Brazil is still in Canada and Australia are out. The MOD seems to have offered India a place in the program as well as Turkey. While many emerging navies have expressed interest none have come forward with firm orders yet.
The plan is now to deliver three variants of the Global Combat Ship. There will be a specialist ASW version the Type 26 frigate and there will be a general purpose variant likely the Type 27. In order to try to gain as many international participants as possible BAE is also offering an AAW version. This will allow it to compete with FREMM in the international orders. However the UK will not order this version as it already has the T45 AAW destroyer. It is still speculative if the AAW version will be built and it will likley not be refereed to as a Type 28.
All vessels will be built on a standard hull of 5500 tonnes.
The price of the vessel has been cut from the previously estimated £500 million to £200-£300 million
This vessel will fulfill the role of the previously outlined C1 Future Surface Combatant. It will be a high end ASW platform.
The Vessel will have an aft flight deck capable of handling an aircraft up to the size of a Chinook. The hanger will accommodate a Merlin ASW Helicopter.
There will be an aft mission bay capable of launching boats and also accommodating multi mission modules.
The vessel will be able to deploy a towed array sonar which will likely be the type 2087 currently deployed on the T23. This will also be deployed from the aft mission bay.
The vessel will carry an Artisan 3D Radar as used on the T23.
The vessel will be armed with a medium calibre 127 mm gun
This vessel will take on the mantra of the C2 Future Surface Combatant providing a more General purpose variant.
This vessel is likely to perform a similar role to the Italian GP Land Attack Version of FREMM. The main difference with the GP version of FREMM is that it uses a 127mm main gun as opposed to the 76mm weapon used on the other vessels. However both T26 and T27 will carry this gun.
The T27 will mount a sonar but it will not carry a towed array and its hull mounted sonar is likely to be of lower quality that the T26.
The T27 will not carry a Merlin but instead a single Lynx Wildcat although it will have space for the Merlin in the way the T45 currently does.
The T27 will likely carry the same Artisan 3D radar as the T26
Common Weapon Fit for RN Vessels
- 127 mm main gun
- Sylvia VLS
- twin quad packed Anti Ship missile (likely to be Harpoon)
- Torpedo's (Likely the T27 will be fitted for but not with)
- Phalanx CIWS
At this stage nothing has been announced in terms of the VLS system. However the smaller size of the vessel and the fact that all reference to land attack has been dropped means that the VLS is likely to be something really small such as the Sylvia A35 capable of holding CAMMS but nothing else just as with the T23. It is likely that the hull will be large enough to accommodate up to an A70 launcher.
In the end it may be that the T27 General purpose version ends up with the bigger launcher in the designated land attack version abale to carry Sea Shadow.
Anti Air Warfare Version
In order to try to compete with FREMM BAE will need to offer three versions of the GCS. However the RN will not be using the AAW version. This version if ever built will likely accommodate a lighter weight Phased Array Radar such as the Specter array (SAMPSON lite) radar. However given technology controls and the fact that any likely order will not be from a NATO ally it would seem difficult to offer such and advanced piece of kit. The missile fit would probably be Aster 15 and Aster 30.
UAV and UUV
The flight deck will have an extra hangar door for a UAV along the lines of fire scout. The Well deck at the back will also have a system for launching and recovering UUV's
This would be the ship we needed and wanted if we had a fleet of 12 properly armed T45's. What we are likely to end up getting is a poorly armed vessel which is too small for the job. Basically we are getting an updated version of T23.
Its AAW capability will not help to supplement the T45 in escort duty also meaning the vessel will be unable to act on its own near to shore of an enemy with out the AAW capability of the T45 near by. It will likely not carry a VLS large enough for Sea Shadow which will give it essentially no land attack capability other than its main gun. The RN may decide to eventually purchase the land attack version of the Harpoon but this seems unlikely at present. We will not be getting a Mk41 VLS meaning we will not be able to use USN missiles such as SM3, TLAM or ASROC. Not having the 155mm gun will mean that we cannot benefit from new precision guided rounds such as Excalibur.
The multi mission modules carried by the vessel would be useful in many ways however it is unlikely the RN will fund these modules to anything like the same degree as the USN. In the end these will be little more than storage containers for disaster relief.
One has to ask if we really need a 5500 tonne vessel for £300 million a piece if it has little more capability that a OPV. Surely better to have something smaller in greater numbers. All in all this feels like another RN compromise vessel too small and badly armed to do the job but too expensive and specialised to be built in numbers.
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