Type 26 Global Combat Ship (GCS) – Capabilities
When it comes to Type 26 Global Combat Ship (GCS) capabilities there are things we can guess from open source materials today, there are things we can guess from open source materials as the programme progresses, and of course, there are things we will never, rightly, know.
This second part of the series will have a look at the first, and as the programme progresses, will be updated to reflect the second.
The latest media of the Type 26 Global Combat Ship (GCS) was released by BAE/MoD during DSEi 2015.
- De-Risking the Type 26
- General Issues and Costs
- Power and Propulsion
- Computing and Communications
- Radar, ESM and Electro-Optical Sensors
- Acoustic Sensors
- Anti-Air Missile Systems
- Surface and Land Attack Missiles
- Decoys and ECM
- Aircraft and Unmanned Systems
- Aircraft and Stores Handling
- Adaptable Mission Bay
- Fire Prevention and Control
- The Future British Surface Fleet: Options for the Medium-sized Navy (Conway’s naval history after 1850) (Hardcover)
- Table of Contents
De-Risking the Type 26
The most sensible part of the whole programme is its attitude to technology risk. Whether this is wholly intentional, or merely a happy by-product of Type 23 obsolescence and timing issues is for others to argue, but the fact remains, Type 26 has a relatively low level of technology risk.
Most of the major systems have been, or will be, de-risked on Type 23, with perhaps a few on the QE Carriers. There are no major sensors or weapons being developed to form part of the design, and the power/propulsion design is well proven.
From an old Royal Navy publication (page 120);
The air defence system, gas turbine, countermeasures, helicopter handling, combat management system, medium calibre gun, sonars and even the chip fryers will be in service on ships other than Type 26 GCS before they are in service on the Type 26 GCS.
Without a shadow of doubt, this is a good thing.
There is of course, design and engineering challenges, but at least, there are no major systems to develop in parallel.
Some of the physical systems from Type 23 may be transferred to under construction Type 26’s, depending one would assume, on crossovers between out of service, build and in-service schedules.
The Type 23 has been continually upgraded but the most recent package of improvements has been defined as the Type 23 Capability Sustainment Programme (CSP), this from a presentation at RUSI in 2012 shows the intended scope of the CSP.
The slide above is merely an indicator but it provides a good overview of the planned upgrades.
Combined with a number of equipment obsolescence changes improve the life of the hull and superstructure, the CSP has started to be incorporated into the existing Type 23 fleet, the first being HMS Argyle.
This Life Extension (LIFEX) to HMS Argyl that started in June this year will not only add the ARTISAN radar and Sea Ceptor missile system but also such seemingly mundane improvements as a chilled water ring main and new paint.
General Issues and Costs
The weight and size of Type 26 has changed, and possibly will continue to change until the detailed design is frozen and steel cut.
This original baseline was reportedly 141m long, displacing 6,850 tonnes and costing an estimated £500m each.
As part of the ongoing cost/capability trade-offs, it was repeatedly reported that this cost was undesirable to the MoD and capabilities (and size) pared down to achieve a target cost of £250 million to £350 million each.
The displacement was reduced to 5,400 tonnes and the ship dimensions, 148m length with a beam of 19m. Sharp-eyed readers will note that the length had actually increased from the baseline.
Cast your mind back to the history of Type 26 and the C1 (Versatile Surface Combatant) was expected to displace about 6,000 tonnes and the C2 (Medium Vessel Derivative), 4-5,000 tonnes.
The latest from BAE is that the ship will be 149.9 metres in length, have a maximum beam of 20.8 metres and a displacement of 6,900 tonnes, not a million miles away from the original baseline.
There seems to be some concern about the changing size and displacement of Type 26 but this is simply reflective of its desired capabilities and equipment fit and the realities of current regulations and standards, to coin a phrase, it is what it is.
Top speed is 26+ knots and endurance has been reported at 60 days against a range of 7,000 nautical miles at 15 knots.
In line with contemporary ship construction methods, there has and will be a great deal of thought and effort put into ease of upgrade, reflecting the likelihood of major systems change over the life cycle of the ships. Blown fibre optic cable, block construction, COTS computing hardware and prefabricated internal fixtures like accommodation spaces are just a few of the features that are designed to keep construction and refit costs down.
Clean lines, faceted construction and carefully chosen materials are designed to reduce the ships electromagnetic signature although there are of course obvious limitations in this regard.
There will be EIGHT Type 26 Global Combat Ships.
Final cost remains to be published but a summary from the previous post shows costs to date.
- Prior to 2008; £17 million on various FSC studies
- 2008; £4 million to BAE to investigate the 155mm TMF
- 2009; £3.4 million to BAE for initial design work
- 2010; £127 million to BAE for the Assessment Phase on the programme
- 2014; £1.9 million to McKinsey for cost review support
- 2015; £859 million to BAE for the Demonstration Phase of the programme
- 2015; £1.8 million to £10 million for Financial Consultancy Services
- 2016; £472 million to BAE for a Demonstration Phase extension
- 2016; £183 million to BAE for three main guns and one trainer
Some of these cannot be attributed directly to Type 26, obviously, but they are useful indicators.
The Type 26 Global Combat Ship (GCS), or Frigate, is designed to fulfil a variety of missions but the main one is combat operations, at a high tempo and against a peer enemy.
Admiral Sir Philip Jones described Type 26 well;
A summary of what we know, with one or two guesses;
Power and Propulsion
Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) requirements influence the hull design and means of propulsion.
The ability to tow a large sonar array, a low acoustic signature hull and ability to carry out ‘sprint and drift’ manoeuvres are essential to anti-submarine warfare. In the future, there may be technological developments such as offboard unmanned netted sensor swarms that change the requirements in the lifetime of Type 26, but for now, the Type 23 concept is still relevant and still, therefore, the design route chosen.
The propulsion and power configuration is COmbined Diesel eLectric Or Gas (CODLOG), sometimes called CODELOG, from Rolls Royce;
For high speeds, the gas turbine drives the twin shafts through a splitting gearbox and then a reduction gearbox.
At lower speeds, where low noise is absolutely critical, the turbine and associated gearboxes are shut down and the shafts driven by General Electric Power Conversion induction motors. The motor speed is controlled by adjusting its frequency through another GE Power Conversion product, the MV3000 marine converter. Unlike the Type 23, that uses changes in DC voltage, the Type 26 will change the fixed AC supply to DC and then adjust the waveform supplied to the motor using a technique called Pulse Width Modulation (PWM). The MV3000 at the heart of the system is widely used in the marine industry and so support issues with unique equipment should be reduced, although for use in naval applications shock protection and noise reduction are key changes.
Commenting on the contract award, Mark Dannatt, GE Naval Systems Lead said;
Rolls Royce will supply a single 36-40 MW MT30 Gas Turbine for each Type 26 GCS, the same as fitted to the QE Class carriers.
The diesel generators will be from MTU, the same Type 20V 4000 M53B as used on the German F125 Frigates. Each ship will have four of them in a double resilient acoustic enclosure.
