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UK Type 26 Implications for CSC


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This Blogspot is turning out to be a mine of useful information on a variety of topics.

Today it is the Type 26 - and it has some relevance to our CSC programme.

...the Royal Navy has deliberately shaped Type 26 as a program which builds on earlier, incremental improvements adopted on the Type 23s and then moved across, without seeking innovation at all costs. A rough figure has been suggested, putting Type 26 in the field of "80% old, and 20% new".
This does not mean that Type 26 won't deliver a step change in capability from the current Type 23s, but rather that it will deliver so using already existing technology, and indeed re-using a fair amount of equipment.
The savings obtained by re-using equipment and by sticking with proven technology and systems are to be employed, in the idea behind the programme, to ensure a decent number of hulls get built, and to ensure that those hulls come with some new and exciting capability thanks to their large size, large aviation spaces and vast "flexible" mission space and, importantly, a large vertical launch silo that will open up routes the Type 23 has simply never been able to pursue....

he Flexible Mission Bay. There is no indication of its size and shape, but the SoF finally provides a confirmation that the helicopter hangar is directly connected to the Mission Bay, with a passage large enough to enable the transfer of manned and unmanned aircraft from hangar to mission bay.
Hangar size unsurprisingy at least matches that of the Type 45: the destroyer is slightly larger in beam, but the hangar is not full-width, as it has the RHIB bays on both sides. On Type 26, there are no boat bays, although it is likely that the helicopter bay will be flanked by logistic and aviation stores spaces and by the delivery end of the new mechanized Air Weapons Handling System, designed by Babcock, which is to store, retrieve and deliver the weapons for the embarked helicopter to the Weapons Preparation Area.
Apparently, the AWHS will also handle the Stingray torpedoes for the ship's launch tubes (if they will be fitted, see further down in the article).
The hangar matches the Type 45's one and might actually be larger: the SoF says it "comfortably" fits one Merlin or 2 Wildcat. Using the Mission Bay space, more aviation resources could be carried: UAVs, both fired and rotary wing, but also for additional manned helicopter. It would be possible, albeit with limitations, to embark a second Merlin in the Mission Bay, the SoF specifies.
The ability of the mission bay to communicate directly with the hangar (and thus with the flight deck) is an eminently sensible feature to have, and it is glad to have the confirmation that it will be there, and with ample changes of exploiting it over the long life of the ships (at least 25 years of design life).

It is also confirmed that the Flight Deck is being sized to allow a Chinook to land and deploy the ramp to enable comfortable embarkation and disembarkation. The compatibility with Chinook, while not strictly necessary, is useful as the heavy transport helicopter could make good use of the ample Embarked Military Force contingent that can sail into a Type 26, and it could also be used to bring aboard capability modules and stores.
Moreover, the Chinook-sized deck should also, and probably mainly, be seen as a way to ensure that simultaneous UAV and manned helicopter operations can happen with suitable space available for necessary deconfliction.
These features add a huge amount of flexibility to the design.

The mission bay itself is probably a large open space stretching from side to side, with large doors on both sides for deploying boats, unmanned surface and subsurface vehicles, as well as to embark mission modules which can come in containers as big as 20 feet standard TEU.
The mission bay can hold up to four 12 meters boats (and probably a few containers of additional equipment in the middle of the bay) or up to 10 modules / 20 foot containers.
This flexibility will be invaluable in adapting to future missions and in enabling the adoption of future unmanned vehicles which are almost certain to become not just the main MCM system, but also more important in ASW. Having space and infrastructure is, consequently, very desirable for warships which have to last long into the future.
The UK is actively collaborating with France to develop modular payloads for MCM operations, and such developments are happening in other nations across NATO: the UK has taken the lead, according to the letter, for a project that aims to set international standards for the module interfaces, so that foreign systems in future can be embarked and operated where necessary.
One thing which isn't yet detailed is what kind of equipment the ship will have for embarking and disembarking containers and modules: will she depend on external infrastructure, or will the slide-out gantry crane be able to lift not only boats, but also the containers? It will be interesting to see which solutions are adopted. The mission bay will require a strong deck, as reinforced as the flight deck itself. A fully loaded TEU can weight some 24 tons, so a useful payload margin of at least 240 tons is apparently requested. The mission bay estimated size, considering what it can fit, is probably not inferior to a 15 meters long, 20 wide space.


