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  1. Project
16 March 2015

Type 26 Global Combat Ship (GCS) Programme

The Global Combat Ship (GCS), previously known as the Future Surface Combatant, is a multirole warship development programme undertaken in the UK.
The Type 26 Global Combat Ship (GCS) is a multirole warship development programme in the UK. Credit: BAE Systems.
The Type 26 air defence, anti-submarine and general purpose frigates will replace the Type 23 and other ships in service with the Royal Navy. Credit: BAE Systems.
The flight deck of the Type 26 GCS can allow landing of a Chinook. Credit: BAE Systems.
The mission bay at the stern will allow deployment of RHIBs, unmanned surface vehicles and a towed array sonar. Credit: BAE Systems.

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 early 2020. 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 originally expressed interest in the programme, though withdrew its plans.

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

Type 26 Global Combat Ship programme details

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.

The 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 more than 650 engineers. The latest design of Type 26 GCS was unveiled by the UK MOD in August 2012.

The Type 26 programme is considered similar to the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter programme being developed for the US military by Lockheed Martin. The Type 26 class vessels are expected to remain operational until the 2060s.

BAE Systems signed six design and development contracts in June 2014 for equipment that included propulsion, electrical, ventilation, combat and navigation systems.

In February 2015, the UK MOD signed a demonstration contract worth £859m ($1.32bn) with BAE Systems to support the initial assessment phase, beginning in early April 2015. The investment will be used to procure long-lead items (gas turbines, diesel generators and steering gear) for the first three ships, as well as to develop shore-based testing facilities.

The GCS is expected to begin the manufacturing phase in Glasgow in 2016.

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, and a hangar will be built to hold a Merlin/Wildcat helicopter.

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

The design details of the ship were pared to the initial specifications revealed in 2009, in order to cut down its building costs. The new 2011 design 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 118 and berths to accommodate 72 embarked troops.

Proposed variants under the Global Combat Ship programme

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

The ASW will be equipped with a standard hull-mounted sonar, as well as low frequency active and passive sonars, to 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 operational 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 from various countries.

The GP will have a versatile mission bay and will accommodate various types of unmanned surface vehicles, sea boats and 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 on-board sonar/radar technology

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 close-in weapon systems (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, as well as a Sonar 2087 sonar system. Other decoys/counter measurement and navigation and communication systems will be announced as the development progresses.

Propulsion and 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 26k.

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

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