In August 2015, the MoD awarded a £68 million contract to Rolls Royce for the provision of 48 MTU 12V 4000 M53B gensets, training and logistics support. Twelve Type 23’s will get four of the 1,650kW systems each. Although not identical to the 20V 4000 M53B gensets planned for the Type 26 one wonders if there is a high degree of commonality that will enable some rework and transfer?
(if you want a double decker infographic that the MoD seems keen on at the minute, click here)
The image of engineering beauty on the right is a Type 23 fixed pitch propeller in the National Maritime Museum.
Although no details have been released on the propeller for the Type 26 GCS, the low noise fixed pitch propellers as fitted to the Type 23 can run on a diesel-powered electric drive at about 90 RPM or 13 to 17 knots. The slow rotation speed and fixed pitch propellers are used to lower the onset cavitation and radiated noise that might interfere with the sonar systems.
Finally, WR Davis will provide the engine uptakes and down takes.
Computing and Communications
The primary interface between the ships equipment and its crew will be the combat management system and this will likely be the latest iteration of the Outfit DNA(2)/CMS-1 from BAE.
In January 2011, BAE was awarded a £47m contract to support the combat management systems aboard the Type 23 Frigates and RFA Argus.
A good description of what a CMS does can be found at BAE;
The press release describes the Joint Support Solution which is a wider commercial framework incorporating the same systems on Type 45, CVF and future ships. In March 2012 year, BAE was awarded another related contract, in conjunction with QinetiQ. The £45m award covered specialist test, integration and approval of naval combat management systems and this, or at least a future extension/variant, will likely include work on the Type 26 programme.
The Surface Ship Combat Systems (SSCS) DNA system has had a difficult introduction into service. Originating in the Surface Ship Command System (SSSC) programme it was selected in 1989 after another advanced combat management system had failed. Does anyone remember Token Ring or IEE802.5, DNA(1) used this with fibre optic networking and combined such cutting edge systems as 3.2Gb storage arrays, Pentium processors and colour displays!
The Type 45 command and combat system is an evolved derivative of the DNA(1) system with elements from other programmes and run over a fast Ethernet network. It wasn’t until 2010 that the first Type 23, HMS Montrose, put to sea with the upgraded DNA(2) system, 4 years after the initial contract award to BAE that would also see the same system being deployed on future surface vessels and another variant for submarines. A significant feature of DNA(2) is that it is based on commercial hardware and software.
The Type 26 GCS will have a common computing infrastructure that makes use of open architecture systems for ease of technology insertion and change management.
BAE will be introducing a shared computing environment based on modern blade server architecture and operating systems virtualisation on Type 23 and this will be transferred to the Type 26. Given the rapid rate of development in computing equipment and long timescales between design and introduction of the Type 26 GCS this kind of technology, mundane and ordinary in the civilian world, will allow the ships computing environment to avoid obsolescence issues that limit effectiveness and drive up support costs as manufacturers struggle to find stocks of Intel 486 processors, for example.
The pace of change in IT equipment seems as rapid as ever and in a decades time when the Type 26 GCS is in service the computing power on offer in the open market will no doubt be hugely different than that today. Data growth is a key issue and by enabling the use of commercial hardware, opportunities to exploit this increasing amount of data can be realised at reasonable costs. Future unmanned systems will no doubt add to this data growth and the Type 26 must be ready for it.
Aish Technologies provide blade server enclosures, displays and consoles to the Royal Navy.
Rohde & Schwarz will provide an integrated internal and external communication systems based on its NAVICS IP switching system that has been especially hardened to protect against physical and cyber disruption. i.Safe ATEX Smartphones with a graphical user interface will be employed to provide ‘man on the move’ communications and fixed terminal provided as required throughout the ship.
Software Defined M3SR (series 4100 and 4400) VHF/UHF and HF transceivers will provide external radio communications, making use of an R&S designed mast and a range of supporting ancillaries such as terminals, filters, power supplies and racks.
In addition to the announced HF/VHF/UHF radios, the Type 26 GCS will most likely be fitted with the full complement of SHF satellite communication systems, IFF, underwater telephone, 3G, GSM, LTE and Link 11, 14 and 16 JTIDS. It might even get Link 22.
The Type 45 satellite communications were designed and installed by BAE, Thales and EADS Astrium, the latter responsible for the Satellite Communication Onboard Terminal (SCOT) 3 equipment. Type 23 satellite fit also uses SCOT equipment so it is possible, Type 26 will use the same.
Radar, ESM and Electro-Optical Sensors
The main radar will be the BAE Type 997 ARTISAN 3D system.
Now being fitted to the type 23 frigates, Advanced Radar Target Indication Situational Awareness and Navigation (ARTISAN) is an advanced medium range 3D radar with a high level of resistance to jamming, providing air surveillance, target identification and air traffic management services. The ARTISAN antenna weighs in at about 700kg the systems as a whole, developed at a cost of over £100m
Actual capabilities remain classified but it is reportedly capable of tracking in excess of 800 objects at a range of 200km.
There are also a couple of smaller and less sophisticated systems from Kelvin Hughes used on the Type 23 Frigate. The Kelvin Hughes Type 1007 and now Type 1008 is used for surface warning and navigation. Both are considered legacy equipment and so less likely to be transferred from the Type 23, instead the Kelvin Hughes Sharpeye digital radar systems will probably be used for navigation, obstacle avoidance and helicopter flight operations support.
There are plans for the Type 23 to receive a navigation radar upgrade and if this happens, again, the systems may be a straight transfer. The Type 45 Destroyers use a Raytheon navigation radar system so without further clarification the choice remains unclear.
Lockheed Martin were awarded a £44m contract for navigation radars across multiple Royal navy platforms in 2016, with Kelvin Hughes as a key sub-contractor, the Vigilance radar software from LM combining with Kelvin Hughes radar. Cambridge Pixel’s software modules for radar scan conversion, target tracking and radar fusion will be used as part of the Vigilance system.
In May 2012, Thales announced the award of an earlier contract to upgrade the Royal Navy major surface fleet with their Fully Digital Radar Electronic Support Measures (RESM) as part of the UAT Mod 2 programme.
In a nutshell, they detect, locate, classify and report signals intelligence data in real time, overall, a very advanced system.
Cooperative Engagement Capability now seems to be firmly off the agenda, if one looks at the images below, on the left is an older image of Type 26 with the CEC panels (the square ones) and the latest image on the right, without. Incidentally, the pyramidal shapes arranged around the mast are the ESM receivers described above.
The Sharpeye navigation radar and SCOT satellite radomes can also be seen.
The shapes at the base of the mast that look like beer barrels are electro-optical sensors, the Ultra Electronics SERIES 2500 EO System that are standard equipment fit on Type 45 Destroyers.
The stabilised sensor is called the Electro-Optical Director (EOD) and this is linked to a system console called the platform Control Cubicle (PCC). The system can be cued manually or automatically (including from radar and other systems), track moving objects with its long range TV and Infra-Red sensors, perform target identification and provide ballistic fire control information for the ships gunnery equipment.
