Friday, February 11, 2011

The Future Surface Combatant (FSC)

The Future Surface Combatant (FSC) is a United Kingdom programme to replace the Royal Navy's Type 22 and Type 23 frigates. The FSC concept has proceeded with a number of aborted attempts since the late 1990s, but was brought forward in the 2008 budget, at the expense of two Type 45 destroyers being cancelled (ships 7 & 8).

Various configurations have been proposed, however as of March 2010 the FSC programme is planned to consist of two classes of warship.

* C1 (Type 26) - An Anti Submarine Warfare task group enabled platform
* C2 (Type xx) - A more general purpose platform.

BAE Systems Surface Ships is undertaking the assessment phase of the first, the (C1) Type 26 combat ship which is due to begin entering service at the start of the next decade. The second class remains undefined.

On 24 February, First Sea Lord Sir Mark Stanhope referred to the Type 26 when referring to the FSC at the IISS. The future frigate was again referred to as the Type 26 at a House of Commons debate on defence, on 15 March 2010.

BAE Systems were given a four-year, £127 million contract by the UK MoD on 25 March, 2010, to fully design the C1 variant of the FSC, known now publicly as the Type 26 frigate or "combat ship". It was confirmed that the first of the Type 26 frigates is planned to be delivered to the Royal Navy in 2020.

It was soon after reported that the current working baseline for the Type 26 design is a vessel 141 metres long (shorter than a Type 22 frigate, but longer than a Type 23) with a displacement of 6,850 tonnes (greater than either Type 22 or 23 frigates). The report also mentioned an "in service date" of 2021 for the first Type 26, with the plan to have one Type 26 vessel coming into Royal Navy service per year from 2021.

The defence review also stated that the Type 23 frigates are to be replaced with the new type of frigates from 2021 onwards.

The British and Brazilian governments agreed on a defence partnership that may lead to the sale of five or six Type 26 frigates to the Brazilian navy. In October 2010, BAE made a detailed proposal to the Brazilian navy, for a package including Type 26 frigates as well as variants of the Wave Knight class tanker and River class patrol vessel. On January 31, 2011, Defence Minister Gerald Howarth stated that Britain and Canada were in discussions about a possible joint program to develop a frigate for their respective navies.

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