The future of the modernizing British Royal Navy (RN) includes the multi-mission-minded "Type 26" guided-missile frigate - set to succeed the Type 23 (Duke-class) currently in service (and detailed elsewhere on this site). The Type 26 is being purchased by the British naval service as well as the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) and the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) with a total of 32 warships of the class planned. The British will take on a stock of eight warships in the series followed by nine earmarked for Australia. The Canadians are set to outdo them all, contracting for a total of fifteen Type 26 vessels. Three are under construction as of this writing (September 2021). The effort is headed by defense powerhouse Bae Systems Maritime - Naval Ships.
The named subclasses of the Type 26 class are City-class (UK), Hunter-class (RAN), and Canadian Surface Combatant (RCN). The program, as a whole, is known under the name of "Global Combat Ship" and marks the first tri-nation commitment by the involved parties since the Tribal-class destroyer group of the pre-World War 2 period.
The Type 26 is similar in role and capabilities to the French-Italian FREMM multi-role vessels (this design detailed elsewhere on this site as well).
As in the Type 23 vessels before it, the Type 26 vessels are intended primarily for the Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) role with built-in solutions for airspace deterrence and land-attack. This makes the group "multi-mission" types by definition, warships that can operate independently or as part of a larger, cohesive surface fighting force (as in the "Task Force"). Origins of the program date back to 1998 under what was then designated the "Future Surface Combatant" (FSC) which, rather inevitably, evolved to become the Global Combat Ship initiative of today.
During the early part of the 2010s, the program gained steam and BAe was awarded the contract to manufacture the ships at its Glasgow shipyard. Initial, tangible work then followed in July of 2017 when HMS Glasgow began formal construction. In mid-2018, the Australians added their commitment to the series as it sought a successor for its aging ANZAC-class frigates under the Hunter-class name for its Type 26 vessels. Canada followed suit in February of 2019, committing to their aforementioned lot by way of Lockheed Martin Canada / Irving Shipbuilding (Halifax).
The class currently (2021) encompasses two planned production batches known simply as "Batch 1" and "Batch 2". The Royal Navy of Britain will feature both groups concurrently with named ships being HMS Glasgow (F88), HMS Cardiff (F89), and HMS Belfast (F90) making up Batch 1. Batch 2 will consist of HMS Birmingham, HMS Sheffield, HMS Newcastle, HMS Edinburgh, and HMS London. Currently named ships of the RAN are HMAS Hunter, HMAS Flinders, and HMAS Tasman. RCN ships are yet to be named (2021).
The Australian Hunter-class will sport the AEGIS combat system and other Australian-required electronics and processing units (Thales sonar and Nulka decoy launchers to name a few). These ships will also increase the VLS count to 32-cells and focus on MU90 series impact torpedoes and support Sikorsky MH-60R "Seahawk" helicopters for the ASW requirement.
The Canadian CSC ships will also have AEGIS and solutions provided by MDA (AESA target illumination) and Ultra Electronics (torpedo countermeasures, sonar). 2 x 4-cell Naval Strike Missile launchers will also be carried as well as 2 x 324mm twin-tubed torpedo launchers and a Leonardo 127mm (5") turreted deck gun. Instead of the Lynx or Seahawk helicopters, provision will be had for the local CH-148 "Cyclone" type helicopter.
As with other modern guided-missile vessels in service today, the Type 26 will feature a broad mix of ballistic and missile weaponry. This includes 2 x 24-cell Vertical Launching System (VLS) for Surface-to-Air Missiles (SAMs) as well as support for land-attack / anti-ship cruise missiles. Ballistic-oriented weapons will include the 5" /62 caliber Mk 45 turreted gun on the forecastle, 2 x 30mm DS30M Mk.2 series automatic cannons, 2 x 20mm Phalanx Close-In Weapon Systems (CIWSs), 2 x Miniguns, and up to 4 x 7.62mm General Purpose Machine Guns (GPMGs).
Beyond this, the offensive arm of the ship will be bolstered through the carrying of one or two Westland "Lynx Wildcat" helicopters equipped for the ASW role through torpedoes, depth charges, and sonar as well as anti-ship and anti-aircraft missiles. Various medium-lift helicopters will be supported through a combination hangar-helipad deck area at the stern of the ship and support for UAVs is also planned.
From artist renderings, the Type 26 will arrive sporting all the necessary stealth characteristics expected of a modern warship including a low-profile hull superstructure and smoke funnels, integrated/unbroken hull line, and enclosed main mast.
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BRITAIN: HMS Glasgow (F88); HMS Cardiff (F89); HMS Belfast (F90); HMS Birmingham (); HMS Sheffield (); HMS Newcastle (); HMS Newcastle (); HMS Edinburgh (); HMS London () AUSTRALIA: HMAS Hunter; HMAS Flinders; HMAS Tasman CANADA: TBD. Ships-in-Class
Offshore bombardment / attack of surface targets / areas primarily through onboard ballistic weaponry.
Offshore strike of surface targets primarily through onboard missile / rocket weaponry.
Active patroling of vital waterways and maritime areas; can also serve as local deterrence against airborne and seaborne threats.
Airspace Denial / Deterrence
Neutralization or deterrence of airborne elements through onboard ballistic of missile weaponry.
Serving in support (either firepower or material) of the main surface fleet in Blue Water environments.
Onboard systems alert and protect the vessel from airborne, low-flying airborne threats through ballistic and / or missile weaponry.
An Over-the-Horizon operational capability is granted to the vessel, typically through launched fixed-wing / rotary-wing aircraft.
The vessel supports the launching of missiles against airborne, waterborne, or land-based targets at range; typical of modern designs.
491.9 feet (149.93 meters) Length
68.2 feet (20.79 meters) Beam
7,600 tons Displacement
CODLAG (COmbined Diesel-eLectric-And-Gas): 4 x MTU Type 20V4000 M53B diesel generators with 1 x Rolls-Royce MT30 gas turbine and 2 x Electric motors. Propulsion
1 x 5" /62 caliber Mk 45 turreted deck gun.
2 x 24-cell Vertical Launching System (VLS) supporting "Sea Ceptor" Surface-to-Air Missiles (SAMs); future support for land-attack and anti-ship missile types.
2 x 30mm DS30M Mk.2 automatic cannons.
2 x 20mm Phalanx Close-In Weapon Systems (CIWSs).
2 x 7.62mm miniguns.
4 x 7.62mm General Purpose Machine Guns (GPMGs).
1 OR 2 x Medium-lift helicopters supported through the stern-based hangar-helipad section; aircraft outfitted for ASW role through torpedoes, depth charges, and missiles.
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Image from official Lockheed Martin marketing materials.
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