HGH Infrared Systems manufacture panoramic thermal imaging systems, working in a QinetiQ led project they will supply their Spynel-M products for integration with the Compact Combat System (C2S) that will combine a Kelvin Hughes SharpEye radar and a Chess Dynamics Sea Eagle. The system is primarily designed to counter the small fast inshore attack craft (FIACs) threat. Information from the three sensors and AIS data is integrated with the Enhanced Situation Awareness From Existing Sensors (ESAFES) fusion engine and presented to a single display and cueing information provided to on deck automatic weapons via an Ethernet link. Although this is only a research project this kind of technology might find its way onto Type 26 GCS.
The hull mounted Ferranti/Thomson Sintra Type 2050 sonar on Type 23’s has a long and complex history with many changes of ownership but the base product is now part of the Thales UMS 4110 family and utilises much of the processing and display console systems as the CAPTAS 4 or 2087.
In February 2014, Thales received 5-year support contract for the thirteen Sonar 2050 on Type 23 Frigates and then strangely, Ultra received a £27 million contract in December 2014 for the Sonar 2050 Technology Refresh Programme that will upgrade and support for ten years, 2050 sonar systems on eight Type 23 Frigates.
Whether the Type 2050’s will be transferred to the Type 26 or a new purchase of the UMS 4110 (or another type), is not yet known.
In addition to the Sonar 2050’s, eight of the Type 23 Frigates are fitted with the very sophisticated Sonar 2087 Variable Depth Sonar (Thales CAPTAS 4) that is designed to detect submarines at ranges greater than they can launch attacks.
Sonar 2087 can be operated ‘hands-free’ up to Sea State 6 and to a depth of 250m, a very important aspect of the system capability and one that has a clear origin in Cold War North Atlantic NATO missions. In addition to the processing, displays and handling equipment, the core components are two towed items, the towed body and towed array, one active, one passive, that can be deployed at variable depths.
Detection in shallow waters is a problem because underwater obstacles might prevent the safe deployment of long towed arrays, fresh/sea water mixes, tidal impacts on water conditions, unpredictable and variable salinity/temperature, reflections from the sea bed and underwater obstacles and even concerns about underwater wildlife may limit the use of low-frequency devices.
Ambient and directional noise from man-made and natural sources also confuses the overall acoustic picture. Because of the smaller areas involved accurate seabed surveys and sediment analysis, sometimes called Rapid Environmental Assessments, can be used for ASW. This kind of technology and processes are more often used for survey and mine countermeasures but research continues at a pace and one capability may very well utilise another.
We might see the kinds of USV’s now routinely used for covert survey and seabed analysis carried onboard a Type 26 GCS in the future. Other promising research avenues include exploiting so-called ‘non-cooperative’ sound sources of opportunity, other ships that just happen to be in the area for example. The returns from these can be passively received into the detection and analysis software, cunning eh?
It is likely that the Sonar 2087’s will be a direct transfer from Type 23 to Type 26.
Anti-Air Missile Systems
Providing self (and possible small area) defence against aircraft and anti-ship missiles will be the Sea Ceptor system.
Sea Ceptor was previously known as Future Local Area Air Defence System – Maritime (FLAADS(M)). The MBDA Common Anti-Air Modular Missile or CAMM is one of the core UK Complex Weapons programmes that is intended to replace the Sea Wolf Block 2, ASRAAM and Rapier FSC missile systems in service with the Royal Navy, Royal Air Force and Royal Artillery respectively under the Future Local Area Air Defence System (FLAADS) requirement.
It is intended to maximise commonality across all three services in order to minimise logistic and support costs. FLAADS(M) for Maritime, FLAADS(L) for Land and FLAADS(A) for Air were all intended to be delivered with the Common Anti-Air Modular Missile. The modular design is also intended to facilitate lower the cost of through life incremental upgrades.
MBDA describe it as;
The missile itself takes a great deal from ASRAAM but it is not a surface launched ASRAAM with a new name. Common components include the very low signature rocket motor from Roxel, the warhead and proximity fuse from Thales. The seeker and open architecture electronics backbone are new, the latter is called Programmable Open Technology for Upgradable Systems or PrOTeUS and uses an IEEE 1394 Firewire bus technology as a starting point.
Sea Ceptor differs from Sea Wolf in a number of respects but the most significant is the elimination of a requirement for dedicated fire control radar. By removing this reliance on fire control radars, the data link and two-way active radar homing seeker is designed to overcome saturation attacks and has the additional benefit of removing a piece of equipment from the support chain.
Although range will, of course, be classified MBDA declare it as ‘in excess of 25km’, which in any case is better than Sea Wolf and Rapier but then it should be, at 99kg it is nearly 20kg heavier than Sea Wolf and over 50Kg heavier than Rapier.
The Common Data Link (CDL) is the small ‘black box’ that sits on top of the mast, especially clear in pictures of FLAADS(L) although it doesn’t necessarily have to use the two-way data link to the launch vehicle, so, it could take mid-course corrections from any number of suitably equipped land or air platforms and then switch to active homing when it gets close enough. The original launch platform could have even moved by the time the missile hits. Type 23 frigates will be fitted with two CDL’s.
It is reported that each missile in its sealed canister will have a shelf life of ten years and although MBDA claims it can be quad packed in either a SYLVER or Mk 41 launcher current images suggest they will be installed on Type 26 in a bespoke low-cost launcher. The soft vertical launch system that ejects the missile to a height of about 30m using an enclosed gas piston before a small a thruster fires to orientate the missile with the target location. This method is safer, removes the need to manage hot gas efflux in the launch silo and ensure all of the main rocket motor fuel is used for arriving at the target.
Read more on Sea Ceptor here.
The location and configuration of the Sea Ceptor silos have been subject to a great deal of debate and speculation. Models and CGI’s have variously shown multiple locations and silo numbers and whilst the settled opinion seems to be a physically diverse arrangement with one silo block behind the gun and another adjacent to the funnel, 24 missiles in each location, the final arrangement remains subject to confirmation.
The Sea Ceptor missile can also be quad packed inside a Mk41 cell and MBDA have indicated it may have some anti-surface capability.
Surface and Land Attack Missiles
The first design iteration of Type 26 showed amidships Harpoon launchers but they have disappeared in the latest version.
It has been stated that Type 26 GCS will be fitted with a Lockheed Martin Mk41 Vertical Launch System (VLS), current imagery suggests 3 modules, a total of 24 cells. Like the SYLVER VLS fitted to the Type 45, the Mk41 provides a compact means of storing and launching vertically launched missiles, and specifically, a means of managing the hot exhaust. The rocket exhaust is directed into a chamber and then vented upwards through an aperture to the surface. It is available in a number of different lengths, the longest referred to as ‘Strike Length’, at 7.6m long.
All good, the Mk41 is a widely used system with many options for filling it.
Filling it, though, is an interesting problem because the Royal Navy has nothing in service or nothing in pre-assessment phase listed by the National Audit Office that could be deployed to make use of the capability.
