Type 26 frigate

The Type 26 frigate or City-class frigate is a class of frigate being built for the United Kingdom's Royal Navy.[8] The ship design and manufacture programme, known as the Global Combat Ship, was created by the UK Ministry of Defence to partially replace the navy's thirteen Type 23 frigates, and for export.[20] Its primary role is to conduct advanced anti-submarine warfare missions while supporting air defence and general purpose operations.[9]

BAE Systems design, 2017
Class overview
Name: Type 26 frigate
Builders: BAE Systems Maritime – Naval Ships
Preceded by:

£8bn UK programme cost (2016 est.)[1]

AU$35bn Australia programme cost (2018 est.)[2]
Built: Contract award for first three of eight planned ships announced 2 July 2017[3]
In service: Mid-2020s (planned)[4]
Building: 3[8]
Completed: 0
General characteristics
Type: Anti-submarine warfare frigate[4]
Displacement: 6,900 t (6,800 long tons; 7,600 short tons),[9] 8,000+ t full load[10][11]
Length: 149.9 m (491 ft 10 in)[9]
Beam: 20.8 m (68 ft 3 in)[9]
Speed: In excess of 26 knots (48 km/h; 30 mph)[9]
Range: In excess of 7,000 nmi (13,000 km) in Electric-Motor (EM) drive[9]
Boats & landing
craft carried:
Complement: 157[9] (capacity for 208)[9]
Sensors and
processing systems:
Electronic warfare
& decoys:
IRVIN-GQ DLF decoys[12]
Aircraft carried:
  • Accommodation for two helicopters:
  • Wildcat,[16] armed with;
    • 4 × anti-ship missiles, or
    • 2 × anti-submarine torpedoes
    • Mk 11 Depth charges
  • AgustaWestland Merlin,[16] armed with;
    • 4 × anti-submarine torpedoes
Aviation facilities:
Notes: Flexible mission bay[16]

The programme began in 1998, under what was then known as the Future Surface Combatant (FSC). However, by March 2010, this procurement programme had evolved to become the Global Combat Ship, following the announcement of a four-year, £127 million design contract being awarded to BAE Systems Maritime – Naval Ships.[21] The design passed Main Gate 1 in early 2015, with the Demonstration Phase starting 1 April 2015. In August 2015 the first long lead items for Type 26 were ordered, with manufacturing then expected to begin in 2016 and the first Type 26 to be delivered in 2023.[22] In November 2016 it was announced that first steel would be cut for the eight Royal Navy ships in summer 2017.[23] They will be built at BAE Systems' Govan and Scotstoun yards on the River Clyde in Glasgow.[24] The contract award to manufacture the Type 26 was announced by BAE Systems on 2 July 2017,[3] with steel cut for the first of class, HMS Glasgow on 20 July 2017 by the then Secretary of State for Defence, Sir Michael Fallon.[25]

In June 2018, the Australian Government announced that it had selected a modified version of the Type 26 platform as the planned replacement for its Anzac-class frigate.[26] This will see the Royal Australian Navy procure up to nine Hunter-class frigates, which will be constructed by BAE Systems Australia at ASC's shipyard in Osborne, South Australia.[6][27]

On 8 February 2019, Procurement Minister Carla Qualtrough announced that the Canadian government had awarded Lockheed Martin Canada a C$185 million contract to design a fleet of 15 warships based on the Type 26, with a total program cost of $60 billion (which includes operations and maintenance over the life of the ships). The amount of the contract will increase as the design work increases. The initial design contract is with Irving Shipbuilding of Halifax.[28]


Future Surface Combatant

The Global Combat Ship started development under the original Future Surface Combatant (FSC) programme intended to replace the Royal Navy's Type 22 and Type 23 frigates. Planning for a replacement escort vessel started in 1998 with the ordering of a research vessel, RV Triton, to study whether a trimaran design was practical for such a large and complex vessel. However, by the early 2000s it was apparently obvious the Royal Navy favoured more conventional designs. In March 2005, plans were released for a two-class solution, a cheaper "Medium Sized Vessel Derivative" entering service in 2016–19 and a more capable "Versatile Surface Combatant" entering service around 2023.[29]

