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.

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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);

To reduce programme risk, and in keeping with the principles of through-life capability management, there is a drive to maximise pull-through from the Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers, Type 45 destroyers and ongoing Type 23 capability sustainment/upgrades, in an effort to both reduce risk and capitalise on previous investment, and/or existing system inventory. So while the Type 45 is characterised by approximately 80 per cent new to service equipment and 20 per cent reuse, these percentages will be effectively reversed for Type 26

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.

FireShot Capture 45 - - https___www.rusi.org_downloads_assets_1100_b_Chris_Richards.pdf

The slide above is merely an indicator but it provides a good overview of the planned upgrades.

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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.

Babcock HMS Argyll in dock_Babcock_15122 D-67

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.

Funny that!

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.

Type 26 Type 23 Size Comparison

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;

The distinction is that the Type 26 is a high-end anti-submarine warfare frigate, and it is deliberately designed to be so. Its design enables it to provide high-end protection both to our continuous at-sea deterrent forces and to our future carrier strike groups, and it is deliberately designed to be resilient, noise-quietened and highly effective in countering peer and near-peer threats in the anti-submarine warfare environment.

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;

A CODELOG (Combined Diesel Electric or Gas Turbine) configuration is to be deployed in the Type 26 Global Combat Ship. The diesel gensets supply electric power for on-board systems and for vessel propulsion in cruising mode. The Rolls-Royce gas turbine will be switched in for high-speed propulsion whenever needed. The propulsion concept is ideally suited for the mission profiles of the future combat ships. For naval applications, the MTU gensets have double-resilient mounting systems and are housed within acoustic enclosures. This creates a propulsion system with an extremely low level of acoustic emissions, making the ship very difficult to locate.

The important difference between Type 26 and other similar vessels is the Or (O) instead of And (A) in CODELAG. Two presentations and papers that describe the differences can be found here and here.

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;

Reducing radiated noise from the motor makes it exceptionally quiet, which is obviously very important for naval operations. GE is on the cutting edge with this proven, robust technology. It will allow the Royal Navy to operate more efficiently, cost-effectively and safely. Drawing on our extensive experience over decades in the electrical power conversion systems industry, we are moving to provide the latest in motor and drive technology that is at the forefront of operational efficiency

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.

MT 30 Type 26

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.

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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)

David Brown Gear Systems will provide the reduction gearboxes and a load test rig, DCNS the shaft lines and, making an assumption, Rolls Royce, the propellor.

Type 26 Propulsion

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 CMS assists a ship’s command in detecting and countering threats to the ship and any surrounding forces by managing all relevant external and internal information provided by the ship’s radars. It integrates this information with the activities of the anti-air weapons systems as well as other sensors and weapons.

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.

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Type 26 Display Console and Blade Server Enclosure

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Type 26 GCS 05

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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.

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Type 26 NAVICS and Terminals

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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.

Type 26 Software Defined Radio

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.

Type 26 GCS SCOT Satellite

Data sheets for SCOT Patrol and SCOT Mission, here and here.

Civilian systems such as Iridium or Inmarsat are also likely to be fitted.

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

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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.

Kelvin Hughes Sharpeye

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.

Under the terms of the new contract – the UAT MOD 2.1 & 2.3, advanced technology will be now be introduced to the UAT RESM equipments fitted across the RN surface fleet and associated land-based training equipments.

The technology provides excellent system performance in the modern dense radar environment. This enables the ship to operate in all operational maritime theatres, including the littoral environment, and provides the RN with world leading electronic warfare support and emitter identification technology. By digitising the RF signal at the antenna, the majority of the receiver functionality is implemented using software and firmware algorithms. The system is therefore easily upgraded and new signal analysis tools are easily introduced, keeping the RESM capability current in a rapidly evolving operational environment.

The approach also maximises the use of commercial off-the-shelf hardware, making the RESM significantly more reliable, easier to maintain and lowers the total cost of ownership.

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.

Type 26 Mast

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.

Ultra Series 2500 EO System

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.

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Acoustic Sensors

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.

From Jane’s;

Sonar 2050 is the medium-range, medium-frequency hull-mounted attack sonar for the Royal Navy fitted to the Type 42 destroyers and Type 23 and Type 22 frigates. It is the successor to Sonar 2016 and is compatible with both bow and keel variants of the Sonar 2016 array

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.

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Type 2087 Sonar

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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;

FLAADS(M) provides a true 360° air defence capability for naval forces out to ranges greater than 25km against the future air threat. Requiring no dedicated tracker/illuminator radars, CAMM can be cued by ship target indication data to provide high levels of protection in open ocean and littoral environments. It can also be used against surface targets. The weapon system, which incorporates a 2-way data-link capability to CAMM missiles in flight, is intended for vessels of corvette size or larger, for either new ships or as a retrofit. It will provide self and consort defence whilst operating with 2-D and 3-D radars and has an architectural design to allow integration within a variety of combat systems. CAMM can operate from SYLVER and Mk41 family launchers utilising features such as folding missile fins to maximise packing density. For smaller ships, a simple bespoke quad-pack launcher (occupying the same space as a Seawolf canister) will be available. The introduction of “soft launch” techniques reduces system mass and eases installation. MBDA has taken a Through Life approach in developing the CAMM solution. New weapon system architectures that reduce customer costs by removing expensive components are now possible. MBDA’s PAAMS (Principal Anti-Air Missile System) naval self, local and fleet area defence weapon system has now established a preferred architectural approach to air defence. FLAADS(M) follows this approach by re-using software and substituting new low cost components.

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.

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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.

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Mk 41 VLS

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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;

It was evident that the Libya campaign showed the need for precision fires, [perhaps the Lockheed Martin] Guided Multiple Rocket Launch System (GMLRS), from the sea base, deep into enemy littoral territory.

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;

Completion of this test and last year’s passive seeker test will demonstrate that Tomahawk can hit moving targets on land and at sea. Raytheon is working to quickly and affordably modernize this already advanced weapon for naval warfighters

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.

Tomahawk Block IV

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.

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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

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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)

Whilst a development of Tomahawk is clearly the low-risk choice the new kid on the block is the Long Range Anti-Shipping Missile (LRASM) from Lockheed Martin. It is described as;

LRASM is a precision-guided anti-ship standoff missile leveraging off of the successful JASSM-ER heritage, and is designed to meet the needs of U.S. Navy and Air Force warfighters. Armed with a penetrator and blast fragmentation warhead, LRASM employs precision routing and guidance, day or night in all weather conditions. The missile employs a multi-modal sensor suite, weapon data link, and enhanced digital anti-jam Global Positioning System to detect and destroy specific targets within a group of numerous ships at sea. LRASM will also employ enhanced survivability features to penetrate advanced integrated air defense systems. The combination of range, survivability and lethality ensures mission success. LRASM technology will reduce dependence on ISR platforms, network links, and GPS navigation in aggressive electronic warfare environments. The routing and guidance capabilities of LRASM allows it to safely navigate to the enemy area, where the weapon can use gross target cueing data to find and destroy its pre-determined target in denied environments. Precision lethality against surface targets ensures LRASM will become an important addition to the warfighter’s arsenal.

BAE are responsible for the sensor system.

Clearly, it is focussed on the anti-shipping Harpoon replacement role, not land attack.

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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.

Vertically launched torpedoes are also available for the Mk 41 VLS and MBDA have suggested Mk41 could be used for SPEAR Capability 3

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;

The Type 26 Frigate will be delivered with cutting edge weapons and sensors that build on the excellent operational record of the Type 23.  Investment in the MK 41 launcher enables the Royal Navy the option of investing in a wide range of additional capabilities at short notice and according to the threat. The Type 26 Global Combat Ship will be fitted with the Mk41 Vertical Launch Silo, providing options for development of Type 26 capability throughout its life. Type 26 is planned to be a key component of the RN’s fleet until at least 2060 and it makes sense to build a strike missile launcher into its design that enables a flexible choice of weapons throughout its service life.