This leads to a couple of obvious conclusions, new toys will be announced soon, or it is simply a future-proofing exercise with an aspiration to fill them, the filling will be subject to all the usual programme steps.
A post-Libya Jane’s Defence Weekly reported on a Royal Navy lessons learned document in which the two major shortcomings were a lack of precision land attack capability and organic unmanned ISR.
It quoted Colonel Pierson RM, the Deputy Director of NATO Operations in Libya;
Is the Mk 41 there to satisfy the Land Attack or Anti-Ship role, or both?
Because there is no space provision for the in service Harpoon and the likelihood that the Royal Navy Harpoon missiles will be out of service by the time Type 26 hits the water the Royal Navy is likely to be in a position where it has no heavyweight anti-ship missile and must rely on either helicopter launched Sea Venom missiles or perhaps, torpedoes.
There are a few of obvious contenders for the Anti-Surface Warfare and Land Attack requirement if indeed that is the requirement.
With uncertainty over the future of submarine launched Tomahawk cruise missiles it would make sense to hedge against future risk by ensuring Type 26 can launch the Tomahawk. Think Defence readers will be familiar with the general capabilities of the venerable and relatively low-cost Raytheon Tomahawk but there have been a number of recent developments from Raytheon that make it an interesting choice.
In April 2014, Raytheon announced their intent to test a new multi mode seeker for the Tomahawk;
This new seeker is intended to deliver greater precision and alternative options for both land AND sea targets. The enhancement programme will also upgrade the communications and warhead. The Block IV missile has a two data link. In October 2015, the planned test was completed and the missile hit a moving target at sea after receiving targeting data from an aircraft.
In January 2016, Raytheon conducted a captive flight test of an active mode seeker that will provide an ability to attack moving targets at sea and on land.
A recent contract award saw Raytheon deliver 144 Tactical Tomahawk Black IV all-up missiles to the USA for $122 million.
There is still a lot of life left in Tomahawk.
With a range in excess of 1,000 miles, a Type 26 GCS with a Block IV enhanced Tomahawk would provide a powerful and flexible capability against land and sea targets.
Although SCALP would have to be integrated with the Mk41, with the UK the likely lone customer for such a combination, SCALP would provide at least some measure of commonality with the MBDA Storm Shadow stand-off cruise missile currently being integrated onto the Typhoon. More specifically, the maritime version is called Missile de Croisière Naval (naval cruise missile) or MdCN, currently carried by French FREMM frigates.
Not sure this is a realistic contender but included for completeness.
There has been some concept work from MBDA on the Perseus missile as a potential Storm Shadow/SCALP replacement (SPEAR CAP 5), whilst undoubtedly an impressive concept, the appetite for funding its development seems low. MBDA have also proposed their Hoplite family of missiles for the land attack role, also FLEXIS and STRATUS
As Anglo-French cooperation deepens in the complex weapon portfolio, these studies may well be taken forward into a more formal joint UK/French programme to replace Storm Shadow/SCALP and Harpoon/Exocet. France seems unlikely to adopt Mk41 and the UK will not be putting SYLVER on Type 26 which complicates matter somewhat, at the very least, increasing integration costs
Although there has been little news on the possibility of UK-France joint development the 2016 Summit did describe an intent to co-develop a joint concept phase for the Future Cruise/Anti-Ship Weapon (FC/ASW) programme.
Storm Shadow will be subject to a Mid-Life Refurbishment (MLR) that will meet the SPEAR Capability 4 requirement, with a currently planned start date of 2017. This will take Storm Shadow to it’s planned out of service period of around 2030, when it will be replaced with the SPEAR Capability 5 system, nominally, the UK/France Future Cruise and Anti-Ship Weapon (FCASW) / Futur Missile Antinavire/Futur Missile de Croisière (FMAN/FMC).
A three-year Concept Phase contract will possibly be awarded to the end of 2016 for FCASW.
The conundrum here is that if this FCASW missile is developed for a Storm Shadow and Harpoon/SCAL-EG replacement, what silos will it be integrated with?
It seems unlikely France will invest in Mk41 and unless Type 26 is fitted with SYLVER, the missile will need to be integrated to with both VLS
Joint/Naval Strike Missile
The Naval Strike Missile from Kongsberg is an anti-ship and land attack missile. It will be integrated onto the F35 as the Joint Strike Missile so commonality benefits could be realised if we chose to purchase it for the F35’s, unlikely, but it is an option. With a 150km range the NSM weighs 400Kg with a 125kg warhead and can attack a mix of land and surface targets, click here to read about its development path.
The NSM has been criticised by some because it is not hypersonic but I think that is misplaced, the NSM has taken a reasonable line with regards to balancing capabilities against cost and development time, the seeker is reportedly very advanced and low its signature is a valuable feature when faced with a plethora of anti-missile weapons. It would be a great addition to the RN and RAF armoury but whether it would find a place in the equipment programme with the Complex Weapons initiative commercial complications are another matter.
Most images of the NSM show it being launched from an inclined box launcher but there has been some interest from Kongsberg in JSM Mk41 integration, details are scarce, the best at navy Recognition here.
Integrating JSM with a Mk41 VLS would offer a modern and highly capable missile that would provide some commonality if the UK chose to equip it’s F-35B’s in the future, although smaller and shorter ranged than Tomahawk, it would be useful if both were available.
Long Range Anti-Shipping Missile (LRASM)
BAE are responsible for the sensor system.
Clearly, it is focussed on the anti-shipping Harpoon replacement role, not land attack.
Where Tomahawk is the low-risk option and likely cheaper, LRASM provides a more survivable option against enemy forces that have the ability to shoot down cruise missiles, a classic trade-off. If it is integrated onto the F-35 by the USA then there will be two anti-ship missile options, the LRASM and JSM. Whilst neither have the range and punch of Tomahawk, both would be much more survivable, LRASM comes ready for Mk41, JSM doesn’t, that said, JSM has demonstrable capability against land targets, LRASM doesn’t, yet.
It has been reported that the LRASM is also being developed in a topside launcher.
Land and surface attack missiles remain an area of uncertainty for Type 26. There is a danger that the Type 26 VLS will be filled with nothing but fresh air, a somewhat embarrassing development.
This uncertainty was recognised by the mainstream media and in March 2017, a number of articles detailing the potential for fresh air filled Mk41 VLS were published.
The MoD responded;
Whether the MoD purchases an interim weapon, brings forward the development of FCASW, or the relationship between Future Offensive Surface Weapon and the Next Generation Land Attack Weapon remains unclear.
The new images show both M2 and Dillon Aerospace M134 Miniguns (Mk44) in 12.7mm and 7.62mm calibres respectively. Given that GPMG and the M3M will be fitted to Wildcat and Merlin it would make sense if the M3M were available on simple pintle mounts as well as the M134 minigun.
