with S2087, we’re going to need a good bit more space for the winch etc, but also for the sonar display room. I’m sure other cheaper options will have pretty similar spatial requirements. If we do this, we are making our asset a bit more of a target, so we probably do need that bigger gun, or a CIWS/PDMS of some form. SeaRAM could do, or Phalanx or we could upgrade a bit and have Sea Ceptor. But that needs a decent radar. And so, in reality, does SeaRAM/Phalanx to get any real value out of the system (the better situational awareness piece). That will need integrating, so we need a Combat Management System, and an Ops Room. That means more power, more chilled water, more vent, more people to man/provide those things, more space for them, more galley space to feed them, more chefs, more fridges, more bunks, probably need some more power now to move this lot, more fuel to supply the endurance for said power, and more hull to put it in to comply with standards for survivability and habitability. I may have over egged my point.

What I’m getting at is I don’t understand what capability the French get with their light frigate (I’m looking at you, La Fayette). It seems to me to be a stretched OPV in reality. It doesn’t have Aster. It doesn’t have a tail. The minute you add this sort of capability (Singapore’s Formidable), the cost is going to go up, and you aren’t really in light frigate territory, it’s more ‘under sized big frigate’. If you don’t add it, you might as well stop pretending it has capability, get rid of the CIWS and other bells and whistles and just have a big OPV.

I do however, remain open minded. I really would like to know how Singapore have wedged so much capability onto such a small hull (the Saudis had their stretched), and what, if any, compromises have been made that we wouldn’t/can’t make.

Smaller frigate (than T26), I’m onboard with the idea (again, what compromises). Light frigate, I’m not with you.

John Hartley
John Hartley
February 2, 2015 10:16 pm

AW1 As a starting point, go look at the Lekiu that the UK built for Malaysia. Now imagine a next generation version tailored for the RN, perhaps with that rear wing bolted on, that someone was on about for extra stability & fuel economy.

Peter Elliott
February 2, 2015 10:21 pm

If we had enough Destroyers we would be building Frigates a ( think T23 with growth margin). We don’t have enough Destroyers which is why we are building more, including VLS, Mission bay, big flight deck and long legs.

Peter Elliott
February 2, 2015 10:23 pm

TD:

500m and 8

But there will be another design to follow.

shark bait
shark bait
February 2, 2015 10:39 pm

8 @ £400m
with an option for 7 more with the hope exports can lower the unit cost sufficiently

Mark
Mark
February 2, 2015 10:47 pm

TD

1. 650m pounds

2. 14 sole surface combatant, paams system transferred over from type 45 instead of mlu of that ship, Mk41 silo used for aster instead of french one.

Peter Elliott
February 2, 2015 10:49 pm

The nature of the ‘other design to follow’ will depend on (a) whether T45 can be fixed (b) what the threat looks like circa 2025.

It could be an evolved AAW T27 to replace the Darings early. Or an overgrown Amazonas to supplement 6+8 Combat Ships. Or we might just stick on 14 and build more Amphibs for a bit. Depends on Events.

Dunservin
Dunservin
February 2, 2015 10:53 pm

@TD

Provided there’s no political faffing about, circa £800m apiece if the Government orders 8 x T26, circa £500m apiece if it commits to 13 including non-towed array ‘General Purpose’ variants (roughly the same total cost). The history of the T45 procurement does not augur well, though.

Peter Elliott
February 2, 2015 10:53 pm

Binning the Darings early is not such a stupid idea if we pull Sea Viper through. It solves all the propulsion issues and the hulls themselves will have been thrashed for 20 years by the time we tie them up.

shark bait
shark bait
February 2, 2015 10:59 pm

Elliott
‘overgrown Amazonas’ such as the Khareef class which we should have purchased already?

Peter Elliott
February 2, 2015 11:20 pm

Shark bait if we get to the point that we have 14 good Destroyers then we will be at liberty buy something a bit less fighty to go along with them. Until then: no.

IXION
February 2, 2015 11:32 pm

TD

750 mill

6-8

And some very busy opv’s

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
February 2, 2015 11:39 pm

@TD – Far too much, and not enough? :-)

GNB

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
February 3, 2015 1:11 am

BAES will get the integrator role downunder, to fix their F105 woes.

They will apply lessons learnt, and come up with a new design that they will claim their own. In fact, we will do the same as RAN, just in reverse order. That is, build an ASW and then AAW version on the same hull form. 7000 displacement, first 8 @£700m (expensive as so much is reused from T23s) but the next 6 will come in @800m in today’s money even though the price difference between versions should be considerably more. I have counted with 1 bn minus 20% as doubling the output should make that much difference on the unit cost curve… In the end, we are talking 8+6 here and 3+5 down under
– Navantia will say”hey, this is not cricket” but we will pretend not to understand what that means

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
February 3, 2015 1:28 am

And, when the non- nuclear Sorayo class will have been delivered, the yard behind then joins the SEPP alliance so that Japan will be able to counterbalance the growing fleet of PLAN SSNs fast enough with their own.
– China will retaliate by closing down the biggest RR turbine plant anywhere (having first copied all the designs. The workers have taken material samples all along by grinding any shavings and dust from the floor into their soft-soled plimsoles).