The Mk41 Vertical Launch silo provides the flexibility to field a variety of weapons, which may include the next generation of ship-launched strike weapons – including the Future Offensive Surface Weapon and the Next Generation Land Attack Weapon – being developed through the MOD’s current ten-year, £178 billion equipment plan.

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.

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Royal Navy Minigun

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Royal Navy GPMG

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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

Type_26 HI RES - Copy (3)

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)

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Automated Small Calibre Gun (ASCG)

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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.

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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.

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Laser Phalanx

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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.


Julian Lewis (New Forest East, Conservative)

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what his policy is on the replacement of existing warship guns by ones of 155mm; and if he will make a statement on his policy, with special reference to (a) the future frigate fleet and (b) Type 45 destroyers.


Peter Luff (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Defence Equipment, Support and Technology), Defence; Mid Worcestershire, Conservative)

No decision on the calibre of the new Maritime Indirect Fire System (the new naval gun) has yet been made. This will be taken when work to consider the available options under the Future Maritime Fires Concept Phase is complete in around mid-2012.

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.

Maritime Indirect Fires System

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;

The 5-inch (127-mm) 62-caliber Mk 45 Mod 4 Naval Gun system is in U.S. Navy and Allied service today, and is ready to significantly enhance Naval Surface Fire Support (NSFS) and overall mission performance. Major upgrades of the Mk 45 Mod 4 include a 62-caliber barrel, strengthened gun and mount subsystems, advanced control system enhancement, and a reduced signature, low maintenance gun shield. The Mk 45 Mod 4 provides NSFS range of more than 20 nautical miles (36 km) with the Navy’s new 5-inch Cargo projectile and an improved propelling charge. Operation and performance of extended-range munitions are tailored for optimal effect and range in unison with the major subsystem upgrades of the Mk 45 Mod 4 Naval Gun.

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.

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Mk45 Mod 4

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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;

Excalibur N5’s range, precision and lethality will revolutionize naval gunfire and increase the offensive firepower of our Navy’s destroyers and cruisers. This demonstration showcases the N5’s maturity as a proven low-risk solution, and is ready for the Navy now. Excalibur N5 can be used to support several critical mission areas including Naval Surface Fire Support, Anti-Surface Warfare (ASuW) and countering Fast Attack Craft (FAC). With the significant amount of re-use from the Army’s Excalibur program, the N5 provides the Navy with an affordable, direct path to employ a critical capability, We continue to build on Excalibur’s unmatched reliability and performance by investing in a fire-and-forget, dual-mode seeker that will vastly improve the 5-inch gun’s current ASuW and counter-FAC capability.

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.

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Excalibur N5

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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 is an advanced decoy system designed to protect ships from missile threats by luring incoming anti-ship missiles away from their target. Launched from a 130mm decoy launcher it uses a two stage parachute system which slows the decoy round down at a pre-programmed time before deploying a second stage parawing, under which the advanced programmable electronic payload descends to detect and counter the missile threat. The ability of Siren to generate sophisticated jamming waveforms is unique amongst the worlds limited types of naval decoys. The Siren payload contains some of the most up to date RF, digital and analogue electronic circuitry available, enabling the round to quickly detect, identify and track threats to ships. Siren is able to handle multiple threats simultaneously even in dense RF environments.

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.

Mk 251 Siren active Decoy Round

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.

Royal Navy Decoy Rounds

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.

Type_26 HI RES - Copy (4)

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

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It is a simple and low-cost system, in service with many naval forces.

Electronic Countermeasures

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

Thales Scorpion

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).

As the threat from small UAS increases, systems such as the AUDS C-UAS may well find their way onto future vessels.

Torpedo Defence

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;

The SEA SENTOR™ Surface Ship Torpedo Defense system has been in-service since October 2004, protecting fleets from the increased threat of torpedo attack. With 16 systems delivered to the UK’s Royal Navy, installations on US naval platforms and a recent order by the Turkish Navy, SEA SENTOR™ is the most advanced system available in the market today. The SEA SENTOR™ system utilizes a towed acoustic passive array especially designed for the detection of torpedoes to classify and localize in-water threats. Tactical advice is presented by the system that is specifically geared to the make, model and current operating mode of the detected threats – single or salvo. Detection ranges to initiate successful defeating tactics are achieved in all conditions; whether operating solo in deep water or in-convoy in busy shipping lanes and littoral waters Countermeasure action is automatically performed according to the tactical advice for the towed system elements. Expendable countermeasures are launched by the operator when prompted to do so.

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.

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SSTD Image 1

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SSTD Acoustic Decoy

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SSTD Image 2

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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.

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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.

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The two-way datalink equipped Sea Venom is for use against small to medium sized combat vessels and Martlet, small craft and RHIB’s.

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Sea Venom Missile

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Sea Venom and Martlet

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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.

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The RN also let the Rotary Wing Unmanned Air System (RWUAS) Capability Concept Demonstrator (CCD) contract in 2013.

The purpose of this contract was;

to understand whether a multi-role Rotary Wing Unmanned Air System (RWUAS) can provide utility in the Mine Counter Measures (MCM), Hydrography & Meteorology (HM), Offensive Surface Warfare (OSuW) and general Situational Awareness (SA) capability areas.

Further details on the programme were detailed in the contract notification;

A CCD seeks to investigate issues with the use of relatively mature technologies and does not involve significant equipment development or integration. DE&S and Dstl previously conducted a Scoping Study which identified the potential of a small (100 – 1000kg) or medium (1000 – 3000kg) Rotary Wing UAS to deliver the maritime capabilities being sought. The CCD will need to assess platform integration issues and the impact across the Defence Lines of Development (DLoDs) of bringing an RWUAS into service. DE&S intend to progress to the demonstration & analysis phase of the CCD which is expected to involve a package of physical demonstrations of a vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) UAS and specialist sensors, supported by simulation and synthetic environment experiments. Interested parties were advised to note the CCD is not intended as a test of a particular system and does not form part of a current acquisition programme. Rather it will inform future maritime UAS requirements, potentially leading to an acquisition programme in the second decade. DE&S expects the UAS (Vehicle, Control Station & Comms Link) that is offered to be suitably mature (TRL 7 or above) to undertake the demonstration activities with a low probability of delay due to unplanned maintenance or technical issues. Specialist sensors and payload systems at TRL 5 would be acceptable as DE&S recognises that the capabilities being investigated are novel and the technologies may not be mature yet. The CCD is also interested in identifying and assessing future sensor technologies of lower TRLs that are not ready for demonstration but may be suitable for simulation or other activities.

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.

Rotary Wing UAS (RWUAS)

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.

AW SW-4 SOLO Unmanned

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.

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Commander Peter Pipkin, Fleet Robotics Officer, commented;

Unmanned Warrior is going to provide a showcase for the demonstration of products in a tactically relevant environment. The overall value will be in transforming the market as a whole by creating increased demand for these technologies, not seeking specific business opportunities within the event. We have deliberately adopted a different approach to capability demonstration, in that the MOD is inviting participants to offer their thoughts on what future capability might look like and where technology can be exploited without any preconception. This recognises that we (Defence) do not always have a crystal ball but are willing to look at the full breadth of possible technology exploitation paths.

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

decklock 2

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.

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Merlin PRISM Moving

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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.

Type 26 Mission Bay

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.

Type 26 GCS 06 Mission bay

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.