Fitted to both the Type 45 and Type 23 are MSI 30mm automatic cannon systems and 20mm Phalanx Close-in Weapon System (CIWS), again, these feature in the latest graphics of Type 26
The MSI mounts have a long heritage with the first designs being introduced in the early eighties with the 30mm RARDEN cannon. In the mid-eighties, the Royal Navy selected the Oerlikon 30 mm KCB to replace all existing 20mm and 40mm automatic cannons as a post-Falklands lessons learned exercise. First entering service in 1988 they have been continually refined and the latest version is the DS 30B Mk2 equipped with offboard sensors, the ATK 30mm Bushmaster Mk44 cannon (instead of the Oerlikon) and Seahawk fire control systems that are replacing all previous versions on Type 23 by 2014 in a £15m contract with MSI.
It is officially called the Automated Small Calibre Gun (ASCG)
This presentation from DSTL provides some background information on inner layer defence against fast attack craft and similar vessels.
There has been some discussion about swapping the Bushmaster Mk44 for the 40mm CTA cannon that will be installed on the Army’s FRES and Warrior vehicles. Normally, I am all for ruthless commonality and would think this is generally a good idea, not least because of the extra punch, and sharing of support costs as the Mk44 is unique to the RN in the British armed forces, but swapping would not be simple or cheap. The weapon, fire control and each ammunition nature would need to be certified for naval use in a highly complex EM environment, the fire control system modified and the mount completely changed to accommodate the CTA’s unusual feed mechanism. ATK also manufacture an air bursting nature, the PABM-T, should that be deemed worthwhile and negates one of the stated advantages of the CTA cannon. If commonality were a driver then we might also look at the M230LF used on the Apache attack helicopter.
Extra cost for marginal benefit, so not sure it would be worth it.
The Raytheon Phalanx is a multi-barrel close in weapon system primarily for use against anti-ship missiles although it retains some capability against surface targets.
UK Phalanx has been variously upgraded, used on trailer mounts for C-RAM in Iraq and Afghanistan and converted back to the maritime role. The latest version is the 1B that upgrades a number of components and adds a visual cueing and tracking system for use against surface targets. In addition to providing the 1B upgrade, Babcock has a ten-year support contract for the 36 Phalanx systems, based on providing availability of the systems throughout their life on board ship.
On Type 26 GCS, the Phalanx position has changed with each graphic and the latest version shows them in the same position as on Type 45, one on each side.
Many think the 20mm Phalanx only has marginal effectiveness against the latest generation of anti-ship missiles but it does provide valuable assurance and as part of a layered defence, seems like a sensible inclusion.
It also provides an upgrade path to directed energy weapons, the Raytheon Defender for example uses the Phalanx mount but replaces and/or augments the gun with a high energy solid state laser. The US Navy is engaged across a number of demonstration programmes for laser weapons and in October 2015, awarded a contract to Northrop Grumman Solid State High Power Laser Weapon System Demonstrator (LWSD) program. The Royal Navy and DSTL has initiated a number of exploratory programmes to start looking at the potential for laser weapons. A trip to Red Bull by Admiral George Zambellas to look at F1 Motorsport Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems (KERS) gives us a clue to what is perhaps the greatest challenge, energy storage, not generation.
It seems unlikely that Type 26 will be fitted with laser weapons on initial build.
After much speculation and competing bids from Oto Melara/Babcock, the BAE GCS will feature a BAE Mk45 Mod 4 medium calibre gun system.
The Future Maritime Fires Concept Phase completed a few years ago, no doubt lessons from Libya (where HMS Liverpool fired over 200 rounds of 4.5” ammunition) will have played a large part in informing the study. With the cancelling of the BAe 155mm TMF project that used the gun system from the As90 Self Propelled Gun, the choice of a naval gun narrowed.
The Maritime Fires Concept, of which the Maritime Indirect Fire System (MIFS) is a part, is being delivered in conjunction with the Niteworks Partnership and is expected to be met by a medium calibre gun (MCG). The other part of MFS is the Maritime Indirect Fire Precision Attack (MIFPA) is expected to be delivered using missile systems, potentially Fire Shadow, although the status of the latter would seem to preclude this option going forward.
Naval Gunfire Support has a great deal of utility and used much more often that many of the more esoteric systems, the Falklands, Iraq and Libya being recent outings; it is much cheaper than using air-delivered munitions if circumstances permit and can use a graduated force model where a well-aimed smoke or illumination round that signals loud and clear the next one will be of the type that goes bang can influence subsequent activity or neutralise threats both on land and at sea.
The existing 115mm/4.5” Mark 8 Mod 1 gun aboard Royal Navy vessels has its origins in the late sixties and has given excellent service but how reliable they are now is apparently an open question. The HE Extended Range round uses base bleed to propel the round to a maximum range of 27.5km and the existing illumination nature is also still available. In order to maintain a sustained rate of fire of 16-20 rounds per minute and accommodate the more powerful ammunition types the barrel is 62 calibres long. It has seen extensive service including action off the Falkland Islands (8,000 rounds), Iraq and Libya.
The Mark 45 Mod 4 from BAE, as used by the US Navy, South Korea, Denmark, Australia and others, is a 5”/127mm system with a 62 calibre barrel and is capable of a rate of fire up to 20 rounds per minute, the magazine will contain 196 rounds.
BAE describe it as;
A large installed base allows development costs of precision, proximity, IR illumination or smoke natures to be spread across many users. Adopting such a widely used system means natures such as IR Illumination are immediately available without expensive development programmes.
The magazine and palletised handling system will be a new design for the Type 26, taking the existing arrangement and adding improvements derived from the DDG-1000 programme.
Type 26 GCS doesn’t necessarily need the precision guided ammunition straight away, the existing Mk45 Mod 4 will provide a modern, accurate and powerful weapon system in its own right, again, another system much improved over Type 23. However, if there is a requirement for precision and additional range, options exists, albeit ones not yet completely in service in the maritime domain.
There are a couple of options for extended range and precision effects, Raytheon with their Excalibur and BAE, the Multi-Service Standard Guided Projectile.
Raytheon has recently successfully fired their 5″/127mm Excalibur N5 precision guided projectile from a Mk 45 test mount.
From the press release;
Using technology from the 155mm Excalibur, the company funded N5 may well find its ways onto Type 26, it has a range in excess of 25 nautical miles with the same accuracy of the in service Excalibur 1b. Raytheon are also developing a dual mode seeker allowing the shell to be guided to target by a laser designator.
In competition with Excalibur is the BAE MS-SGP.
This is a rocket assisted projectile with a longer range than Excalibur N5, over 50 nautical miles. The Mk 45 Mod 4 can fire 10 rounds per minute and 3 rounds within 2 seconds for Multiple Round Simultaneous Impact fire missions if needed. Each round weighs 50kg with an explosive content of 16kg.
The cost of an Excalibur 1B is reported to be $68,000, with a very high degree of commonality between the 155mm and 127mm versions. This opens up the potential for economies of scale between the British Army and Royal Navy for precision fires, even accepting the different calibres.
Raytheon are also developing a millimetric radar guidance systems for N5, specifically for attacking small boats in poor weather without external designation.
Whether the UK takes any of the options and if so, when, is open for discussion, but at least there are relatively low-risk options available, although, as mentioned above, none is yet in full naval service.
