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RN chief sets early headmarks for Type 32 frigate

The UK Royal Navy's (RN's) projected Type 32 frigate programme should adopt a radically different design and build paradigm so as not to be overtaken by technology, the professional head of the service has told a parliamentary panel.

Giving evidence to the House of Commons Defence Committee (HCDC) on 2 November, First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Sir Tony Radakin said the Type 32 design – now just entering its concept phase – should be highly automated, more flexible in its design, and intrinsically adaptable to change.

The UK's Defence Command Paper, presented to Parliament in March this year, confirmed plans for a class of up to five Type 32 general-purpose frigates to enter service in the early 2030s to protect territorial waters, provide persistent presence overseas, and support deployed littoral response groups. It is envisaged that the Type 32 will provide an agile and flexible platform that can be reconfigured to meet a variety of mission requirements, while also growing RN destroyer/frigate numbers overall.

“This is … about additional volume in the fleet,” Adm Radakin told the HCDC as part of the committee's inquiry into the RN's purpose and procurement. “In terms of capability gaps, it's about embracing the technology that's out there.”

He added that it was difficult to define design characteristics at this early stage and that the ‘solution space' was wide open. “Is this really a Type 31, and [we're] just calling it a Batch 2? That could be one answer,” he said.

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