DDG Type 45: Britain’s Shrinking Air Defense FleetJul 26, 2012 17:30 UTC by Defense Industry Daily staff
The 5,200t Type 42 Sheffield Class destroyers were designed in the late 1960s to provide fleet area air-defense for Britain’s Royal Navy, after the proposed Type 82 air defense cruisers were canceled by the Labour Government in 1966. Britain built 14 of the Type 42s, but these old ships are reaching the limits of their operational lives and effectiveness.
To replace them, the Royal Navy planned to induct 12 Type 45 Daring Class destroyers. The Daring class would be built to deal with a new age of threats. Saturation attacks with supersonic ship-killing missiles, that fly from the ship’s radar horizon to ship impact in under 45 seconds. The reality of future threats from ballistic missiles, and WMD proliferation. Plus a proliferation of possible threats involving smaller, hard to detect enemies like UAVs. Overall, the Type 45s promise to be one of the world’s most capable air defense ships – but design choices have left the cost-to-value ratio uncertain, and limited the Type 45s in other key roles.
This feature will become a subscription-only DII FOCUS article in due course. Meanwhile, a reduced 6-ship program continues to move forward.
The Type 45 Destroyer Program
A total of 14 Type 42s were built, but no ship lasts forever. HMS Sheffield and HMS Coventry were sunk in the 1982 Falklands War, and Birmingham, Newscastle, Glasgow, Cardiff, and Southampton are no longer in service. Another 2 have been downgraded by removing their defensive Sea Dart missiles as an ‘economy’ measure, and are in reserve, leaving just 5 operational ships.
The Type 45 destroyer project really began when the 8-nation NFR-90 frigate program fragmented into pieces. The USA and Canada elected not to pursue a modern frigate at all. Spain developed the 6,250t F100 AEGIS frigate, which it has now sold to Australia as the future Hobart Class. Holland and Germany developed the 5,700t F124 Sachsen/ LCF De Zeven Provincient Class air defense frigate. The UK, Italy, and France, meanwhile, embarked on the Horizon Class New Generation Common Frigate. In 1999, about 7 years after the initial requirement was floated, Britain dropped out of the NGCF project, citing a need for a larger ship, with wider air defense capabilities, and a British combat management system. Italy and France went on to order a total of 4 (2 each) 6,600t Horizon Class frigates.
Rather than using a modified variant of America’s multi-role 8,000t DDG-51 Arleigh Burke Class, whose costs and performance were stable, Britain proposed to develop its own air warfare destroyer, with better high-end anti-air capabilities. The new 7,350t base/ 7,800t full displacement ships would share the MBDA PAAMS system, built on its Aster-15 and Aster-30 missiles, instead of the popular Raytheon SM-2/SM-3 missile family. PAAMS would be complemented by a different set of radar systems on the Type 45, but the Horizon Class had different radar fittings for each country anyway.
Plans originally called for 12 Type 45s. They would restore Britain’s anti-air capability by replacing the 14 Type 42 destroyers, and supplement Britain’s remaining Type 23 frigates given the Duke Class’ limited ability to cope with the newest threats. In July 2000, Britain approved expenditure of GBP 5 billion, with a maximum acceptable cost of GBP 5.47 billion, to buy 6 Type 45 destroyers out of a planned class of 12. The first ship was expected to enter service in November 2007.
Since then, the project has experienced significant cost increases and delays, leading to a full contract renegotiation in 2007. Even after that re-negotiation, Britain’s 2008 Defence Equipment Report listed the overall program as 36 months behind schedule and GBP 989 million (almost $2 billion) over budget.
At the same time, planned ship buys were cut. The 12-ship plan became 8 Type 45s in 2004. In June 2008, the British government declined its option on Daring Class ships #7 and 8. The British NAO’s current forecast is GBP 6.46 billion for the 6 ships.
As costs rose, and delays mounted HMS Daring’s was formally handed over in December 2009, over 2 years later than planned. The ship was not delivered with all of its key systems tested and working, however, and did not even fire its main air defense weapon until May 2011, which makes for an arguable slippage of 3.5 years. Full capability for even this first ship of class may have to wait until 2014.
Ships of class will include:
- D32 HMS Daring
- D33 HMS Dauntless
- D34 HMS Diamond
- D35 HMS Dragon
- D36 Defender
- D37 Duncan
The first of class HMS Daring successfully completed contractor-led sea trials in September 2008, and Royal Navy sea trials in July 2009. D32 Daring was formally handed over to the Royal Navy in December 2009, and achieved limited operational capability in February 2010. HMS Daring did not fire her 1st air defense missile, however, until May 2011. HMS Daring’s 1st mission began in January 2012.
HMS Dauntless completed her 2nd set of contractor-led sea trials in summer 2009, was handed over in December 2009, and was commissioned in June 2010 – at which point, the ship’s primary air defense system wasn’t operational yet. She is now considered to be operational.
HMS Diamond began sea trials in October 2009, was handed over in September 2010, and was commissioned in May 2011. She was deemed ready for operations in December 2011.
D35 Dragon’s contractor-led trials began in summer 2010. She arrived in Portsmouth in September 2011, and pre-commissioning sea trials are ongoing.
D36 Defender was launched onto the Clyde in October 2009, and completed initial contractor sea trials in November 2011. She completed 2nd sea trials in April 2012, and is on track to be handed over to the Royal Navy in July 2012. HMS Defender is expected to be declared operational early in 2013.
The 1st construction block of D37 Duncan got 2010 started by being moved to berth in January. Duncan was formally launched in October 2010, and construction continues. First sea trials are scheduled for late 2012, and hand-over to the Royal Navy is expected by the end of 2013.
