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I confess that I think T31e program must be terminated. It is all too much optimistic, and each and every optimistic decision RN made in the past (e.g. modernizing HMS Illustrious and Ocean to disband them quite soon, T45 engine to fail, and T26 build schedule delayed and forced to order 5 River B2s) failed to come out as a good decision.

MOD will face continuous cuts in future, again and again. It may go better, but it is far from guaranteed, and it also may go bad. In realistic scenario, SSBN, F35B, AWACS or Cyber cost will inflate and RN will be forced to cut something more in 2025-30. In that point, there is only T26 and LPD-R. If we were to cut them, I think it is much better to cut T31e. And doing it is NOW.

I think T31e program shall better be changed into
– getting one more T26 (hull-9), to improve building efficiency on the follow-on builds, utilizing the learning curve (= cheaper)
– use the remaining 500-600M GBP out of 1.25B to build 3 or 4 “OPV-H”; a ~100m long, ~2500t FLD vessel with helo hangar, a 30mm gun, and 1 or 2 CIWS.

If something wrong happens in future, the “9th” T26 might be cut.

If it turned out to be good, 10th T26 can be added, or these 2500t OPV-Hs can be up-armed to carry 12 CAMM amd 8 NSM to become a long-range corvette/sloop.

Low risk solution, I think.

Be realistic, RN must.


Sounds just like a BAE Director – pushing for work!
1 additional T26 (circa £1Bn each) and 2 OPVs (£116 each) all built I presume in Govan? How does that benefit the RN or maintain current RN strength? How does that align with NSPS or will BAE rewrite that for the remaining budget?
Maintaining the two LPD(R) platforms, at which point they are pushing 30 years old, would be flawed. Those two platforms were compromised from the start without hangars for the aircraft.
Frigates are the mainstay of a Navy; even the USN now realises that mistake, hence the FFX program.
The OPVs cannot operate in the way the RN (or any blue water Navy) would demand of them, especially if they were permanently moored East of Suez. Look at the Castle Class and how ropey they became after a few years of use.
An OPV is an EEZ platform at best, it cannot do Force Projection effectively or work as part of a NATO blue water Force.
Both solutions are based on proven hull designs (VT I recall?) and so its managing costs of the kit inside. All doable for £250M, after all Iver Huitfeldt did and Cammell Laird made a great job of Sir David Attenborough. Have faith in these two British Bidders, they can both deliver the goods
Be realistic, the RN must


Love it ‘use the remaining 500-600GBP to build a 3 or 4th OPV’.
“Wash your mouth out with soap”, the ‘9th’ Type 26 will be out of sync with the program and therefore will cost 1.25BnGBP.
Oh that’s convenient!


Can’t say for certain this is Brexit related, but in general every government dept is going to have to make massive cuts due to Brexit. Biggest act of national self harm in our history, and Putin is loving every minute.


Given it looks as if no economic policy reforms will be allowed after Brexit (associate membership status) the UK will remain in the international slow lane for economic growth, but this time without a voice to try and change policy. Slower growth equals smaller public budgets.
So I share your pessimistic outlook of things here in the UK.


Bexit was not a decision made by government but a disillusioned electorate. Long term implications for the UK including defence from incompetent politicians of all shades taking the piss out of the people they’re supposed to serve…


A decision to hold an unnecessary non binding referendum by a Tory government purely to try and put down internal party dissent which spectacularly back fired. Well don’t know about you but if Putin and Trump are loving something you know it’s not in the British national interest.

Also I said this may or may not be Brexit related. Although if it’s not, it’s a taste of things to come. We are going to be cutting for years to come.


Jesus Christ Grayling’s Disease is spreading rapidly. Get well soon Chippy.


“Jesus Christ Grayling’s Disease is spreading rapidly”- Sounds fishy

A. Smith

The Project Fear ship sailed a long time ago. The biggest act of national self harm was voting in a Labour Government that wasted billions of tax payer’s money and caused a financial crisis of which we are still feeling the effects of today.

