Nigel Pittaway | Langkawi, Malaysia
Speaking at the 2017 Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace (LIMA) exhibition on the resort island of Langkawi last week, a senior Royal Navy officer provided some insight into current UK thinking around the Type 26 Global Combat Ship program.
Designed by BAE Systems, the Type 26 will be the RN’s ‘high-end’ anti-submarine warfare capability from the middle of the next decade and a variant of the vessel, to be fitted with a CEA radar, the US Standard Missile series of weapons and an Australian-specified combat system, is one of three contenders for Navy’s Future Frigate program being delivered under the aegis of Sea 5000 Phase 1.
“I’m very confident that they will be able to deliver both programs at the same time.”
The other contenders are Fincantieri’s Fregata Europea Multi-Missione (FREMM) being built for the Italian Navy and Spain’s Navantia, with a redesigned F-100 class vessel.
Commander UK Maritime Forces Rear Admiral Alex Burton said that BAE Systems is due to cut steel on the first Type 26 ship in the (northern) summer.
“The government has committed to eight Type 26 ships and they will be the mainstay of our anti-submarine warfare capability, both to project the continuous at-sea deterrence and to project what I’ve often described as the strategic conventional deterrence of the carrier task group,” he said.
“The Type 26 will undoubtedly be the most capable ASW afloat, arriving early next decade. But it’s so much more than an ASW platform, with the ability to take Tomahawk strike missiles, a 5-inch gun and a considerable local area defence capability; and the mission bay, which can take a whole range of mission support packages.”
If BAE Systems, as prime contractor for the Type 26 bid in Australia, were to be selected for Sea 5000, RADM Burton said that he saw no problems with the company’s ability to deliver two versions of the ship within a similar timeframe.
“I’m reassured by all the engagement that I’ve had with BAE Systems and I’m very confident that they will be able to deliver both programs at the same time,” he said.
“So in terms of the pragmatics of delivering two ships across both sides of the world, I think that’s readily achievable and, in fact, as far as the Australian program is concerned, it will benefit from a ship that is very contemporary, exploiting the latest technology and able to respond to the latest threats. Where it will further benefit is that, the lessons the prime contractor are learning from building Type 26 for the UK, will be folded into the slightly later program for the ship in Australia.
“I think it’s a fantastic opportunity. In terms of capability, I think were Type 26 to win, Australia would get the most capable ASW platform afloat anywhere in the globe.”
A more detailed report from LIMA 2017 will appear in the May issue of ADM.