The purpose of National Ship-building Strategy (NSbS) is to improve the competitiveness of British shipbuilders, and T31e is defined as the tool to establish it. T26 sells has shown BAES ship design and promotion team is competitive, but none of the exported hulls are built in UK, and therefore T26 has little to do with NSbS.Caribbean wrote:The purpose of the T31e project is to build 5 ships within that framework and for a fixed budget of £1.5b. If that proves impossible (with good reason - "not enough profit" may not be high on that list, but it will probably factor in), then more money MAY be available (one increment of £250m has been allowed so far and the position seems to have changed on the cost of equipment cross-decking being inside of the £1.5b budget).
If you really want to export T31e, you need to spend significant money on
- building up an efficient infrastructure,
- designing and testing an innovative and competitive design,
- in order to make the unit cost as cheap as possible
T31e program totally lack the first two expensive part.
As a natural result, T31e program is now importing foreign design (Atlas and Babcock), or BAES itself bidding, "using" Camell Laird facility to build. The ship builder partnered with Atlas may be able to learn how Germans build the 2nd-tier frigates. Babcock may be able to learn and steal the technology from Danish OMT. I am not kidding here. In NSbS point of view, this is "must". If it is BAES, they need to establish the way to build 2nd-tier escort cheaply in "other" shipyards, and Camell Laird must learn from BAES.
Even though they built S.D. Attemborough, Camell Laird is NOT YET competitive enough as NSnS requires. They are currently cutting their labor force even though big RFA and T45 refit bids were won. At least, CL themselves do not see good chance to get export bids. To be more competitive, they need to improve more.
From these assessments, I can say, I do not believe what NSbS says.
What is important is how the design is "exportable built in UK". Other than BAE Leander, they are not of UK design. So forget about "design export". (T26 and Tides are already successful there )... What is more important than the initial role specification is what the design is capable of being. The more that goes into the hull rather than what you bolt onto the hull, the better, the larger, the better, the more flexible, the better. This is a design that should provide the second tier for the RN (and hopefully the top tier for a number of smaller navies that are looking to improve their current fleets) for many years to come.
As already presented elsewhere, if the ship is too capable, the nations wanting them will be "large/medium", and they will try to built it in their own ship builders, not in UK. Exceptions are Saudi-Arabia (FTI or FREMM may get it), New Zealand (the only chance?), and .... I have no other candidates. But, even if UK wins RNZN order, it cannot support UK shipbuilders for decades.
On the other hand, if the ship is too "corvette" like, there are already big competitors: Gowind-2500 and Damen 10514. Italian corvette is also competitive. Of course, there are Chinese, Korean, and Indian ones.
I think the good way to go is to make it "cheap" but "long leg". As armed as Gowind-2500 and Damen 10514, a bit larger to have a good range/endurance. (just repeating the T31e RFI).
The design shall be capable of adopting many options, but it does not need to take all the options on. A or B, NOT A and B. For example, UK T31e will NOT be significantly improved. There are many "holes" in UK military, and up-arming T31e will be not in high priority. (more P-8A, more F35B, T26 land attack missile, T45 CAMM and 5in gun...). A big hollow ship is also not competitive in export.
As I said, this is ship designing and promotion, not building. And, it is BAE, not Babcock nor Atlas.Not so long ago, there were plenty of voices on here expressing the view that we would never sell the T26 design, because it was too big, too RN-specific, too expensive, too whatever. Look at it now.
I see very little chance to see "the 2nd batch" of T31e, and even so, I am not sure it is better than adding a few more T26, British owned, British origin design, successful in export. RAN and RCS decision has changed the atmosphere here. More T26 than more T31, I guess?If the first five T31 are implemented as "patrol" frigates, then I don't see it as a problem, as long as the hull is capable of being other things.