Tim Dainton

“An official spokesperson refused to be drawn on the deeper reasons for suspending the competition other than saying there were “insufficient compliant bids for an effective and robust competition” – Funny that, they normally make do with one!

Jock McKilt

I hope this is only a delay in procurement and not the first step in ending the project entirely. It’s hard to imagine how the RN could deploy a carrier task force plus maintain its other global commitments without at least the 18 ship combinations of Type 45, 23/26 & 31e.


The Babcock T31 frigate shows the most promise and highlights the Bae offering is completely non-competitive. That combined with the need for more ASW frigates the chances are the spec is being reviewed to take account of possibility of a half decent frigate for 350M . 250M will only give a super OPV. With the winning of the Australian T26 order the cost of the next batch of T26’s must be considerably lowered due to economies of scale.


Why do you think Australia making them in Australia with American combat systems and foreign subsystems will drop the price to UK shipyards and taxpayers? Only if they were made in UK shipyards to the same specs would it realise significant economies of scale savings.


The idea of thee T31 is a good one, but I wonder what the problem is. It could be one of several issues but the one used about not having enough competition does not seem to make sense. The reason I say that is as far as I am aware there were at least four concepts, BAE, Babcock, BMT (Venator) and Steller Systems (Spartan), there is even the possibility of a vessel similar to the South African Valour class. So competition is there.
However there could be a different issue which could take time to resolve the fitting of equipment, it is possible that BAE will not sell for example the Command and Control structure to Babcock. This is what happens if there is a single supplier. So the issue could be that the MoD wants one ship, with command and control and the electronic suite from another and the companies don’t want to play with each other.
There is though a second scenario, the T23s are just coming out of major refits, new generators, electronics, radar, weapons, bridge etc. In reality apart from the shape the T23 is a more aggressive and combat ready vessel than in any time in its life. The oldest vessel does have ten years left of service. It is possible that the MoD wants more time to evaluate, also hope that in the Autumn budget some extra cash come its way. This is the main issue, the updated SDR has not been completed and the treasury seems to be splashing cash everywhere, NHS,Education, salaries etc, what is going to be cut? So in reality it could be a wait and see what happens in the Autumn budget.


Those were all concepts, not bids. The only two actual bids were from BAE and Babcock, and based off of the decision to suspend the programme, we can only assume neither bid was going to come in under £250mn.

Something to bear in mind as well, that was mentioned on the UKDJ report for this, is that the minimum profit margin for this is meant to be just over 6%, which shaves something like £15mn off of an already incredibly tight budget.

The big question though, is who’s to blame for this. Is it the industry, for putting in overpriced bids, the MoD for setting such a strict budget, or is the fact that the £1.25bn for the programme still hasn’t been found, and that the Treasury is full of stingy f****s?

Van Layr

There were 3 bids. Cammel Laird with BAE, Babcock with the OMT Design and Thales and tkMS/Atlas Elektronik UK who would work with Fergusson and H&W.

MOD was not happy that both Cammel Laird and Babcock produced lots of media publicity when it was stated in the bidding agreements that only such would be done with approval of the MOD.

The tkMS bid is a bit of a dark horse and the MOD is keen to see it remain, due to their desperate need to gain some competition.

DAMEN pulled out as even they admitted for the price and the expectation for UK content that the budget is not sufficient. MOD could probably buy from them in budget but it would seem the political interests for UK industrial participation would not be met.

As ever this programme promised a new appraoch in the beginning and the expectations grew without changing neither budgets nor timelines.

All bidders must be faced with the realitiy of winning to then at a later stage renogitiate for more time and finances.


I think you’ve got your strings at bit crossed, Ferguson and Harland and Wolff are two of the shipyards involved in Team 31, which is the Babcock-led consortium offering Arrowhead.

