Tuesday, 14 August 2012

"Add Two Type 45s to your shopping basket? - Click here to purchase". The reason the UK can't just 'buy two more Type 45s'...

This article was born out of suggestions elsewhere on this site about the feasibility of the UK deciding to order an additional pair of Type 45 destroyers to bolster the Royal Navy’s (RN) escort fleet. The purpose of this article is to try to explain the financial context when they were cancelled, and also consider some of the challenges involved in trying to complete two new T45s now.

From the outset, let’s be extremely clear. This article is not saying that the UK could not build two more Type 45s – if the will is there, and the budget exists to do so, then anything is possible. As will be seen though, the challenge is trying to do so in a manner which makes rational sense.


As many readers will recall, the T45 programme originally had its roots in the NATO standard Frigate, then Horizon project of the 1980s and 1990s. Following UK withdrawal from this project, the T45 emerged as a national design, albeit similar in some ways to the Franco / Italian vessels. The initial requirement was for 12 hulls, on a one for one replacement for the T42s then in service in the mid-1990s.

The SDR saw the first draw down in the T42 fleet, losing BIRMINGHAM to cuts when it reduced from 35-32 escorts in 1998. As the RN went from 32 to 25 in 2004, the remaining early T42s were included in the sale, decommissioning a couple of years early, although in reality they were in such poor material state by then that it was not a major loss. Around this time the requirement for 12 hulls was reduced to 8, to reflect the reduced destroyer requirement.

At this time the intent remained to order a further batch of two Type 45s at some point – Six were already on order and firmly ensconced in the planning budget. By 2008 though the decision had been taken to cancel the batch two vessels, as part of wider planning round considerations which saw the surface fleet reduced to just 23 hulls.

HMS DUNCAN ready to launch (Copyright STV)

If you ever want to get an involuntary shudder from a Whitehall escapee, and then ensure they spend the rest of the evening moaning quietly in the corner, in the manner of a prisoner from Azkaban who has been caught by the Dementors, then just say the dreaded words ‘Planning Round’.

In the somewhat complex world of MOD finances, a range of methods have been used in recent years to try to plan the forward budget. The author is aware that the system used has changed once again, although he is not familiar with its new construct.

In the mid-2000s though, the MOD used a system known as Planning Rounds (PR) to try to manage the complexity of not only the equipment programme, but also the wider defence budget. The theory was very sound, every two years the MOD would conduct an examination of its budget, and ensure that sufficient funding existed to put all planned programmes and projects into service. Where there was a mismatch in funding, through the use of reduced spending totals, different budgetary areas would seek to cut spending to meet the new total. In order to identify these cuts, wider ranges of potential cuts were considered and presented as ‘Options’. The options were scrutinised at varying levels, enabling packages of cuts to be drawn up which in turn would meet varying savings targets.

In theory, if this worked correctly then it would deliver a balanced budget every two years, ensuring that the MOD could plan with a certain degree of confidence. The idealised ‘Planning Round’ process would in tabular format, look a little something like this, albeit vastly simplified.

Planned Activity
MOD Centre issued total budget. Advises all commands of their own budget totals.
Each TLB, (or Capability area in CTLB /DE&S) review budget totals, consider how to make savings in line with any guidance from Centre (e.g. don’t even think about deleting Project X).
Savings totals cascaded down from TLB to team level. Teams spend time considering where savings can be made, both in year, and also in follow on 10 year programme. Options drawn up which identify varying levels of cuts.
Savings options generated across TLB, presented to senior TLB management for consideration. Overall package put together and submitted to Centre.
Centre TLB considers all submissions, decides which combination of options to take, or asks for further cuts in specific areas. Period of redrafting commences, prior to acceptance of final package.
Final package, containing agreement on both cuts, and any compensating enhancements to the budget to reflect changes or operational issues, agreed and put in front of Defence Board, then Ministers for final approval.
Ministers sign off on package, books balance, and MOD budget is secure.

This is the theory at least. In reality, there was far more leaking, counter briefing, ‘disagreement’ and other problems associated with the process. An outsider could usually tell what stage the planning round was at by the type of options being discussed, and the level of outrage displayed. As a general rule this author normally saw leaks to the Daily Telegraph or Mail as being ‘first innings’ designed to head off things like ‘disbanding the Parachute Regiment’. By the time leaks had reached the Guardian or Independent, they were generally at the point of concluding the process and putting more accurate stories out there.