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Type 26 Mission Bay Crane 2

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Type 26 Mission Bay Crane 1

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Type 26 Payload Bay Crane Concepts

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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.

Type 26 Mission Bay UUV

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 Marinethe supplier to the Russian Navy, as it happens.

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Stronbox Marine Type 26

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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!

Commissariat equipment will be supplied by Kempsafe and the reverse osmosis potable water generation equipment by Salt Separation Services.

Marine Systems Technology will supply the doors, now part of the PAR Group.

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.

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Pacific 24 RIB[/tab] [tab title=”Pacific 24″]

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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.

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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

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Pictured here are members of 38 Battery Royal Artillery as they carry out a routine patrol of the Shatt Al Arab to try and stop oil from being smuggled out of Iraq. [#Beginning of Shooting Data Section] Nikon D1X 2003/08/04 16:40:52.3 JPEG (8-bit) Fine Image Size: Large (3008 x 1960) Color Lens: 35-70mm f/2.8-2.8 D Focal Length: 48mm Exposure Mode: Manual Metering Mode: Spot 1/200 sec - f/7.1 Exposure Comp.: 0 EV Sensitivity: ISO 125 White Balance: Flash AF Mode: AF-C Tone Comp: Normal Flash Sync Mode: Not Attached Color Mode: Mode I (sRGB) Hue Adjustment: 0° Sharpening: Normal Noise Reduction: Image Comment: [#End of Shooting Data Section][/tab] [tab title=”CSB 2″]

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Date: Tuesday 17 June 2003. Location: Shatt Al Arab River, Basra, Iraq. Event: Op Telic Ð 1RRF and Royal Engineers Boat Patrol. Photo By: Cpl Dave Liddle RLC Image No is: File Name Caption: As part of the security process following the conflict in Iraq, soldiers from the 1st Battalion The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers and the Boat Section of 28 Engineer Regiment have been carrying out boat patrols to stop the Iraqi civilians using the waterways around Basra for smuggling weapons and stolen goods. The patrol often encounter suspicious locals on the waterways and the banks, and hence make random searches to discover if their suspicions are fruitful. On Tuesday 17 June 2003, the patrol encountered a small boat with 4 males attempting to throw items overboard. The patrol challenged the locals and uncovered a long barrelled weapon and magazines filled with ammunition. The locals were subsequently apprehended and handed to the local civilian police. Pictured is one of the boats in action whilst patrolling the Shatt Al Arab River. Crown Copyright For More Information Contact : Picture Editor HQ Land Command Erskine Barracks Wilton, Wilts SP2 OAG Tel No 01722 433315 Fax No 01722 433677[/tab] [tab title=”CSB 4″]

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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.

On behalf of France and the United Kingdom (UK), OCCAR has awarded the Maritime Mine Counter Measures (MMCM) contract to Thales Underwater Systems, in collaboration with BAE Systems and their partners in France (ECA) and in the UK (ASV, Wood & Douglas, SAAB UK)

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.

Each system will comprise a USV (Unmanned Surface Vehicle) equipped with an autonomous navigation system, an obstacle detection and avoidance sonar, a threat identification and neutralisation capability based on ROVs (Remotely Operated Vehicles), a T-SAS (Towed Synthetic Aperture Sonar) and AUVs (Autonomous Underwater Vehicles). The geolocated AUVs will use the latest-generation synthetic aperture sonar SAMDIS with multi-aspect functionality for improved classification. They will perform their tasks autonomously with control from a host ship or shore-based station via high-data-rate communication links.

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;

Towing speed is typically 8 kt. The ARCIMS sweep mission module payload set comprises a power generation module, and towed sweeps for acoustic, electric, and magnetic influences.

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.

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Thales MCM

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Maritime Mine Counter Measure (MMCM)

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ATLAS Elektronik Offboard Systems showing ARCIMS
ATLAS Elektronik Offboard Systems showing ARCIMS
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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;

Unmanned technology with the potential to change the face of naval operations within a decade has successfully been demonstrated for the first time by BAE Systems in partnership with ASV at a site near Portsmouth Naval Base.

The new system will allow crews to carry out vital tasks such as high speed reconnaissance and remote surveillance while keeping sailors out of harm’s way. The modified boat is capable of operating autonomously for up to 12 hours at a time on either a pre-planned route or via remote control. It can reach speeds in excess of 38 knots (44 miles per hour), providing unique ship-launched manoeuvrability and enhanced situational awareness to support the decision-making of its operators. The technology is designed to be fitted to the Rigid Inflatable Boats (RIBs) like those already used extensively by the Royal Navy.

Underpinning the system’s ability to operate autonomously is its complex array of sensors, including a navigation radar, 360 degree panoramic infrared camera array and laser range finder which offer operators a detailed picture within a significant range of the vessel.

“This technology delivers an extremely robust and fast-moving unmanned boat that is able to perform a number of surveillance and reconnaissance roles, even when operating at high speed or in choppy water,” said Les Gregory, Product and Training Services Director at BAE Systems.

“BAE Systems has a wealth of experience in the development and integration of unmanned systems. The successful demonstration highlights the enhanced capability this technology offers. While other programmes are primarily designed for larger, slower boats to tackle mine counter-measure scenarios, this system provides an extremely manoeuvrable multi-role vessel.”

The unmanned system and software algorithms controlling the boat were provided by Portchester-based unmanned and autonomous specialist, ASV. BAE Systems has been working closely with ASV to integrate the technology and prove the concept through the demonstrator.  The next stage in its development is to create the sensor suite before ensuring a seamless integration with the combat management system on the parent ship.

Dan Hook, Managing Director for ASV said: “The algorithms we’re developing with BAE Systems allow the boat to perform complex missions and navigate through waters avoiding collisions.

“This gives it the flexibility and sophistication to operate in a number of different tactical roles, whether it’s patrolling areas of interest, providing surveillance and reconnaissance ahead of manned missions, or protecting larger ships in the fleet.”

The boats will be able to operate up to 40km away from their parent ship.  As well as being completely autonomous they can also be remote-controlled by crew on land, from the ship via a hand-held controller or piloted as usual.

The technology is designed as a retrofit to the manned Pacific 24 RIB already deployed across Type 23 Frigates and Type 45 Destroyers. These boats will also go on to the Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers once they enter service.

As unmanned technology develops, there is no doubt this kind of system will be carried and operated by Type 26 GCS.

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BAE ASV Unmanned Royal Navy

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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.

L3 Marine Systems will supply the Platform Management System (data sheet) and Cathelco, cathodic protection.

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.

[AMAZONPRODUCTS asin=”0851775578″ listprice=”0″]


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


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October 27, 2015 11:24 am

Top marks for this “dissertation” TD.

On NSM/JSM, I understand its box-launched. Any studies of converting it to VLS launched?

October 27, 2015 11:25 am

Another excellent and researched article which fills in some gaps and opens new questions about the Type 26 programme. One thing is clear, politicians are big on rhetoric but very limited in knowledge of (naval) defence matters. I had a quiet chuckle at the the throwaway line that one manufacturer “was now owned by BAEs” which is something of an understatement. This “British” company is a huge global enterprise supporting the USN and Nato members – and the 5″ gun is a standard they have applied across many navies. The question should be why this “British” company does not use its massive global experience and apply discounted equipment costs to British defence procurement? After all it is in their interest to be defended at “home”, isn’t it?

October 27, 2015 11:36 am

What is the projected maximum altitude/height for CAMM?

