The contract for the construction of the first ships of the new project was signed on July 2. The contractor was BAE Systems, which included, among other things, shipyards. Build ships will be at the plant in Glasgow. Preparations for construction have already begun there, and this month the company will have to start cutting the metal for the subsequent construction of the lead ship.
The command of the Royal Navy plans to receive a fairly large number of ships of the new type, but the current contract involves the construction of only three combat units. For the construction of these Type 26 frigates, BAE Systems will receive 3,8 billion pounds. According to current plans, after the transfer of the first three ships, the construction of another five will be initiated.
It is reported that the implementation of a new order will create 1200 jobs. Also, the order will ensure the existence of jobs in the companies supplying various products. A list of three dozen subcontractors has already been determined, and it is likely that new suppliers of additional equipment will be selected in the near future. As a result, a significant number of British and foreign companies will be employed in the GCS program, as well as several thousand people. With the new order, the industry gets the opportunity to engage in the construction of ships in the next two decades.
The result of the fulfillment of the new contract and the expected next order will be the renewal of the material part of the fleet with a corresponding increase in the combat capability of surface forces. It is assumed that the frigates "Type 26" will strengthen the anti-submarine and air defense. They will be able to work both independently and as part of ship groups. The UK became the starting customer for such ships, but the construction company is already exploring the export prospects of the project.
The Global Combat Ship program (“Global Warship”) dates back to the late nineties of the last century. The project of developing a promising frigate was launched in 1998, under the name Future Surface Combatant. One of the main goals of this project was the replacement of the outdated frigates of the Project Type 22 and Type 23, which had served since the late seventies and early nineties, respectively. Over the next few years, leading British companies studied the existing problem and offered various options for the appearance of promising ships. They offered both traditional designs and unusual designs.
It was subsequently decided to make the FSC program the basis for a new development. The next project involving the creation of a new frigate to replace existing ships was called Global Combat Ship or GCS. This project was launched in March 2010. The developer of the ship was BAE Systems. The subsequent design took four years and cost the military department 127 million pounds. Interestingly, by this time the command had refused to replace the frigates "Type 22". It was decided to remove them from service without direct replacement.
GCS ships are now considered only as a replacement for the "23 Type". The beginning of the withdrawal of obsolete frigates from the fleet while simultaneously receiving new ships was planned for the twenties. The necessary work was supposed to be carried out as soon as possible, but taking into account the potential of the industry. The construction of new ships was supposed to begin in the second half of the current decade. According to recent reports, preparations for construction have already begun. In the very near future, metal cutting will begin.
As the project progressed, the requirements were repeatedly amended and adjusted. In particular, from a certain time it was proposed to reduce the displacement of ships and revise their other parameters accordingly. Later, however, the project returned to its original appearance. In 2014, the preliminary design was completed, after which the company-developer received a new order for the creation of technical documentation. The cost of the signed contract amounted to 859 million pounds. To date, all the necessary work has been completed, which allowed the command to order the construction of the first three ships of the new type of the eight planned.
For several years, the specialists of the development company and the Royal Navy together formed the look of promising GCS / Type 26 ships. A noticeable change in appearance was proposed several times, but in the end it was decided to return to the original version of the requirements with minimal rework. To date, the basic requirements and features of promising frigates have become public knowledge. In addition, the basic capabilities of ships, the composition of weapons, etc. were announced.
The “Type 26” project proposes the construction of a surface ship of length 150 m with a maximum width of more than 20 m with a full displacement of 6900 tons. In accordance with current trends in the development of warships, British frigates must have a characteristic hull shape and superstructure, reducing visibility for radar detection devices. In particular, the superstructure has inclined surfaces, and its sides are associated with the sides of the hull. The maximum possible number of components and assemblies placed under the cover of the hull and superstructure.
The ship is proposed to equip the main power plant type CODLOG. In its composition there are four diesel-generator brand MTU, associated with a pair of running electric motors, as well as the gas turbine engine Rolls-Royce MT30. The simultaneous use of diesel-electric and gas turbine installations is not provided. It is assumed that the ship will be able to reach speeds up to 30 nodes with the help of the available energy systems. The cruising range at an economic speed using electric motors will reach 7000 nautical miles.
According to customer requirements, prospective frigates will have to solve a wide range of combat missions and destroy various enemy targets that are on shore, in the air, on water or under water. To do this, the ship Type 26 must carry a developed set of electronic equipment and weapons complex. In forming the requirements for detection and arms All current trends in the development of the surface fleet were taken into account.
The main means of monitoring the surface and air situation will be the Type 997 Artisan radar. This system is already used on several British ships and has shown itself well. Such a locator is able to monitor the situation within a radius of 200 km and at the same time accompany airborne and surface targets to 900. Declared the possibility of detecting small and high-speed targets with a high level of protection against interference. Navigation tasks must be solved using Kelvin Hughes Ltd SharpEye radar.
One of the tasks of the Global Combat Ship is to search for and destroy submarines. For this purpose, a Type 2050 hydroacoustic complex should be installed in the forward part of the hull. The use of a Sonar 2087 station equipped with a towed antenna is also proposed.
