The Ministry of Defence has awarded BAE Systems a £3.7bn contract to manufacture the first three Type 26 warships for the Royal Navy. Developed under the title “Global Combat Ship”, the Type 26 along with a newer, smaller class of frigate will go on to replace the current Type 23 frigates (Duke-class).
Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon said:
The Type 26 Frigate is a cutting-edge warship, combining the expertise of the British shipbuilding industry with the excellence of the Royal Navy. We will cut steel on the first ship later this month – a hugely significant milestone that delivers on our commitment to maintain our global naval power. These ships will be a force to be reckoned with, there to protect our powerful new carriers and helping keep British interests safe across the world.
Backed by a rising defence budget and a £178bn Equipment Plan, the Type 26 programme will bring vast economic benefits to Scotland and the wider UK. The contract is structured to ensure value for taxpayers’ money and, importantly, now designed to protect them from extra bills from project overrun. The investment will secure hundreds of skilled jobs at BAE Systems on the Clyde for the next twenty years, and thousands of jobs in the supply chain across Britain.
While the Type 26 will be primarily concerned with escorting the Royal Navy’s newest aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth, the ships will also be expected to deal with numerous missions across the spectrum of Royal Navy operations. As well as the traditional combat role they will also be capable of undertaking anti-piracy, national security and humanitarian/disaster relief operations.
Armament will consist of a NATO-standard BAE 5 inch, 62-calibre Mark 45 naval gun, Phalanx close-in weapon systems, Sea Ceptor surface-to-air missiles (currently being fitted to the Type 23) and Tomahawk land attack cruise missiles in various mixes. They will also be armed with an as yet unspecified new generation anti-ship missile. A rather large flight deck will allow the vessel to accommodate a wide array of British and NATO helicopter types.
Originally it was planned to acquire thirteen Type 26s but in the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review the decision was taken to reduce the order to eight and to make up the shortfall in hulls with a smaller frigate type currently under development.