The Type 31 frigate is a little sister of type 26 global combat ship. The U.K. plans to initially build five of the frigates, with a top-line budget of £1.25 billion for the whole program at an average production cost of £250 million per ship , they will potentially carry a variety of reasonably complex weapon systems, including a main gun, surface to air missiles and a hangar to operate helicopters.
The Type 31e Frigate is expected to weigh 5,700 tonnes and measure 455 feet. It will be capable of a speed of 28 plus knots, with a range of 9,000 nautical miles at 12 knots.
Babcock International’s ‘Arrowhead’ design needs a company of roughly 100 and offers enough room for an embarked military force of 60, according to UK Defence Journal.
The ship will also have capabilities to operate with a Merlin or Wildcat helicopter.
- Babcock International (Prime Contractor)
- Thales Group
- Saab Group
The vessels will be fitted with sensor systems and a combat system with a 4D air and surface surveillance and target indication radar. The ship will use Thales TACTICOS and the NS110 radar for combat management.
The frigate will be equipped with a combined diesel and diesel (CODAD) propulsion system. The power-plant will integrate two engines with a power production capacity of 9.1MW each. The propulsion system will also include twin shafts and controllable pitch propellers (CPP).
The type 31 frigate will be fitted with 32 cell Mk41 VLS and world-leading Sea Ceptor anti-air missiles, along with vertical launch anti-surface weaponry, ASW and precision land attack missiles.
The warship will feature four large boat bays which will be capable of deploying RHIBs, USVs and UUVs.
The Arrowhead design offers options of 127mm medium calibre guns to engage with surface and land targets, a Phalanx close-in weapon system (CIWS) and a small calibre Bofors 57mm Mk 110 Mod 0 gun weaponry on the upper deck positions. The firepower of the vessel is further enhanced by multiple general purpose machine gun (GPMG) mounts.
From an industrial perspective, the UK military shipbuilding industry is in a challenging place now. Type 31 offers a real chance for UK shipbuilding to show what it can design and deliver to meet the needs of the Royal Navy.
There is a potentially significant long-term opportunity here as both the Type 26 and 31 designs will be optimized for exporting to overseas customers.
There are navies like New Zealand and other nations that over the next 5-10 years may be looking for a frigate platform, for which the Type 31 design could suit their needs.
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