Royal Navy’s future Type 32 frigate to be ‘platform for autonomous systems'
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Royal Navy’s future Type 32 frigate to be ‘platform for autonomous systems’

By Harry Lye 30 Nov 2020

More details have emerged today about the Royal Navy’s future Type 32 Frigate, with the UK’s Minister for Defence Procurement Jeremy Quin writing that the ships will be a platform for autonomous systems.

Royal Navy’s future Type 32 frigate to be ‘platform for autonomous systems’
Type 31 frigate exiting the assembly hall. Image: Babcock.

More details have emerged today about the Royal Navy’s future Type 32 Frigate, with the UK’s Minister for Defence Procurement Jeremy Quin writing that the ships will be a platform for autonomous systems.

While still in a concept phase, the future Type 32 Frigate was announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Defence Secretary Ben Wallace earlier this month as the UK Government unveiled a massive increase in defence spending.

Responding to a written parliamentary question, Quin said: “Further work is required to develop the operational concept however it is envisioned that Type 32 will be a platform for autonomous systems, adding to the Navy’s capabilities for missions such as anti-submarine warfare and mine countermeasures.”

The future class of ships are set to be procured after the current batch of five Type 31 Frigates has been completed. The timeline had prompted some speculation that the future class of Frigates could be used as ‘motherships’ for the UK’s future autonomous minehunting systems.

In a separate answer, Quin said that the number of Type 32 ships to be procured has yet to be determined due to the early-stage nature of the programme.

Last week, the UK announced it had invested a further £184m into the development of an autonomous minehunting system under a joint programme with France.

The £184m investment in the Maritime Mine Counter Measure (MMCM) programme will see further funding go to Thales and L3 Harris work into the development of autonomous systems able to detect and neutralise sea mines.

The UK is looking to autonomous capabilities to replace its crewed Hunt and Sandown-class minehunting ships once they go out of service. The first of the three sets will be delivered in late 2022 where it will undergo operational evaluations before being transitioned into service.

Speaking to the defence select committee last week, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said the new Type 32 Frigates would not come in the next five years, but that the hope was it would follow from the Type 31.

Wallace said: “They will be able to be used for Nato, and we can probably reveal more details about those as we go. The Navy has requested another class of ship; that is the Type 32.”