The Daring Class
The final Type 45 design is 152.4m long and 21.2m wide, with a standard displacement of 7,350t and full displacement of 7,800t. The ships will cruise at 17 knots using all-electric propulsion, powered by 2 WR-21 advanced cycle modular gas turbine engines, with intercooler and exhaust recuperator (ICR) heat exchangers to reduce fuel consumption. Each turbine will provide 25MW of power, and the propulsion systems will be built by a team that includes Rolls-Royce, Northrop Grumman, and Alsthom Power Conversion Ltd. Expected top speed is 27 knots, but in trials, HMS Daring reportedly bettered 30 knots with both turbines engaged. At 190 sailors, the embarked crew will be smaller than previous ships, with better accommodations and provisions for up to 235. The ship will also be able to carry up to 60 Royal Marines.
Daring Class weapons will include the 4.5-inch Mark 8 Mod 1 gun, and a pair 30 mm guns integrated to an Electro-Optic Gun Control System. The ships were not initially fitted with defensive weapons like Raytheon’s 20mm Mk15 Phalanx or Thales’ 30mm Goalkeeper for last-ditch missile defense and close-in kills, but late 2011 will see installation and trials of the Phalanx Block 1B.
For anti-submarine use, the ships will rely on a multi-function MFS-7000 bow sonar, and Stingray anti-submarine torpedoes that must be launched from its helicopters, since the ship carries no torpedo tubes. The ship will also be equipped with the Surface Ship Torpedo Defence System, designed to protect the ship against the threat of advanced current and future torpedoes.
The embarked helicopters will initially be Lynx HMA Mark 8s, but could eventually be EH101 Merlins or AW159 Lynx Wildcats, with all associated weapons. Since the Type 45s will not initially be fitted with any anti-ship missiles, they will also be forced to depend on their helicopters for this capability.
The Type 45′s main armament is its PAAMS air defense system, now known as “Sea Viper.” Sea Viper has several components.
The ship’s radars are what will really set it apart from previous vessels. BAE’s SAMPSON is an dual-face, active-array, digital beamforming radar that operates in the E/F bands, and can continuously and simultaneously illuminate a large number of targets for surveillance and fire control. It will be supplemented by the Long Range Radar (LRR), which is an evolution of Thales’ SMART-L active array volume search radar. The Thales/Marconi S1850M operates in the D-band, for wide air and surface search that can include ballistic missile tracking.
A digital Vigile DPX R-ESM system from Thales will help the destroyers monitor the electromagnetic environment around them, picking up on key items like incoming missile radars. Thales’ Vigile is designed to operate in electro-magnetically “crowded” environments, like the near-shore littoral zones.
Once targets are detected, BAE’s combat system will be able to call on the ship’s 48-cell Sylver A50 vertical launcher system (VLS). That means a mix of up to 48 missiles that can include medium range Aster-15s with a 30 km/ 18 mile reach; or the longer range, ballistic missile defense capable Aster-30s with an 80-100 km/ 50-60 mile range. Smaller Sylver A43/A35 launchers can quad-pack 4 short-range Crotale NG/VT-1 missiles per cell, but these weapons are not expected to be part of the Type 45′s armament.
Other roles beyond air defense and anti-submarine duties are possible for the Daring Class. These ships will be able to act as a base platform for a deployable headquarters, and will be able to embark up to 60 troops and their equipment, over and above the ship’s normal complement. A modern medical facility is available with surgical facilities, and the ships can take on up to 700 people in support of a civilian evacuation.
Missing From Action
Cost growth on the Type 45 destroyers has whittled away many of the ships’ planned capabilities, as features and items were removed. These capabilities could be added later, but until they are, the Type 45s will be missing key features one would expect in a top-of-the-line modern destroyer, or even in a high-end frigate.
The most obvious gap is anti-ship missiles, and their lack means that the Daring Class will require protection of their own from other ships. Britain’s dwindling frigate strength, and complete lack of maritime patrol aircraft with the retirement of its Nimrods, are going to create limitations in the fleet’s ability to cover all of those bases, and will make its naval groups more brittle in the event of losses.
Another obvious gap involves torpedoes. Type 45s aren’t fitted with torpedo launchers, and their vertical launch cells won’t hold rocket-launched torpedo systems like the USA’s ASROC-VL. The Type 45 is being sold as an advanced anti-submarine platform, which makes this omission rather puzzling. The ships’ only response will involve readying and launching a torpedo-armed helicopter, which may take more time than a ship has in a difficult situation.
The good news is that these may be the easiest gaps to fix. If Britain wishes to sidestep vertical launch requirements, there is some space abaft the PAAMS silos for mounting fixed missile launchers to house anti-ship and/or anti-submarine missiles. Nevertheless, those spaces will be empty when the ships are built and accepted.
Other gaps are less obvious, but equally consequential.
The ships were originally slated to receive Co-operative Engagement Capability (CEC). This American system gives fitted ships the ability to see what other CEC-equipped ships, aircraft, or land stations see, and to fire at targets the launching ship’s radars cannot see. It is vital for wide-area anti-air defense, and for ballistic missile defense. Preliminary contracts were issued, but in 2012 the Ministry of Defence decided not to install this relatively inexpensive capability on its ships. The consequence is that the Type 45s will be less effective in their central role of air defense, than ships with less advanced technologies on board, plus CEC.
For other tasks beyond air defense, this ship’s DCNS Sylver A50 launchers are only 5m long, which means they’re not able to carry Scalp (Storm Shadow) vertically-launched land attack cruise missiles, or other strike-length payloads like the SM-3 naval anti-ballistic missile. The 4.5m long VL-ASROC anti-submarine missile/torpedo would fit the A50, but it is designed to work with the Mk 41 vertical launch system and would have to be integrated and tested.
The ships reportedly do have space in front of the 48 cell Sylver A50 system to accommodate another 12-cell launcher, but they will not initially be fitted with one. DCNS’ Sylver A70 is an obvious option, and there is now talk of retrofits involving a BAE/Lockheed Mk.41 strike-length VLS there instead. Either type would give the Daring Class the space to host land-strike missiles, though Britain’s current naval doctrine assigns that role exclusively to its nuclear-powered fast attack submarines. Choosing the Mk.41 would also allow the ships to add SM-3 missiles, if additional upgrades were made to the ship’s datalinks and combat system.