Dunservin
Dunservin
February 3, 2015 1:33 am

@DN

“…If you do not fire a live weapon at the target it’s a simulation and still not the real thing regardless. You are just rehearsing your TTP’s or in other words an exercise.

You have some funny ideas about maritime roles and tasks. Why the obsession with firing weapons when the ‘live’ tactical objective is often to find, fix and track ‘targets’ in various environmental conditions, gather intelligence about their caps & lims or even deter them? Moreover, the objective could be to build and maintain an accurate recognised maritime or recognised air picture (MAP or RAP) so as to ascertain, with some degree of confidence, areas clear of OPFOR or other impediments to possible operations, be they uncharted pinnacles or potentially hostile submarines, surface craft, mines, aircraft or whatever. Constantly practicing this and gathering valid data not only aids situational awareness but also helps hone and improve operational capability at the individual operator, unit and force level. This is not to say that one cannot exercise firing procedures at the same time but this is not necessarily the name of the game. For example:

http://www.nato.int/docu/review/2010/maritime_security/Safe_Mediterranean/EN/index.htm

Aussie Johnno
Aussie Johnno
February 3, 2015 1:38 am

ArmchairCivvy;

What is the actual schedule for the T26? Out here the ANZAC class will start reaching 30 years in 2026 so allowing for the normal first of class stuff you can expect the RAN to want the first of a replacement class in trials by that time, simply because any Australian version will be very different from the UK standard.

As an example one of the reasons that the first of the AWD’s is so far over time and budget is that the RAN ran amok with changes, see below:

***The Hobart Class – Differences from the F100 Class***

Navantia’s F104 ship design is the basis for the AWD. The F104 baseline is being updated for AWD to include;

Key F105 features,
Australian Combat system modifications, and
Selected platform upgrades that are unique to the Hobart Class.
These features are summarised as follows:

F105 Modifications

More efficient and powerful diesel engines coupled with improved fuel tank arrangements will provide increased range,
The inclusion of a bow thruster will improve manoeuvrability in harbours;
Improvements to underway replenishment arrangements for manpower efficiencies;
Changes to funnel tops to improve the ship’s air wake; and
Bunk size increases to improve habitability.

AWD Combat System Modifications

The Hobart Class will use the Aegis Weapon System Baseline 7.1 and the AN/SPY-1D(V) Phased Array Radar.
Under Sea Warfare capability will be upgraded by:
the introduction of Ultra Electronics Hull and towed array sonars and
the introduction of ASW decoys for torpedo defence;
Enhanced undersea communications;
Integration of the MU90 torpedo.

Other changes include:

Modification of the MK45 gun and Gun Fire Control System, including provision for Extended Range Munitions (ERM);
Addition of the Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC);
Modification of the IFF UPX-29 to the current tactical standard;
Addition of an Horizon Search Radar (HSR) for improved anti-ship missile defence;
Upgrades to the Surface-to-Surface Missile System to improve target selectivity in congested water, littoral and coastal operations;
Upgrades to the Very Short Range Defence system to improve its integration and utility against asymmetric surface threats;
Upgrades to the Electronic Warfare system, including the addition of electronic attack capabilities;
Addition of X/Ka Satcom and INMARSAT Fleet Broadband and INMARSAT C capability;
Improved Infrared Search and Track capabilities;
Improved Electro-Optical Surveillance capability;
Addition of Nulka Launchers for active missile decoys;

AWD-Unique Platform Modifications

The ship’s displacement will be increased to 7,000 tonnes for an improved service life margin.

Cold weather operation will be improved to allow for deployment into Australia’s southern waters.

The hangar will be modified to accommodate a range of helicopters.

Other modifications include:

Increased total cold room capacity for improved endurance;
Incorporation of a fixed gas detection system to warn of the presence of harmful gases in compartments where personnel exposure risks exist;
Modification of the 220V/50Hz network to 240V/50 Hz, incorporation of Residual Current Devices (RCD) and the Australian pin configuration for general purpose outlets, and
Modification of existing stowage, and increases in the overall number of stowage facilities, for thermal protective suit and life raft containers.

(Source: Air Warfare Destroyer Alliance)

Donald of Tokyo
Donald of Tokyo
February 3, 2015 4:38 am

@TD

£400M / ship
10 vessels

is my wish, but will be

£500M /ship
8 vessels

In 10 vessels case, 3 River B.2 OPVs will perfectly fill the gap, provided they are to be equipped with a (telescopic) hanger for a Wildcat. Since OPV’s “at sea days” per year (~300) is typically 50% more than those of a frigate (~180), this will release the tension of the current RN deployment (in particular APT-N and Kipion) rotation.