October 27, 2015 12:00 pm

On-board Torpedo launchers have been notable for their absence in any official discussion of T26.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
October 27, 2015 12:09 pm


Magazine Torpedo Launcher System (MTLS) was pretty much mothballed on many T23 and has only in last few years been brought back in. Firing a short range LW torpedo back down a bearing may make you feel better but the submarine would have had to waste an awful lot of its range advantage if it was after you. of course if you are one of the outer ASW escorts and the sub is attempting to penetrate the screen things change. The Helo will remain the primary ASW weapon delivery system but do not discount the utilisation of the Mk41 cells and purchase of some RUM-139C off the shelf should it be felt necessary.

October 27, 2015 1:17 pm
Reply to  Hohum

Given the designs and VLS cells, ASROC will be employed. The Fallon to Stewart letter gave an indication of this

October 27, 2015 1:56 pm

Question, notwithstanding the capabilities of CAMM could the T26s use either or both of ESSM / SM’s in the Mk41s with artisan and existing fire control systems or would a lot of work be needed to integrate either? Does Aster 30 fit in the Mk41s and therefore same question for those?

All politicians are the Same
All politicians are the Same
October 27, 2015 2:05 pm
Reply to  mickp

They could not use any of the SM or Aster missiles no. Artisan is not designed to do that. They could not use the current version of ESSM but there is a chance they could if required use the future active version dependent on its final specifications.

October 27, 2015 2:10 pm

There is no technical reason I am aware of that ARTISAN couldn’t be integrated with ASTER. SM-2 is a different matter as it needs an illuminator (but one could hypothetically be installed) but ASTER is active radar homing (as is SM-6 and ESSM Block II) so as long as the ship can provide mid-course updates it should be fine.

October 27, 2015 2:13 pm

@APATs thanks.

October 27, 2015 2:20 pm

All I can say is thank god I voted for this, as this has been a very interesting breakdown of the T26

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
October 27, 2015 2:23 pm

It is a function of the range of the Rf seeker head and when it is programmed to switch on and the update rate provided by a full AESA radar compared to 997 which only electronically scans in the vertical plane whilst rotating mechanically.
The combination of the shorter range and the active seeker engaging at a longer range from the target make it feasible for Sea Ceptor.
It is no coincidence that all aster fitted ships have a multi function phased array radar fitted.

October 27, 2015 2:29 pm

As long as Type 997 can provide mid-course updates there is no reason it shouldn’t be able to direct an active RF seeker-headed SAM. It apparently can CAMM uses them.

Jeremy M H
October 27, 2015 2:30 pm

I can’t see where one would want to mess with SM-6 on a type-26. The platform is unlikely to be able to leverage the range of the weapon in most scenarios. Honestly in combat situations most SM-6 shots wouldn’t use the ship radar for their initial launch I don’t think. That is what NIFC-CA is all about. SM-6 is built for that system in particular.

A simple look at horizon limitations and likely ingress methods that would be used against a T-26 makes me thing Sea Ceptor likely has all the range you can use. This changes a bit when you get in the carrier group and add he helo based radar. But it can’t target off board weapons yet.

Type 26 is fine with what it has. Use the VLS for strike weapons. It doesn’t have the sensor fit to use very long ranged weapons and I think ABM work is out as well.

October 27, 2015 2:35 pm


I am not suggesting for a minute one would want to do it, just that its not impossible.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
October 27, 2015 2:38 pm
Reply to  Hohum

CAMM goes active at x miles from the target and Y from the launcher. Aster goes active at a lot lot less distance from target and a lot more from launcher. requiring far more updates at a far greater rate to be effective.

October 27, 2015 2:39 pm

I’ve been eagerly waiting for this and it has certainly been worth the wait. Thanks.

I think there’s one typo that I’ve spotted in the main gun section…

“After much speculation and competing bids from Oto Melara/Babcock, the BAE GCS will feature a BAE Mk45 Mod 2 medium calibre gun system.”

Shouldn’t that read “…will feature a BAE Mk45 Mod 4”?

Also, a question on the hangar. You say for the mission bay that “the mission bay can accommodate a Merlin or even two Wildcat helicopters”. You don’t really mention the capability of the hangar. Clearly it’s capable of housing the Merlin but what else? I thought that I’d read somewhere that the hangar on its own, i.e. without using the facility to combine it with the mission bay, was capable of hosting two Wildcats and maybe even a Merlin plus a Wildcat. Am I imagining that? If any information is available and/or informed guesswork possible then it might be worth fleshing out the capabilities of the hangar with/without mission bay involvement as far as helicopters are concerned.

All in all I have to agree with your conclusion regarding how the T26 looks to be shaping up – “what is not to like”.

October 27, 2015 2:43 pm

@Jeremy MH, agreed I was just exploring options for Mk41s in terms of the ability to employ any SAM with greater capability than CAMM with minimal modification. In the current guise, 48 CAMM plus 24 Mk41s with a tailored combination of TLAM, Asroc, some sort of AShM is a pretty potent combination for the missions in hand.

October 27, 2015 3:25 pm

Now tomahawk can also be SSM, maybe its much simple to fill the Mk.41 with TLAMs. It is already in your arsenal (for SSN), its relatively cheep, is also gives you land attack capability. I think this is a very simple solution. Two dozen of TLAM is quite impressive, actually.

By the way, I think you shall keep your Harpoon or purchase NSM/JSM, to arm your T23s and T45s, I suppose.

October 27, 2015 3:44 pm
Reply to  Think Defence

Either that or that’s bypassed and the only ASW weapon will be the Merlin’s torpedoes, much like the USN’s LCS.

October 27, 2015 6:23 pm

It looks a well rounded design: They key is numbers, if BAE can keep the price right.
13 the minimum. 16 would be very good 8ASW ( 6 for the Carriers, 2 for Deterrent protection), 8 General purpose.
17 Execellent 9 ASW and 7 GP.

October 27, 2015 6:24 pm

RE this one “As long as Type 997 can provide mid-course updates there is no reason it shouldn’t be able to direct an active RF seeker-headed SAM. It apparently can CAMM uses them”
I think emitting the mid-course commands to CAMM has separate emittors, i.e. is not the function of the radar itself… which raises the question: can CAMM be used as a Lock-on at Launch for very short engagement ranges? The Israeli solution (also used by the Indian Navy) uses a combination of both methods, to be able to handle (not track, for clarity’s sake) 60 targets simultaneously.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
October 27, 2015 9:32 pm
Reply to  ArmChairCivvy

I assume you refer to the Barak 8 missile? They are both active Rf missiles with 2 way data links. The Barak is bigger and slower with a longer range. Requirement for an update depends on range.

October 27, 2015 9:55 pm

So you are saying that hey have not taken this land system to sea?
“The Spyder-SR is the culmination of joint R & D efforts undertaken by RAFAEL and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI).

[The]… system mixes radar and optical tracking. It is a low-level (from 20 metres through to 9,000 metres altitude) integrated, all-weather air-defence system that makes use of the ground-launched ultra-agile short-range (15km range) 5th generation Python 5 imaging infra-red guided and short to medium-range Derby 4 radar-guided missiles, which complement each other in their target detection, tracking and pursuit profile.

Both missiles are equipped with lock-on before launch (LOBL) and lock-on after launch (LOAL) modes for faster response time and improved engagement flexibility. “

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
October 27, 2015 10:04 pm
Reply to  ArmChairCivvy

That is what I am saying yes. LOBL has all sorts of issues at sea. Exposure of the seeker head to the elements, unable to train in a VLS cell.