Type 45: Comparisons
The 7,350t Type 45′s VLS holding capacity is smaller than the equivalent American Arleigh Burke Class destroyer’s 90-96 Mk41 cells; indeed, at just 48 cells, it’s equivalent to Spain’s 6,250t F100 AEGIS frigates.
Daring’s missile array is slightly more capable than, and boasts more range than, the RIM-162 Evolved Seasparrow/ SM-2 combination found on many other western anti-aircraft ships. Unfortunately, that performance improvement comes with a penalty: Aster-15s cannot be quad-packed in Sylver launchers, the way the RIM-162 can be quad-packed in the popular Mk41 VLS. As the table above demonstrates, the resulting math is merciless.
On the other hand, Navantia’s F100 is restricted by the 2 SPG-62 radar illuminators available for final targeting of incoming missiles. Fast switching is less than optimal against supersonic missiles with terminal maneuvering, whereas the Sea Viper radar system has the option of continuous tracking and guidance for up to 10 targets, in order to make better use of the missiles that it has against saturation attacks.
The 5,700t German/Dutch F124/ De Zeven Provincien Class air defense frigates might be a better comparison. Against these ships, the Daring Class comes off poorly. The German & Dutch ships use a similar active array radar approach (Thales APAR/ SMART-L), giving them similar defensive capabilities against saturation attacks, but they field more anti-aircraft missiles, as well as a rounded set of naval capabilities. Like Navantia’s F100s, the De Zeven Provincien Class’ ballistic missile defense capabilities and CEC compatibility are partially proven, as they have participated in BMD exercises with the US Navy.
Britain’s CAMM-M/ Sea Ceptor missile may offer the Type 45s a way out of this dilemma, though the Daring Class isn’t initially listed as a platform for the new weapon. Sea Ceptor missiles have shorter range than the ESSM, but they can be quad-packed in Sylver launchers, and their active radar seekers don’t require continuous illumination from the ship’s radar. With Sea Ceptors on board, a Daring Class ship could regain competitiveness with its air-defense peers by hosting a formidable 3-tiered defense of 16 long-range Aster-30s, 20 medium-range Aster-15s, and 48 CAMM missiles.
Many of these design differences with their fellow NF-90 spinoffs trace back to the Type 45 project’s fundamental mandate. Britain’s government decided that it preferred to leverage and extend the investments they had made in the PAAMS air defense system before Britain left the Horizon Class project, while pursuing its own destroyer design instead of buying or modifying an off-the-shelf ship type. The choice of PAAMS forced the Sylver/Aster missile combination instead of the Mk. 41, while cost overruns and the need for cost containment on its custom-designed destroyer cut further into the Type 45′s fielded capabilities.
Contracts and Key Events
Editor’s note: this section is not yet comprehensive, and will be expanded.
July 25/12: D36. Defender sails into HMNB Portsmouth for sea trials on schedule, before being declared ready for operations in 2013. UK MoD.
July 9-13/12: D35 missile firing. HMS Dragon successfully tests her Sea Viper weapon system against a target drone, at the Outer Hebrides missile range off Scotland. UK MoD.
The big agreement launching PAAMS/Aster orders was signed in March 2002, but it takes time for development and delivery to make long-term support an issue. It also isn’t easy to get agreement on a support framework that can serve the operational requirements of navy, air force, and army customers, across multiple countries. International customer exchange meetings and an official forum “equal to an “Aster family Users’ Club,” will become part of this arrangement going forward. The combination of a common agreement and common forums is also expected to help ensure some consistency in upgrades and improvements.
MBDA produces the Aster missiles. Thales is responsible for the Fire Control Systems on board France’s Charles de Gaulle nuclear aircraft carrier (SAAM-Fr), France & Italy’s 4 high-end Horizon Class air defense “frigates”, and Britain’s Type 45 destroyers (PAAMS), and 17 French & Italian ground-based SAMP/T air defense systems, which use the Aster-30 missile. They’re also responsible for the Horizon and Type 45′s S1850M wide search radars, derived from Thales’ SMART-L. Note Britain’s complementary Sea Viper support contract, announced on May 17/11. EuroSAM | Thales.
EuroSAM support contract
June 11/12: No CEC. Speaking during question period in the House of Commons, Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said the Royal Navy had identified Co-operative engagement Capability as a “lesser priority” during the Planning Round 12 process, and decided not to spend around GBP 500 million to implement it on their 6 Daring Class destroyers and 12-13 forthcoming Type 26 frigates. Media coverage criticized the decision, and the UK MoD’s blog responded that:
“The MoD’s comprehensive assessment of CEC informed the decision made during PR12 that it was not necessary to commit to purchasing the capability at this stage. As the Defence Secretary made clear last month, the MoD budget has headroom of £8bn over the next 10 years for potential new programmes. The Armed Forces Committee will prioritise which projects to commit to when necessary, and not before.”
The American CEC system gives fitted ships the ability to see what other CEC-equipped ships, aircraft, or land stations see, and to fire at targets the launching ship’s radars cannot see. It is vital for wide-area anti-air defense, and for ballistic missile defense. Daily Telegraph | Defence Management.
June 12/12: D34 deploys. HMS Diamond will spend 6 months carrying out maritime security patrols in the Indian Ocean, Gulf of Aden and the Persian Gulf, replacing her sister ship HMS Daring. UK MoD.
June 1/12: Nice timing. HMS Diamond launches the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee weekend with a spectacular ceremonial entry into Portsmouth, celebrating 50 years on the throne for one of Britain’s greatest monarchs. Royal Navy.
April 23-27/12: D33 exercise. HMS Dauntless [D33] participates in Exercise Saharan Express off the coast of Senegal. The 11 nation exercise includes France, Gambia, Senegal and Morocco, among others. Next stop, the Falklands (vid. Jan 31/12). UK MoD.
April 26/12: D35 commissioned. HMS Dragon [D35] is formally commissioned into the fleet. UK MoD.