In the case of the T45, the decision to axe the Batch Two purchase would have been taken at a time when there was significant pressure on the budget. The lack of an update to the SDR since 1998 meant that the Forces were required to plan on assumptions which were out of date, and not funded, but which Ministers had not overturned. At the same time, on-going operations in Iraq and Afghanistan were squeezing the medium term budget – not the UOR territory, but rather seeing emphasis on  equipment entering service in the medium term, ensuring changes were made to keep it relevant to developments in theatre. Add to this the reality that there was too much in the programme, vying for funding at a time when cash was declining in real terms, and suddenly there is a major squeeze on the budget.

The problem with buying the hulls isn’t finding £750m per hull (or thereabouts) in one year to fund the vessel. In the UK system, procurement doesn’t simply send a large cheque to the builders in return for a vessel in a few years’ time. Rather, the system breaks expenditure down over several years, with different sums being injected at different points. It is likely (although Humphrey cannot confirm) that the spend profile for the T45 would have clashed with other spending profiles. When it came to try to balance the budget out, not just in year, but also out to five – ten years’ time, there would have been too much pressure in the system. The option to delete the last two T45s would have freed up cash, not only in the short term, but also in the medium term, thus helping alleviate pressure on the budget.

So, in reality, the cancellation of T45 reflected the reality of a Department desperately trying to save funding across a variety of budgetary areas. Not just in procurement, but support, manpower, training, and all the other aspects of vessel procurement. The potential package of savings accrued could easily have meant the difference between cancelling multiple projects, possibly impacting on current land operations and just cancelling one. In the end, the decision was taken to go for the T45 cancellation.

But why not now?

Let us assume for a moment then that for reasons unknown, the decision is taken tomorrow to order an additional two Type 45 destroyers. The question is, could it be done?

Firstly the question is, where does the money come from? The forward programme has been done on the assumption that no further T45s are to be bought. This means that the RN has to identify where the near to £2 Billion would come from to fund the hulls. Assuming it still takes seven years from lay down to completion (and a further one – two years prior to actually start the process off), that is a very significant new amount of cash to find in the current programme, both in year, and over the next seven years. So, the first question the RN Resources&Planning staff would need to identify is ‘what is to be cut to make this happen’.

HMS DAUNTLESS (Copyright Daily Telegraph)
The next challenge is the issue of cost. Although the unit cost of Type 45s has fallen over time, this is due to economies of scale in producing 6 sets of equipment, plus spares. These savings are likely to be lost with any new builds, as the production lines for much of the equipment could either be shut down, or would need to be restarted. This would incur extra cost to the manufacturer, who would pass it on to the MOD. The only way that the RN is likely to get similar economies of scale again would be if another navy were to order a batch of four hulls, and a follow up order were tagged on for the RN. So, to generate an additional two hulls, the costs would be significantly greater than for the first batch of vessels.

Timing is also a problem – on current timelines it is taking an average of six – seven years from steel cutting through to commissioning. On average it is then taking a further one – two years to bring the vessel to a point where she is deployable as a worked up unit, able to be programmed by HQ NAVY to conduct deployments. If a vessel was ordered tomorrow, the absolute earliest that she would be in service and able to conduct tasking is 2020. The first issue is that the RN will have borne a significant gap (in the region of 10 years) with only six destroyers, so it is hard to justify inserting a further two units in at this point. The second issue is that of fleet age. The rest of the T45 fleet will be somewhere between six and twelve years old. Creating a second batch of two hulls that are significantly younger will be useful in providing more hulls, more capability and more availability now. But, as the T45 fleet gets older and approaches pay off dates, it will be harder to justify the two younger hulls continued service. They will be significantly younger than their sisters, and as the rest of the class pay off, running on a batch of just two hulls will be expensive. The RN tends to quickly dispose of small classes – look at the way that the residual Batch Two Type 22s were quickly sacrificed in the post SDR environment. One would struggle to see the RN retaining two younger T45s, particularly if replacements were inbound. Therefore, any further batch would probably see much less service than the current ones.

