First Sea Lord outlines requirements for Type 31e frigate

Sir Philip Jones, First Sea Lord, has outlined the Royal Navy’s requirements for the Type 31e frigate in a new speech.

The speech reveals that the Royal Navy’s requirement for a general purpose frigate is driven by the government’s commitment to maintain its current force of 19 frigates and destroyers.

Jones said that although six Type 45 destroyers are still new in service, the 13 Type 23 frigates are already serving beyond their original design life, and to extend their lives any further is ‘no longer viable’ from either an economic or an operational perspective. Eight of those Type 23s are equipped specifically for anti-submarine warfare and will be replaced on a one-for-one basis by the new Type 26 frigate.

The Royal Navy is looking to the Type 31e to replace the remaining five general purpose variants, and is hoping the Type 31e will fulfil routine tasks to free up the more complicated Type 45 destroyers and Type 26 frigates for their specialist combat roles in support of the strategic nuclear deterrent and as part of the carrier strike group.

Jones explained: “There is more detail in your handout but, broadly speaking, the Type 31e will need a hanger and flight deck for both a small helicopter and unmanned air vehicle, accommodation to augment the ship’s company with a variety of mission specialists as required, together with stowage for sea boats, disaster relief stores and other specialist equipment.

“It will be operated by a core ships company of between 80-100 men and women and it needs to be sufficiently flexible to incorporate future developments in technology, including unmanned systems and novel weaponry as they come to the fore, so open architecture and modularity are a must.

“All this points towards a credible, versatile frigate, capable of independent and sustained global operations.”

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