April 26/12: Lord West, who was Britain’s First Sea Lord from 2002-2006, is pushing for 2 more Type 45 destroyers from his seat in the House of Lords. That had been the plan while he held his post, until rising costs and other budgetary priorities led Britain to decline its option on ships # 7 & 8 in 2008. The government’s recent admission that there was ‘no provision’ for the loss of any ships in its SDSR plans appears to have been the catalyst. From Portsmouth’s The News:
“Lord Alan West said a fleet of 19 frigates and destroyers is not big enough for Britain and raised his concern about the lack of a contingency plan if the navy lost ships fighting in a war… I think we are in desperate need of more than 19 ships. It’s just not enough and the government needs to come up with some way to increase that fast. We need at least two more Type 45s.”
Absent huge budget increases, there is no way to increase fleet size quickly, unless Britain were to shift toward lower-end small frigates and corvettes as accompaniments to the Type 45s.
April 18/12: Daring a dud? The Portsmouth News reports that HMS Daring went alongside for 3 days of secret repairs at Arab Shipbuilding and Repair Yard in Bahrain in March, after she encountered propulsion problems with a starboard shaft bearing off of Kuwait.
“The News has been told the problems are being caused by a propeller drive shaft which is bent out of alignment. A well-placed source said it’s an issue isolated to Daring and was known about before the high-profile ship was commissioned in July 2009.”
If that’s true, it helps make sense of the 2010 (q.v. Nov 19/10 entry) and 2012 incidents, but it’s very bad news for the ship. A bent shaft means a long future of problems ahead, until a very difficult and expensive fix is made.
April 10/12: After a month at trials of her maneuvering, power, and combat systems trials, D36 Defender has completed her 2nd trial set, and remains on track for a July 2012 induction into the Royal Navy. See also Nov 21/11 entry. UK MoD.
April 4/12: SSST test. A GQM-163 Coyote launched from the Mediterranean island of Levant is used as a supersonic maneuvering target for France’s high-end Forbin air defense ship, which shoots it down using an MBDA Aster-30 missile. Her sister ship, FS Chevalier Paul, tracked the target and the missiles fired.
Jan 30/12: Digital ESM. Thales UK touts its new fully digital, radar electronic support measures (RESM) digital antennas on board HMS Daring. The new antennas were installed under the UAT MOD 2 program, and are one of the attractions being shown at the DIMDEX 2012 exhibition in Doha, Qatar.
Thales had to develop the direct radio frequency sampling and wideband digital receiver technology that allows the RESM to manage multiple, truly simultaneous signals, and to perform better in dense electronic environments.
March 13/12: D35 Dragon and D36 Defender begin 2nd stage sea trials. UK MoD.
Jan 31/12: D33 1st mission. HMS Dauntless [D33] gets her own initial deployment, to the Falkland Islands. The move comes amidst growing threats and hostility from Argentina, who invaded the islands and then lost a war with Britain in the 1980s. Naturally, the British government denies that there’s any connection. BBC.
Jan 11/12: D32 1st mission. HMS Daring sets sail for the new ship type’s 1st operational mission, to take place “east of Suez.” There’s wide speculation that this means the Persian Gulf, where Iranian threats to close the Strait of Hormuz are focusing global attention.
Dec 7/11: D34 ready. The Royal Navy declares HMS Diamond [D34] ready for operations, after its crew passes both BOST(Basic Operational Sea Training) and FOST(Flag Officer Sea Training). The culmination is the “Thursday War,” when the crew must deal with simulated incoming missiles, while the ship’s company works in darkness and smoke to handle simulated fires and flooding, loss of propulsion and steering, and other fun times.
HMS Daring [D32], HMS Dauntless [D33], and HMS Diamond [D34] are all scheduled to deploy in 2012. UK MoD.
Nov 21/11: D36. D36 Defender has successfully completed her 1st set of sea trials, testing speed, manoeuvrability, sensors and weapons. Her next step is to return to the BAE Systems yard in Scotstoun, Glasgow, where she was built. The ship has been linked to Glasgow as its patron city, and the crew has been busy forging links.
Defender will return to sea in March 2012 for a 2nd set of trials, and is on schedule to make her debut in her future home of Portsmouth in mid-July 2012. After more trials and training, she’s expected to join the fleet in early 2013. UK MoD.
Sept 13/11: SM-3s? Raytheon announces successful testing for their prototype dual-band datalink, allowing ships that use either Lockheed Martin SPY-1/ AEGIS or Thales Nederland’s SMART-L and/or APAR radars to employ the full range of Standard Missiles for air and ballistic missile defense, including the SM-3.
The firm cites up to 20 eligible ships, including SPY-1/ AEGIS/ MK41 VLS operators in Norway (Fridtjof Nansen) and Spain (F100); as well as APAR/ SMART-L/ MK41 radar operators in Denmark (Iver Huitfeldt), Germany (F124 Sachsen), the Netherlands (De Zeven Provincien); and closely derived S1850 operators in France (Horizon), Italy (Horizon) and the United Kingdom (Type 45).
For discussion of the issues, and the ships Raytheon left out, read “Raytheon’s Datalink: A New Naval Standard for the Standard?”
Aug 27-31/11: D35. Dragon sets sail from BAE’s Scotsun yard on the Clyde River, manned by a combined BAE Systems and Royal Navy crew, for the journey to her new home port of Portsmouth. Formal handover happens in Portsmouth on Aug 31/11, followed by more trials. BAE Systems | UK MoD.
July 12/11: D34 commissioned. Britain’s 3rd Type 45 air defense destroyer, HMS Diamond, officially joins the Royal Navy. UK MoD.
June 27/11: Sea Viper sub-contract. BAE Systems announces a 6-year, GBP 46 million (about $73.5 million) contract from Sea Viper lead MBDA. BAE will support all Sampson radars over its period of performance, including those that have not yet entered service. BAE will provides technical support, a spares and repairs service, maintenance through the joint MBDA/BAE Systems waterfront team in Portsmouth. The team will also provide ongoing support at the Maritime Integration and Support Centre (MISC) in Portsmouth, and at BAE’s Cowes, Isle of Wight radar testing facility. BAE Systems will remain the design authority and designated help desk support for Sampson.
