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Type 26 Global Combat Ship

The new Type 26 Global Combat Ship will replace the Type 22 and 23 frigates in the early 2020s. The first ships to be developed under the Future Surface Combatant program will be known as the Type 26 class. Designed to replace the existing Type 22 and Type 23 frigates, Type 26 will deliver a versatile, affordable capability that can be easily upgraded to ensure it remains at the cutting-edge throughout its service life.

Type 26 is the first of two classes of ships to be built under the Future Surface Combatant program, delivering enhanced anti-submarine warfare capability and enabling a more agile response to a wide range of threats and emergency situations. Both variants will be developed with their potential for export factored into the design from the outset, with the aim of securing overseas orders to spread non-recurring costs and reduce the cost per ship to deliver better value for the MOD and UK taxpayers. This approach will also provide a platform to showcase the capability within the UK maritime supply chain, helping to secure the UK's long-term future at the forefront of the global maritime industry.

The first of the new class was due to enter service around the start of the next decade and by the 2030s around half of frontline Royal Navy personnel are expected to operate on a either a Type 26 or the second variant to be developed under this program.

Type 26 Combat Ship BAE Systems was awarded a four year 127 million contract by the Ministry of Defence (MOD) to take forward the program to develop a new generation of combat ships for the Royal Navy. Under the contract, BAE Systems will work in a joint team with the MOD to assess options from the initial concept design in order to develop a detailed specification ready for manufacture.

Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth said: "Planning for future Defence is crucial. It is our duty to provide key equipment that will ensure the UK is properly prepared to meet its own Defence needs in an ever changing world, and continue to play an important role in maintaining global security. Programmes like the Type 26 not only ensure the Royal Navy continues to have cutting edge capability but also sustain the industry that supports them. The commitments the MOD has made will protect skills and employment, and preserve the industrial capability needed to carry out future programs efficiently, in a way that represents value for money."

First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope said: "These program announcements are welcome news for the Navy. You simply cannot have an effective Navy without capable Frigates, and the Type 26 combat ship will form the future backbone of the Royal Navy's surface combatant force, alongside the new Type 45 Destroyers. These ships will be highly versatile, able to operate across the full spectrum of operations, from war fighting to disaster relief."

Alan Johnston, Managing Director of BAE Systems Surface Ships, said: "This is an exciting step in a program that is hugely important not only for the Royal Navy but for the whole of the UK maritime industry. "Type 26 is a key component in sustaining a surface warship capability in UK industry as agreed under the Terms of Business Agreement we signed with the MOD last year. Working in close partnership with the MOD and industry will help to reduce risk and deliver better value for UK taxpayers. It represents a real step change in procurement for defence."

An 80 strong joint MOD and BAE Systems team was established out of Bristol and this will rise to 300 over the next four years, bringing together expertise in all aspects of warship engineering to complete the assessment phase. The first task of the team is to evaluate the main options including capability, operational availability of the ships, exportability features and support optimisation. The program is also timed to address outputs from the forthcoming Strategic Defence Review so that changes to policy will be reflected in the final ship design, ensuring that Type 26 delivers the right capability to support future UK defence.

This is the first major shipbuilding program in the UK in which BAE Systems have been able to fully incorporate bold, innovative principles and technology. Recognising that front end design concept expertise is a scarce resource, BAE Systems have worked in partnership with the UK MOD and our industry partners from the outset of this program as part of a group known as the Naval Design Partnership (NDP). The NDP brings together the very best engineering expertise in all aspects of warship engineering to work towards a common goal. BAE Systems have taken this a stage further, breaking down traditional organisational barriers and have established a joint MOD and industry team, which is collocated in a single building, to work together throughout the design phase. This approach not only delivers greater transparency among those involved, but it also strips out unnecessary costs that can be incurred in a lengthy design process, and drives greater innovation ensuring that all the efforts are 100% focused on developing the very best capability for the customer.

BAE Systems pushed the boundaries of warship design, with a whole host of options being assessed, including:

  • A mission bay, which can embark a wide range of boats, unmanned vehicles and stores for use in disaster relief operations, or to provide additional accommodation
  • A stern ramp, so the ship can recover larger vessels than a traditional davit and can operate in rougher seas
  • Vertical launch silos, capable of carrying a wide range of weapons
  • A flight deck of equivalent size to the Type 45 so it can accommodate a Chinook

The parties involved in the design of the ship will also have responsibility for the build and support of those ships throughout their service lives. This means that during the current assessment phase, BAE Systems can have sensible conversations about implications of how the specification developed now will impact on the ability to repair and upgrade the ship in later life and weigh up the costs and benefits from a whole life perspective.

By November 2010 the assessment phase for the Type 26 Global Combat Ship was not expected to conclude until late 2013, after which the main investment decision will be made and an initial order will be placed.

The White Paper "Securing Britain in an Age of Uncertainty: The Strategic Defence Review" (Cm 7948), presented to the House on 19 October 2010, explained the Government's intention to make certain changes to the armed forces in order to deliver the force structure we require for the future and to help address the legacy of unaffordability in the defence budget. The MOD is committed to procuring the Type 26 Global Combat ship to replace the Type 23 frigate from 2021 onwards.

The pledge to build 13 Type 26 frigates in Glasgow, safeguarding thousands of jobs, was one of the top arguments of unionist politicians, including Defence Secretary Michael Fallon. The Scottish independence referendum took place on 18 September 2014, with some 55 percent of the population choosing to stay within the United Kingdom.

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