October 27, 2015 10:33 pm

Yes, looks like they had to come up with another type of complementary solution (Barak 1) the the active seeker Barak 8:

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
October 27, 2015 10:48 pm
Reply to  ArmChairCivvy

An interesting solution but perhaps not an entirely efficient one. With a range of about 12Km the Corvette is going to provide a very limited isoleth for the platforms. It will help that the threat direction is known but all they have to do is see which platform it is protecting and fire at another one. Very limited use of a complex radar system and the associated mobile systems.
What it does illustrate is the limitations of Corvettes. They are using the Barak 1 missile as the SAAR 5 can carry 64 of them. It can only carry 16 of the larger more capable Barak 8 making it less suitable for point defence against a saturation rocket attack which the fixed position of the gas platforms makes easier.
Given the fixed nature of the platforms and the high degree of GBAD expertise i would have thought a fixed defensive installation would be a much better use of resources/

A Caribbean Perspective
A Caribbean Perspective
October 28, 2015 12:01 am

@APATS – re: Given the fixed nature of the platforms and the high degree of GBAD expertise i would have thought a fixed defensive installation would be a much better use of resources

I hope it’s not based on rockets – you can’t even wear nylon underwear or use steel tools on the average production platform because of the spark risk – I hate to think what the exhaust from a rocket engine could do

October 28, 2015 1:26 am

Regarding the talk, but lack of the Chemring Centurion on the GCS imagery. Does it not look like a Centurion mount on the Type 23 CSP slide labelled ‘DAS-SS’? If they’re installing it on T23, surely it’s a pull through? That is unless my eyes are deceiving me…

October 28, 2015 6:29 am

I don’t really want it to be the secondary AAW unless the ship sails with the QEC in a high threat environment. Get the focus on ASW and ASuW and Land Attack, well ASW first.

October 28, 2015 11:16 am

If nothing else, this post expertly illustrates the staggering complexity of warship design. To all those who play ‘top trumps’ and whinge about this or that system not being included, take note – if it was that easy, it would be done.

Furthermore I sincerely hope this kills off any more whining about cost and ‘gold plating’. Nothing on the list above is exotic, unusual or controversial, nor indeed unnecessary. This is about as perfect as it’s ever likely to get with respect to conceiving and designing a complex warship to fulfil a valid, realistic requirement. If only Type 45 had been this well considered.

TD, pour yourself a large whisky. Much obliged, great post.

October 28, 2015 11:21 am


Sorry mate, can’t agree. “Firing a short range LW torpedo back down a bearing may make you feel better but the submarine would have had to waste an awful lot of its range advantage if it was after you”. Maybe true in counter-nuclear ASW but the most prevalent threat will be conventional, and for that the SSK’s limited capabilities means it will probably be within Stingray range if it’s attack is to be effective. Putting one back down the bearing will screw up the SSK’s attack plan, and, more importantly, will be the launch system that could fire any hard-kill countermeasure that might be brought into service. Your aircraft is going to be on deck for about 75% of any 24hr period, so you cannot rely on having it airborne and armed. If an organic torpedo launch system has been omitted, thats a huge oversight in my book.

Rocket Banana
October 28, 2015 11:39 am
…it will probably be within Stingray range if it’s attack is to be effective


Surely SSKs don’t carry heavyweight torpedos for fun!

Lastly, can’t one program a dog leg or delay into a torpedo strike so that “putting one down the bearing” has no effect?

October 28, 2015 12:57 pm

The USN’s LCS depend on their Seahawks to fire torpedoes; they don’t have any ship-board torpedo tubes.

The FREMM frigates have ship launched torpedos http://aviationweek.com/blog/fremm-successfully-fires-first-torpedo

I guess it’s a matter of preference.

October 28, 2015 1:16 pm


Basic maths. How far can you see with a periscope only 1m high? And a target, say, 12m high (about the height assumption you need to make out which way the target is pointing and what speed she’s doing – harder if you’re zigzagging)? About 8-9nm at best, and that’s not really good enough for a firing solution. Then assume that your threat is the widely-prevalent wake homing torpedo – you have to be (funny old thing) pretty much behind the target to get an acquisition, which means your window to shoot is brief to say the least. And torpesoes aren’t exactly quiet either – you will hear it coming. In reality, you have to get closer. A good ASW escort is acoustically quiet so you’ll see it before you hear it. Yes, the heavies will be noisy, but the ASW escort will be closer. It’s a long, long way from a slam-dunk, but it’s a lot more balanced than you think. Hence I’d want a brace of lightweight ASW torpedoes ready to go – or even better, a brace of anti-torpedo torpedoes (which are in development).

Rocket Banana
October 28, 2015 1:19 pm


Fair enough. Love the sound of the “brace of anti-torpedo torpedoes” :-)

October 28, 2015 1:41 pm

A little bit of basic sleuthing on the torpedo system raises an interesting question – where is the magazine? The T23 Air Weapons Magazine is immediately forward of the hangar and contains the MTLS tubes. That’s not an option with the mission bay ahead, and there isn’t enough room in the superstructure either side of the hangar. That then presupposes that the air weapons magazine is below the hangar. An MTLS tube system a deck down might yet appear but would be close to the waterline and therefore precludes maintenance whilst making a door vulnerable to wake/wash and sea state. The small doors either side of the hangar and forward (one large and one small) are likely just access hatches for mooring bollards. So, an interesting challenge – do we, perhaps, go back to STWS?

October 28, 2015 1:41 pm

Great article TD thanks!
Assuming no decision has been made on the replacement for Harpoon, would it not be an idea to work with MBDA to get a vertical launched version of Sea Venom? …bear with me…

A booster could be added to handle the launch, transition to vertical flight, extend the range to over 100 nm then separating to allow the missile to fly to target under its own steam. These could be quad or triple packed (like CAMM) into Mk41 VLS cells. The warhead is only 30KG but launching 4-8 missiles at a large target would provide a similar punch and would provide a better chance of getting past the enemy’s defences. Fewer missiles could be launched at smaller targets so that we’d not be wasting large missiles on small ships. There’s also the basic land attack capability to consider too.

It would also provide more work and investment into our missile expertise and would possibly lead to exports.
Just a thought… I’m sure one of the more enlightened posters will provide a simple reason why this is not a good idea!

October 28, 2015 6:35 pm

Surely you are missing the point of that big open mission bay?
Primary use is clearly a splendid venue for a cocktail party, could even have a modular one folded up in a container if you insist on having a boat or two, or the captain’s Range Rover, on board.

October 28, 2015 6:52 pm

@ChrisM “captain’s Range Rover”
During the 60s and 70s frigates and destroyers had a Mini Moke for use on land overseas. So a modern equivalent like a Polaris buggy is not a bad suggestion.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
October 28, 2015 6:56 pm
Reply to  as

Capital ships have a car provided for the use of the CO. Donated by their affiliated “worshipful company”. Normally a jag or a Range Rover.

All politicians are the Same
All politicians are the Same
October 28, 2015 7:17 pm
Reply to  Think Defence

Not nearly posh enough.

On a serious note, the Canadians are looking at making the first few SCSC AD assets with command capabilities. To replace the Iroquois Class destroyers. The Mission Bay is an obvious chance for BAE to offer it as a bespoke TG Command Space linked to the ops room , utilising the open source architecture. Then offer the entirely Mk41 cell bow with the Canucks choice of MFPAR. The rest would have the mission bay reinstated as a modular space and they could choose whether to have only MK41 on the bow and either have an MFPAR or not in which case they could still utilise ESSM2 or simply buy UK spec.

October 28, 2015 7:18 pm

@TD – genius!

I thought I’d seen something about anti torpedo torpedoes on carriers:


A Caribbean Perspective
A Caribbean Perspective
October 28, 2015 7:24 pm

Well, Lyme Bay was tootling around the Caribbean with this in it’s hold earlier this year – doubt the CO got to use it though!

TD – love the containerised beach bar!

40 deg south
40 deg south
October 28, 2015 9:24 pm

Cheers TD – a mighty effort.