This new arrangement follows a GBP 6 million, 18-month contract in September 2010, and is intended as a forerunner to a full ‘contract for availability’ arrangement. First, however, all parties need to generate data on the radar’s performance, in order to act as a long-term baseline. BAE Systems.
June 21/11: Phalanx added. Babcock International Group announces the pending qualification and testing of Raytheon’s MK.15 Phalanx 1B 20mm close-in weapon system on HMS Daring. The Type 45s were not delivered with secondary defensive systems for use against UAVs, small boats, and incoming missiles, so the pending qualification will help to patch the gaps in their defenses.
Babcock will supervise the installation of 2 systems in HMS Daring at Portsmouth Naval Base, as a lead-in to Naval Weapon Sea Trials (NWST), including a towed target firing. Most British ships have used Thales larger 30mm Goalkeeper system, but the Phalanx is an easier and cheaper as a “bolt-on” addition. Babcock’s previous Phalanx installations have been upgrades on the Type 42 destroyer HMS York, and the fleet replenishment ship RFA Fort Victoria.
MK15 Phalanx CIWS
June 20/11: SM-3s for Type 45s? Raytheon Missile Systems VP Ed Miyashiro is telling journalists that a number of other platforms are being looked at for NATO/European ballistic missile defense, including Britain’s Type 45s. The ship class’ MBDA Aster-30 missiles have just begun land tests against ballistic missiles, but Raytheon’s SM-3 family has both a longer testing record, and an SM-3 Block II that promises very significant performance improvements. For cash-strapped European governments, it also comes with much cheaper missile defense development costs, thanks to American and Japanese advance work.
The issue would be integration. Spanish F100 frigates are the most straightforward, with the same AN/SPY-1D radars and Mk.41 Vertical Launch System (VLS) as American ships. The same AEGIS BMD upgrade set used in American destroyers would suffice. Dutch and German F124 frigates, and the pending Danish Ivar Huitfeldt Class ships, also carry the MK.41 VLS, but use higher-performance Thales APAR and SMART-L radars. That requires additional integration and modification work, but all 3 classes are using a shared core system. The British, French, and Italian ships would be the most work. While they all share a similar core air defense system, they all use different radars, while sharing key electronics and DCNS’ Sylver VLS. That means both electronics work, and physical changes to the weapons array. In his conversations, Miyashiro mentions that they’re looking into the possibility of fielding SM-3 compatible inserts in DCNS’ Sylver A70 VLS, which is the required size for the 6.6 meter SM-3. Britain’s Type 45 Daring Class has space for adding the larger Sylver A70 launchers up front, but Miyashiro has reportedly said that they’re also looking at the possibility of inserting the Mk.41 VLS there.
A Mk.41 VLS would require some combat system integration, in exchange for very wide flexibility beyond the SM-3s. It would also give the Daring Class the ability to use an array of new weapons, including Tomahawk land attack cruise missiles, which current British doctrine will only fire from submarines. Aviation Week | Defense News.
May 25/11: Engine support. Rolls Royce announces a long term Class Output Management contract with BAE Systems to provide guaranteed availability of the Type 45 destroyers’ WR-21 engines. The initial GBP 20 million ($) contract is for 6 years, but options for extensions would cover the entire 30+ year life of the vessels. BAE’s Head of Supply Chain for UK Ship Support Programmes, Chris Curtis, described the contract as “a highly incentivised and cost effective support provision.”
Each destroyer is powered by 2 WR-21 turbines, derived from the firm’s RB211 and Trent engine families that power modern widebody and jumbo jets. Advanced marine features include compressor inter-cooling and exhaust heat recuperation, which recovers exhaust air for heating incoming combustion air. The effect is to reduce fuel consumption by about 27% over similar single-cycle turbines. The WR-21 has also been made very modular, and the gas generator and power turbine consists of 12 interchangeable pre-balanced modules. Because of their size and low weight, these modules can be removed and new modules can be fitted, in order to reduce maintenance costs and down time.
Beyond the engine, Rolls Royce is also providing propellers, shaftlines and bearings, stabilizing fins and low voltage electrical systems for the class.
Long-term engine support contract
May 17/11: D32 Missile firing. The UK MoD announces that HMS Daring has successfully fired its Sea Viper/ Aster-30 air defense system for the first time, joining HMS Dauntless. Photo metadata show that the firing took place on April 18/11.
At the same time, the Navy announces a 6-year, GBP 165 million (about $267 million) contract has to MBDA UK in Bristol and Stevenage, UK, to provide technical assistance to the fleet’s Sea Viper air defense systems. The Project Availability Support Service – Sea Viper (PASS-SV) contract is the first support contract let under the April 2010 Complex Weapons Through Life Enabling Contract, which will cover a range of British missiles.
MBDA will be working with BAE Systems Maritime Mission Systems to support the Sampson radar, while DM Gosport will be responsible for the out-loading of munitions to the Type 45 Class and for processing them at a new Munition Maintenance Facility (MMF) located in Gosport, UK. The MMF is a four year development that will give Britain a native test and repair facility for MBDA’s Aster missiles, and its construction and operation involves a separate contract. UK MoD | Royal Navy | MBDA | Defence Management.
Long-term Sea Viper support contract
May 6/11: HMS Diamond. The Royal Navy commissions D34 as HMS Diamond. The 4th ship of class, Dragon, is due to arrive in at the type’s Portsmouth base for the first time in September 2011, to begin preparations for its own commissioning. UK MoD.
Nov 19/10: Mechanical difficulties. HMS Daring sails back into Portsmouth Harbour. She was forced to go to Canada for urgent repairs, after losing propulsion in the Atlantic. The incident came just 4 months after one of her drivers packed up out in the Solent, during a visit from sailors’ families.
Martin Carter, whose son Philip serves as a marine engineer on Daring, told Portsmouth’s The News that: “They’ve been having lots of trouble with the drivers on the ship. It’s obviously not good but I’m sure they’ll get it all sorted out soon.”