In terms of support and manning, providing two additional Type 45s would raise a significant cost and manpower burden on the fleet. The RN has scaled itself to provide spares for six hulls. An additional two hulls means increasing spares by 33% above the existing fleet, which in turn would mean extra funding for parts, supplies, maintenance and munitions. Even basic issues like Sea Viper war shots, helicopter fleets, ammunition for 4.5” guns and the like would need to be increased. The funding for this is not in place at present. It’s not that the RN can’t find this funding, but that it will cost more to fund it than previously expected – this money has to be found from commensurate savings elsewhere.

 'Manning Computer Says No’

Even manning the ships would prove a challenge. By 2020 the RN expects to have a force of roughly 22,000 sailors, and 7500 Royal Marines. Once you remove the submarine service, Fleet Air Arm, and the various support elements, the actual sea going element of the naval service will be quite small. A force of 19 escorts would need approximately 3400 personnel to man them at full capacity (so some 15% of the Naval Service). Adding an extra 380 personnel at all ranks / rates to man two extra Type 45s will increase the total to 3800 personnel – or over 10% increase in manning needs.

This may not sound much, but it would present structural changes to the RN. It’s not just a case of saying ‘here are 380 sailors, make it happen’, it’s a case of providing 380 sailors, then providing them with reliefs, then ensuring capacity for career development, and also for their reliefs to be relieved. Harmony time is crucial – keep someone at sea for too long and they will become burnt out and put their notice in. So, you need to recruit sufficient personnel to ensure people get regular shore drafts, and the opportunity to do broadening tours for career development. It also has an impact on things like branch promotion structures – on the face of it adding two extra hulls with opportunities is great, but where are you going to put the extra personnel when not onboard? How do you maintain a balanced career path, to ensure that the young 18 year old AB joining HMS RALEIGH remains in the service to become a 35 year old CPO in charge of a department?

The RN has reduced its manning requirements since SDSR, and the recruiting taps are only half open. The last time the RN shut recruiting entirely was in the early 1990s, nearly 20 years ago. The effects of this are still being felt in the system now, with a major lack of SNCOs in some areas. The reverse is also true- to crew two additional T45s in the 2020s would need a lot of work now to put people into service to get training, experience, and the rate to man the ship properly. Again, it’s not that it can’t be done, but it would take a lot of time, effort and hard cash to increase recruitment in the right areas – this would be a slow process. It isn’t a case of saying ‘here are two ships go sail them’, it’s an incredibly complex process of trying to work out where you get the 380 people from to not just sail the ships, but fight them, and win, in the most demanding scenarios imaginable.

The easiest way to get more T45s into service? (Copyright navynews)

The final point is perhaps the best reason why it would be near impossible to achieve this. There is simply no room in the construction yards to build two additional Type 45s. As was seen in the award of the MARS tanker project to Korea, the current UK shipbuilding industry is operating at peak capacity – the CVF programme is in pure tonnage terms providing the equivalent of 20 Type 45 destroyers worth of construction. The yards are full with CVF work now, and in a few years’ time will be ramping up to construct Type 26. To inject two additional Type 45s now would throw that programme into disarray as the yards struggle to work out how they can actually build the vessels. It’s not just a case of laying some steel down and a new ship popping up. T45s are built across multiple yards in parts, so it would need all the component yards to work together to fit it into their programme. They’d also need to work out how to take on the extra staff, who would then need to be made redundant later on as the workflow dropped off again. One of the key successes of the terms of business agreement is that the shipyards can plan for an agreed level of work. Adding ships in to this actually throws the plan into confusion as the yards have to resource to a higher level than before, incurring additional costs, and probably delaying both CVF and T26.

It is not impossible to build extra ships. That much is clear – if the willpower is there, then it can be done. But the days of shipyards existing in a short term environment, dependent on the next RN order, whatever it may be, are all but gone. The issue is the preservation of key skills, such as ship design and also high end manufacture of critical components, and doing so in a manner which makes the industry sustainable for the long term, and not the ‘boom and bust’ approach of the last century.

Reviewing what was written, it’s hard to avoid the impression that this piece feels somewhat negative, an effort to try and explain why ‘computer says no’. But the problem that the MOD has is trying to get itself into a position where it is sustainable and can actually afford to buy what it wants, without losing the industries that it needs to keep it in business for the long haul. Adding two Type 45s into production now sounds brilliant – it would win votes, it would keep supporters of the Navy happy, and the RN would be delighted. The problem is that it would cost an enormous amount of cash, it would cause major manpower problems, and it would threaten to unravel the UK shipbuilding industry as it currently stands.