With regard to CAMM, the October issue of Asia Pacific Defence Review (an Aussie trade mag) had a piece on the upgrade of the KIwi ANZACs, which are the first export recipient of CAMM.

The project manager confirmed that the existing Mk41 tubes are being stripped out and replaced with 20 bespoke launch tubes for CAMM that only penetrate a single dck (vs. 3 decks for Mk41). Topweight management is preumably the reason. On the contentious issue of CAMM range, he claimed it was ‘similar to ESSM’, which I would take with a grain of salt, given CAMM is much smaller (99kg vs. 280kg?). It was also claimed that CAMM would be able to engage surface targets with a ‘software tweak’ My interpretation is that it can’t do this at present, but a future upgrade should be able to add this capability.

While touted as a low-risk solution, NZ’s installation of CAMM will use a different radar (Thales Smart-S Mk 2), different launchers and a different combat system (Can ACCS 9LV from the Halifax-class upgrade) to that used by the RN. I really hope LockMart Canada knows what it is doing, and the price NZ paid reflected these risks.

All politicians are the Same
All politicians are the Same
October 28, 2015 9:53 pm
Reply to  40 deg south

Interesting they are taking out the Mk41 silo as sea Ceptor should have been easily packed into the existing silos. especially as they are smaller than even the Sea Sparrow that were in the silos, Suspect there may be more to it than top weight. the radar and the CS will be fine for Sea Ceptor.

October 28, 2015 10:43 pm

Not refuting the above at all, but somewhere I saw a photo of CAMM in MK41 and the famous quadpacking seems to have shrunk to three of them in there?

Why would that be? Soft launch should work fine without too much of a need for the management of hot gases otherwise created. Is it in preparation for the ER model of CAMM; would obviously have an extra booster, be heavier and maybe the soda pop pill would not do the trick of lifting it anymore?

Oh, the Kiwis actually wanted something else than the multi-packed Mk41s or the current SeaCeptor tubes… the mystery deepens!

All politicans are the same
All politicans are the same
October 28, 2015 10:50 pm
Reply to  ArmChairCivvy

I think that we will discover that the 20 bespoke cells will be the same as the ones used on T26. Not different at all. it may simply have come down to something as simple as wanting new silos/cells and this is cheaper. Not much mystery at all.

October 28, 2015 11:07 pm

No, that makes perfect sense and is likely to happen.

The mystery part was why 3 rather than 4 (that would fit)? As I don’t remember the source, it is difficult to follow it up now… but no worries, in a year or two we will know.

CAMM, VLS JSM, ASROC in its newest variety… interchangeable within the same launch tubes. Artisan without a need for a four-faced AESA… even a pop gun for close-in defence; maybe we will get a Black Swan fleet with a lot of capability very cheaply after all?

40 deg south
40 deg south
October 29, 2015 12:00 am

Sorry gents, I was obviously clear as mud.

By ‘bespoke launchers’, I meant launchers tailored to fit the CAMM missile, rather than re-purposed tubes that originally housed some other weapon. So as APATS says, they will almost certainly be the same as the ones fitted to T26.
My understanding is that the CAMMs fitted to T23 are slotting into the existing launch tubes. That was the comparison I was making when saying the NZ would have a different radar, combat system and launchers. The first ANZAC sails next year for its ‘Maple-leaf makeover’ (to quote an anonymous wordsmith in the NZDF comms team) so the CAMM-specific launchers should be in service with RNZN some years before the first T26 is commissioned.

Regarding the removal of Mk41 silos, from memory the article mentioned both weight and space savings. While the public focus has been on weight, a bit of below-decks room for a bank of servers or an air-con unit would no doubt be welcome to the refit planners. Speaking which, here is the latest from LockMart.

An earlier piece from NZ here.

All Politicians are the same
All Politicians are the same
October 29, 2015 12:05 am
Reply to  40 deg south

You should be better off, you are going to get the bespoke cells, we are going to continue to utilise a modified GWS-26 silos ;)

October 29, 2015 6:00 am

@ wise ape

I always wondered why there were not anti torpedo torpedos. If a missile can shoot down another missile at mach 3 then hitting a torpedo should be a doddle.

October 29, 2015 6:04 am

great work TD, by far the most comprehensive look at the T26 I have ever come across. The program seems a very well worked out sensible approach to deliver the exact ship we need.

This is why I think we all took report of the GBP 11.5 billion cost of the program with horror. Lest just hope that figure includes a good dose of inflation and through life support. If we can’t build a ship like this for the GBP 500 million mark then we have no business being in ship building.

October 29, 2015 8:27 am


By ‘silos’ you mean the existing box on the foc’sle with circular holes in the top. Not exactly Mk41 gucciness. As you well know the missiles are in individual sealed canisters which just drop in. Whatever CAMM is coming in, it will require a new hole as the launchers are smaller – I believe a cluster of 4 in one launcher. Hence why fully half the silo will not be used, and with 12 boxes evident in the concept schematics and 4 per box, a potential (though unlikely) outload of up to 48 missiles is still possible in half the space.


I can see a missile coming. Precision targeting of a fast-moving torpedo using sonar? Whole different challenge.

October 29, 2015 11:01 am

“…the October issue of Asia Pacific Defence Review (an Aussie trade mag) had a piece on the upgrade of the KIwi ANZACs, which are the first export recipient of CAMM. The project manager confirmed that the existing Mk41 tubes are being stripped out…”

Some MK41 launchers going cheap so that we can finally fit them into some of the T45s? :-)

Slightly more seriously, with T26 getting MK41 would there be any worthwhile economies to be had by taking advantage of the T26 orders to add on some MK41 for the T45s and negotiate reduced price based on volume. I suspect that price-wise this might be the best opportunity to get MK41 into the T45s.

October 29, 2015 11:21 am

Good point Julian, another consideration will be if we purchase LRASM to replace harpoon. If the T45 don’t have mk41 they will loose ASM capability or we would have to have different missiles.

October 29, 2015 6:17 pm

I wonder what sort of range is proposed for the anti torpedo torpedoes. Presumably short. Would be terribly embarrassing to miss an incoming fish and hit one of your own escorts.

Superimposing the T26 against the T23 really does drive home how big the new frigates are going to be.

October 30, 2015 10:02 am

“Superimposing the T26 against the T23 really does drive home how big the new frigates are going to be.”

Very true. It would be interesting to see another superimpose of a T26 on a T45.

If the final state of affairs described by TD remains…

“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!”

That’s also not a million miles away from a T45.

Slightly Agricultural
Slightly Agricultural
October 30, 2015 11:43 am

ISO crew area might not be a bad idea for a counter-piracy tour of the Caribbean etc. (assuming there was room between the boats). As you say, crew comfort is not a dirty concept – a gym or extra messing space might be quite a nice luxury for several months on a tin can away from home!

Alternatively, having a small vehicle aboard would also help with those PR school-building visits and whatnot…

October 31, 2015 3:27 am
October 31, 2015 4:44 am

Thank you for an informative and well written article. And thanks to APATS for his comments.

I do hope APATS comment about reusing SeaWolf silos was a joke.

By the way,it’s been widely reported that Sea Ceptor did 60+km is a test firing. Not bad. Presumably it didn’t have to wiggle a lot.

Also MBDA claim 45+km for CAMM-ER at the expense of a meter in missile length and a couple more inches in diameter. Once again, sounds a good deal. APATS should be looking into that in his spare time :-)

October 31, 2015 10:48 am

“Also MBDA claim 45+km for CAMM-ER at the expense of a meter in missile length and a couple more inches in diameter.”

I wonder whether one or both of the Sea Ceptor silos are sized with the extra space required for the -ER version. Does anybody know?