Confirmed are the 48 Sea Ceptor canisters, almost certainly in the two silos configuration seen in CGIs and models so far, so with 24 cells on the bow, ahead of the strike cells, and 24 aft of the funnel mast, amidship.
The Type 26 will have a 127mm gun, too, replacing the old MK8. I'm told that, although it has not yet been officially announced, only the MK45 Mod 4 remains in the frame, with the Oto Melara 127/64 out of the frame. Jane's had reported a while ago that the MK45 had been given preferred bidder status, so it seems things are moving in that direction. The new gun will "allow" the Navy to buy into the new long-range guided ammunition being developed for the calibre, which is a NATO standard, unlike the 114 mm of the MK8.
There will also be two 30mm light guns, as expected, and the possibility to fit two Phalanx CIWS.

Type 26 is going to be a large and "dense" warship. The 6000 tons displacement quoted by BAE is pretty much certainly not the weight of a fully loaded Type 26, and indeed some recent news reports have suggested that the ship might now be an "8000 tons full load displacement vessel". I'm not sure i can believe the 8000 tons value at this point, because it sounds excessive in relation to the specifications and the size of the vessel, but it will be an heavy ship, that's for sure. The SoF letter does not provide any helpful indication about this subject.

Type 26 is 148,5 meters long and around 20 meters in beam. Not too far from the 144,6 and 19,7 meters of the italian variant of the FREMM frigates (the french ones are slightly shorter, as the italian ships are being lenghtened post-build by some 3,5 meters adding an additional section in the stern) which have a declared displacement of 6700 tons, sometimes indicated in more than 7000.


It is a good thing that the Type 26 does seek to reuse much of the expensive equipment fit (main radar, Future Local Area Air Defence System / Sea Ceptor, light guns, navigation radars and other equipment) and build on existing technology (including the shared infrastructure common combat system, which is being rolled out across the Royal Navy's surface fleet in the coming years, having already been installed on HMS Ocean, ordered for the Type 23s and mandated for the new build OPVs), because otherwise there would be no chance to meet the ambitious cost targets set for the programme.
The hull is going to be big and capable, and very dense, with such big spaces being requested for the Strike VLS, mission bay, fuel and stores. The Strike VLS fit is not new (it builds on something that is operational on hundreds of ships around the globe) in general terms but is a new entry in the Royal Navy, so will need to be acquired anew.

Ultimately, we do not know which is the target cost for the Type 26. The newspapers have recently made headlines about Type 26 being a 4 billion project, but this isn't too helpful because government has notoriously indicated that there is likely to be a first contract for 8 ships, to be followed (hopefully) by 5 more later. If 4 billion applied to the first 8 hulls only, the cost per ship would 500 million pounds, rather non ambitious at all. On the other hand, 4 billion for 13 ships would likely be too little, at little more than 307 million per hull. Result maybe not beyond the realm of the possible in general terms, but looking too ambitious for british shipbuilding, which isn't really famous for being cheap.

Maybe the danes could get it done: they have very successfully built the IVER HUITFELDT class frigates, three capable air area defence warships which have cost an amazingly low 313 million USD each.
These impressive vessels, however, build their hulls on the experience of the commercial operator Maersk, a factor not to be underestimated. The design has also benefitted from previous work done to design the Absalom class, another success story.

The IVER class use a fully-diesel propulsion with 4 large MTU sets which can push the ship for 9300 nautical miles at 18 knots, but that can also thrust her to over 29 knots speed with a 120 seconds acceleration time. The base crew of 116 isn't too far from Type 26's target, nor is total accommodation available, set at 165+ men.

The IVER is a 6649 tons displacement vessel, about as large in beam as Type 26, but around 10 meters shorter.
The ships are fitted with an advanced combat system and with the excellent APAR multi-function radar used also on the german SACHSEN ships, supported by the SMART L, the long range radar which equips the Horizon and Type 45 destroyers (in the S-1850M variant). They have a 32-cells MK41 Strike Lenght silo amidship, supplemented by 24 additional cells for ESSM missiles and by space for more ESSM or for up to 16 Harpoon. They are fitted with two 76 mm guns, and a Millenium CIWS, but could soon enough swap one 76 for a MK45 MOD 4 gun. The other 76 could stay or be replaced by another Millenium.

Amazingly cheap, these ships deliver formidable value for money. The budget for all three was 940 million USD, supplemented by 209 million in re-used equipment (ESSM cell modules, Harpoon and 76 mm guns, mainly). The budget did not include the purchase of the SM-2 missiles for air area defence, so for now the MK41 is empty and only ESSM is available, and the 127 mm gun is planned but not yet purchased.

Deep in the hull, they have space reserved for a towed sonar, and further space for other equipment with a footprint equivalent to four 20 feet containers. 

Much more here.....