Global Combat Ship

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Bae systems official gcs release.jpg
BAE Systems design concept as of late 2015
Class overview
Name: Global Combat Ship
Builders: BAE Systems Maritime – Naval Ships
Operators:  Royal Navy
Preceded by: Type 23 frigate
Cost: £8bn programme cost (2016 est.)[1]
Built: From 2016 (planned)[2]
In service: Mid-2020s (planned)[3]
Planned: 8[3]
General characteristics
Type: Anti-submarine warfare[3]
Displacement: 6,900 t (6,800 long tons; 7,600 short tons),[4] 8,000+ t full load[5][6]
Length: 149.9 m (492 ft)[4]
Beam: 20.8 m (68 ft)[4]
Speed: In excess of 26 kn (48 km/h; 30 mph)[4]
Range: 7,000 nautical miles (13,000 km) in Electric-Motor (EM) drive[4]
Complement: 118[4] (capacity for 208)[4]
Sensors and
processing systems:
Electronic warfare
& decoys:
IRVIN-GQ DLF decoys[7]
Aircraft carried:
  • Accommodation for two helicopters:
  • Lynx Wildcat,[9] armed with;
    • 4 × anti-ship missiles, or
    • 2 × anti-submarine torpedoes
  • Westland Merlin,[9] armed with;
    • 4 × anti-submarine torpedoes
Aviation facilities:
  • Large flight deck
  • Enclosed hangar
  • Facilities for UAVs
Notes: Flexible mission bay[9]

The Global Combat Ship (GCS) is a ship design and construction programme of the Ministry of Defence of the United Kingdom, to partially replace the thirteen Type 23 frigates of the Royal Navy and for export.[12] The Royal Navy variant is known as the Type 26 frigate and is principally designed for anti-submarine warfare, featuring an acoustically quiet hull and the powerful Sonar 2087 towed array.

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.[13] The design passed Main Gate 1 in early 2015, with Demonstration Phase starting 1 April 2015. In August 2015 the first long lead items for Type 26 were ordered, with manufacturing expected to begin in 2016 and the first Type 26 to be delivered in 2023.[14]


Future Surface Combatant[edit]

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.[15]

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.[16] 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).[17] 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.[18] In early 2010 the C3 variant was dropped in favour of the Mine Countermeasures, Hydrography and Patrol Capability (MHPC) programme.

Global Combat Ship[edit]

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.[19][20] 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".[21] 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).[21]

BAE's 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.[22] 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.[23] 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.[24][25]

Although a decision was made in November of 2010 to reduce the specifications and capability requirements of the Global Combat Ship design, BAE's design concepts by 2014 had returned to their original working baseline of a large 6,900 tonne warship.[4] 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.[26] In September 2015, the programme cost was estimated at £11.5 billion, for what was then assumed to be for 13 Global Combat Ship.[27]

Possible partnerships[edit]

The Global Combat Ship has been designed from the onset with export in mind. 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.[28] 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 Knight-class tanker and River-class patrol vessel.[29]

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, and that the UK was in "close discussion" with Canada.[30] 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 the Canadian Defence Minister ruled out involvement with the British programme.[31] Turkey also later rejected the design in 2012 as not meeting its requirements.[32] 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.[33]

In August 2011, the British government, together with BAE Systems, was considering entering into partnership with the Indian MoD and private defence shipyards in India to jointly design and construct the Global Combat Ship.[34]

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.[35] 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.[36] 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.[37]

In July 2015, Defense News reported that the German government may invite BAE to submit the Global Combat Ship design as part of a tender for the German Navy's multirole combat ship MKS180 programme. Other European ship builders may also submit bids and compete with German companies for the contract.[38]