If Ministers wished to enlarge the RN escort fleet, the easiest way to do so would be by procuring extra Type 26 escorts in due course, and then planning to build more T45 replacements in 20-30 years time. Sadly the days when an extra batch of vessels can just be rustled up are over, no matter how wonderful it would be to see more Type 45s in service.

 One final point. This argument is not exclusive to the RN - any navy in the world seeking to build more ships would find itself facing similar problems


  1. Bravo sir, the most 'Sir Humphrey' article I've ever read! If I were a member of HMG on the receiving end of that Power Point missive, I'd be switching on my Out of Office for the rest of the day.

    Of course it is impossible to build more T45s' as you say. Yet on the other hand it is possible. It will take 7 years and cost mega billions. Also no capacity to build them, due to the carrier project.

    One thing does occur to me. If the construction of T45s' was running in parallel to the carriers, then there should now be capacity in the system, as the T45 work has ended and the T26 work not due to start for a number of years.

    Or am I missing something....

  2. Excellent article Sir Humphrey. I wouldn't say the article was negative, more the fact that it points out the hard truth of why we wont be getting any more destroyers. The question I ask you Sir Humphrey is do you think 6 type 45's is enough?

    1. Hi Mick - I won't deny that I'd love to see more ships. I have my own 'dream fleet' in the same way as everyone else does. Of course more hulls would be great, but as I'm sure you appreciate the reality is funding is limited, we're fighting a land campaign, and we've got little space for extra maritime capability. I suspect you'd be hard pressed to find anyone in Defence who doesnt share that view!

  3. Thank you for providing convincing reasons why I should strangle my hopes! Perhaps we would do better to concentrate on trying to 'finish' the current six vessels.

    If we are only going to have six destroyers and they are going to spend much of their time as singletons, as you have described, then let us utilise their potential as completely as possible and acknowledge that they will need an all-round capability to supplement their great sensors and very capable AA missiles.

    It seems that we could with some advantage aim to do some or all of the following:
    -Get CEC up the priority list
    -Get CAMM quad-packed into some of A50 silos to give a higher volume short-range anti-missile capability
    -Get an anti-ship missile on to the class (NSM?)
    -Get strike length VLS into the 'spare' slots that I believe are present. This could allow land-attack, anti-sub, additional anti-air defence missiles to be carried

    1. Hi Corin,
      Thanks for your comments. I think we have a window of opportunity for upgrades under the new post Levene funding arrangements, which sees funding devolved down to service levels again. In future it will be easier for single services to prioritise upgrades, because they will have a smaller pot of money, but one which they control, rather than one large pot of funding which is divided.
      This means that if the RN can identify funding, or equivalent savings, and if the support is there, then it would be easier to fund class upgrades such as SSMs or CEC. The question though is what level of priority is ascribed to this sort of upgrade, versus other issues?
      Personally I'm not hugely convinced by the need for SSMs - its one of those subjects I keep meaning to write on, but I think the days of ships remotely lobbing large SSMs at each other are at an end.

    2. Hi SirH

      Thank you for your reply. Let us hope you are right about services controlling their upgrade budgets (and that the services choose wisely). On the SSM front, I do not understand the reluctance to have this capability on major surface combatants and escorts. The RN appears to reject the notion doctrinally too but I simply cannot bring myself to accept that the cost/benefit tradeoff is unfavourable. In a world where we are to have perhaps 7 SSNs, one operational carrier group at best and virtually nil RAF naval strike capability how exactly do we propose to sink enemy ships if they decline to present themselves to the carrier air we do not yet have or happen upon one of our 7 subs? Lure them into shallow water?. Until we have the agreement of all other navies and pirate captains to abide by RN doctrine and only attack our ships by air and subsurface means can we not guard our £1bn destroyers with rather less expensive SSMs? Furthermore, AADs are primarily roled to guard even more expensive ships, let's give them all the tools they need to do that, even outside their core role. Third point: if we ever plan to sell platforms to anyone ever again, being able to demonstrate integration of the range of weapons that other users all put on their platforms will be the difference between success and failure. Just my view.

  4. A convincing but deeply depressing post from Sir H - as I read it this means that there is a downward ratchet with respect to fleet size that can only be reversed by a decision on the part of HMG to make the fleet bigger permanently. As this will not happen, in the end the Royal Navy will simply cease to exist - rapidly followed by our existence as an independent sovereign nation.

