Innovative Features in Britain’s New Frigate

The Brits are planning a new class of frigate, the Type 26, that has some interesting features.

The ship is going to be a close contemporary of the Offshore Patrol Cutter with both the new frigate and the OPC programs scheduled to deliver their first ship in 2020. The Type 26 is expected to displace 5,400 tons full load, so it is about 20% larger than the National Security Cutters and perhaps twice the size of the  OPC. Still some of the thinking might be applicable.


“For propulsion, BAE has opted for a conventional but upgraded hybrid system combining gas turbines for top speeds and diesel generators for a fuel-efficient quiet mode, and these generators will provide significantly higher speeds than those of the Type 23.”

The 4,300 ton Type 23 cruises 7,800 miles at 17 knots so presumably they are talking about 20 knots or more on diesel-electric alone, for this relatively large ship. Like the now 22 year old type 23s, they will replace, the Type 26s’ generators will supply power for both propulsion and hotel services.

Boats, Mission Modules, and Aircraft:

“For greater flexibility of the combat systems, the ship will have an integrated mission bay and hangar, allowing the Navy to more easily deploy varying numbers of helicopters, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and boats according to the situation.”

The frigate, like many new designs, incorporates provision for reconfigurable space. What they have done differently is make this space adaptable for trade-offs among helicopters, unmanned vehicles (air, surface, and sub-surface), and boats.

Computer Systems:

“This basically means having a single computer system that can support the multiple pieces of software used throughout the ship, rather than installing separate hardware systems and local area networks from each supplier.

“Using blade server technology originally developed for the banking industry to provide reliable, high-power processing, the computing environment will be able to run different “virtual” operating systems to cope with the variety of programmes the ship will use, from navigation to combat management.”

Common hardware sounds like a great idea, but some are already questioning the choice of a Windows operating system.


There are lots of conceptual drawings, a couple of videos, and additional links along with exhaustive comment (over 500) here.

35 thoughts on “Innovative Features in Britain’s New Frigate

  1. Think defense did a second post on this ship talking about equipment choices. Certainly not all applicable, but some interesting tidbits about propulsion, computing, data links, etc.

    Looking at the description of Link 22 there is an interesting statement that the USCG “will use Link 22 as interoperable communication within homeland security.”

  2. Wow, in addition to Chuck’s points, that is a Chinook (H-47) capable flight deck on a 5300 ton frigate! Smart, impressive, and flexible. I can see another point now of connecting the hanger and multi-mission bay — a mission module container could be flown out and moved to the mission bay for installation, all while underway.

  3. A statement about who the subcontractors will be. Most interesting to me, an American Company, GE Energy Power Conversion will provide the electric propulsion motor and drive system, and “The MoD is also expected to officially confirm what’s already widely known, that BAE’s Mk45 Mod4 5-inch gun system has been selected as the main indirect fire weapon.” This is the gun used on USN destroyers and cruisers.

  4. Announcement, apparently from GE Power Conversion, that they will be developing the electrical and propulsion system for the Type 26, and noting they are doing the same for the Royal Navy’s new carriers and underway replenishment ships. They also provided the electrical propulsion system for the USS Makin Island, the DDG-1000, and will supply the hybrid propulsion system for Norway’s new underway replenishment vessel as well. I think they also provided the integrated propulsion systems for the Lewis and Clark (T-AKE) and the Mobile Landing Platform classes.

    As noted, we may have hybrid propulsion on the OPC as well. If the OPCs are given a electric or hybrid diesel/electric propulsion system, it will probably result in a quieter more economical cruise and may improve the potential of the ships for possible later conversion to ASW ships if the need arises.

  5. Cost reportedly approx. £11.5B ($17.45B) for 13 ships. More interesting to me was that over the next ten years the Brits expect to spend £18.2 billion buying and maintaining surface ships over the next decade and around £40 billion on submarines. (They have their SSBN replacement program too.)

  6. Pingback: BAE at SNA 2017 | Chuck Hill's CG Blog

    • To be fair I think they have pointed out that the contract also includes long lead items for more than just the 3, and other costs like changing the Main Gun and all the costs that includes.

    • According to that article, these will cost about $2.8 Billion (US dollars) each. For the Australians, this design beat out the FREMM and the F-100. Makes one wonder what that might imply for the US FFG(x) program, if anything.

    • It do think the Aegis systems will be updated more frequently than the European derived systems and will provide more options.

      But looks like maybe 32 similar ships all belonging to strong English speaking allies. Very successful program so far. Ironic that the UK will probably have the smallest number of this class (8) while Australia is expected to have 9 and Canada as many as 15.

      • We needed 12 at least. If the three Commonwealth navies fielded 12 T26 with AEGIS each it would do something towards the West’s escort gap.

        The Italian FREMM’s (10 of) all will have an area anti-air capability too. (Plus their Horizons and two new destroyers to be built).

        The T31 program isn’t a frigate program.

        The RN in some ways is becoming a second string navy.

  7. “The Canadian Surface Combatant will have a length of 492 ft (150 m) and a displacement of 8,000. The ship will feature advanced anti-submarine warfare capabilities. She will be armed with a 24-cell Mk 41 VLS (Vertical Launch System) for Tomahawk cruise missiles and other long-range strike weapons, a 48-cell silo for Sea Ceptor air defense missiles and a 5-inch naval gun. The flight deck will be able to operate a CH-47 Chinook-sized helicopters.”

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