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Type 26 Global Combat Ship (GCS) Programme, United Kingdom

Key Data

Type 26 Global Combat Ship

The Global Combat Ship (GCS), previously known as the Future Surface Combatant, is a multirole warship development programme undertaken in the UK.

The programme will include development of new air defence, anti-submarine and general purpose ships to replace the Type 22 (Broadsword Class) and Type 23 (Duke Class) frigates, currently in service with the Royal Navy.

The first GCS frigate variant UK Type 26 will enter into the Royal Navy's service in 2021. The second variation frigate, Type 27, is expected to be ready by the 2030s.

The frigates will meet the next generation anti-submarine warfare and land operation mission requirements of the Royal Navy and also be available for export. The Royal Navy is expected to deploy 13 Type 26 frigates in total.

Other countries interested in the Type 26 GCS programme include Turkey, Australia, India, Malaysia, New Zealand and Brazil. Canada earlier expressed interest in the programme, however, it withdrew the plans.

Each frigate is expected to cost between £250-£350m, which is much less expensive than the Type 45 Destroyers. Type 26 is expected to face tough competition from the Fregata multimission programme (FREMM multipurpose frigate) and the US frigates.

Type 26 Global Combat Ship programme details

"The first GCS frigate variant UK Type 26 will enter into the Royal Navy's service in 2021. The second variation, Type 27, is expected to be ready by the 2030s."

The GCS was conceived as the future surface combatant (FSC) programme in 1998.

Two Type 45 Destroyers were cancelled in the 2008 budget to enable the development of the FCS programme.

Assessment phase of the Type 26 from the initial conceptual design to detailed specifications was started in March 2010.

The four-year programme is being jointly carried out by BAE Systems and the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD), through a naval design partnership.

The value of the contract is £127m ($208m). This phase is expected to require an MOD and BAE Systems team of 300 engineers.

Approval of the frigate deployment will be decided in 2013. It is expected to be operational until the 2060s.

The Type 26 programme is considered similar to the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter programme being developed for the US military by Lockheed Martin.

Type 26 frigate design

The basic GCS frigate has a flexible design to allow it to adapt to a range of weaponry and sensors. It will allow new technology upgrades and execute different strategic landscape shifts.

The frigate is designed for modularity and flexibility. It has clean angular lines for operating stealth. The stern has a mission bay.

A ramp at the bay allows deployment of rigid-hulled inflatable boats, unmanned surface vehicles or a towed array sonar. The flight deck of the frigate allows landing of a heavy lift helicopter such as a Chinook.

The design details of the ship were slightly pared to the initial specifications revealed in 2009, to cut down its building costs. The new design in 2011 shows the Type 26 to have a displacement of 5,400t, length of 148m and maximum beam of 19m.

The GCS will have a crew of 130 and berths to accommodate 36 embarked troops.

Proposed variation models under the Global Combat Ship programme

The Type 26 programme is planned to develop three variants - anti-submarine warfare (ASW), anti-aircraft warfare (AAW) and general purpose (GP) vessels.

"Each frigate is expected to cost between £250-£350m, which is much less expensive than the Type 45 Destroyers."

The ASW will be equipped with a standard hull mounted sonar and other low frequency active and passive sonars. They will protect the ship against submarine threats.

It will also have a medium range target indication and fire control radar. The mission bay can be configured to meet mission requirements.

The ASW will be equipped with a long and medium range anti-air missile system and one long range air surveillance radar for protection against air threats. Its modular design will enable accommodation of defence systems and radars of various countries.

The GP will have a versatile mission bay and accommodate various types of unmanned surface vehicles, sea boats and unmanned underwater vehicles. It can perform counter piracy, maritime security and counter terrorist operations.

Its flexible space can be reconfigured to support disaster relief and humanitarian operations, or house 84 additional berths.

Weapons and sonar / radar technology onboard

The Type 26 GCS is expected to have MBDA / Thales Common anti-air modular missiles (CAMM), anti-submarine weapons and anti-ship missiles. It is likely to be armed with a 127mm calibre main gun, two phalanx (CIWS) and two 30mm oerlikon KCB.

All the electronic equipment and optronics are yet to be announced. It will have Artisan 3D radars from BAE Systems. Other decoys / counter measurement, sonars, navigation and communication systems will be announced as the development progresses.

Propulsion / performance

The ship will be powered by combined diesel electric or gas turbine engines based on the requirement of the customer. The maximum speed of the frigate is expected to be 26kt.

It will have an endurance of 60 days. The range is planned to be 11,000km at 15kt.

Type 26 GCS is a multirole warship development programme in the design phase in the UK.
Type 26 air defence, anti-submarine and gen purpose frigates will replace Type 23 ships.
Flight deck of the Type 26 GCS can allow landing of a Chinook.
The mission bay will allow deployment of RHIBs, unmanned surface vehicles and sonar.