Hunter-class Type 26

Aussie Type 26 Developments: Possible Implications for Canada?

Procrustes, 26 June 2020.

A 26 June 2020 report from Australia indicates potential problems for the Australian Hunter-class variant of the Type 26 frigate.[1] The report suggests that the ship design has become longer and heavier, largely because of the proposed new phased array radar. The report goes on to say:

Defence industry sources said incorporating the radar, which is regarded as world leading, was proving problematic because of its weight and power consumption.

Unlike conventional radars, the data processing by the CEAFAR radar is done within the mast, making it very top-heavy. It also uses more power than standard radars.

One industry source said the frigate’s weight was on track to exceed 10,000 tonnes, necessitating the need for the hull to become bigger, which could affect its speed, acoustic performance and ability to conduct stealthy anti-submarine warfare operations.

A larger vessel has several flow-on costs, including construction, needing extra fuel for sailing and the provision of wharf infrastructure.

Alternatively, the navy might need to accept lower capability to keep the boat close to the original design parameters.

“Australia purchased a design concept and the design is changing significantly, and that is going to increase risk to the program,” the source said.

Canada is in the process of procuring a similar Type 26 ship as its Canadian Surface Combatant, but will be incorporating an even newer radar, still to be developed for warship use and as yet untested, the AN/SPY 7 radar system, from Lockheed Martin.

Given that contract negotiations are still ongoing in Canada to nail down the final ship configuration and capabilities, we have to wonder whether similar weight and cost growth could occur here. This development bears watching.

References

  1. Andrew Tillett, “Sinking feeling: frigate heads back to drawing board,” Australian Financial Review, 26 June 2020.

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