UK plans to introduce its new class of destroyers in 2030s

New Royal Navy’s Type 83 destroyers are scheduled to replace the existing Type 45 destroyers in the late 2030s, according to the UK’s officials.

Illustration: Royal Navy file photo of HMS Edinburgh conducting final Sea Dart missile firing

The Defence Command Paper entitled “Defence in a Competitive Age” published last year revealed that the UK Government plans to develop a new class of destroyers, Type 83 destroyers. The concept phase for the vessels is scheduled to start early this year.

A report published by the UK’s House of Commons Defence Committee gives another information about the Type 83 destroyers. According to the report, the vessels might act as motherships for the new system of sensors and autonomous vessels. Instead of a like-for-like replacement of Type 45 with Type 83 destroyers to perform an air defence function, their roles could in future change and expand.

The number of destroyers, as well as other relevant details, have not yet been disclosed. The UK Government’s vision for 2030 is to boost its shipbuilding capacities, driving the sector to be globally competitive in several market segments, including the design, build, integration, test and evaluation and repair of naval vessels.

The new strategic and long-term investments are expected to increase the capability of the Royal Navy’s surface fleet and allow the development of, among other things, a new class of destroyers.

Trade association for the UK’s defense, security, aerospace, and space sectors ADS has earlier on called for the navy to engage with industry in new naval projects, particularly on the Type 83 destroyer where design work must begin soon for delivery in the late 2030s.

The existing Type 45 or Daring-class destroyers are primarily designed for anti-aircraft and anti-missile warfare, and they are among the most advanced warships ever built, according to the Royal Navy. They are a total of six vessels in the class. The first ship in the class, HMS Daring, was launched on 1 February 2006 and commissioned on 23 July 2009.

In July last year, the UK’s Ministry of Defense (MoD) announced that the vessels will receive a £500 million upgrade to enhance their firepower capability. MBDA UK has been awarded an 11-year contract to integrate the Common Anti-Air Modular Missile (CAMM) program, often referred to as Sea Ceptor, into the Type 45 destroyers’ Sea Viper weapon systems.

The Type 45 destroyers also come equipped with an array of conventional weaponry, including the BAE Systems’ 4.5-inch Mark 8 Mod 1, two 30mm DSM Mark 2s, two Phalanx 20mm close-in weapons systems, two 7.62mm miniguns, and up to six FN MAG general-purpose machine guns.

This arsenal is designed for a range of purposes, from repelling fast inshore attack craft to destroying short-range missiles in mid-air.

However, the costly upgrades of the Royal Navy’s vessels have sparked controversy, leading UK naval officials to call for abandoning lengthy retrofits. In light of this policy, Royal Navy officer Admiral Tony Radakin announced that by retiring two Type 23 frigates, the navy will save around £100 million ($133 million) to boost the future fleet.

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The UK Parliament has committed that the overall shipbuilding investments in the Royal Navy’s fleet will double in the coming period rising to over £1.7 billion a year. In 2027 and 2028, the navy also plans to introduce three new classes of vessels, Type 26 frigates, Type 31 frigates and fleet solid support ships.

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