Oct 11/10: D37 launch. Duncan [D37] is launched down the slipway. She is likely to be the last ship to be “dynamically launched” on the Clyde River in the traditional fashion, the final example of more than 22,000 vessels launched from Clyde shipyards. Future ships are likely to use flooding techniques like building them on a barge, or in a drydock. UK MoD | For Argyll, also explains Adm. Adam Duncan’s lagacy | BBC [incl. video] | Caledonian Mercury | The Guardian | Glasgow Evening Times | The Scotsman.
Oct 4/10: Missile firing, finally. The UK MoD announces that a Type 45 destroyer fired a missile for the first time at the end of September 2010. HMS Dauntless fired an Aster-30 missile at a navy range in the Hebrides, hitting a target drone. Royal Navy | UK MoD.
Sept 22/10: Diamond [D34] arrives in her home port of Portsmouth for the first time, following sea trials in Scottish waters. She is formally handed over to the Royal Navy on Sept 23rd, and will undergo another set of sea trials before commissioning.
June 28/10: Aster-30 tests. MBDA Systems announces that its Aster-30 missiles have added Britain’s PAAMS-equipped “Longbow” barge to the roster of successful test firings using modified missiles.
“Over the last month… The trials were conducted over a range of scenarios of steadily increasing complexity, culminating in a final trial featuring a salvo firing against a sea skimming target performing a high-g terminal manoeuvre. All the trials [by Italy, France, and the UK] were fully successful.”
See also OCCAR release.
June 3/10: HMS Dauntless. D33 is formally commissioned into Royal Navy service, at a ceremony in Portsmouth Naval Base. Neither HMS Daring, nor HMS Dauntless, is operational with its primary air defense weapon. UK MoD.
May 25/10 – June 1/10: Aster fixed? Italy and France conduct test-firings of the Aster-30 missile from their destroyer-sized Horizon Class air defense frigates. The Andrea Doria fires a missile on May 25/10, while France Forbin fires a missile on June 1/10.
The test-firings are meant to ensure that the problems identified in Britain’s test firings from its Longbow test barge have been fixed, and are touted as successful by the French DGA. Renewed firings from the Longbow are expected to begin in a few weeks, leading at some point to actual firings from Type 45 destroyers. Mer et Marine [in French].
April 1/10: Aster flaw. Portsmouth’s The News confirms that the PAAMS test failures have been traced back to a design flaw with the Aster missiles, which are being redesigned.
“An MoD spokeswoman said: ‘Some production weaknesses in the most recent batches of the Aster missile have been identified and these are being corrected through minor re-design work… Portsmouth South MP Mike Hancock, who sits on the Commons defence committee, said: ‘I am very sceptical about this – are we really to believe that a whole batch of missiles was just made wrong for such an expensive system? If you read this in a novel it would be believable, but when it’s a programme that is already late it’s incredible.
‘I think the only way we can be certain that the problem is resolved is when these missiles are fired from a moving ship, and not from a static platform off France.’”
March 22/10: C4 contract. Thales UK announces a 7-year support contract for the fully integrated communications system (FICS) in the UK’s Type 45 fleet. The “multi-million pounds contract” awarded by BAE Systems Surface Ships covers all internal and external communications systems on all 6 destroyers, requires Thales to guarantee the availability of the communications systems, and will run until 2016. In addition to providing support to the vessels themselves, Thales will also provide support for a single shore-based reference system.
Thales already has some experience with availability-based contracts for hand-held range-finding and thermal imaging units, all of which have exceeded the requirements set out in the initial contract. Thales UK release | DID on Britain’s “Future Contracting for Availability” approach.
FICS C4 support
March 18/10: CEC. A $13.7 million modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-08-C-5202) for the design agent and engineering services for the cooperative engagement capability (CEC) system, which helps equipped ships by sharing their air defense picture and targeting. This contract combines purchases for the US Navy (97%) and the government of the United Kingdom (3%) under the Foreign Military Sales program. Work will be performed in Largo, FL (80%); St. Petersburg, FL (19%); and Dallas, TX (1%), and is expected to be complete by September 2011.
A 3% participation share may not seem like much, but the UK has been absent from past CEC contracts, and a firm decision on the Daring Class was expected in 2010. Looks like it was positive.
March 18/10: Dauntless, the 2nd of the Royal Navy’s Type 45 destroyers, and Astute, the 1st Astute Class nuclear powered fast attack submarine, combine on sea trials in the firth of Clyde. Dauntless was handed over to the UK Ministry of Defence by BAE Systems in December 2009 and will be commissioned into the Royal Navy fleet later in 2010. BAE release.
March 12/10:Aster flaws. The French naval site Mer et Marine runs an article [in French] about France’s Forbin/Horizon Class “frigates,” which are really advanced air defense destroyers. In that article, it discusses recent failures of the PAAMS/Aster air defense system.
Apparently, the failures were due to a minor manufacturing defect in the missiles, and a Board of Inquiry will make their findings at the end of Q1 2010, ‘said Laurent Collet-Billon, Delegate General for Armaments. The investigation must also determine if a single missile was defective, or if entire batches could be affected.
Dec 18/09: Aster flaws. The News of Portsmouth reports that problems with the PAAMS system could delay HMS Daring’s in-service date:
“The News can reveal that the navy has switched Daring’s in-service date from February 2010 to just 2010 – potentially buying an extra 10 months as technicians try to identify the problems with the Sea Viper missiles… When asked by The News if it was a problem with the missile launcher or the missile itself, the MoD said they did not know. An MoD spokeswoman said… [that] ‘The cost of the technical investigation and any redesign to resolve the issues that emerge during trials, falls to MBDA.’ “
Dec 4/09: Aster flaws. The British MoD responds to media reports regarding the PAAMS system, via its “Defence in the Media” blog:
“The claims that the missiles don’t work are incorrect. The Sea Viper system trials are ongoing with the intention that the missile will be ready to meet the Type 45s’ first operational deployments from 2011. As the destroyers enter service they, along with Sea Viper, undergo a rigorous trials programme to ensure that all systems meet their design specification before the ships deploy on operations.”
