DSEI 2017

Arrowhead takes aim [DSEI17D4]

15 September 2017

Babcock International Group (Stands S2-310 and S2-330) has lifted the veil on the Arrowhead general-purpose frigate design being put forward by the company for the UK Royal Navy’s (RN’s) Type 31e frigate requirement.

Claimed to meet requirements for a capable yet affordable platform offering adaptability and flexibility in its configuration, Arrowhead is based on commercially available systems and equipment.

Type 31e is intended to meet the RN’s requirements for a new general-purpose frigate first to enter service in 2023. Building on Babcock’s existing offshore patrol vessel (OPV) pedigree − the company is building a fourth 90m OPV for the Irish Naval Service at its Appledore facility in north Devon − the 120m Arrowhead frigate has been purpose-designed to meet requirements for a flexible, open architecture warship able to fulfil a range of missions, including maritime surveillance and interdiction, presence and deterrence, consort protection and counter-piracy.

Displacing about 4,000 tonnes, the design adopts an efficient combined diesel-electric and diesel machinery arrangement providing for a range of 6,000 nautical miles at 15kt, and a top speed in excess of 24kt.

The baseline Arrowhead configuration incorporates space for a medium-calibre gun (up to 127mm), small-calibre guns (up to 30mm), a vertical launch silo for 16 point-defence missiles, and deck space for eight surface-to-surface guided weapons. Aviation facilities comprise a flight deck capable of taking a helicopter up to Merlin size, and a hangar able to accommodate a Wildcat plus a vertical takeoff unmanned air vehicle. In addition, Arrowhead incorporates multiple mission bays, plus provision for a stern ramp. These reconfigurable mission spaces allow for the stowage, launch and recovery of boats and unmanned vehicles.

Babcock has designed Arrowhead to embody the company’s iFrigate philosophy.

This embeds technology to perform real-time equipment performance monitoring, and operational and data analysis, to deliver improved availability and reduced through-life costs.

Babcock is examining build options for Arrowhead, entertaining both a single-site build strategy, and a cross-site build strategy bringing together modules at a single site. The latter approach has been used for aircraft carrier assembly at its Rosyth yard.

Craig Lockhart, managing director, Naval Marine, at Babcock, said: ‘‘Arrowhead is a game-changing general-purpose frigate for modern navies. Optimising through-life support costs is at the very core of the principles of Arrowhead’s design and build methodology, all balanced against the ability to deliver the required capability.’’

(388 words)