Babcock Team 31 has been selected by the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) as the preferred bidder to deliver its new warships. Led by Aerospace and Defence company Babcock, in partnership with the Thales Group, the T31 general-purpose frigate program will deliver the Royal Navy with five light frigates, at an average production cost of £250 million per ship. The first ship is scheduled for launch in 2023. The ships follow Babcocks’s Arrowhead 140 design, balancing between global mission capability in blue or white waters, both at an affordable cost. Work on the fleet of five ships will begin immediately following formal contract award later this financial year, with detailed design work to start now and manufacture commencing in 2021 and concluding in 2027.

Delivered in parallel to the £8 billion construction of eight Type 26 multi-mission frigates built by BAE Systems, the £1.25 billion worth multi-purpose Arrowhead 140 fleet will offer the Royal Navy a more affordable class of ship tasked primarily with peacekeeping, humanitarian and low-intensity warfighting capabilities. Some of the vessels are expected to be forward-deployed in the Middle East and the Far East, hence, the need for operation with reduced crews.

Arrowhead 140 is larger than other vessels in the General Purpose Frigate market. At almost 140 m’ long, and with a 20 m’ beam, this design delivers stability supporting increased performance and safe operations, of the weapons and sensor suite, helicopter and sea-boat operations, in all sea states. A key element of the Type31 program is to provide a competitive design featuring price, capability, and flexibility to secure export orders, by leveraging the Royal Navy’s choice. The frigate is engineered to minimize through-life costs and features the open-architecture TACTICOS combat management system, an established, proven and exportable system developed and supplied by Thales to 24 navies and 182 ships worldwide. While the systems on the Royal Navy Type31 will be optimized for multi-purpose use, the Arrowhead 140 design, space, power and combat mission system is designed to take more missions, including enhanced air defense, surface, and anti-submarine warfare.

“Driven by innovation and backed by experience and heritage, Arrowhead 140 is a modern warship that will meet the maritime threats of today and tomorrow,” said Archie Bethel, CEO Babcock, adding that “It provides a flexible, adaptable platform that delivers value for money and supports the UK’s National Shipbuilding Strategy.” With Babcock’s Rosyth facility as the central integration site, the solution provides value for money and squarely supports the principles of the National Shipbuilding Strategy. It builds on the knowledge and expertise developed during the Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier modular build program. At its height, the program will maximize a workforce of around 1,250 highly- skilled roles in multiple locations throughout the UK, with around 150 new technical apprenticeships likely to be developed. The work is expected to support an additional 1,250 roles within the wider UK supply chain.