Global Combat Ship
BAE Systems design concept as of late 2015
|Builders:||BAE Systems Maritime – Naval Ships|
|Preceded by:||Type 23 frigate|
|Cost:||£11.5bn programme cost (2015 est.)|
|Built:||From 2016 (planned)|
|In service:||Mid-2020s (planned)|
|Displacement:||6,900 t (6,800 long tons; 7,600 short tons), 8,000+ t full load|
|Length:||149.9 m (492 ft)|
|Beam:||20.8 m (68 ft)|
|Speed:||In excess of 26 kn (48 km/h; 30 mph)|
|Range:||7,000 nautical miles (13,000 km) at 15 kn (28 km/h) in Electric-Motor (EM) drive|
|Complement:||118 (capacity for 208)|
|IRVIN-GQ DLF decoys|
|Notes:||Flexible mission bay|
The Type 26 Global Combat Ship, or simply Type 26, is a ship design and construction programme of the Ministry of Defence of the United Kingdom, to replace the thirteen Type 23 frigates of the Royal Navy and for export.
The programme started in 1998, named "Future Surface Combatant" (FSC). In March 2010 BAE Systems Maritime – Naval Ships was awarded a four-year contract to develop the Type 26 Global Combat Ship. The design passed Main Gate 1, with Demonstration Phase starting 1 April 2015, manufacturing planned to begin in 2016 and the first Type 26 to be delivered in 2022.
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, the 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.
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 (formerly Versatile Surface Combatant) was to be an Anti Submarine Warfare task group enabled platform and would displace around 6,000 tonnes. C2 (formerly Medium Sized Vessel Derivative) 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 vessel in service, such as minesweepers, patrol and survey ships. The Global Corvette was to displace around 2-3,000 tonnes.
The C3 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). 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. In early 2010 the C3 variant was dropped for the Mine Countermeasures, Hydrography and Patrol Capability (MHPC) programme.
On 24 February 2010, First Sea Lord Sir Mark Stanhope referred to the Future Surface Combatant as the "Type 26 frigate" during a speech at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS). This designation was repeated during a House of Commons debate on defence on 15 March 2010.
On 25 March 2010, BAE Systems were given a four-year, £127 million contract by the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD), to fully design the Type 26 Global Combat Ship (formerly C1 of the FSC). At the time the first of the Type 26 Global Combat Ships was expected to be delivered to the Royal Navy by 2020. The October 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) reaffirmed the government's commitment to the Type 26 GCS - "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". Under the SDSR the two classes of the former Future Surface Combatant, previously known as the C1 and the C2 variants, were merged into the Type 26 Global Combat Ship. The Type 26 combines advantages of both variants into a single versatile ship, designed to readily change roles and capabilities depending on the strategic circumstances. As part of the review it was also announced that the remaining Type 22 frigates would be decommissioned without replacement within 6 months of the review. This leaves the Royal Navy's escort fleet at 19 destroyers and frigates (6 Type 45 destroyers and 13 Type 23 frigates). Contract signing was delayed until after the Scottish independence referendum of 2014. In February 2015, the MoD and BAE Systems signed a contract worth £859m to continue development, supporting progression towards the manufacturing phase. In 2014, the MoD hoped to have the first ship delivered in 2022.
Unlike the FSC, the Global Combat Ship will have only one hull design. However like the Franco-Italian family of FREMM multipurpose frigates, three versions are proposed: a design optimised for anti-submarine warfare (ASW), an anti-aircraft warfare (AAW) variant, and a general purpose (GP) variant.
As of 31 January 2011 Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand, and Turkey had all expressed interest in collaborating on the Global Combat Ship, and the UK was in "close discussion" with Canada. 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 the Canadian Defence Minister ruled out involvement with the British programme. Turkey also later rejected the design as not meeting its requirements.
In January 2010, Jane's Defence Weekly reported that the governments of the United Kingdom and Australia were exploring the potential for cooperation on the C1 and C3 designs, which corresponds closely to the Royal Australian Navy's requirements in replacing its MEKO-200 Anzac-class frigate with a new frigate type (Project SEA 5000). An initial decision for the frigate replacement is not expected until at least 2018. When the two countries signed a defence cooperation treaty in January 2013 the Australians agreed to collaborate on their frigate requirement and investigate involvement in the Type 26 project.
The British and Brazilian governments agreed on a defence partnership that may lead to the sale of five or six Type 26 frigates to the Brazilian Navy. In October 2010, BAE made a detailed proposal to the Brazilian navy, for a package including Type 26 frigates as well as variants of the Wave Knight-class tanker and River-class patrol vessel.
