The Type 26 Frigate

The Type 26 and Type 31 Frigates are the replacements for the Royal Navy’s Type 22/23 Frigates that have been in service since the early nineties.

This is the story of the Type 26.

In some small ways, the programme echoes the Army’s Future Rapid Effects System (FRES), the subject of a previous Think Defence project write up. Like FRES, it started with a bold vision in the ‘Force for Good’ era of the nineties , like FRES, it has been through a number of programme changes and like FRES, it will come to fruition in a less ambitious form and in fewer numbers than planned, with a new name.

Type 26 GCS 03

This document will look at the history of attempts to deliver a replacement for the Type 22 and 23 Frigates, take a short detour into NATO and European common programmes, and end at the current programme, the Type 26 Frigates.

Type 31 is another document (click HERE to read), although it shares much of the Type 26 history.

Table of Contents

type-26-global-combat-ship-dsei-01 Introduction
Type 23 Type 26 History 
Sea Ceptor missile system FLAADS(M) Type 26 Capabilities


Change Status

Change Date Change Record
 01/03/2017 initial re-issue

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Not a Boffincaptain birds eyePeter ElliottSimonmickp Recent comment authors
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Type 31
With increased Russian submarine build ,deployment and reported sub reports in UK and Swedish waters.
Better that type 31 are able to hunt subs with proper sonars and weapon systems. Hopefully the Lessons of cutting up Nimrods to save money then having to get your allies to hunt subs for you in your home waters then buying new anti sub planes will have be learnt.

However I fear the design and development costs of the type 31 will cancel out any savings . So we will end up with inferior fighting capable ships having spent the same money!

So can we just build type 26.
Unit cost could be lowered by building more that thirteen and this could allow some work to be sent to other shipyards in England .


Jane’s has a report “Qatar orders new navy from Fincantieri”. There are 4x 100m+ corvettes, 3000 tonnes approx., helicopter deck & hangar, Aster 30 VL & rim-116 RAM SAM, Exocet MM40 block 3, 76mm gun, 2x 30mm. Just shows what you can put on a modern 3000 ton warship.

Peter Elliott

JH – doesn’t tell you the accomdation standards, survivability requirement, stores capacity or fuel bunkers, all of which will impact on total displacement. I don’t expect the Qataris are planning to send their navy far.


PE. Yes, but you can go the other (HM Treasury) way & have a long range 3000 ton ship armed with only one 30mm gun. Which might be OK if the RN had 12x T45 & 13x T26, but with only 6x T45 & 8x T26, the RN needs its new light frigate to have some bite.

The Other Chris

Who would they bite? Scandinavia? The Med? Migrant vessels?

We need ocean going vessels. The 8+5 plan is going leave us shy of 5 vessels that can be outfitted in a heartbeat for full ASW duties.

Want the proper number and type of ships? Own up to the funding gap, admit the minimum is 23 frigates and that our 19 are insufficient, correct the funding gap, order the original 13 T26, get building then top-up numbers with the not-as-quiet GPFF.

The Other Chris

@NAB? If you’re about, would starting work on a first of class at this stage assist with maturing design for the second of class onwards? Would a single vessel that may or may not need significant corrections later be better than a scutch of OPV’s we don’t need?


Well many of the ships in the Middle/Far East are piled up with guns & missiles. I cannot predict the next war, but those parts of the World seem likely. What is the point of a warship, if it is so lightly armed, you dare not send it to a hotspot? You might as well save the money & not build it in the first place. The range of the Amazon class is quoted at 4300 nm at 17 knots, Oliver Hazard Perry as 4000 nm at 20 knots. Given friendly ports in the US, Oz, Bahrain & the last pink dots on the map, do we need more range than that?

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same


Range of an OHP is 4500 NM at 20 it’s which is greater than that of an Arleigh Burke destroyer (just). The US operate very differently to ourselves with a range of forward deployed bases and fleets.
Those Corvette’s will never leave the Gulf if they actually spend much time at sea.
It is great looking at these small Frigates but they are simply not what we require or are procuring to fit our operations.

Peter Elliott

The operational culture of the RN for centuries has been to sit at sea off someone else’s coast and pose them various problems. That’s why we design ships with global endurance and reach.

Ultimately that’s why our own coast is so secure and why we don’t need corvettes festooned with weapons sitting in our own ports waiting to venture out for a few days at a time.

captain birds eye
captain birds eye

type 23 cost £60-96 million tried tested design changes every week.type 26 cost£?, shouldn’t we just build another13 upgraded type 23’s
and bin the type 26 altogether make the new design t31 a concept project for t45’s future replacement?

Peter Elliott

Cap’n Birds Eye the T23 cost you quote is an historical artefact. You wouldn’t be allowed to build one now because safety standards have moved on. And even if you did it would cost a load more than that simply because of inflation. Plus the urgent cost pressure is actually personnel so the design needs to be modern to reduce the crew compared to T23.

Having said all that recent speculation is that T31 might be a lot more like T23 in concept than T26: concentrating on the Atlantic ASW role with minimum fit for everything else.

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin

“Having said all that recent speculation is that T31 might be a lot more like T23 in concept than T26: concentrating on the Atlantic ASW role with minimum fit for everything else”

Not the requirements I’ve heard……

“High-end” ASW ain’t on the plot.


@NAB ‘“High-end” ASW ain’t on the plot.’ – is ‘any end’ ASW on the plot or will it just be a longer range ‘patrol-corvette’ type thing, i.e. a venator type or a dreaded ‘stretched khareef’?

Rocket Banana

If the current ~5000t T23 is what is required to sit in the Atlantic and “do” ASW then I can’t see how T31 would manage the same role. Especially after my recent exchange with APATS.

How realistic is it for T26 to be fitted with an MT30 and two slightly over-dieseled 9MW engines?

The rationale is for T31 to be a T26 hull but without the MT30. Should be able to do about 22 knots with them. Commonality, future proofing in terms of size and ability to upgrade to “proper” frigates???

Peter Elliott

I was thinking of some of the recent hints from Hohum. But to be honest I trust NAB’s insight more.

Just have to wait and see what the ship building strategy says I guess :/

captain birds eye
captain birds eye

what is the point of having 19 submarines, lai up in rosyth and devonport? many are still reactor fuelled propulsion ready for use in the need for more submarine hulls available

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin

Hmmmm. I suspect Paul Gascoigne has started posting.