I haven’t seen or heard anything about Thyssen Krupp or Atlas entering an official bid, and the only thing I can find online about it is single line mentions of them on articles by USNI and the Express about how they were apparently in the competition, but no further information. I presume they were offering a MEKO adaptation? Would definitely be interesting.


Cut foreign aid.


As Callum-san says, there are only two bids. Venator was a well-thought concept with long history, but optimized for ~400M GBP per hull program (like French FTI). Spartan is just a simple concept. So, “competition” is only between Arrowhead 140 (A140) and Leander. Nothing else. Is this healthy? May be.

On the other hand, BAE not selling their command system to Arrowhead 140 team is exactly what the competition must be. If RN wanted them to do so, they should have wrote it in the contract/RFI. Thus, it is not related to BAE attitude. This is very healthy and nothing is wrong here, I think.

Competition is by its nature wasteful, because the resources are devided. The good aspect of competition is, they are forced to propose better and better proposal. Arrowhead 120 (A120) disappearing in favor of Iver-Huitfeldt-class-based design (A140) is, I think, inspired from the Leander design looking more attractive than A120. This is the good aspect of competition.

Waiting the decision on T31e until MDP comes out is a very clever idea, I agree. Anything can happen. I am not sure the “19 escort” claim can survive. But, we have to note that T31e itself is already far from being a “frigate” with only a 1.25B GBP budget for 5 hulls. French FTI is 3.3B GBP for 5 hull, which is 2.6 times more resource. “No way T31e can be a proper-light-frigate” or “No way a proper-light frigate can be bought with that small resource”.

It is military issue. Military must face the reality.


I don’t agree that you need to spend 3.3B GBP for 5 hulls. 5 Hulls for what? The French you can argue are spending over .6B GBP per copy for (an early 20th century Look-a-like) Frigate that is inferior in every way that counts to a T26 which I would call a Hunter (!). I would call the T31 a patrol frigate and probably very good for said task. You know: RM Band, Cocktail party in Rio, Helicoptering relief supplies, Rescuing people, Watching Russian ships pass thru choke points, Watch out the Spanish off Gib, Frighten pirates, go 9000 n/miles without refuelling, and do sundry other tasks which require a UK presence as did old fashioned cruisers in peace and war, in the day.


“On the other hand, BAE not selling their command system to Arrowhead 140 team is exactly what the competition must be. If RN wanted them to do so, they should have wrote it in the contract/RFI. Thus, it is not related to BAE attitude. This is very healthy and nothing is wrong here, I think”.

Doesn’t the RN get User Rights?


The Thales Command and Control System is a viable system to the BAE one, designed to operate with multiple different other C&C systems; as the BAEs one is.
Sounds like a bit of upselling by a certain Prime Contractor


No ones saying the Thales system is inferior to the BAE CMS-1, but the issue is logistics. In a fleet trying to standardise equipment to lower maintenance and training costs, trying to sell a brand new cms and radar for what are meant to be cheap and cheerful frigates is a black mark against the design, no matter how you look at it. What the UK should be doing is something similar to the US FFG X contest, where Lockheed Martin’s COMBATSYSTEM-21 is non-negotiable and listed as government supplied equipment, so the bidders are competing purely on the quality of their platform. Of course, the US contest isn’t on the same strict budget as T31, so unless we then knock the cost of CMS-1 and Artisan off of the £250mn budget, it would probably require a different approach.

Paul H

You can’t rule out that Industry thought Government would blink on £250m – and they haven’t!

Lord Curzon

Smoke and mirrors; there won’t be a Type 31 project and the savings will be used to plug some of the many holes in the budget.

Lord Curzon

Would also like to point out I predicted on this site we would only get 8 new frigates when Osborne first made the announcement.