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. As of 2016, BAE's website suggests 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). Global Combat Ship will have a core crew of 118 with room for a total of 208.[4] Global Combat Ship is designed for up to 60 days' endurance and a range of approximately 7,000 nautical miles (13,000 km).[4] Located at the stern are facilities allowing for the deployment of rigid-hulled inflatable boats, unmanned surface vehicles or a towed array sonar.[39] A large Integrated Mission Bay and Hanger is located amidship, enabling a variety of missions and associated equipment.[4] 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 a Wildcat or Merlin.[40] 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 VLS canisters. An additional 24-cell Mark 41 "strike-length VLS" is positioned forward of the bridge capable of firing missiles such as the Tomahawk land-attack cruise missile, a future anti-ship missile, or quad packed Sea Ceptor missiles.[7] Like the Type 23 frigate it will replace, Global Combat Ship will have an acoustically quiet hull for anti-submarine warfare and fitted with a Thales Underwater Systems Type 2050 bow sonar and a powerful Sonar 2087 towed array.[41] 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, Global Combat Ship is expected to be equipped with a NATO-standard BAE 5 inch 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.[42]

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.[7][43] In 2012 Rolls Royce repackaged the MT30 used in the Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers so that it would fit into smaller ships,[44] and it is likely Global Combat Ship 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.[23] 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 Global Combat Ship's design contemporaries – the Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier and the Type 45 destroyer – use integrated electric propulsion (IEP).

Ships of the class[edit]

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.[45][46] However, it was later announced during the November 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review by Prime minister David Cameron 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).[47] 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.[47] This general purpose frigate will be designated as the Type 31 frigate.[48] In July 2016, BAE revealed two general purpose frigate designs to meet the requirement; the Avenger-class and the Cutlass-class.[49]