In 8 vessels case, there comes another possibility for 4 “99m-class OPVs” to come, while the 3 River B.2 OPVs will eventually replace the current River B.1 fleet. (The “99m-class OPVs” I mention here is rather a Floreal-class equivalent than a La Fayette class. Must be less armed to make “at sea days” longer, operational cost smaller and crews lesser )

Martin
Editor
February 3, 2015 6:48 am

@ TD – I will go 450 million a ship and 8 delivered.

Then we will decide that 8 is not enough and we will start to up gun the MHPC and say we will order 14 but we will only get 6 delivered.

I don’t think unit numbers will affect T26 price that much as their is little R&D as with T45 and many of the systems are being cross decked.

The Other Chris
February 3, 2015 7:19 am

Hypothetically speaking, had the U.S. Ever given serious consideration to Foreign designs for the Small Surface Combat, what point in development would have benefitted the T26 the most?

Earlier in the design process, roughly where we are now, start of build having started, sea trials?

Repulse
February 3, 2015 7:33 am

@TD: 8 hulls, 4.2bn (inc design costs).

I’d also argue to buy some more OPVs in addition to the 3 extra planned so that the GP T23s can be retired early and also to give anoth 1-2 yrs to mature the T26 design to increase the AAW capabilities (either fitted with or not fitted with).

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
February 3, 2015 7:49 am

John H – be careful what you wish for. The last time someone tried to modify the Lekiu design, Brunei got its comedy corvettes. Or rather it didn’t.

I have no idea where this idea that T26 is somehow trying to compensate for T45 numbers has come from. It’s simply not true. The FSC (as was) back in 1999 had pretty much everything that is in the T26 now – Mk41 VLS, 2087, “local area AD”, accommodation for extra bodies, CH47 flightdeck. It wasn’t as big, but then E&E requirements and accommodation standards have changed a bit, plus the autonomy / unmanned piece has become more prominent and you want a couple of extra boats – not exactly staple fare for an AAW ship. Personally I think the design is having one or two issues with it’s weight estimate (which has knock on effects to cost due to the nature of the particular cost model), but what do I know?

Cost-wise, it really shouldn’t take more than 3M manhours on average to build them. Depending on how you value a manhour, that’s somewhere between £220M and £300M, plus material. Your steel is chump change (sub £10M), your propulsion and generating machinery should be between £50-60M, which (as the vast majority of combat systems are to be cross-decked) leaves the auxiliary systems and furnishing outfit, plus the Mk45 Mod4. So total cost ought to be somewhere between £400-500M. That ought to be good for at least 10, but the 2087 split points towards either 8 or 13.

All of course assuming that MoD and BAE can actually sort the design issues and get the cost model to give credible answers – which is just as important!

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
February 3, 2015 8:48 am

Johnno, for the reasons you outlined my maths not working as badly as it looks:

“minus 20% as doubling the output should make that much difference on the unit cost curve… In the end, we are talking 8+6 here and 3+5 down under”
– where is halfway?
– the Hobarts are irrelevant (-3)
– there will be 3 more first in class ships (-3)
– 22 minus 6, divide by 2=8 (so the UK AAWs would fall into these on the time line)

Of course the unit cost curve is just that: in reality a curve, not a step function

Stuart H
Stuart H
February 3, 2015 8:55 am

I would predict 8 at £425m each with an option for 5 more as currently planned. However timing of the 5 options would depend on the General Election result. A Conservative government will leave it until the next SDSR while Labour may try and get something else in time for the Scottish elections.

First of class being HMS Glasgow?

The Other Chris
February 3, 2015 9:05 am

@NaB

“…but the 2087 split points towards either 8 or 13.”

Understand the 8 figure due to the 2087’s, but why would that kit also lead to the 13 number? Due to the other system equipment being available from the T23’s?

Dunservin
Dunservin
February 3, 2015 9:53 am

I ran out of editing time to add this question to my post to DN last night but it is may be pertinent to export-variants of T26:

How and where do people think the ‘real’ data originates to design, verify, validate and, perhaps most critically, maintain the currency of models used in our shoreside and on board tactical training simulators, not to mention enables the development of improved tactics, weapons, sensors and software, or do you believe that manufacturers have the necessary in-house resources to gather it?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Verification_and_validation_of_computer_simulation_models

https://www.unf.edu/~cwinton/html/cop4300/s09/class.notes/VerifyValidate.pdf

Verification and Validation of Simulation Models

The verification and validation of a simulation model goes a step beyond the kind of testing done for ordinary software systems. For ordinary software systems, testing is conducted to verify that the system generates absolutely predictable outcomes based on test data. Simulation models have an expected rather than an absolute behavior, and may have widely differing results depending on configuration and input data. The kind of testing used in development of software systems is used to get a simulation model in functional order, but additional testing is required for verification and validation of the simulation model. In large measure, many of the methods employed are informal subjective comparisons (which one suspects is also the primary testing mechanism of systems software); with added effort, formal statistical testing techniques are also used, but often require laborious acquisition of real data heretofore uncollected.

Yes I know that ‘data’ is/are more properly plural. Can you guess that I once worked at the Maritime Warfare Centre? ;-)