In early 2006 the MoD started a Sustained Surface Combatant Capability (S2C2) programme which explored synergies between the FSC and other needs, for minesweepers, patrol ships and survey ships. By early 2007 this had crystallised into the three requirements; C1, C2 and C3. The C1 was to be an anti-submarine warfare task group enabled platform and would displace around 6,000 tonnes. C2 was to be a more general purpose platform displacing somewhere in the region of 4-5,000 tonnes, and C3 was to be a Global Corvette to replace a larger number of smaller vessels in service, such as minesweepers, patrol and survey ships. The Global Corvette was to displace around 2-3,000 tonnes.[30] The C3 concept found its roots in early 2004 when the MoD issued a Request for Information (RFI) for a smaller class of ship known as the Global Corvette. Low running costs and the ability to operate forward in shallow, coastal areas where larger ships cannot, were both important. BAE Systems, VT Group, Thales and Rolls-Royce responded in autumn 2004 with concepts ranging from a well equipped Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) of 1,500 tonnes to an advanced and very capable "corvette" of 3,000 tonnes, along the lines of the USN's Littoral Combat Ship programme (LCS).

The FSC concept was brought forward in the 2008 budget, at the expense of options for two Type 45 destroyers not being taken up (ships 7 and 8).[31] In 2009 BAE Systems received a contract to design the C1 and C2 frigates with a planned 25-year life. A total of 18 vessels (10 C1 and 8 C2) were planned to enter service from 2020, at a pace of roughly one per year.[32] In early 2010 the C3 variant was dropped in favour of the Mine Countermeasures, Hydrography and Patrol Capability (MHPC) programme.

Global Combat Ship

Official mention of the Future Surface Combatant had all but disappeared by 2010, and on 25 March of that year BAE Systems were given a four-year, £127 million contract by the Ministry of Defence to fully design a new class of warship, the "Global Combat Ship", previously C1 of the FSC. Expectations at the time were for the first ship to be "in service" by 2021.[33][34] The October 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) reaffirmed the government's commitment to the Global Combat Ship, saying; "As soon as possible after 2020 the Type 23 will be replaced by Type 26 frigates, designed to be easily adapted to change roles and capabilities depending on the strategic circumstances".[35] As part of the defence review it was also announced that the remaining Type 22 frigates would be decommissioned without replacement, reducing the Royal Navy's escort fleet from 23 destroyers and frigates to 19 (6 Type 45 destroyers and 13 Type 23 frigates).[35]

BAE Systems' original working baseline for the Global Combat Ship design was a vessel 141 metres long with a displacement of 6,850 tonnes and a range of 7,000 nautical miles at 18 knots.[36] However, on 30 November 2010 it was reported that the specifications had been pared down, in effort to reduce the cost from £500M to £250-350M per ship. Subsequently, new specification details began to emerge of a smaller 5,400 tonne ship emphasising flexibility and modularity.[37] Unlike the FSC, the Global Combat Ship has only one hull design. However like the Franco-Italian family of FREMM multipurpose frigates, three versions are proposed for export: a design optimised for anti-submarine warfare (ASW), an anti-aircraft warfare (AAW) variant, and a general purpose (GP) variant.[38][39]

Although a decision was made in November 2010 to reduce the specifications and capability requirements of the Global Combat Ship design, BAE Systems' design concepts by 2014 had returned to their original working baseline of a large 6,900 tonne warship.[9] In February 2015, the MoD and BAE Systems signed a contract worth £859 million to continue the development phase and to support progression towards the manufacturing phase.[40] A 12-month Demonstration Phase was started on 1 April 2015 and, following a 12-month extension in March 2016, was scheduled to be completed in June 2017.[41] On 2 July 2017, BAE Systems announced it had been awarded a c£3.7 billion contract by the UK MoD to manufacture the first three Type 26 ships. The release stated "...steel being cut on the first ship in Glasgow in the coming weeks."[3] In September 2015, the programme cost was estimated at £11.5 billion, for what was then assumed to be for 13 Global Combat Ships.[42] The cost for the current eight ships was quoted as £8 billion in 2016.[1]


The Global Combat Ship has been designed from the outset with export in mind. During a House of Commons debate on 31 January 2011, it was revealed that Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand, and Turkey had all expressed interest in collaborating on the Global Combat Ship.


