BAE Systems has awarded a design, development and assessment (DDA) contract to GE's Power Conversion unit for the provision of low-noise, electrical-drive systems. which will be used to power the UK Royal Navy's future Type 26 global combat ships (GCS).
The electric propulsion system from GE would enable the destroyers to operate on an electric-drive system when at low speed, while consuming power from the gas turbine when cruising at high speed.
GE's selection forms part of a UK Ministry of Defence programme that is aimed at updating and modernising its ageing destroyer fleet. The existing Type 23 frigates are to be replaced by the Type 26 versions by the next decade.
GE Power Conversion naval business leader Mark Dannatt said that the electrical engines to be supplied are very quiet, partly due to the use of patented anti-vibration technology.
"Reducing radiated noise from the motor makes it exceptionally quiet, which is obviously very important for naval operations," Dannatt said.
"It will allow the Royal Navy to operate more efficiently, cost-effectively and safely."
Construction is scheduled to begin in 2016, with 13 ships expected to be delivered to the navy. The first vessel is likely to be commissioned after 2020.
To be built in two variants, including anti-submarine warfare and general purpose, the vessels will be capable of carrying out anti-submarine warfare, air-defence and general-purpose missions, as well as humanitarian assistance.
Image: The new Type 26 frigates will replace the UK Royal Navy's ageing Type 23 Duke-class ships. Photo: courtesy of BAE Systems.