We won’t get 8 , the defence budget is screwed.
The cost of the vanguard replacement is burning up the budget , the latest pay rise has to come out of the existing budget , the F35B order costs keep increasing and the treasury refuses to increase defence spending. The perfect storm is engulfing the MoD.
George Osborne and Phillip Hammond in 2010-15 totally destroyed the MoD procurement budgets by putting the costs of MI5/6 and GCHQ into the defence budget and then compounded it with putting the costs of the deterrent into the MoD budget and just to make sure of the hatchet job they put the pension costs into the MoD budget.
Out of the 32 billion defence budget 4 billion is spent on MI5/6 and GCHQ another 2 billion is spent on the deterrent and a further 1.6billion on pensions. Which leaves a paltry 25 billion to spend manning , logistics ,maintenance and new kit.
It is a big lie we spend 2% on defence we actually spend 1.6% and it is falling.

Thank you George and Phillip for screwing up the armed forces.


George and Philip have to live in the real world. Those who planned an unrealistic and unsustainable fleet sructure and saddled the force with PFIs by living beyond their means should take most of the blame.
I realise that this will be an unpopular comment but people here will always be pushing for more battlecrusiers.


‘We want 8 and we won’t wait!’


Time to shop around and buy off the shelf for new hulls and refit the 23s to the end of the envelope.Otherwise there will be nothing to protect the new carriers if they want to operate outside the Med.


So how long can we run the 5 best shape 23’s using the remains of the decommissioned hulls and using some of the money allocated for the 31’s ? If a 31 was really just a warmed over 23 with the essential bits carried over we are not loosing much weapon and sensor fit wise.


That’s basically what Babcock proposed


The T23s were only designed for an 18 year service life. Being military, they’re obviously built to last a fair bit longer, but we’re already going to be pushing most of them to nearly 30 year service lives. Not only does that make them far pricier to run, but it also means the money we recoup by selling them on to countries like Chile decreases significantly


We don’t actually get very much at all. The headline price disguises the fact that BAE,Babcock and various middlemen take a huge cut.


Mjf, the Babcock/Team 31 design is basically off-the-shelf. If you look at other OTS purchases around the world, you always see about the same level of modification away from the original design as Team 31 proposed for their Iver Huitfeldt based ship. They knocked about a thousand tonnes off the Danish original, because the Danes have installed Mk 41 in addition to the smaller Mk56, whereas Type 31 is only getting a physically very lightweight (by comparison) VLS farm of 24 “mushrooms”. And there is more, but I won’t bore…

Essentially, the Team 31 proposal is solid and if the UK were able to just dump the whole idea and “buy off the shelf” as you propose, chances are we wouldn’t find a better option that to simply proceed with Team 31’s design, anyway!


The builders must have been in contact with the RN as they developed their proposals. Therefore the only logical conclusion is that £250 million was not enough for a viable warship. The NSS is not viable either, insufficient national critical mass.
The Admirals knew this would happen when they ordered the carriers, they even publicly stated that it would force the government to fund the escorts.


Britain has enough “critical mass” if we build our warships and R.F.A. here, we would have more than enough for a N.S.S.

Trevor Hollingsbee

I suspect that the Government has decided that the political baggage of building the new RFA support ships abroad would be too much, and they will be constructed, probably on a modular basis , in U.K. Money ,time and capacity must now be found to a achieve this.

Chris Lowther

The clock is ticking! To think a ship can be designed built commissioned and at sea by 2023 when the client delays the contract award process like this is wishful thinking. It puts undue pressure on contractors doing the work causing potential shortcuts and mistakes being made in the design process and excessive premium costs on construction to achieve an unrealistic schedule. Ask any E & C contractor!


I agree. Actually this is why its a good idea to slow things down a bit.
Now that we have missed the boat for replacing the T23 and have ended up replacing a lot of systems, might it not be better to run them on a bit?Is this realistic or is it going to get expensive?


So,you’ve voted down a question!Obviously you have no idea how to answer it.


Why wouldn’t speeding up the T26 be a better policy than rushing to build T31 from scratch?Then we could build both types simultaneously rather than a ill thought out panic. Everything could be smoothed out much better, bridgeing the gap for design personal,etc.
The more I think about it, the NSS is a lot of nonsense.