Decoys and ECM
Countermeasures are not often discussed but are advancing all the time and many consider them more effective at protecting against anti-ship missiles than CIWS.
The fixed multi-barrel DLH Launcher as part of the Seagnat system is used to launch a variety of decoys that attempt to confuse, lure away and break the lock of incoming anti-ship missiles. In response to radar and other warning devices, they will launch a pattern of decoys controlled by the ALEX system, used in conjunction with ship manoeuvre to protect the ship.
The Royal Navy and other naval forces have a wide range of decoy or soft kill protection systems (not just from Chemring) but whist the rounds themselves have advanced the launchers have not. There has been some press chatter about using the Chemring Centurion trainable launcher but this does not seem to be on the Type 26 GCS imagery.
Active RF Decoy
In 1994 GEC Marconi were awarded an £80m contract to develop their Siren system to fulfil the Royal Navy ‘Outfit DLH’ requirement. It was designed to seduce inbound anti-ship missiles using a launched RF countermeasure (Mk 251 Active Decoy Round) fired from standard 130mm SeaGnat launchers. The system was also to utilise the existing Seagnat launch control systems, 21 ship sets and 720 rounds were obtained with the final cost being in the order of £103m. It did not enter service until 2004, 10 years after contract award, replacing SeaGnat DLB and DLJ(2).
The product description is;
Siren eventually passed to BAE and then to Selex, a Finmeccanica company. Type 23 Frigates use the Mk 251 Siren so again, a straight transfer to Type 26 GCS might be the most appropriate solution.
A joint UK/French programme called ACCOLADE is investigating advanced RF decoys.
RF and Infra Red Distraction Decoys
In addition to the advanced Mk 251 Siren, the RN Outfit launcher systems can also use RF distraction (chaff) and IR decoys such as the Chemring Mk 216 Mk 1 Mod 1 and Chemring Mk 245 IR. The Royal Navy has replaced the Mk 245 IR round with the Chemring TALOS that uses variable timing and submunitions rather than a single round, called the A2, as in the image below.
Fitted to the Type 45 is the Airborne Systems IDS300 (now called the FDS3) inflatable RF decoy also looks like it will be fitted to Type 26 GCS, the launchers are the horizontal cylindrical devices adjacent to the missile silos.
The FDS3 is a self-inflating octahedral shaped corner reflector that floats on the surface and unlike chaff, is persistent, able to float for 3 hours in sea state 4
It is a simple and low-cost system, in service with many naval forces.
Type 23 Frigates are fitted with the Thales Scorpion 2 Radar Electronic Countermeasures system. Taking information from the integrated ESM system it denies enemy forces the use of their radars; aircraft, ship, missiles, fixed or vehicular mounted device
Type 26 GCS imagery suggests a pair of these will be fitted.
There is also a current programme that merges electronic surveillance and countermeasures programmes into a single programme, Maritime Electronic Warfare Programme (MEWP).
Entering service with the Royal Navy in 2004 and replacing the NIXIE system, the Ultra Electronics Surface Ship Torpedo Defence system provides protection against ship or submarine launched torpedoes, again, it would seem the system will be transferred to Type 26 GCS.
The system, now called Sea Sentor, is described as;
System components are (from Wikipedia);
- an acoustic passive towed array
- a towed acoustic countermeasure (flexible)
- a single-drum winch
- a processing cabinet
- 2 display consoles
- 2 expendable acoustic device launchers (1 port, 1 starboard)
- 16 expendable acoustic devices (8 in each launcher)
The system is also in service with a number of other nations and active torpedo ‘hard kill’ interceptor is in development.
The lack of lightweight torpedo launchers seems a curious omission from the information released so far.
Aircraft and Unmanned Systems
The flight deck will be of sufficient size to handle large helicopters like Merlin and especially, Chinook. Although not an amphibious assault ship, Chinook compatibility is good for all manner of operations that require heavy lift.
The main embarked aircraft for the ASW variant will be the Merlin HM2, the ‘airborne frigate’
The Merlin HM2 will normally be carried by the Type 26 although the naval Wildcat and CHF Merlin may also be used depending on requirements. The HM2 version on the Merlin is an incredibly powerful and sophisticated system that is combined with the numerous capabilities of the Type 23 to create a formidable team, likely to be transferred to Type 26 GCS.
Merlin can launch the Stingray Lightweight Torpedo and can carry a Minigun or M3M machine gun. Wildcat can also launch Stingray and carry GPMG and M3M but will also be able to carry the Sea Venom (replacing Sea Skua) and Martlet missiles.
The Boeing/Insitu ScanEagle has an interesting history, initially designed to assist tuna fishing fleets it has evolved into a mature, low cost, flexible and highly effective family of vehicles and payloads. After a 2006 trial with HMS Sutherland, the Royal Navy contracted for an extended trial period with Scan Eagle and it has proven to be very valuable during operations in the Gulf. There is also a larger version called the RQ-21 Blackjack, or Integrator.
A number of losses have been experienced and the extended trial has now been terminated.
A number of technology programmes have since been launched including the establishment of 700X NAS that focuses on unmanned aircraft and trials of 3D printed systems from Southampton University in the UK and on HMS Protector in the South Atlantic.
The RN also let the Rotary Wing Unmanned Air System (RWUAS) Capability Concept Demonstrator (CCD) contract in 2013.
The purpose of this contract was;
Further details on the programme were detailed in the contract notification;
AgustaWestland was selected as the prime contractor for this programme, perhaps unsurprisingly given their position at the centre of the UK Rotary Wing Strategy. It was also interesting to see that Mine Counter Measures (MCM) and Hydrography & Meteorology (HM) were included in the scope of the £2.3 million contract.
AW proposed to use the SW-4 Solo fitted with flight control systems from Thales, the same system also used for trials for the Italian MoD.
The contract has recently completed, the SW-4 Solo completing 27 hours of flight trials with 22 autonomous landings. The trials also included integration with the DNA(2) ship combat management software and mission planning activities.
In March 2017, the MoD announced a Phase II £8m contract had been let to continue this work
Unmanned Warrior 2016 is a trials and demonstration event designed to offer over 40 manufacturers and research organisations an opportunity to showcase their systems in a realistic environment.
Commander Peter Pipkin, Fleet Robotics Officer, commented;
None of these systems forms part of the Type 26 GCS programme but are included for completeness.
Aircraft and Stores Handling
Ship-borne aircraft handling systems are required to capture, move and restrain different types of aircraft in high sea states and adverse weather.
MacTaggart Scott pioneered helicopter recovery systems.
The deck lock system requires the pilot to hover over a steel grid in order to deploy the locking ‘harpoon’. Once engaged the hydraulic actuator system, from Claverham, pulls the helicopter onto the deck, compressing the oleo leg in conjunction with negative thrust from the rotor. This system can secure the helicopter to the deck without needing any personnel to approach it, an important safety consideration. The deck lock grid is available from a number of manufacturers and widely used.
