The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has granted a £13m ($16.3m) contract to the Aurora Engineering Partnership (AEP) – an organisation comprising AtkinsRéalis, BMT and QinetiQ – on 12 February, 2024.

Under a four-year contract led by QinetiQ, the three partners will provide specialist engineering advise to the MoD’s procurement arm – Defence Equipment & Support (DE&S) – as it constructs and integrates Royal Navy (RN) Type 26 and Type 31 frigates, whose entry into service is planned from 2026 onwards.

It builds on the signing of the first joint Type 26 and Type 31 contract with AEP in early 2020. The Warship Combat System Support Service (WC3S) has been working alongside these new build frigate programmes since 2014.

The provision of this expertise includes:

  • Sourcing combat systems
  • Related Government Furnished Information
  • Supporting dockyard delivery of combat systems and Government Furnished Equipment

As part of this ship development, QinetiQ had recently awarded Babcock a five-year configuration contract, on behalf of the MoD as an AEP partner, to provide the RN and Royal Fleet Auxiliary with a ‘Surface Ship Definition Database’ – a digital tool for the management of platform related data.

Type 26 frigates, also known as the City class, are multi-purpose warships. The RN plans to acquire eight of them under the Global Combat Ship programme. The frigates will replace the Royal Navy’s eight Type 23 (Duke class) anti-submarine warfare frigates.

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Likewise, the RN are also pursuing five Type 31, or Inspiration class, vessels. These frigates will be sent on longer-term deployments to different parts of the world to protect the interests of the UK. The Type 31 is the UK variant of the Arrowhead 140 baseline design developed by Babcock and its partners.

The partnership claims their service delivers recognised benefits to the customer, “including flexibility to allow rapid re-prioritisation of outputs across the acquisition portfolio and significantly reduced cost through opportunity mapping across the two complex warship programmes.”