The governments of the United Kingdom and Australia had previously been exploring the potential for cooperation on the C1 and C3 designs of the Future Surface Combatant, which corresponded closely to the Royal Australian Navy's requirements in replacing its Anzac-class frigates with a new class of frigate.[43] The two countries signed a defence cooperation treaty in January 2013 and Australia pledged cooperation on the Global Combat Ship design in order to investigate its suitability for their own procurement programme.[44] In April 2016, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull confirmed that the Global Combat Ship was one of three designs shortlisted for the replacement of Anzac-class frigates.[45] In September 2016 the Australian government awarded BAE Systems a contract to further refine the design of the Type 26 Global Combat Ship for the Royal Australian Navy under the SEA 5000 (Future Frigate) programme.[46] Australia issued a request for tenders (RFT) in support of the programme in late March 2017. The programme is valued at AUD35 billion (US$26.25 billion).[47] On 10 August 2017 BAE Systems announced it had submitted its bid for the SEA 5000 programme.[48] Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced in June 2018, that BAE had won the contract and Australia will build nine units of a modified version of the Type 26 concept vessel in Adelaide.[49]


During the House of Commons debate of 31 January 2011, it was also disclosed that the Canadian government was interested in collaborating on the Global Combat Ship and that the UK and Canada were in "close discussion".[50] However, a Canadian union campaigned that the Global Combat Ship threatened Canadian shipbuilders, and in the run-up to the May 2011 election a spokesman for Peter MacKay, at the time Canadian Defence Minister, ruled out involvement with the British programme.[51] Turkey also later rejected the design in 2012 as not meeting its requirements.[52] Although Canada had previously ruled out partnership with the British programme, in May 2016 IHS Janes reported that the Global Combat Ship was still one of the contenders for the Canadian Surface Combatant requirement.[53] Indeed, in November 2017, a Lockheed Martin-led consortium put forward their "CSC Proposal", based on the Type 26 design by BAE Systems, for the Royal Canadian Navy's future frigate project.[54]

On 19 October 2018 it was announced that BAE-Lockheed Martin was selected as the 'preferred' bidder in the Canadian Surface Combatant programme and that the Canadian government would begin negotiations to award a contract for 15 ships worth CAD$60 billion with BAE and Lockheed Martin Canada, the primary contractors. The preferred bid beat out offers from Alion Science and Technology and their proposal based on the Dutch De Zeven Provinciën Air Defence and Command (LCF) frigate and Navantia/Saab/CEA Technologies with their proposal based on the Spanish Navy F-105 frigate.[7][55]

On 21 November 2018 Alion Science and Technology asked the Federal Court for a judicial review of the decision, claiming the winning bid was "incapable of meeting three critical mandatory requirements" of the design tender, including the mandatory speed requirements set by the Royal Canadian Navy.[56]

On 27 November 2018, the Canadian International Trade Tribunal (CITT) ordered the Government to postpone the finalising of the deal to purchase the ships, while the complaint from Alion was investigated. On 11 December 2018, the CITT gave the government a green light to proceed with the Lockheed contract, but its inquiry into the compliance of the Type 26 with Canada's requirements continued.[57] The Tribunal dismissed the case entirely in February 2019.[58]

Possible partnerships


In September 2010, the British and Brazilian governments reached a defence agreement, including the potential sale of five or six Global Combat Ships to the Brazilian Navy.[59] The following month, BAE Systems formally made a detailed proposal to the Brazilian Navy, for a package including the Global Combat Ship as well as variants of the Wave-class tanker and River-class patrol vessel.[60]