Additional securing straps are often used and the deck lock released, it is a flexible system and because the actuator sits on the centre of rotation the helicopter can be easily manoeuvred into the most favourable position for subsequent takeoff. The pilot has immediate confirmation that the helicopter is secure and is not reliant on others
Once secured to the deck, a means of transporting to the hangar is required and these fall into two broad types, rail assist and tug. The MacTaggart Scott TRIGON system is used by many operators and makes use of computer controlled steel wire ropes to secure and move helicopters. It uses a series of cables, with the three rail PRISM system specifically on Type 23 for Merlin, this document makes a good case for the all round superiority of TRIGON.
Any future rotary RPAS will need to be able to launch and recover in high sea states so securing and moving in high sea states will be of great importance.
Although no details have been released specifically for Type 26 GCS aircraft securing and handling it is likely to make use of designs already in service.
For Type 26 GCS, the Air Weapons Handling System (AWHS) will be designed by Babcock
The system will store and move air weapons from their stowage locations to weapon preparation areas prior transfer onto aircraft or into torpedo launch systems. Re-stowage of unused munitions is also part of system operation and a high degree of automation will reduce manual handling.
Inside the hangar, an overhead gantry crane will likely be installed, perhaps similar to the design by Seward Wyon for the Type 45 Destroyer. Given the route from the flight deck, through the hangar and into the mission bay, this may require a bespoke design. The hangar is sized to accomodate a single Merlin helicopter, or two Wildcat’s.
Future rotary UAV’s may also be housed in the hangar.
Helicopter Landing visual aids and lighting will be supplied by AGI Limited including Homing Beacon Lighting, pilot eye line lights, visual approach lights, control systems and the Advanced Stabilised Glide Slope Indicator (ASGSI)
The flight deck safety net assemblies will likely be provided by Vonroll, as they do for other Royal Navy vessels.
Adaptable Mission Bay
The mission bay is an important part of the concept of operations for the Type 26.
Equipment modules, vehicles, boats, UAV/USV’s or stores can be carried from the beginning of a deployment or if required, flown, sailed or driven out to a nearby port, and loaded from either side.
In the first concept drawings, it was shown as housed underneath the flight deck but as the design matured, moved to a more central position, forward of the helicopter hangar and below the main weather deck.
This arrangement allows modules or other cargo to be landed onto the flight deck and then moved through the hangar to the bay. Although it is assumed the hangar will have some form of overhead gantry crane it is not clear if this crane can extend into the mission bay. If not, equipment may have to be manually handled through the hangar and into the mission bay.
The mission bay can accommodate a range of small craft such as Inshore and Offshore Raiding Craft, Sea Boats (up to 12m long) and up to ten 20ft ISO containers. In addition to boats and containers, it can also accommodate a Merlin or even two Wildcat helicopters.
The image below is from a Babcock investor presentation and shows the mission bay being used to disembark a RHIB.
Combined with the flexible accommodation provision, it opens up some very interesting opportunities.
Payload modularity gets a very bad ‘rap’ from the online defence community, driven I suspect, largely from the US Navy LCS woes, but it is a sound concept. It provides a great deal of flexibility but where it differs from other modular approaches (such as the LCS) is that the ships main sensors and weapons are fully integrated.
The Type 26 GCS project team are also leading on a couple of projects that will benefit NATO standardisation, namely module interfaces and shock protection. A mock-up of the bay has been constructed at RNAS Yeovilton to allow experimentation, especially with regard to moving loads inside and outside the bay. DSTL and the US company, Weidlinger Associates, have created a solution to ensure containers remain secured after being subject to explosive shocks, testing has been carried out at an underwater range in Scotland with very encouraging results.
The crane system is rated at 15 tonnes and can extend to the side of the ship for loading and unloading. The crane itself is based on a model used for handling containers on North Sea oil rigs, again, experimentation has determined how it can be effectively modified to accommodate a range of movement and orientation of the ship.
As can be seen from the images below, it has changed since the earlier design, the one on the right is the latest.
Marine Systems Technology and PAR Marine had been mentioned in relation to the supply of the x-y crane used in the mission bay, the same manufacturer that provides the crane for the US Navy LCS Freedom class and DDG-1000. Rolls Royce/ODIM have now signed a Design and Development Agreement for the Type 26 Mission Bay Handling System.
It looks to be an extremely versatile system.
As the Mine Countermeasures and Hydrographic Capability (MHC) Programme progresses there may also be further work with the crane system to allow it to launch and recover autonomous unmanned systems.
It will be interesting to see how this develops from the various concepts and similar examples shown above, what makes the mission bay work is not space, it is the crane. Without the crane, the mission bay is no more than an empty space. It will be different from the Pellegrini/Craneking manufactured and supplied system.
MacTaggart Scott will supply mission bay side doors.
Accommodation is included for 208 crew, with a core complement of 118. If the core complement is analogous to the full crew of Type 23, at 170-185, this represents a significant reduction in crewing. There are a number questions arising from this, does the 118 crew include specialists for Sonar 2097 and other dedicated ASW activities, for example, does this lower aboard crew mean more onshore, another?
The additional crew space could be used for Special Forces, beach recce parties, raiding forces, rescued civilians, UAV operators or other mission specialists.
One would expect that the ‘core complement’ will change depending upon specific deployment requirement but however used, the additional spaces make for a flexible arrangement.
One thing is certain, though, whatever the final number they will have much-improved accommodation facilities compared to the Type 23, yes, including iPod charging points! Accommodation spaces will probably be unisex and similar to those found on CVF and Type 45, as supplied by Strongbox Marine, the supplier to the Russian Navy, as it happens.
There will no doubt be those that hark back to the good old days of mess decks but modern ships need modern people and modern people need modern accommodation. Those aboard will be deployed for long periods and I find nothing unusual whatsoever with wanting to provide them with as good facilities as reasonably practicable.
Retention of skilled personnel is an important factor in cost management and if people are leaving because their accommodation is more like the Cruel Sea than a modern working environment then I would suggest those crusty old sea dogs take their nostalgia elsewhere, perhaps they miss weevils and scurvy as well!
Fire Prevention and Control
One of the most significant through life cost drivers is personnel and although power, propulsion and electronics technology have traditionally required less personnel in successive generations of equipment a barrier to reducing crew numbers overall has been the fire/damage control requirement.
The first strategy is to prevent fires in the first place, design and material choices can do a great deal to reduce the potential for fire but warships are dangerous places, filled with dangerous materials. Fire detection systems that will include integration with machinery monitoring systems will allow the early detection of both the potential for fire and fire itself.
Although traditional methods of fire-fighting, suitably trained and equipped members of the crew, will be used, they will be joined by a range of automated systems.
One of these new approaches is the use of high-pressure water mist systems. HPWM are said to offer improved fire suppression whilst using dramatically reduced water volume compared to conventional sprinklers. The ultra-fine mist cools, displaces oxygen in the fire (not the whole compartment) and absorbs radiant heat. Unlike conventional water drenching systems it can be used on live electrical fires and because it is not harmful to humans, can be initiated immediately, without waiting for the crew to escape a compartment that might have extinguishing gas systems.
