Artist depiction of the UXV Combatant
|Displacement:||approx. 8,000 long tons (8,128 t)|
|Length:||500 ft (152.4 m)|
|Beam:||70 ft (21 m)|
|Speed:||27 knots (50 km/h; 31 mph)|
|Complement:||60 (not including UVX support crew)|
|Radio Frequency Identification sensors, infrared, radar|
• 2 × Mk 110 57 mm gun (dual-purpose)
• 1-4 × CIWS missile launchers (sea-ceptor, or, naval Starstreak)
|Aviation facilities:||small hangars below launch decks|
The UXV Combatant is a concept warship designed by BVT Surface Fleet (now BAE Systems Surface Ships), which was displayed at the Defence Security and Equipment International (DSEi) in 2007. If built it would be expected to displace approximately 8,000 tonnes and "launch, operate and recover large numbers of small unmanned vehicles for extended periods, the UXV plays the role of mother ship - a permanent base and control centre for the futuristic unmanned land, sea and air vehicles before, during and on completion of their missions". If approved, it would be expected to enter service with the Royal Navy some time after 2020. It shares some common design features with the Type 45 destroyer, which will be beneficial both to the ease of production and cost.
It is expected the UXV Combatant will feature two decks for launching unmanned aircraft, V/STOL (Vertical/Short Take-off and Landing) aircraft, and helicopters; arrayed in a "V" shape. Each deck would be approximately 164 feet (50 m) in length. To launch drones/ V/STOL craft, the UXV could be expected to use electromagnetic catapults, and ramps (ramps are currently used on many aircraft carriers around the world). The UXV is also reported to be capable of launching unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) from a port on its underside and, in addition, will be able to deploy amphibious troops, just as many destroyers today. To provide covering fire for amphibious operations, each UXV will possibly be equipped with a 155 mm cannon (planned as an upgrade from the current 4.5 inch Mark 8 mod 1 gun). The cannon will be able to fire bursts of 20 rounds, in rapid succession. The UXV will be expected to have the capability of striking longer range targets with vertical missile-launch platforms.
The UXV Combatant if approved should be able to fill a wide variety of mission roles; which unmanned vehicles it would carry would depend on its mission.
One expected role will be reconnaissance, through the use of unmanned drones. Another, as a V/STOL carrier, meaning that it will be able to launch aircraft very close to the proposed targets. The UXV Combatant should be able to deploy assault troops, or cover them, with Vertical Launch Missile Systems, and 155 mm guns. For anti-submarine warfare (ASW), the UXV Combatant might carry unmanned underwater vehicles, high-tech sonars, and manned ASW helicopters. As with many current warships, the UXV Combatant will be able to fill the role of long-range strike platform with its Vertical Launch Missile Systems, which is expected to be placed just forward of its superstructure. Consequently, it will be able to fulfil a wide variety of roles of the Royal Navy from long-range reconnaissance to small-scale assault. Its small complement, just over 60 and versatility compared to other equatable vessels, means it will provide numerous vessels that can more discreetly operate over a larger area, ideal for asymmetric warfare, special forces deployment and small deterrence or reconnaissance missions. With the addition of these weapon systems which are common on frigates and destroyers the UXV Combatant should be able to act by itself, and as an escort, as well as a drone launching carrier.
The UXV Combatant is unlikely to have any place in the near future of the Royal Navy. As of December 2012, nothing has been released regarding the UXV, with the only real news regarding the vessel appearing in 2007. The UXV appeared to be nothing more than a design study conducted by BAE to try and expand on the declining orders of the Type 45 Destroyer by the Royal Navy at the time. The Ministry of Defence has no plans of procuring any vessel of this type in the near future based on their recent "Defence Spending Planning Rounds" which have concluded that no plans will develop to adopt a vessel of this kind before 2030 at the earliest, where current plans are to procure as many Type 26 frigates as possible and replace the minesweeper fleet. Even HMS Ocean will not have a replacement as the new carriers will adopt the LPH role. None-the-less, the UXV Combatant has served as a constructive concept that as Unmanned systems develop, will find a solid place in the future. It is possible that some of the design features of the Type 26 "Global Combat Ship" are inherited from BAE's UXV Combatant concept.
- DeBenedetti, Christian, Warships of Tomorrow, www.popsci.com, 15 February 2008. Note that the article says "high-tech radars" would be used for submarine hunting, but this is a typographical error for "sonars".
- BVT Surface Fleet - Destroyers
- Mothership for unmanned vehicles looks to the future, BAE Systems press release 286/2007