Dec 2/09: D33 handover. HMS Dauntless is formally handed over to the Royal Navy in Portsmouth. She was launched from BAE Systems’ Govan shipyard in Glasgow on Jan 23/07, and joined HMS Daring in Portsmouth after extensive sea trials. As part of the hand-over, the BAE Systems company flag was lowered and replaced by the Royal Navy’s White Ensign. UK MoD | Royal Navy | BAE systems.
“…for integration into selected Royal Navy (RN) surface ships after concluding a third tranche of Assessment Phase (AP3) studies. This comes five years after initial plans [link added] to integrate the UK CEC system into Type 23 frigates and Type 45 destroyers were brought to a sudden halt as a result of budget pressure.”
Dec 1/09: Aster fail. Aviation Week’s Ares blog reports a test failure of the PAAMS/ Sea Viper system. Final qualification tests are generally the most difficult in any series, and this one is thought to be have been a 2 target engagement. UK Defense Equipment and Support Organization COO Andrew Tyler describes the final test’s failure as a “setback”, and adds:
“We are working extremely hard with the other partner nations and the company to resolve what the problems were with the final firing… [but it is] too early to come up with the diagnosis.”
The Daily Mail adds its own coverage, and The Register adds that:
“The weapons are already so late that the first [GBP] 1bn+ Type 45 has been in naval service for nearly a year – almost completely unarmed.”
Oct 20/09: D36 launch. BVT Surface Fleet’s shipyard at Govan, in Glasgow, launches Defender, the 5th Type 45 anti-air warfare destroyer. The ship is already 65% complete, and the team has outfitted the ship to the maximum weight possible ahead of launch; the electrical systems on board are already live. Focus will now turn to completing systems and commissioning power and propulsion and combat systems, ahead of her hand over to the Royal Navy on schedule in 2012. UK MoD | Royal Navy | BAE Systems.
Sept 16/09: Fleet support. The UK MoD issues a GBP 309 million (currently $510 million), 7-year support contract for its Type 45 fleet. The majority of maintenance work will be carried out around the class’ home port of Portsmouth Naval Base, and the effort is expected to support about 120 jobs directly. Royal Navy Rear Admiral Bob Love adds that:
“The Type 45 support solution is an innovative contract which sees the prime contractor for the build of the ships providing in-service support… BVT will manage equipment availability to agreed targets, incentivising them to minimise the cost of support by improving equipment reliability. This is the first time this arrangement has been used for a major warship.”
The BAE Systems and VT Group joint venture and shipbuilder BVT Surface Fleet will act as the Class Output Manager (COM) and will co-ordinate all aspects of support delivery to the ship including maintenance, supply chain and design management, managing obsolescence issues, incorporating support-related changes where required, as well as planning and optimizing support to reduce cost and maintenance over time. Built-in contract flexibility will accommodate variations in the operational profile that don’t require any contract changes.
Availability of the ships’ major systems will be handled through BVT partnerships with Thales, BAE Systems Insyte, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman Sperry Marine, Ultra and Converteam. UK MoD | BAE Systems.
Class support contract
March 13/09: NAO report. Brtain’s National Audit Office (NAO) issues a report covering the Type 45 Daring Class program, which it says has improved since the 2007 contract renegotiation.
With respect to the program’s present and future, its worries are threefold: cost, capabilities, and coverage. With respect to cost, NAO estimates that a program once estimated at GBP 5 billion will now cost a total of GBP 6.46 billion for 6 ships. The NAO adds that the MoD’s decision to create 2 timelines with different official/corporate dates, and “no problems” target dates, can create a time mismatch between project requirements and allocated funds.
With respect to capabilities, HMS Daring reportedly lacks some communications systems over 2 years after its 2006 launch, and will not be fully operational with its main “Sea Viper” air defense system until 2011. Specifically, HMS Daring will enter into service before the Aster missiles are first fired from a destroyer, and before the full on-board PAAMS training package is complete in mid 2011, although the missiles will have been tested on the Longbow barge. Co-operative engagement capability (CEC), which gives fitted ships the ability to see what other CEC-equipped ships or land stations see, and to fire at targets the launching ship’s radars cannot see, will not be present until 2014 at the earliest. It is vital for wide-area anti-air defense, and for ballistic missile defense.
With respect to coverage, the NAO says that “The Department’s policy requirement is to have five ships available for tasking at any time. It will be challenging to meet this requirement, established when the Department intended to buy eight ships [with only 6 ships].” NAO Report | Royal Navy response | BBC News.
Feb 4/09: PAAMS test. The “Sea Viper” PAAMS air defense system is successfully fired from a 12,000t trials barge parked near the Ile du Levant, off the French coast. The target for this 2nd live fire test is designed to simulate a low-level anti-ship missile at close range, and the test is reportedly successful.
The Longbow barge has a full replica of the air defence equipment the new Type 45 destroyers will carry, including long-range and missile- directing radars, a combat control centre and missiles in their vertical launcher silos. Royal Navy.
Jan 28/09: Sea Viper. Britain officially names the PAAMS air defense system “Sea Viper.” The name refers to the combination of the ships’ Sampson fire control radar and S1850M volume search radar, the combat system, the Sylver vertical launch system, and the MBDA’s Aster-15 and Aster-30 missiles carried inside the Sylver cells.
2008 and Earlier
Dec 17/08: D33 trials. HMS Dauntless returns from 4 weeks of sea trials, which tested her power and propulsion and Combat System gunnery. Her second set of sea trials is due in July 2009, and will focus on fuller Combat System testing and pre-acceptance activity. Royal Navy
Dec 14/08: Britain’ unofficial Navy Matters site offers its year in review. The overall recap is strongly negative for the Royal Navy as a whole, and it has this to say about the “accelerated” Future Surface Combatant program that is slated to replace the 7th and 8th Type 45 destroyers, as well as Britain’s Type 23 Duke Class frigates:
“At the time of the T45 Batch 3 cancellation it was stated that the MOD was “bringing forward the replacement programme for [the] Type 22 and 23 frigates”, apparently to 2018. This is a quite aggressive timescale but six months later there is no sign that the Future Surface Combatant is about to become a stand alone “Assessment Phase” project, indeed the MOD’s Frigates Integrated Project Team is apparently investigating whether the Type 22 Batch 3 frigates could remain in service until at least 2020 – a five year extension compared to currently announced plans.”