In August 2011 it was reported that the UK Government, together with BAE Systems, was considering entering into partnership with the Indian MoD and private defence shipyards in India to jointly design and build the Type 26/Global Combat Ship.
In July 2015, Defense News reported that the Type 26 design could be selected by Germany. BAE Systems' Type 26 program director, Geoff Searle, stated that "German teams been over here, and there has been ministerial discussion. [...] We are certainly interested in the program. They have a similar requirement to the Type 26." Thus, the Type 26 may possibly become the basic design for 4 to 6 multi purpose ships of the so called "MKS 180" program. 
BAE's original working baseline for the Type 26 design was a vessel of 141 metres long with a displacement of 6,850 tonnes and an "in service date" of 2021. On 30 November 2010 it was reported that the specifications had been pared to reduce the cost from £500M to £250-350M per ship. By May 2011 new specification details began to emerge of a smaller 5,400 tonne ship emphasising flexibility and modularity like the German Blohm + Voss GmbH MEKO designs. However as of 2015, the design has seen a significant growth in size, the class is expected to have a displacement of 6,900 tonnes, a length of 149.9 metres, a beam of 20.8 metres and a top speed in excess of 26 knots (48 km/h). Type 26 will have a core crew of 118 with room for 90 embarked troops. Type 26 is designed for up to 60 days' endurance and a range of approximately 7,000 nautical miles (13,000 km) at 15 knots (28 km/h).
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. Located in the stern is a mission bay with a ramp allowing for the deployment of rigid-hulled inflatable boats, unmanned surface vehicles or a towed array sonar (Sonar 2087). Early designs had a well deck at the back for launching and recovering unmanned undersea vehicles (UUVs). The latest BAE design now has a large midships flexible Mission Deck instead of the well deck. Aircraft similar in size to the Boeing Chinook can be flown off the large flight deck, and the hangar can accommodate Royal Navy Wildcats and Merlin helicopters. The flight deck also includes an extra hangar door and space to accommodate Unmanned Aerial Vehicles.
Royal Navy ships will be equipped with the Type 997 Artisan 3D search radar and Sea Ceptor (CAMM) air-defence missiles launched via 48 VLS canisters. An additional 16-cell or 24-cell "Main Strike Length" VLS Mark 41 is positioned forward of the bridge capable of firing missiles such as Tomahawk land-attack cruise missiles, anti-ship missiles and quad packed Sea Ceptor missiles. Like the Type 23 frigate it will replace, Type 26 Global Combat Ship will have an acoustically quiet hull for anti-submarine warfare and will be armed with Sting Ray acoustic homing torpedos. Each Type 26 will be fitted with a Thales Underwater Systems Type 2050 bow sonar, while eight vessels will be equipped with an additional powerful towed array sonar (e.g. Sonar 2087) recycled from the Type 23s. The Type 26 will also be fitted with guns of various calibres. Instead of the RN's current 4.5 inch Mark 8 naval gun it is expected to have a NATO-standard 5 in (130 mm) main gun, either the Otobreda 127/64 or BAE Mark 45. 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.
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 CODLOG configuration. In 2012 Rolls Royce repackaged the MT30 used in the Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers so that it would fit into smaller ships, and it is likely the Type 26 will use the MT30. BAE 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. The choice of CODLOG configuration for propulsion is somewhat surprising as it is a simpler version of the CODLAG propulsion used on the Type 23 which this ship is to replace, and both of the Type 26's design contemporaries - the Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier and the Type 45 destroyer - use integrated electric propulsion (IEP).
Ships of the class
The original planning assumption was for thirteen T26 global combat ships, replacing the T23 frigate fleet like-for like. On 24 May 2012, Peter Luff during a Commons Debate responded to a question regarding the number of ships to be ordered saying, "I can confirm that the Ministry of Defence's current planning assumption is for the construction of thirteen Type 26 Global Combat Ships (GCS)." On 3 December 2013, in a Westminster Hall debate, Philip Dunne (a minister at the MoD) stated that "We [the UK Government] intend to place an order towards the end of next year , once the design is mature, which we expect to be for eight vessels initially..." 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.
On 23 November 2015 as part of the 2015 Defence Review, Prime minister David Cameron announced that eight Type 26 frigates will be built rather than thirteen. However it was also announced that with the funding from the remaining five Type 26 frigates, a new class of lighter general purpose frigates would be designed and built to make up at least the remaining five frigates, and due to an expected lower cost possibly allow for more than thirteen in total to be built.
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