The system also has some measure of sophistication, initiating to cool escape routes pre-emptively or drench magazines, for example,
Tyco Fire and Integrated Solutions, Manchester, will provide the fixed firefighting system for the Type 26 Frigate using water, mist, foam and gaseous solutions.
Now owned by BAE the VT Halmatic Arctic and Pacific Rigid Inflatable Boats are used by the Royal Navy for general transport tasks and boarding operations, in service since 2004. Powered by a Yanmar marine diesel engine and Hamilton HJ 241 waterjet they have a top speed of approximately 30 knots. Each has a length of 7.8m, beam of 2.57m, draft of 0.5m and a hoist weight of 2.5 tonnes. The slightly smaller Pacific 22 MkII is also in service. They are fitted with a range of communication and navigation equipment, use a single Henriksen hook for lifting and lowering.
The small Zodiac FC470 Inflatable Raiding Craft MkIII’s are commonly used where their low weight, shallow draft and ease of deployment are important.
This type of craft will be a standard fit for the Type 26 GCS
Designed and built by Holyhead Marine, the Offshore Raiding Craft is in service with the Royal Marines used in insertion, patrol and security operations. The 9m craft are heavily armed and able to travelling at speeds up to 40 knots, available in three versions (mid, rear and front console), able to carry up to 8 personnel in addition to the 2 crew. Beam and draught are 2.9m and 0.6m respectively. The ORC trailer is supplied by Tex Engineering and with the ORC weighs 5.4 tonnes. They are powered by a 250hp Steyr Marine M256 engine driving a Rolls Royce FF270 waterjet’s. 39 are in service.
Where additional firepower is needed in support of maritime security operations for example, it is likely the ORC will be carried.
Less likely to be carried but dimensionally compatible with the mission bay is the Army’s Combat Support Boat.
Although mostly used by the Royal Engineers in support of bridging and dive operations the Combat Support Boat is also used by the Royal Logistic Corps to support amphibious and port operations.
The Mk1 CSB, built by Fairey Allday Marine, was used by the Royal Engineers, US Army and Marine Corps, Greece, Turkey and South Korea, and built in a quantity in excess of 1,000 units. In 2,000 these were replaced by the RTK Marine Mk2, each Mk2 CSB is powered by twin Yanmar 6LP diesel marine engines that drive twin Hamilton HJ274 Waterjets via ZF Model HSW 630 gearboxes. Top speed is approximately 30 knots and they have a cargo capacity of approximately 2 tonnes or 12 personnel. C130 and Chinook transportable they are powerful for their size and versatile craft. Unladen weight is 4.75 tonnes, length 8.8m, beam 2.77m and draught 0.65m. BAE now own the design and marketing rights to the CSB although the dedicated trailer is supplied by Oldbury
A modification would be required for crane launch and recovery.
The Royal Navy’s survey launches are also compatible with the dimensions and limits of the mission bay and gantry crane.
One of the potential uses of the mission bay is for supporting a deployable mine countermeasures and survey capability. This does not turn a Type 26 GC into a dedicated MCM vessel but it is an area that is currently being developed with the MHC and Sweep programmes, detailed here
In April 2014, a contract was let to Thales.
The €22m 15-month contract covered the first design and definition stage. It also secured an agreed fixed price for Stage and 3, manufacture and support respectively. The Thales led consortium includes Wood and Douglas (Ultra) for the telemetry and data link, ECA for autonomous underwater vehicles, BAE for mission management and simulation systems, SAAB for remotely operated vehicles (ROV) and Autonomous Surface Vehicles for the surface vessel.
Thales will develop a containerised portable operations centre (POC).
In addition to the joint UK/French mine hunting programmes the Royal Navy, with its positive experience from Iraq and SWIMS, has maintained and shown a renewed interest in combined influence sweep systems.
At the same time as the MMCM contract another was announced, this one to Atlas Elektronik for the continued development of their FAST/ARCIMS system. The £12.6m 3-year contract will lead to the full development of the solution that can be deployed from Hunt Class MCM vessels. Block 1 calls for the development of the prototype, Block 2, integration with the Hunt Class and Block 3, manufacture of a system developed as a result of trials activity. Jane’s reported that the final configuration is likely to include 4 unmanned systems housed in a Reconnaissance Unmanned Underwater Vehicle Hangar (RUUVH) on board.
Jane’s also reported;
When Atlas delivered the two ARCIMS launches to the Royal Navy they delivered them in two configurations, the first was in the form of the RN Motorboat Hazard, pictured above, and the second, with equipment for the combined influence sweep system.
The media below, from Thales, shows the general concept of operations for Halycon, operation from a shore location and using a Remotely Operated vehicle for inspection and disposal. The ROV shown is from Saab, the SeaEye Falcon, equipped with a multi-shot disposal system called the multimine neutralisation system, or MuMNS. ARCIMS, from Atlas Elektronik, has been developed over quite a long period from the various systems such as FAST and SeaFox. Atlas teamed up with the makers of the Bladerunner speedboat, ICE Marine, to create the Motorboat Hazard.
The small unmanned ROV is the Ocean Modules V8 M500 Intervention, click here for the brochure.
The Thales Synthetic aperture Sidescan Sonar (SAMDIS) sonar has developed from the ESPADON work and uses three beams to increase coverage and speeds. ECA will also be responsible for the launch and recovery system (LARS) which will enable non specialised craft to operate the system in challenging sea conditions. The ECA component will be developed from its A27-M, the largest in its portfolio, and will include the Thales Synthetic aperture Sidescan Sonar (SAMDIS) sonar.
Both Sweep and MHC components are fully intended to be deployable from Type 26 GCS, this may not be the preferred method but the option remains.
In addition to the survey and mine countermeasures roles, unmanned surface vessels may be deployed for force protection and situational awareness. BAE and ASV have recently demonstrated their unmanned technology.
From BAE and ASV;
As unmanned technology develops, there is no doubt this kind of system will be carried and operated by Type 26 GCS.
It is likely these will also feature in Unmanned Warrior.
Raytheon Anschütz will supply the Integrated Navigation and Bridge System (INBS), Rolls Royce Marine, the steering gear, RAS equipment and stabilisers, Score Marine, valves, and Reynolds Hi-Tec, flexible couplings.
The EDGE Meteorological and Oceanographic (METOC) system will be from BAE, it collates information from multiple on and off board systems, providing information for combat and navigation purposes.
There are many hundreds, if not thousands, of other systems and components, not listed above, CBRN protection, waste management and even the paint for example.
With all the technology described above it is easy to forget that the single most important part of Type 26 GCS will be its crew, shore support and other personnel.
What will the Royal Navy get with Type 26 GCS?
Simply, an evolutionary, low risk but extremely capable system that builds on the best of Type 23 and Type 45.
It will be flexible, capable, have bags of growth potential and suited for contemporary operations against peer threats whilst in compliance with the latest standards, norms and expectations, and rightly so.
Despite the rather convoluted development process, I can’t see what is not to like.
Table of Contents
|Type 26 History|
|Type 26 Capabilities|