If there was the space then Sylver 50 might be an interesting alternative to the forward Sea Ceptor launchers. It would almost certainly increase the Sea Ceptor load-out with quad-packing, possibly significantly depending on how many Sylver 50 could fit into the space (if any, depth is probably the problem). For carrier escort duty though it opens up the possibility of carrying Aster 30 to be launched and controlled by a T45. The relatively low missile capacity of the T45 has always worried me a bit and seems such a shame given the quality of the rest of the system (propulsion reliability not withstanding).

The Other Nick
The Other Nick
October 31, 2015 1:17 pm

Ship’s Propellers,

MAN introduces the new Alpha Kappel Fixed Pitch Propellor with blades that are designed for increased fuel efficiency and noise reduction for bulk carriers by using a pronounced curved tip fin (much more so than theType 23 fixed pitch propellor in the National Maritime Museum) that minimizes the water flow over the tip of the propellor blade, giving higher efficiency than a conventional propellors. Presume similar principle as all the new commercial jets now use winglets to avoid loss of lift at end of wings due to washout.

My understanding being that the curved tip fin gives a reduction in cavitation / noise, so may be suitable design for the T26.


November 4, 2015 7:30 am

I hadn’t heard of the ACCOLADE RF Decoy programme before.

Is that similar to the USN & RAN Nulka decoy? Kinda wondered why the RN never really looked at that solution.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
November 4, 2015 8:46 am
Reply to  Bhodie

The RN have been using Siren since 2003/2004.

Mike Wheatley
Mike Wheatley
November 4, 2015 9:40 pm
Reply to  Julian

@ Julian, re: “…The relatively low missile capacity of the T45 has always worried me a bit and seems such a shame given the quality of the rest of the system…”
The entire Falklands war saw a total of 42 Sea Dart launches fleet-wide.
Now, 48 Aster-30 per ship *might* be insufficient, and I would genuinely (non-sarcastically) like to see your reasoning as to why. But it certainly isn’t obvious that there needs to be more.
But excess missiles are likely to be wasted, due to the ship being sunk before they are fired.
Attempting to carry an excessive number also compromises the design, of course: could you carry something more useful in the space? If you had funding for 16 more silos, would you chose to carry 16 more Aster-30 or 16 Tomahawk? Would you carry 32 more Aster-30 at the expense of the hanger? Etc.

Mike Wheatley
Mike Wheatley
November 4, 2015 9:43 pm
Reply to  TAS

“I can see a missile coming. Precision targeting of a fast-moving torpedo using sonar? Whole different challenge.”
…So, how well does a blue-green Lidar work under water?

November 4, 2015 10:51 pm

@Mike Wheatley

‘The entire Falklands war saw a total of 42 Sea Dart launches fleet-wide’

Should we not also be factoring in the number of Sea Wolf and Sea Cat launches during 1982? Not sure of the precise figures, but there was certainly more than that of Sea Dart, so the combined number probably runs in the 100’s.

Don’t disagree though that around 48 silo’s per vessel is adequate for the RN’s needs. The 80-100+ some USN (and oddly South Korean) ships pack is pretty excessive. The T26 design sporting 48 cheaper CAMM cells and 24 ‘strike’ VLS is a happy medium.

November 5, 2015 12:09 am

The Falkland’s launch figures are sued because there are times there would have been a missile launch but the computers crashed (70s computer crashed a lot). we now have computers that would not crash. they can also now handle multiple crossing targets. I would like to think we would not make the same mistakes this time such as compromising the radar by sending ships to close to land (that is not the ships taking part in the landing but one are patrolling out to sea). The radar we have is so much more capable. Then we get that we had to send two ships to cover each other (type 42 and type 22) with sea dart and sea wolf. Now we have ships that have both ranges covered so we can use one ship for the air picket roll. All the systems are so much more capable 30 year tech has come a long way. You can send a ship to a position that 30 years a go would have been suicide and expect it to survive to a point.

November 5, 2015 1:19 am
Reply to  TAS

No you won’t. You hear an ASW escort before you see it. I’m speaking from experience here.

If you are firing within lightweight torpedo range then something has gone very wrong for the submarine. With wire guided heavy weights the “penetrate the defensive layer” is not required either and is a somewhat outdated concept.

A Caribbean Perspective
A Caribbean Perspective
November 5, 2015 2:55 am
Reply to  Challenger

@Challenger/ @MW – IIRC, there were c. 80 Sea Cat and 8 Sea Wolf launches in the Falklands. Sea Wolf is credited with 2 kills and 3 possibles, while Sea Cat’s single kill was later allocated to another weapon system (can’t remember which, unfortunately). So that would give you around 130 launches in total

November 5, 2015 5:23 am

It was interesting that the SeaDart launch figure was selected for a basis of an argument. The system was so useless “The Falkland’s launch figures are sued because there are times there would have been a missile launch but the computers crashed (70s computer crashed a lot)” that towards the end some were expended for shore bombardment.

The other two were only slightly better, which after the fact brought about the marrying of aiming/ guidance systems from the land-based Rapier to the ship-based systems.

For the later argument, yes, the T-26 can look after itself (and a concort, but that will tie it to the vicinity of such a HVU… and the ASW mission will be compromised). Answer: two ships.

Not so sure about the T-45 coping with swarm attacks. Answer, again, two ships. This time with the bonus of an AAD umbrella (the mission the class was built for). Even though we use them (with the overall number of surface combatants being what it is) on their own, a better concept would have been (acknowledging that they should always be an integral part of a Task Force) to populate the aft with a good sprinkling of Tomahawks.

November 6, 2015 3:21 pm

Mike – Sorry. I was away for a while so have been slow to answer the question and I’m not in a position to give you a good answer anyway since I was commenting as a non-expert observer and not claiming any specialist knowledge. In retrospect I should have that my wording showed that. I’m really here to listen and learn from people who do know what they are talking about so all my comments should really be phrased as questions.

For what it’s worth my lay-person’s concern/impression that I expressed simply came from comparison with Arleigh Burke class which seemed to be designed for a broadly comparable role. Interesting Challenger subsequently said “The 80-100+ some USN (and oddly South Korean) ships pack is pretty excessive. “. Is the general thinking that the RN has got the balance better than the USN and others?

Re the Falklands/SeaDart discussions, my lay-person’s devil’s advocate questions would be…

Would Sea Dart launches also have been limited by available targeting/illumination radars so limited ability to respond to saturation attacks (for an enemy capable of that)? Does the fact that T45 systems and missiles can manage more simultaneous launches and intercepts due to the fully-active nature of the terminal guidance change the situation at all?

I was also trying to understand the T45’s requirements and characteristics when escorting the new carrier. In that context wouldn’t there be Crowsnest to make longer range engagements by Aster-30 a more realistic possibility? I take the point that the SeaCeptor numbers on T26 (and at least some of the T23 in advance of T26) would provide a good number of shorter range missiles for a carrier group but with the T45 being the only class that can currently carry the longer range surface-to-air capability is why I wondered whether additional long range capability would be useful somewhere in the group without needing to integrate new MK41-launched missiles.

Anyway. Sorry if I gave the impression that I knew what I was talking about. All the above should be read as questions that I am asking to try and help me understand and dispel any misunderstandings and misconceptions that I might have.

November 22, 2015 8:33 am

Excellent article. It is almost as if the Type 26 is becoming a mini Aegis Cruiser instead of a slower but larger and more advanced LCS. Still as I suppose that one of it’s many tasks will be that of Carrier escort it is not surprising.

