Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Type 26 and the Remnant Royal Navy

Joseph Trevithick over at TheDrive has one of the better summaries out there on the Royal Navy’s new frigate, the Type-26 “City Class” whose first hull will be named HMS GLASGOW. 

She’s a nice bit of kit;
Originally known as the Global Combat Ship (GCS), BAE’s frigate will displace approximately 6,900 tons and have a crew of just more than 150. A pair of electric motors, four high speed diesel generators, and a gas turbine will provide onboard electrical power and propel the ship to a maximum speed of over 30 miles per hour over a range of some 7,000 miles.

Intended primarily for anti-submarine warfare, the ships will have both a sonar system in the bow and a built-in towed sonar array, both linked to a central BAE Systems battle management system. An enlarged helipad and attached hangar can accommodate a Wildcat or Merlin helicopter or vertical takeoff capable drones, any of which could carry torpedoes or additional sensors.

In addition, the vessel will have significant air defense and surface warfare capabilities, consisting of 12 vertical launch system (VLS) cells for the Sea Ceptor surface to air missile and another 24 multi-purpose Mk 41 VLS cells. European defense consortium MBDA’s Sea Ceptor missile is a navalized variant of the company’s active radar homing Common Anti-Air Modular Missile (CAMM).
What is striking to me in the review is the heartbreaking numbers of how many they plan on building. Heartbreaking, as it is simply amazing how small the Royal Navy has become.

Let this sink in a bit;
… construction of the Royal Navy’s future Type 26 frigates has officially begun at a shipyard in Scotland. The full class of eight ships will provide a number of critically needed capabilities, including acting as additional escorts for the United Kingdom’s up-coming pair of supercarriers. The first of those flattops, HMS Queen Elizabeth, is in the middle of her first sea trials in the North Sea.

As The War Zone noted in its deep dive into the Queen Elizabeth carrier, the Royal Navy would need to commit significant numbers of ship to escort the flattop during actual operations. With only six Type 45 Daring-class destroyers and seven Astute- and Trafalgar-class attack submarines, as well as another 13 Type 23 frigates, in total as of 2017, the service could be hard pressed to sortie out a carrier battle group while still conducting other missions, yet alone two battle groups.
Make no mistake; Great Britain is the best friend our nation has, and she has stood shoulder to shoulder with us for most of the last 100 years – but her military capability is auxiliary. She makes up for it with national will and professionalism, but that is about it.

They have a spotty capability to patrol, much less control, their home waters. We should be very clear eyed on what they would be able to supply from the sea in any future conflict … and plan our fleet accordingly.

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