BAE systems to create plans for new Frigates

An artists impression of the Future Surface Combatant

An artists impression of the Future Surface Combatant

BAE Systems have signed a £3.4m contract to create designs for the Royal Navy’s next generation of Frigates, the Portsmouth News reports. Staff at BAE are working on two designs under the Future Surface Combatant Programme, called the C1 and C2.

C1 is larger than the current Type 23 Frigates, and provides air defence for Carrier groups, but also has a small ‘mission dock’ – not unlike the dock on assault ships – for the rapid launching of small, fast boats. The second design, C2, would be more of a general purpose vessel, designed for patrolling and other duties. Plans are said to be taking shape for ten C1′s and eight C2′s.

Project Director Brian Johnson said: ‘Subject to MoD approval at later stages, we’ve got an outline plan that would see the first ship launched in 2016, and then one ship a year enter service from 2020 or 2021. They would be expected to have a 25-year lifespan, so would be in service until 2050.’

It is a much needed boost to the Royal Navy to have this project advancing. It is arguably more important than the planned new Aircraft Carriers, as 95% of the time it is the Destroyers and Frigates that are out around the globe patrolling the seas. While designs are not the same as signed contracts, at least something is happening.

There are a few areas for concern, however. Why is an air-defence Frigate being planned, when we have the Type 45 Destroyers that are supposedly designed for protecting the new Carriers? And why are we only having six of them, wouldn’t it be better to have say 8 or 10, and just have one class of General Purpose Frigate? Or are the C1 Air Defence Frigates a cheaper alternative for the cancelled Type 45′s?

The C2 design sounds encouraging. A smaller, more general purpose Frigate would be far more ideally suited to tackling small and fast suicide boats and Somali Pirates. The mission dock sounds especially capable.

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8 Comments

Filed under Navy, News

8 responses to “BAE systems to create plans for new Frigates

  1. The case for the 2 aircraft carriers interests me. I would rather see the UK have them than not but I believe in a strong Royal Navy.

    What worries me is not the vessels themselves but the aircraft, shore support and more importantly personnel numbers, especially pilots.

    Will they end up as large steel hulks with very few ventures out of port because of training and operational costs?

  2. James Daly

    Jeff I think you hit the nail on the head, the aircraft, manning and operating will be the real cost. As much as they will be impressive steaming out of Portsmouth Harbour, I would rather see a balanced, flexible Navy and the only way we can deliver that on our shrinking Defence budget is by more smaller ships

  3. m.ridgard

    James Daly, you say you want to see a balanced flexible navy consisting of more smaller ships.
    How on earth is that balanced, a balanced navy is a mixture of large high end warships,medium and smaller craft.
    More smaller ships means you end up with a coastal force,perhaps we should disband the Royal Navy and let the Coastguard defend our country.
    This country Can afford it’s defence committments,it’s the political will that it lacks.
    We can afford to give away hundreds of millions of pounds in foriegn aid to countrys like India and Pakistan who both have massive armed forces and nuclear weapons,but seem unable to fund our own armed forces. Don’t you think that is somewhat strange.

  4. James Daly

    I probably should have explained what I meant by balanced. We’re at risk of ending up with two very large aircraft carriers and very few destroyers/frigates. You always need carriers, but the escort vessels are the ones that go out and do the patrolling, in the South Atlantic, Gulf, off Somalia… and at the moment we’re sending frigates that were designed for air defence against the soviet union to go and tackle somali pirates. I would definitely not advocate us turning the Rotal Navy into a coastal defence force, history shows that when you pull up the drawbridge trouble just knocks on the door eventually. And we live in a pretty uncertain world. But, aircraft carriers, destroyers, frigates, yes. I just fear that we might end up losing out on the frigates for the sake of the carriers.

    I agree that it would probably not take much to fund adequate armed forces, given the political will, and I think on the whole public opinion would rather see money spent on sensible defence than poured into the black hole of social security.

    As for international aid, its always confused me how much money we seem to give away around the world. Theres nothing wrong with international aid per se,
    but more conditions and provisos would be a good thing. Somewhere like India is definitely not a poor country.

  5. oliver ross

    I think that the C3 platform will be a useful littoral combatant. It should be fitted for the tasks of Mine warfare Mine Countermeasures, Hydrographics, force transportation, anti submarine warfare, anti surface warfare, patrol, information surveilance and reconnaisance, light sealift, and offshore warfighting tasks.

    The ideal specs would be

    2000 tonnes
    low draft ie. 4m max
    25-35kts speed
    4000-5000nm range
    nulka missile decoys
    chaff
    decoy launchers
    4-8 cell VLS with Evolved seasparrow missile
    RAM self defence missile system
    57 or 76mm gun
    4-8 harpoon SSM
    nixie towed torpedo decoys
    MU-90 torpedos
    helo
    2x 25-30mm typhoon
    4x 12.7mm Machine guns.

  6. James Daly

    Hi Oliver, thank you for your comment. I agree that the C3 sub-class could end up being very important ships. I think they may be able to carry out many tasks. If they can switch from one task to another with minimal fuss then they should be invaluable.

    I guess the issue with armament will be their size – at 2,000 tons we cannot expect them to do everything.

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