BAE Systems has been awarded a four-year £127m contract by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to take forward the programme to develop a new generation of combat ships for the Royal Navy.
The Royal Navy has revealed that the first ships to be developed under the Future Surface Combatant programme will be known as the Type 26 class, replacing Type 22 and Type 23 frigates.
Under the contract, BAE Systems will work in a joint team with the MoD to assess options from the initial concept design in order to develop a detailed specification ready for manufacture.
First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope said: ‘You simply cannot have an effective Navy without capable frigates and the Type 26 combat ship will form the future backbone of the Royal Navy’s surface combatant force, alongside the new Type 45 Destroyers.’
An 80-strong joint MoD and BAE Systems team has been already established out of Bristol. This number is expected to rise to 300 over the next four years, bringing together expertise in all aspects of warship engineering to complete the assessment phase.
The team will first evaluate the main options, including capability, operational availability of the ships, exportability features and support optimisation. The programme is also timed to address outputs from the forthcoming Strategic Defence Review so that changes to policy will be reflected in the final ship design.
Type 26 is the first of two classes of ships to be built under the Future Surface Combatant programme, delivering enhanced anti-submarine warfare capability and enabling a more agile response to threats and emergency situations.
Both variants will be developed with their potential for export factored into the design from the outset, with the aim of securing overseas orders to spread non-recurring costs and reduce the cost per ship.
The first of the new class is due to enter service around the start of the next decade and by the 2030s around half of frontline Royal Navy personnel are expected to operate on a either a Type 26 or the second variant to be developed under this programme.