December 16, 2015 8:52 pm

Think the additional 5 ships should seriously be look at being along the design of Absolm flex ship the Danes have, the have ability to carry out NAP and Piracy patrol of Africa and enough weapons to be useful as additional transport/escort for Amphibforce

December 17, 2015 8:12 am

Firstly, Great new site design , well done TD.

It would seem to me that the CEC capability will become critical across our surface fleet, especially if as suspected we go for a number of light frigates that presumably have weapons but maybe not a world beating radar (Sampson).

I would expect this to be even more true if as often stated, the T45’s are to take on a BMD role.

All in all I would be happy with a T26 of the size and capability discussed in this article, much different to the 8,000 tonne beast discussed elsewhere.

December 22, 2015 2:34 pm

Excellent article TD. They will be fine ships. Its interesting to hear the rhetoric of ‘at least’ 5 light frigates (C3 redux), and the aspiration from Fallon for a ‘larger Royal Navy’. Presumably this committment is conditional upon the RN and BAe and/or competitors being able to come up with something that has the potential to tempt export customers who may wish to repalce their aging (either now or by the time these are building) MEKO or Lafayette-based designs. To do this the new design will need to be both bold and affordable. That means something in 3-4,000 tn bracket, with diesel propulsion (or possibly an affordable CODOG solution), and an ability to be flexed from patrol to multi-role customer requirements. For the RN, if they are to get 8, say, this could involve a basic fit of Sea Ceptor/Artisan, a gun and a helicopter UAS, plus a pair of 30mm and a ASM fit. A VLS is not needed, but space for one if required by customers would help exports and provide growth potential. Developing the soft-launched concept to make an affordable VLS would be a good idea. Soft-launched Sea Brimstone/Spear 3/Sea Venom might be an option to use Sea Ceptor cells more flexibly against small surface combatants and for land attack, maybe as an alternative to NGS, and be useful in likely RN roles. Alternatively a 127mm gun with Excalibur could negate this requirment. Critically they need a small crew – around 80.

December 22, 2015 2:44 pm

Sea Ceptor is just below the ESSM, Aster 15 bracket. Range is good – officially 25km +, but anecdotally anything out to 50km: range is the strong suit of the ASRAAM airframe. Flight altitude maybe 10km? (Aster 15 is 13km).

December 22, 2015 4:34 pm

@ JamesF, on that basis
” Range is good – officially 25km +, but anecdotally anything out to 50km”
the ER development would be superfluous… giving a 40 km range?

@ TD, on a long article, like this, reading the latest comment from the end, then using the arrow to get to the beginning, and then thumbing down, a page or two at a time, to find the middle, where to slot the comment in does NOT make any sense (well, to me, at least)

December 22, 2015 10:44 pm

Where to start? Why spend all that effort on quiet machinery & sonar, yet not have an onboard anti submarine weapon? The helicopter cannot be in the sky 24/7. You need some sort of anti sub mortar or torpedo tubes. Call me old fashioned, but I like the way the Saudis still put 4 heavy torpedo tubes on their frigates. At least 2 tubes for Spearfish, would be my choice for T26. Also handy for sending a damaged enemy ship to the bottom.
To damage an enemy ship, you need an anti ship missile. My first choice would eventually be Perseus, but LRASM, would make a good interim weapon.
I am sure I have seen artwork somewhere of the proposed Air Defence version of T26, but cannot remember where. Does anyone else know? 6 Air defence T26 for the RN would be good to make up for the missing T45.
One of my old rants, was that we should stretch a new/frigate destroyer to replace HMY Britannia. Add a section in the middle with a conference/dining room with VIP cabins above. Could do normal frigate/destroyer tasks most of the time, but also be available for diplomatic/trade functions. The adaptable mission bay on the T26, would be a suitable area for conversion.
So my fantasy RN T26 fleet, would be 8 ASW, 6 AAW, 1 multi role VIP/Diplomatic.
Perhaps L class (Lion, Leopard, London, Liverpool, Leander, etc.)
However, now the Americans are starting to put up interest rates & UK Gov debt is rising, this fantasy fleet, is likely to stay a fantasy.

Peter Elliott
December 23, 2015 12:11 am

JH provided the ships are built as advertised with VLS we can put wtf we like in the way of missiles and ASW weapons when we need them.

April 24, 2016 6:18 am

It was announced last week that the T26 had made the short list for the RAN ANZAC Frigate replacement (along with the Italian version of the FREMM and a Spanish design based on he AWD hull). The time scale announced is second pass approval 2018 (contract signature effectively) and a start in Adelaide in 2020.
If you guys don’t stop talking and start building you are going to shoot yourself in the foot again.

Oscar Zulu
Oscar Zulu
April 26, 2016 3:26 am

Slightly off topic but potentially relevant to the Fremm (vs T26) chance of being a replacement for the RAN’s ANZAC frigates the French DCNS bid has just been announced today as the winner for Australia’s 12 new conventionally powered submarines.

With a 97 metre hull DCNS’s Short in Barracuda design is essentially the same length as an Astute but with considerably less displacement at 4765 tonnes submerged – still larger than the Collins 3405 tonnes.

Range is claimed to be out to 18,000 nautical miles at 10 knots – around three times the range of the Japanese Soryu contender 6,100 nautical miles at 6.5 knots.

Interestingly the DCNS design will be fitted with a propulsor (pump jet) rather than conventional propeller.


Given the RAN AOR is likely to be increasingly off the coast of China (about 3,500 nm trip just to get on station) the DCNS range would have been a decisive factor.

The subs will incorporate US combat systems and weapons although no specifics announced yet, they are likely to be derivatives of Collins CBASS torpedo and combat system (itself a derivative of the Virginia class).

Also likely to be accommodation for special forces (in Australia’s case most likely RAN’s Clearance Diving Teams).

No indication whether they will have a VLS system similar to DCNS’s Ocean concept submarine.


Have to wait an see on that front, but great to see the end of this decade’s long saga.

Now to get on with the business of building them.

April 26, 2016 7:59 am

Congratulations Oz, looks like the RAN is getting a hefty dose of steroids in the next few years.

The Other Nick
The Other Nick
May 17, 2016 5:47 pm

BAE Systems US showcasing the new fully automated gun loading system for the MK45 MOD 4 127mm, based on design cues from AGS 155mm Zumwalt gun, for the Type 26 at the Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space 2016 exposition near Washington D.C.

“An articulating device grabs the 5 inch rounds from palletized storage racks. The device then rotates from an horizontal to a vertical position, moves along the rails to position itself right below the ready service magazine (the drum) and finally lifts the round.”

Picture and write up

May 19, 2016 11:31 am

The furniture will not be supplied by Strongbox. They have gone bust again. (four times now?) Also I cannot see woodgrain effect used on RN Ships in the future. It is twice as expensive and is a nightmare when it comes to through life support. Whoever decided to use it needs sacking.

Scottish Scientist
Scottish Scientist
November 5, 2016 9:43 am

What’s the manoeuvrability going to be like?

Will this be yet another big warship that’s easy enough to sail in a straight line but won’t be able to dock without the help of tugboats?

I’m still waiting for the state of the art in warship design to adopt the brilliant “Cycloidal Rudder”, designed by Voith but yet to find a market. VOITH CYCLOIDAL RUDDER “Cycloidal Rudder and Screw Propeller for Very Manoeuvrable Combatant” http://www.mandragore2.net/dico/lexique1/img/cycloidal-propeller.pdf

* fast, efficient at high speed cruising
* manoeuvres like a tug at low speed

Or if the Royal Navy didn’t like cycloidal rudders (can’t imagine why) then maybe they could use long established azimuth thrusters for better manoeuvrability?

Fixed propellers and rudders make for such a clumsy big ship that navigating through narrow channels is very hazardous. So why do it, Royal Navy?

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