The Global Combat Ship is designed with modularity and flexibility in mind to enhance versatility across the full range of operations, including maritime security, counter piracy, counter terrorist and humanitarian and disaster relief operations. The adaptable design will facilitate through-life support, ensuring upgrades can easily be undertaken as technology develops.[9] As of 2017, BAE Systems' website suggests a displacement of 6,900 tonnes, a length of 149.9 m (492 ft) a beam of 20.8 m (68 ft) and a top speed in excess of 26 knots (48 km/h). The Global Combat Ship will have a core crew of 118 with room for a total of 208.[9] The Global Combat Ship is designed for up to 60 days' endurance and a range of approximately 7,000 nautical miles (13,000 km).[9] Located at the stern are facilities allowing for the deployment of rigid-hulled inflatable boats, unmanned surface vehicles or a towed array sonar.[61] A large Integrated Mission Bay and hangar is located amidship, enabling a variety of missions and associated equipment.[9] Aircraft similar in size to the Boeing Chinook can be flown off the large flight deck, and the hangar can accommodate up to two helicopters the size of an AgustaWestland AW159 Wildcat or AgustaWestland Merlin.[62] The hangar also has space to accommodate Unmanned aerial vehicles.

The Royal Navy's version of the Global Combat Ship is referred to as the Type 26 frigate. This variant will be equipped with the Type 997 Artisan 3D search radar and Sea Ceptor (CAMM) air-defence missiles launched via 48 vertical launching system (VLS) canisters. Additional 24-cell Mark 41 "strike-length VLS" cells is positioned forward of the bridge which are capable of firing missiles such as the Tomahawk land-attack cruise missile, anti-submarine rockets, a future anti-ship missile, or quad packed Sea Ceptor missiles.[16][63][12] Like the Type 23 frigate it will replace, the Global Combat Ship will have an acoustically quiet hull for anti-submarine warfare and fitted with a Ultra Electronics Type 2150 next generation bow sonar and a powerful Sonar 2087 towed array.[64] The Global Combat Ship will also be fitted with guns of various calibres. Instead of the RN's current 4.5 inch Mark 8 naval gun, the Global Combat Ship will be equipped with a NATO-standard BAE 5 inch, 62-calibre Mark 45 naval gun. Smaller guns include two Phalanx CIWS, two 30mm DS30M Mark 2 Automated Small Calibre Guns and a number of miniguns and general-purpose machine guns.[65]

The propulsion system of the RN ships will have a gas turbine direct drive and four high speed diesel generators driving two electric motors in a combined diesel-electric or gas (CODLOG) configuration.[12][66] In 2012 Rolls Royce repackaged the MT30 used in the Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers so that it would fit into smaller ships.[67] The MT30 will be used in the Type 26.[68] BAE Systems have suggested that some customers will install gas turbine engines and others will prefer to sacrifice 2–3 knots of speed by choosing cheaper diesel engines.[37] The CODLOG configuration for propulsion is a simpler version of the Combined diesel-electric and gas (CODLAG) propulsion used on the Type 23 which this ship is to replace, and both of the Global Combat Ship's design contemporaries – the Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier and the Type 45 destroyer – use integrated electric propulsion (IEP).


The first steel for the first three of eight Royal Navy ships was cut on 20 July 2017.[25] BAE Systems announced the award of the Type 26's first seven equipment manufacturing contracts in July 2015, these worth in excess of £170 million. Contracts were awarded to Babcock International for the ship's air weapons handling system; David Brown Gear Systems Ltd for the propulsion gearbox and the test facility; GE Power Conversion for the electric propulsion motor and drive system and testing facility; Raytheon Anschütz for the integrated navigation and bridge system including customer-specific design and development, a land-based integration facility, and a wide range of services; Rolls Royce Power Engineering for the gas turbine; Rohde & Schwarz UK Ltd for the communications systems; WR Davis of Canada for the uptakes and downtakes of the ship's funnel and exhaust system.[69][70]