Michael Watson

Well the defence budget has been handicapped from the time of Chancellor Brown, Osborne and Hammond, why project type 31e been suspended probably for a number reasons, one of them is probably due to lack of money. Unless there is a reasonable uplift in Defence spending and the removal from the RN annual budget the cost of the Dreadnought project back to the HM Treasury were it originally came from. Probably the answer to any increase in Defence funding or not, will come in next years spending review, if the the outcome is negative. RN should consider mothballing of selling the Prince of Wales Carrier and just having the Queen Elisabeth, this would produce a more sustainable situation.


Don’t worry, one of the carriers will be discretely in mothballs almost as soon as both are in service. Followed by a gradual withering on the vine for the whole program. As much a question of manpower as anything else.
I was up the spinnaker tower on Sunday and there were an awful lot of T45s sitting around in the more hidden parts of the dockyard,at least one of which could certainly be described as being in mothballs.


Oh sorry, I meant ” training ship “


The Admirals blind obsession with the carrier project has destroyed the royal navy.
We choose the most exspensive option with the least flexibility , instead of a carrier battle group we have a very large helicopter carrier with at the most 12 F35B and that is a big if as the treasury is looking to cut the F35B program to 24 and switch to the F35A for the remainder due to cost savings, the f35a is £50 million cheaper than the F35B as it dose not require to fly from a carrier.
Hoon,Brown,Darling,Osbourne, Hammond and Lord West have eviscerated the armed forces between them.
We will not get 8 type 26 we will get 6 , there is funding for 3 but that is dependent on the defence budget increasing by 1.5% over the next 3 years and the vanguard costs staying the same.
We all know what will happen.


No doubt that will happen. Does anyone really think the 2 carriers will operate for 50 years.
The “Little Britain” people in government will eventually succeed in turning us into Denmark.


Well in this particular case I really do hope we turn into Denmark if it means the Babcock/Danish ship wins the bid !


I just came to a simple possibility.

Is it possible that, RN actually wanted the CMS-1 to be used in all bids, but “forgot” to write it down in the requirement? (as RAN did with AEGIS in their SEA5000 RFP).

Of course, pre-negotiating with BAE is needed. In other words, BAE will be involved in all bids, and sorry for Thales.


I very much doubt that BAE invested anything in the CMS, the true owner of the intellectual property will be the UK government. Ofcouse we have no means of enforcing this and BAE can charge what ever they like.


Defra developed the CMS , Brown and Hoon allowed BAE to acquire the rights in a deal for completion of the type 45.


For “insufficient compliant bids” read BAES couldn’t compete with Team 31’s proposal, which was rock solid, and we (correction: our friends) want BAES to win, so we’re restarting the competition to give BAES time to draw something half decent.


Wow…alotta ukgov punkdicts must be flagged/triggered by this post as I’ve +1 both you and Andy above and a few others further up and they got disappeared..:[


Very strange.


I’m actually watching this page and refreshing 2-4 times a day and there are at least 5x as many people voting ( mostly neg’s ) as there are peeps supporting/commenting on the thread..;] Give it a go and you’ll see what I mean 🙂


It’s Cammel Laird that’s bidding Leander. Get your facts straight.

Iqbal Ahmed

I for one welcome the sensible decision to cancel (‘delay’ is optimistic given financial pressures imho), these cheap and second rate frigates. Rather than ‘punching above our weight’ it would have been ‘lambs to the slaughter’ to send our sailors into harms way in what is basically a souped-up OPV. Hopefully the money saved goes into something more worth while eg. additional purchase of T26 or improving military barracks for the sake of forces children.


How many Iqbals are there pal, as you have posted on another story with a wrongly spelt name! Oh dear, looks like your rise to Russian middle class and it’s extra potatoes and 3 hours electricity per day may be in doubt! Sort yourself out sonny and if your gonna be a Putin bot try to do it a bit better.


