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Thinking aloud: Adaptable Strike Frigate sells ‘system of systems' vision for Type 32

The Adaptable Strike Frigate has been guided by the headmarks of open architecture, modularity, automation, and reduced crewing expected to underpin Type 32. (BAE Systems)

As the UK Royal Navy (RN) continues to mature the concept of operations and associated requirements for its projected Type 32 frigate, industry is already beginning to contemplate how it might address evolving user needs for an adaptable, modular, and sustainable expeditionary platform operating in support of the Future Commando Force (FCF).

While a modified ‘Batch 2' Type 31 general-purpose frigate remains an option, and one is already being pushed hard by Babcock, the Develop Directorate in Navy Command Headquarters (NCHQ) has not foreclosed alternatives at this stage. Moreover, the outline requirements emerging for Type 32 are suggestive of a platform and systems design that could be in some way different from that to be delivered by Type 31.

Recognising this and taking heed of broader policy guidance from the government and the RN, BAE Systems Naval Ships has, during the past 12 months, worked with a team of industry partners on an iterative concept development effort designed to identify user requirements, understand their impact on the design process, and then investigate critical technologies and enablers from which to derive an illustrative solution and associated capability statement. Significantly, this intellectual exercise has followed a systems-led engineering model rather than a traditional naval architecture approach.

The result – representative of BAE Systems' approach to the nascent Type 32 requirements set – is a hybrid 130 m Adaptable Strike Frigate that seeks to marry a large and flexible internal mission deck, designed to be able to host, support, and deploy a range of modular and/or autonomous payloads, with a command, sensor and weapon fit more typically associated with a strike-enabled surface combatant.

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