    I am now so fed up that I may need to turn to the UKNDA to read a few of their "SPEND MORE MONEY! BUILD MORE SHIPS! GET MORE WARPLANES! RECRUIT MORE SOLDIERS!" articles to cheer myself up...

    1. GNB - Thanks for your comments - you could always try the Phoenix Think Tank to cheer yourself up :-)

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. I have it from a fairly credible source that in a high intensity engagement, just 1 Type 45 could potentially do the work of every Type 42; I am inclined to believe this when one considers the limitations of the T1022 and that the T45 could potentially empty its VLS in the length of time it would take the Sea Dart to get off just four missiles.

    However, the T45 is unlikely to ever see a high intensity engagement. They'll be relegated to patrol and presence projection roles, which is a bad, bad thing when only 6 hulls are available to do it.

    In an ideal world we'd have all 12 of the beasts, or reserve them for front-end use and assign a class of smaller, dedicated patrol ships to do the dogsbody role. Sadly this isn't an ideal world, and I expect that the T45 might well be a shortlived beast with how hard it will be worked in its life.

    Lets hope that Saudi Arabia follows through on its talk, and the government decides to tack an additional one or two ships on the tail end of their order.

    1. Very good points anonymous - the T45 is a brilliant bit of kit, but how often will we fight the air battle it is designed for?
      Therein lies a whole series of arguments over 'quality or quantity'. Its clear the RN has got exceptional ships, but the sight of Dauntless off West Africa suggests that we have an over preponderance of high end capability, doing stuff that an OPV may be better at.

    2. "high end capability, doing stuff that an OPV may be better at."

      Hit the nail on the head. What's the point of using a ship costing £1bn to do a job that a ship costing £100-£200m could do.

    3. Humphrey,

      I could quite easily see the patrol roles given over to a fairly biggish OPV whilst the Darings focus on doing what they were designed to do; making the airspace around the QEs impenetrable to aircraft, missiles and hypersonic cricket balls when they finally roll out of the yards.

      Perhaps when the T26 rolls around, having only 6 hulls won't be such a large problem; the T23s are old, the maint cycles are getting longer and availability going down. New, healthy vessels will probably see at least a small increase in the presence of the RN in the world's various ports.

      The sight of an OPV rocking up won't have the same impact as a nearly cruiser-displacement ADD, but as we have only six they really should be preserved against turds rocketing fanwards.

      That said, what profile would an RN OPV have? It would need to be big to handle bluewater and carry enough supplies to last on extended patrol, though not necessarily heavily manned as the Darings demonstrated. Something along the lines of the Protector class, though a bit upgunned? This really isn't my field.

    4. The Dutch OPVs should be just fine. They are large, have good endurance, and - I believe - quite a bit of capacity to take on additional equipment turning them into frigates, when the situation requires it.

    5. The Dutch OPVs should be just fine. They are large, have good endurance, and - I believe - quite a bit of capacity to take on additional equipment turning them into frigates, when the situation requires it.

    6. The problem would be finding the budget to do it. I don't think anyone wants to sacrifice any of the T26 hulls to make room for it; at this point it seems unlikely that the RN will reclaim in future orders the numbers it cut for the current classes. Then again, the future will not be lumbered with the gigantic poison pill that CVF has been since the early 2000s.

      Also, by the time T26 orders are finished up (no small length of time) I rather suspect that the T45s will be showing wear and tear, and requiring either an overhaul or replacement.

    7. There isn't much point in building significant numbers of large OPVs as they are really only of use in relatively low threat environments. OPVs like HMS Clyde are fine because they are cheap and capable enough for most constabulary duties. Once you start building bigger, better equipped OPVs, the costs escalate significantly and the whole exercise becomes highly questionable. These ships don't have the capability of a destroyer or frigate (so of little use in a high threat situation) but are still expensive for low level tasks. Better to build a few extra River class and save the rest of the money for the T26 programme.

  7. Yes SirH.

    Thankyou for a clear level psot on the matter - some of the comments were rather odd considering where these hulls will come from.

    The stark reality is that with these cuts, the force structure is precarioussly balanced atm, with an obvious dipp in Army for obvious and right reasons for now.

    For now what we have is just enough - the threat now is ensuring they are not over-worked with the subsequent manning and engineering issues.