According to the Mirror, only one bid complied and the other one was over the £250 million limit. Which one?You would imagine that the compliant bid would be the winner.


BAE bid was 390 million .
Also it is rumoured that BAE is threatening job loses at the Clyde yards and we all know what political hot potato that is , just look at the scandal of the world’s most exspensive OPV contract just to keep people employed on the Clyde only for the ships to be riddled with sub standard work.
Type 31 is dead , the royal navy will cease to exist in 20 years as a blur water navy, the army is already a home defence force and is incapable of supporting a offensive force larger than 5000 for 30 days , the RAF can only put 30 front line aircraft in the air for 30 days .
Let’s just close down the MoD and give the money to the NHS to spend.


BAE bid was 390 million for an undersized , under armed pumped up OPV. Even given the rip off price they charged us for five OPVs that are already falling apart even I can’t believe that ! Your source ???


Although I’m from the US and not fully familiar with the UK’s procurement processes, my read on what the MOD initially stated kind of made me think that this might have been the case, since if only one bidder met the cost requirement you couldn’t really have a “competition” to try and make sure costs don’t rise over time.

As such, I guess the next questions are a) did the teams that failed to meet the cost cap just try to provide “too much” where the MOD was looking for less and/or b) will the MOD go back now and try and trim back on their requirements to get the industry teams to propose something more in line with the cost goals.

One older article that I read actually identified the Korean Incheon class as the type and size of ship that might be able to meet the cost target, and although I do not have a copy of the actual specs that the Navy is looking for, I do have a copy of the two page Powerpoint slide that was put out a while back which seems to suggest a fair bit of “fitted for but not with” for the “Core” requirements. Specifically, this Powerpoint only suggest that the Core design should have the following:

– personnel protection including ballistic, blast and fragmentation armor
– a hangar for a Wildcat + an additional large UAV or 10t helo
– a crew of 80 to 100 (with space for 40 more)
– Point Defense Missile and sensors OR Close In Weapon System + ability to fit a Point Defense Missile System
– Capability of fitting a hull mounted sonar
– Medium and smaller calibre guns

Meanwhile these other features were listed as something that the designs should be “adaptable to”:

– an internal Chem, Bio, Rad & Nuclear Citadel
– Ability to operate as Maritime Task Unit Command and Control
– Ability to target and engage surface vessels with long-range ship-launched anti-ship missiles
– a medium range gun > 76mm
– adaptable hangar and flight deck for a Merlin sized helo
– an adaptable mission bay and/or deck space for two iso container sized units
– an active sonar
– ship launched torpedos
– a towed array
– an anti-submarine rocket or mortar system

As such it would appear that a ship likely closer in size to the 114m, 3300t Incheon increased in size a little and initially fitted with a 57-76mm gun, a CIWS/SeaRAM/ or RAM launcher, and a large flight deck and hangar, and extra space and weight margins is what they are currently asking for, rather than a 140m, 5700t vessel.


I have a question, what is possible to take out of the T23s, if I am correct the 4.5 in gun is available, the bow mounted sonar should be available, some Artisan radar systems should be available also some Sea Ceptor systems should also be available, I’m not sure about VDS. With all of this equipment possibly available it should be possible to build a light frigate for the cost the MoD wants. Or does the MoD want a ship with new equipment and systems for the price.
It is possible that the MoD has not stipulated what they can take out of the T23s and or what type of environment that these ships are meant to operate in.


Apparently a Prior Information Notice was issued to the two bidders yesterday along with a potential Marketing Industry Day next week.
In the fine tradition of the UK MoD they haven’t promulgated this clearly, especially to Industry.
A cluster kcuf from start to finish which I presume can only be cleared up by Industry.
Who employs these ……, Oh wait we do!
Too much time spent at Abbeywood trying to get on the squash court or Trips and Falls course