The project "Type 26" involves the use of a universal vertical launcher Mk 41 American development. With its help, the frigate will be able to carry and use up to 24 missiles of various types for various purposes. For attacks on ground targets, it is planned to use Tomahawk missiles, the main anti-ship weapon will be the LRASM rocket, and the frigate will fight submarines with ASROC missiles. Universal launcher will allow you to pick up ammunition in accordance with the tasks. The ship will also receive a separate launcher with 48 cells for anti-aircraft missiles CAMM.
It is assumed the use of a developed set of barreled weapons. Before the superstructure, it is planned to mount the Mk 45 turret artillery mount with an 127 mm caliber gun and an 62 caliber barrel. Air defense in the near zone will be carried out using 30-mm guns of the DS30M Mk 2 and Phalanx CIWS complexes. Also provides for the use of several machine guns serial models.
The ships of the new type will receive a hangar and a stern platform, providing transportation and operation of two helicopters for different purposes. It is possible to use an AgustaWestland AW159 Wildcat helicopter capable of carrying anti-ship missiles and torpedoes, or AgustaWestland AW101 Merlin machines with torpedo armament. Also, Type 26 frigates can become carriers of unmanned aerial vehicles of various types.
According to existing plans, the promising frigates "Type 26" will have to replace the obsolete ships "Type 23", operated since the early nineties. Earlier it was reported that the command of the Royal Navy plans to replace in the ratio of one to one. Recall from 1990 to 2002 years, the British fleet received 16-like ships. About ten years ago, three frigates were sold to the Chilean naval forces. At the moment, all ships Type 23 remain in service and bear service. Nevertheless, the naval commanders had already determined their fate. Beginning with the 2023 year, the UK will gradually abandon such ships, which by then will become morally and physically obsolete. The 23 Type frigates will be withdrawn from the fleet at the same time as accepting newer GCSs. The last outdated ship is scheduled to be written off in 2035, when the fleet will already have a sufficient grouping of new frigates.
A little less than a billion pounds has already been spent on the development of the Type 26 project. The construction of the first three ships of the series will cost London another 3,8 billion. The entire program, involving the construction of eight frigates, is supposed to spend 8 billion pounds. It is easy to calculate that the average cost of a new ship, taking into account all the costs of the program, will reach 1 billion. In this case, the construction of the last five frigates of the series will be about a third cheaper than in the case of the first three ships.
According to the latest data, this July, the shipyard in Glasgow will begin cutting metal for the construction of the Type 26 lead frigate. A little later, after the assembly of the first units, a solemn ceremony will be held. The first frigate GCS is scheduled to be launched in the 2021 year. By the middle of the next decade, he will pass all the necessary tests and will be included in the combat strength of the Royal Navy. Soon it will be followed by two other ships, the construction of which will be conducted in accordance with the recently signed contract. At the same time the start of their construction has not yet been clarified.
It should be noted that in order to completely replace the existing frigates of the Type 23 frigates, 13 will need new ships, while the approved plans imply the construction of only eight frigates of the new model. Of these, three have already become the subject of a contract for construction. As announced a few years ago, the remaining five frigates will be built on a different project. This program received the designation General Purpose Frigate ("General Frigate") or GPFF, and ships will be designated as "Type 31".
The second project of a promising frigate involves the construction of smaller and more complex ships, characterized by reduced characteristics and lower price. So, for five or six Type 31 frigates it is planned to spend no more than 2-2,5 billion pounds - no more than 500 million for each. Currently, the British command is examining the future construction of the GPFF frigates and correcting its plans. The exact dates for the start of their construction have not yet been announced.
According to the current plans of the Royal Navy, the construction and simultaneous operation of advanced frigates of two types will allow to solve several important tasks while reducing costs to an acceptable level. First of all, the Type 26 GCS and Type 31 GFPP projects will allow building in the foreseeable future 13 or 14 frigates for replacing the obsolete “Type 23” and maintaining the desired fleet quantitative indicators while updating it.
The most important consequence of the simultaneous implementation of the two programs will be significant savings. Building eight 26 Type frigates and six 31 Type will cost about 10 billion pounds, while the 13-14 series of GCS ships — even with a significant reduction in the price of serial frigates — will cost at least 10-11 billions. The cost of operating a larger number of more complex and expensive ships will lead to additional costs, which could have been avoided with the help of cheaper frigates.
Finally, two types of ships will be able to solve different combat missions. The fleet will be able to choose ships in accordance with the existing situation. In relatively simple operations, GFPP frigates can be used, while GCS can be involved in more complex tasks. In addition, joint advantages of two types of ships in one operation will have certain advantages. For example, the frigates of the two projects will be able to be involved in the work of the carrier strike groups. In this case, they will be able to protect the aircraft carrier from submarines, aircraft and missiles of the enemy.
At the moment, the Type 23 frigates are the most massive large ships in the Royal Navy and therefore are of particular importance to the safety of Great Britain. However, these ships are not fully meet the requirements of the time, because of what they need to be replaced. By now, the command has decided on plans for the further development of surface forces and has chosen a future replacement for the existing ships.
Over the next two decades, the ships "Type 23" will continue to serve, but gradually they will be replaced by newer frigates "Type 26" and "Type 31". Such a replacement will end, roughly, in the 2035 year. This will not happen soon, but now the command is beginning to build an updated fleet. One of the steps in this direction was a contract for the construction of the first Type 26 frigates, concluded a few days ago.
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