    I'm a crab, so not fully in the circle - but have worked with puddle pirate mates enough to understand the picture.
    With more '45's comes the threat to the already shakey '26 numbers, the RN can ill afford that.

    The summary clears it up, iots a sorry picture, but one every Navy (and service) is facing... it could be much worse.

  8. I think the T45's represents all what is wrong with the British defence industry. Does anyone really believe they represent value for money or that they take 7 years to build. I don't, their build is simply stretched out to milk the tax payer gravy train.

    Take the Danish Iver Huitfeldt class, basically they have similar capabilities to the T45, but cost only a fraction of the price and are being put together in 4 years. They are being built in a commercial yard which explodes the myth about needing specialist naval yards. We could have perhaps 3 Ivers for the price of a T45.

    BAE needs to realise that the MOD is never going to be able to sustain them as military shipbuilders in the future. They need to move over to commercial shipbuilding, with the occasional military build now and then. Others will say commercial yards cannot survive in Europe, I would say look at the Dutch, Germans, Poles and Finns. Interestingly BAE have started commercial shipbuilding in the USA, because of the Jones Act, though I believe their first ship is behind schedule.

    Alternatively BAE could subcontract the hulls to other shipyards and simply finish the ships off. Of course the danger for BAE is that other players could then enter the market.

    Recently the government has given BAE £127m to outline the design of the T26 frigate. We don't actually get a real frigate for this money, just some paper concepts. The money is simply to keep BAE's large design team together. Where did the Danes get their design work done, perhaps we could use them.

    Although we have not yet decided to replace Trident submarines, £3 billion has already been committed to their design and the purchase of special steels and propulsion systems. If anyone believes that special steels need a lead time of 10+ years, they surely believe the moon is made of cheese. Again it is simply a sop to keep the various contractors alive.

    Producing one or two items of equipment does not require a production line as such, modern CNC machinery can be put to manufacture anything within their scope. A pick and place printed circuit board machine can assemble radar boards one day and industrial radios the next. The same is true with CNC machining centres used to manufacture mechanical and electrical equipment.

    As to the navy manning these ships and career development, not everyone can hope to get to the top. Most civilians realise that and stay in the job they have or move on to a new employer. Perhaps you have explained why the military is so top heavy.

    The defence industry is too addicted to Corporate welfare.


    1. although I'm not aware of some of your comments Red go, I do believe what your saying is very true, I, e .I was on a t45 for sea trials once it came out of the yard, and I believe it actually went over the billion £ mark, but when you see how long bae, and there contractors took to do a job, it was certainly an eye opener for me, and the wages some, well most of the guys were on, (apart from us "support staff" even the yard workers were on at least 2 times more on 3 our day rate, and this was just for sweeping up, and the odd wiping down job, but more of a cruise f or them guys, I met one guy, who was always on the helideck on his I pad, and got talking to him, and he was telling me that although he m a y have workedharder on the first 3 ships to come out, he was paid 1000 pounds per day, yes 1,k per day, for what he knew, and to be fair he obviously had ironed out any problems, so was also on a cruise, #I think is this government just happy to keep guys in jobs, but if that's the case is cost must be ridiculous

  9. The time taken to build and make operational a T45 is identical to the time needed to inform, train and reprogramme a capable Secretary of State for Defence.
    MOD Centre used budgets to rectify a land ops situation which was ill conceived and poorly equipped. A much needed sticking plaster to save face for the government.
    The precarious uncertainty of future ops and commitments requires greater flexibility from a much smaller force within a very tight budget.
    The most brilliant minds can forecast the most likely scenario and attach funding to match. The only certainty being that scenario will be worthless before the ink is dry.
    A natural disaster or a careless match in the middle east tinderbox and it all falls down.
    There is a need for highly flexible tri service structures capable of mounting sustainable defensive or offensive operations to protect British interests.
    Mr Hammond made two interesting statements this week. Firstly he indicated that his preconceptions about military capability were only partly correct. There are levels of resilience necessary in some defence capabilities for which civilian contractors are not equipped.
    Secondly he indicated that operations like those in Iraq and Afghanistan will not be repeated any time soon.
    The possession of a highly sophisticated carrier platform with dedicated purple support is a wondrous thing. I just can't find a future scenario where it fits unless there is a commitment to a wider Atlantic or European integrated force.
    The political command and control issues would seem to negate any such alliance.