It lists the fact that all 6 Type 45 destroyers are under construction, with 4 already launched, as part of the year’s slim good news section.
Dec 12/08: D34. The Royal Navy provides an instructive update on Diamond, which was launched in November 2007:
“The external appearance is taking shape with the installation of major equipments such as radars, aerials, missile launchers and the installation of the 4.5 inch gun. The internal layout is also progressing nicely with the Operations Room fully fitted out and a large proportion of equipment that support weapon and sensor systems are also in place. The propulsion machinery and integral systems are nearing completion. The diesel generators have been run and load trialled, and the WR21 gas turbines are planned to be run in early 2009, culminating in a Basin Trial at Easter. Installation of the auxiliary equipment is now the main focus, with most of the shipbuilder’s efforts currently on the vast amount of wiring, cabling and optical fibre that goes into a Type 45 Destroyer… The next milestone for the ship will be her first set of sea trails planned for autumn 2009.”
Dec 10/08: HMS Daring hand-over. Daring is formally handed over to the MOD in an Acceptance-off-Contract ceremony at the Scotstoun shipyard on the Clyde. HMS Daring is due to sail to her home port of Portsmouth in January 2009 to undertake 12 months of exhaustive Stage 2 trials and training, before she is declared ready for operational service.
Since being launched by the Countess of Wessex in 2006, Daring has been fitted with elements of the Principal Anti-Air Missile System (PAAMS), and her long range and multi-function radars. UK MoD release.
1st of class accepted
Nov 17/08: D35 launch. Dragon is launched into the Clyde from BVT’s shipyard at Govan near Glasgow, complete with a Welsh Dragon on its bow. The destroyer has yet to receive critical equipment like radar and mission systems, which will be installed during the final phases of construction. Royal Navy.
June 19/08: Options declined. Armed Forces Minister Bob Ainsworth admits in the House of Commons that Gordon Brown’s Labour government has declined the option on the 7th and 8th Daring Class destroyers. So far, HMS Daring has participated in sea trials, while Dauntless and Diamond have been launched. Dragon has all sections fully joined but has not been launched yet, while Defender and Duncan will complete the class. Steel cutting on Duncan began in March 2008.
The Hon. Mr. Ainsworth added that the entire Armed Forces equipment program was being reviewed in light of planned budgets, which most observers believe means cuts in store for the Army (FRES seen as the biggest target) and Air Force (Tranche 3 Typhoon fighters in question). At the same time, Ainsworth said that Britain’s Future Surface Combatant to replace the smaller Type 22 and Type 23 frigates was being moved forward. This may or may not be significant; no timeline was specified, and promises surrounding distant “out-year” programs must always be viewed with great skepticism.
On the industrial front, reaction was muted. This is true in part because Clyde and Portsmouth yards’ immediate future were safeguarded in May 2008 with confirmation that both sites will share in construction of the Royal Navy’s 2 full-size Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers between 2009-2016. BAE Systems and the VT Group, who build the Type 45s, will also share that contract, and are expected to share in future surface combatant construction and maintenance contracts via their forthcoming joint venture.
A navy that has already seen its number of surface combatants sink below the level of the French fleet for the first time since the 17th century will view this as a bitter blow, but the budgetary math is remorseless. The move was condemned by the Conservative Party, who warned that 6 ships were not adequate, and could mean as few as 3 operational Daring Class ships on station at any given time. In an unusual move within the Parliamentary system, prominent Labour Party MP and former chairman of the Defence Select Committee Bruce George also warned that:
“It has now reached the point where, in terms of personnel and in terms of equipment, [the UK armed forces] is inadequate to take the [global missions] stance that is being taken… Lives are lost if equipment is inadequate and wars can be lost if equipment is inadequate.”
Coverage: Daily Mail | Financial Times | Glasgow Evening Times | The Herald of Glasgow | Portsmouth News | This is London | UK Shipping Times. Non-British readers might note that “Six of the Best…” is a double entendre that can also refer to the school punishment of six hits with a cane.
Stop at 6
Nov 27/07: D34 launch. Diamond is launched. Her motto is “Honor clarissima gemma,” (trans: Honour is the brightest jewel).
July 18/07: HMS Daring sails under its own steam for the very first time, escorted by tugs from BAE Systems Scotstoun.
- Royal Navy – Type 45 News
- UK National Audit Office (March 13/09) – Providing Anti Air Warfare Capability: the Type 45 destroyer
- UK Parliament Select Committee on Public Accounts Minutes of Evidence (Jan 15/01) – Examination of Witnesses (Questions 20 – 39).
- Naval Technology – Type 45 Daring Class
Additional Readings: Equipment
DID thanks reader Roderick Louis for his tips and translations.
- Royal Navy – Air Defence Destroyer (Type 45)
- Royal Navy – HMS Daring: The Warfare Department
- Navy Matters – Type 45 (“D Class”) Destroyer. Comprehensive.
- Navy Matters – SAMPSON Maulti-Function Radar
- Navy Matters – PAAMS – Principal Anti Air Missile System. Now called “Sea Viper” by the Royal Navy.
- MBDA – Aster 15 & 30 PAAMS: Principal Anti-Air Missile system
- Deagel – S1850M [Radar]
- DCNS – Sylver. Stands for “SYsteme de Lancement VERtical,” French for “vertical launch system.”
- Wikipedia – Sylver launcher.
- DID Spotlight – CEC: Cooperative Engagement for Fleet Defense
- Rolls Royce – WR-21 Marine Gas Turbine
- DID – I Think I CAMM: Britain’s Versatile Air Defense Missile. Adding CAMM-M to the Type 45 could give it the quad-packed air defense option it needs, in order to increase its missile load.