In December 2016, BAE Systems announced the award of six additional Type 26 equipment manufacturing contracts with Detegase of Spain for sewage and water treatment, Salt Separation Services for desalination equipment, Johnson Controls for chilled water plants, Marine Systems Technology Ltd for gas-, weather-, and water-tight doors, hatches, and Rolls Royce for stabilisers and steering components. Also awarded a contract was Pellegrini Marine Equipments of Italy. These awards brought to £380 million the total investment in the supply chain for the Type 26.[71]

According to Gary McCloskey, head of Type 26 supply chain at BAE Systems, by March 2017 between 40 and 50 suppliers were engaged in the Type 26 programme, and about 33 had full contracts.[72]

On 5 April 2017 Raytheon Anschütz announced successful integration of Warship Electronic Chart Display Information System (WECDIS) into their Integrated Navigation and Bridge Systems (INBS) for the Type 26.[73]

In July 2017 BAE Systems stated that the Type 26 programme currently employs more than 1,200 people in the UK supply chain, and in the future the programme would secure more than 3,400 jobs across BAE Systems and the wider UK maritime supply chain.[3] It was also stated in July 2017, that coinciding with the announcement of additional contracts, total investment in the Type 26 supply chain had reached £500 million. The 14 companies awarded contracts in the July announcement include Babcock for the helicopter landing grid, MSI Defence Systems for the small caliber gun, and Thales for the towed array system. The largest of the July-announced contracts are for the procurement of structural steel for the first three ships from UK and European steel mills by Dent Steel Services Ltd.[74]

Ships of the class

The original planning assumption for the Royal Navy was for thirteen Global Combat Ships (eight ASW and five GP), replacing the Type 23 frigate fleet like-for-like.[75][76] However, as a result of the November 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review it was decided that only the eight anti-submarine warfare Type 26 frigates would be ordered. The funding for the remaining five general purpose Type 26 frigates is instead to be spent on developing a new class of lighter and more affordable general purpose frigates (GPFF).[77] Due to an expected lower cost, the government suggested it may allow an eventual increase in the total number of frigates in the Royal Navy.[77] This general purpose frigate will be designated as the Type 31e frigate.[78] In July 2016, BAE revealed two general purpose frigate designs to meet the requirement; the Avenger class and the Cutlass class.[79]

Naming the ships

During 2014, a campaign emerged to name one of the ships HMS Plymouth, although Royal Navy ship names are formed via the Ships' Names and Badges Committee.[80] In July 2017, construction of the first ship began in Govan; at the same time as work on the ship was started, it was announced that it would be named HMS Glasgow.[8] The second named unit (although planned as the third ship of Batch 1) was announced as HMS Belfast in September 2017. The Second World War era light cruiser HMS Belfast (C35), currently a museum ship owned and operated by the Imperial War Museum, will be renamed as "HMS Belfast (1938)" to avoid confusion.[81][82] In March 2018 the First Sea Lord announced that the second ship of the class would be HMS Cardiff.[83] In September 2018 it was announced that the first of the planned five Batch 2 ships would be HMS Birmingham.[84] In November 2018, subsequent Batch 2 ships were announced as HMS Sheffield,[85] HMS Newcastle,[85] HMS Edinburgh[86] and HMS London.[87][88] Of the eight names, six were previously used as names of Type 42 destroyers, while the previous HMS London and HMS Sheffield were Type 22 frigates (in addition to previously being the names of Type 42 destroyers).

List of ships

Name Pennant No. Builder Ordered Laid down Named Commissioned Status
Royal Navy - Type 26 (Batch 1)
Glasgow BAE Systems, Glasgow 2 July 2017 20 July 2017 Under construction
Cardiff 14 August 2019 Under construction
Belfast Ordered
Royal Navy - Type 26 (Batch 2)
Birmingham BAE Systems, Glasgow Announced
Sheffield Announced
Newcastle Announced
Edinburgh Announced
London Announced
Royal Australian Navy - Hunter class
Hunter BAE Systems, Osborne 30 June 2018 Ordered
Flinders Ordered
Tasman Ordered

Similar ships

See also


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