  10. Ballistic missile defence would be a scenario where 2 additional T45 destroyers make sense. They would contribute to a European missile shield. The Saudis might buy T45s with this capability.


  11. In the light of all this, if we do need more T45-like hulls, might it be easier to spec 2x T26 with Sea Viper (i.e. like the French did with the two AAW-variant FREMMs)?

    1. Frogipedia just reminded me that the two Aster 30 FREMMs have their own acronym, FREDA.

  12. Glad to see that Sir Humph has returned to his desk. I'm certain the last article was written by his PR department.
    Back to first class analysis.

  13. I love a good discussion and in this case I feel that "Anonymous" is winning on points !

  14. Great post Sir H, and sound logical reasoning. Perhaps one could argue to only build 8 T26s and quickly move onto a general purpose design that is capable os supporting AAW / ballistic missile defence as well as ASW and ASuW, which would grow numbers and eventually allow everything to be replaced.

    Additionally is it not likely that SSM missiles will have a joint role as land attack missiles, making it a simplier decision to carry them?


    1. Attractive idea that. Placing an order for say 19 ships based on a common hull and design batched into AAW or ASW or GP variants. Unit cost *should* fall impressively over the run, one would think. Questions: can ASW optimised hull/designs also be flexible enough to cope with AAW / ASuW launchers etc? Would a GP variant be too big/expensive based on that common design (though they could be re-roled in theory if needed?) Do the industrial and procurement advantages outweigh any disadvantages brought by whatever compromises have to be made to achieve the hull/design commonality?

    2. The answer is yes, just look at the Arleigh Burke -class. There would be of course compromises, but the overall capability would be greater. The T26 programme is expected to be around £5bn (based on a £400mn unit cost estimated on a replacement value for a T23) and the T45 project was £6bn, a total of £11bn. That's almost £600mn per vessel, quite near the £650mn quoted by the NAO about what the T45 should have cost.


  15. Much better than the previous (rather shaky) article. The requirement for the 7th and 8th ships was indeed dropped so that the MoD could balance the books, and by 2010 the window for potential reinstatement had closed. The Type 45s will be very hard worked, and there will undoubtedly be maintenance and availabilty issues during the later years of their service lives.

    What is critical now is getting as many Type 26s as possible and to a reasonable specification. We are unlikely to get 12/13, but anything less than 9/10 (by no means unthinkable) would be catastrophic for the RN.

    1. Good point on the T45s being ridden to ribbons to make up the numbers. Hence my argument for a "Horizon solution" - tag on 2x T26 hulls, AAW optimised, at the end of the T26 drumbeat.

  16. Could we / should we buy 2 more T45s , surely the whole question is mute since there appears little sense to the whole debacle of forward planning for the RN ( T45 , T26 , T? ).What should have been was a complete look at what was needed & the best way to accomplish that requirement , when the 45s was brought forward it was as a replacement for the 42s ( 1 for 1 )there was also the recognition of a replacement for the frigate force not far after the 45s production end run, the order of 2 carriers meanwhile meant a complete rethink for the navy was required ,the 45s was a golden opportunity to clump the global requirement & AAD requirement into one hull design with a hull number of 8 AAD & least 4 having ballistic defence capability & 8-10 global frigate surface / land attack variant , built in 2 batches the AADs first , then a group of small frigate / corvette sized ships ( about 100 M size )about £ 180 apiece numbering 12-16 hulls ( with over seas sales being a good prospect for a vessel of this size and cost or even less )this would of meant the cost of the 45s would have been kept to a tight budgetary constraint being 16-18 hulls , whats more the " dogs body corvette / frigate " means the requirement for a large number of large hulls would not be necessary but the small frigate / corvette making up the numbers & enabling the navy to maintain a higher number of surface combatent hulls to a higher level 28-30 hulls & I beleive that this long range planning would have been a far better out look than the mish mash that is today .

  17. So with the Scottish independence issue still in the air and the resultant reluctance to commit T26 construction to a potentially "foreign" country, would it not make sense to bulk order 6 more T45s now,possibly from BAE Portsmouth with or without a Saudi order?

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  19. I'm late to this excellent article that realy does, along with some of the comments show what a pickle we have got into with regards the Royal Navy. For me it seems it will only get worse.

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