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.[50]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Commons Select Committee (Defence) - Naval Procurement: Type 26 and Type 45, 20 July 2016". House of Commons. Retrieved 3 August 2016. 
  2. ^ Fallon, Michael. "Type 26 Global Combat Ship" (PDF). UK Parliament. 
  3. ^ a b c "Ministry of Defence: SDSR 2015 Defence Fact Sheets" (PDF). 15 January 2016: 10. Retrieved 15 January 2016. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Global Combat Ship — Key Facts". BAE Systems. 2015. Retrieved 12 December 2015. 
  5. ^ Chuter, Andrew (9 November 2014). "Britain Struggles With Costs for New Frigates". Defense News. 
  6. ^ House of Lords - Hansard - Defence: Type 26 Frigates,, 26 January 2015
  7. ^ a b c d e "Q&A with BAE Systems on Type 26 Frigate Design Update at Euronaval 2012". Belgium: 10 January 2013. 
  8. ^ "New navigation radar system for Royal Navy - News stories - GOV.UK". Retrieved 24 July 2016. 
  9. ^ a b c d e f g "Re Type 26 Global Combat Ship", Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence., October 2014
  10. ^ "UK confirms Mk 41 VLS selection for Type 26" Archived December 7, 2014, at the Wayback Machine.,, 4 December 2014
  11. ^ "Mk 45 Mod 4 gun in frame for UK's Type 26 programme", IHS Jane's Defence Weekly, 30 March 2014
  12. ^ Type 26 Global Combat Ship, Retrieved 23 January 2016.
  13. ^ "Global Combat Ship". BAE Systems. Retrieved 26 July 2011. 
  14. ^ "First parts ordered for UK's new Type 26 frigates". Janes. 6 August 2015. Retrieved 25 April 2016. 
  15. ^ "House of Commons Hansard — Written Answers for 16 Mar 2005: Column 265W". Hansard. House of Commons. 16 March 2005. Retrieved 26 July 2011. 
  16. ^ "House of Commons Written Answers: Defence". Hansard. House of Commons. 12 March 2010. Retrieved 26 July 2011. 
  17. ^ Ministry of Defence Annual Report and Accounts Volume I including the Annual Performance Report and Consolidated Departmental Resource Accounts (PDF). Ministry of Defence (Report). HM Government. 21 July 2008. p. 98. ISBN 978 0 10 295509 5. HC 850-I. Retrieved 26 July 2011. Six of these highly advanced and capable ships have been ordered, but following the 2008 planning round we no longer intend to place orders for any further Type 45 destroyers. 
  18. ^ "Across the ocean come jobs – with the warship that's a vision of future". Portsmouth "The News". 23 November 2009. Retrieved 26 July 2011. 
  19. ^ "Clyde shipyard jobs secured as BAE Systems land £127m contract to help design new frigate for Royal Navy". Daily Record. Glasgow. 25 March 2010. Retrieved 26 July 2011. 
  20. ^ "BAE wins £127m contract to design Navy warship". BBC. 25 March 2010. Retrieved 26 July 2011. 
  21. ^ a b "Securing Britain in an Age of Uncertainty: The Strategic Defence and Security Review" (PDF). HM Government. October 2010. Retrieved 26 July 2011. 
  22. ^ "Type 26". 30 March 2010. Retrieved 15 July 2016. 
  23. ^ a b Sweetman, Bill; Nativi, Andy; Tusa, Francis; Eshel, David (10 May 2011). "Changing Needs Influence Warship Design". Aviation Week. Retrieved 19 May 2011. 
  24. ^ "The Type 26 Global Combat Ship – A Renaissance Warship?" (PDF). RUSI. June 2012. Retrieved 2014-08-12. 
  25. ^ "Type 26 Global Combat Ship (GCS) Programme". Naval Technology. 2014. Retrieved 2014-08-11. 
  26. ^ "MoD signs £859m Type 26 warship development deal". BBC News Online. 2015-02-20. Retrieved 2015-02-22. 
  27. ^ Ballpark Cost Revealed For Royal Navy Frigates,, 25 September 2015
  28. ^ Hoyos, Carola (13 September 2010). "Brazil defence deal raises BAE contract hopes". Financial Times. Retrieved 26 July 2011. 
  29. ^ "Britain's Future Frigates". Defense Industry Daily. Retrieved 28 October 2010. 
  30. ^ "House of Commons: Debates". Hansard. House of Commons. 31 January 2011. Retrieved 19 May 2011. 
  31. ^ "Ottawa won't be working with U.K. on building warships". CTV. 6 March 2011. Retrieved 26 July 2011. 
  32. ^ Ekşi, Özgür (21 May 2012). "Lockheed Martin sole bidder left for frigates". Hurriyet Daily News. Retrieved 7 July 2012. 
  33. ^ "GCS sets course for Canada [CANSEC2016D2]". IHS Janes. 28 May 2016. Retrieved 26 May 2016. 
  34. ^ Shukla, Ajai (11 August 2011). "UK proposes building future warships with India". Business Standard. Retrieved 7 November 2013. 
  35. ^ Scott, Richard (22 January 2010). "UK, Australia begin talks on future ship projects". Jane's Defence Weekly. Jane's Information Group. 
  36. ^ Donaldson, Kitty (18 January 2013). ".U.K., Australia Pledge Cooperation on BAE Frigate Design". Bloomberg. 
  37. ^ Anderson, Stephanie (18 April 2016). "Malcolm Turnbull says 12 offshore patrol vessels to be built in Adelaide". ABC News. ABC News (Australia). Retrieved 18 April 2016. 
  38. ^ "BAE Shops Type 26 Ship Design to Germany". Defense News. 25 July 2015. Retrieved 26 July 2015. 
  39. ^ "Type 26 Global Combat Ship (GCS) Programme". Naval Technology. Retrieved 10 December 2015. 
  40. ^ "Global Combat Ship — Capabilities". BAE Systems. 2011. Retrieved 19 May 2011. 
  41. ^ Sweetman, Bill (15 October 2012). "Low Risk, Flexibility Drive Type 26 Design". Aviation Week & Space Technology. 
  42. ^ Administrator (30 September 2011). "Type 26 Frigate - Global Combat Ship". Retrieved 10 December 2015. 
  43. ^ "GE to Power and Propel Type 26 Frigates with High-Efficiency, Low-Noise Electrical Drive Systems". July 2, 2014. 
  44. ^ Chuter, Andrew (23 August 2012). "Process Begins to Equip Royal Navy's Type 26 Frigate". Defense News. 
  45. ^ "Type 26 Frigates". Retrieved 10 December 2015. 
  46. ^ "House of Commons Hansard Written Answers for 24 May 2012 (pt 0002)". Retrieved 10 December 2015. 
  47. ^ a b David Cameron in the House of Commons,, November 2015
  48. ^ "New Royal Navy general purpose frigate to be known as Type 31". Retrieved 24 July 2016. 
  49. ^ "BAE unveils General Purpose Frigate concepts". IHS Janes. Retrieved 15 July 2016. 
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External links[edit]