Watch: Could you own a frigate? Military equipment for sale

From frigates to aircraft, the Defence Equipment Sales Authority has released details of the latest military equipment for sale, and there are some interesting bits of kit on the market.


Here's a taste of what's on offer.

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HMS Scott in Devonport
HMS Scott in Devonport.

For sale: HMS Scott

She's a big ship. At 13,500 tonnes, the fifth largest in the Royal Navy's Fleet, and she can show you the ocean floor.

For 300 days a year, she sails the oceans providing real-time 3D images of the seabed.

This crucial information can help ships navigate the waters safely.

Scott can also be an asset in investigating climate change and natural disasters.

After an earthquake and resulting tsunami in 2004, she was deployed to the Indian Ocean to survey the quake's origins.

Operating in freezing temperatures? Not a problem.

Scott served in the Antarctic and South Atlantic as an ice patrol ship. 

RAF C-130J Hercules (Picture: RAF).
A C-130J Hercules aircraft (Picture: RAF).

For sale: C-130J

This diverse aircraft is serving armed forces around the world. 

Described as one aircraft with multiple capabilities and a long history of service in the Royal Airforce the C-130J is a must-have for a variety of missions. 

The aircraft needs only two pilots and can operate take off from long dirt strips in high mountain ranges (or runways almost destroyed by natural disasters) then travel more than 3,000 miles filled with equipment, troops and fuel. 

The C-130J worked intensively during conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

It goes where other aircraft can't or won't. 

There's limited stock though. Eight have been sold this year, so only a few left. 

HMS Bangor Video Screen Grab Leaving Bahrain
HMS Bangor, a Sandown-class Mine Counter Measure Vessel.

For sale: Sandown Class Mine Counter Measure Vessels (MCMVs)

Worried about mines in your water? This could be the answer.

Small but tough – the Sandown-class, based in Scotland, has 15 glass-reinforced plastic minehunters designed to resist high shock levels.

Their primary purpose is to seek out and neutralise enemy mines using sonar technology and patrol the seas for other threats.  

There's a 30mm gun on board to defend from short-range missiles, rockets, grenades and explosives. 

They keep watch in the Northern Gulf, patrol the British Coastline and work with NATO forces on joint operations. 

Two of the Sandown-class are expected to be transferred to the Ukrainian Army "in the near future" – time to get on board before they're gone.  


E-3D Sentry, at RAF Akrotiri flying in support of Defence Operations Sentry Mission
E-3D Sentry Airborne early warning, command and control aircraft (Picture: MOD).

For sale: E-3D Airborne early warning, command and control aircraft (AEW&C)

Based on the Boeing 707, the AEW&C Sentry can fly for up to 18 hours, cruising at 29,000 feet while detecting air and surface contacts. 

The RAF's fleet of Sentry aircraft has contributed to every major UK air operation since the introduction to service in 1991.

The 360-degree radar can simultaneously track sea targets and hostile aircraft operating at low altitudes over any terrain. 

In a strategic defence role, the E-3 can identify, track and intercept airborne threats.

Models are currently serving in the US, France and Saudi Arabia. 

Sentry returned from its final operational deployment for the RAF in August 2021. 

RFA Argus assisting with disaster relief in Honduras after Hurricane Eta
RFA Argus assisting with disaster relief in Honduras after Hurricane Eta in November 2020 (Picture: UK Military and Defence Staff/Twitter).

For sale: RFA Argus

A whopping 175 metres long, Argus supported UK forces across the world as the Royal Navy's Primary Casualty Receiving Ship, during the Ebola crisis and the Gulf War.

She can treat 100 bodies in the medical complex alongside an emergency department for critical injuries.

There are facilities to perform surgery, resuscitation and radiology (complete with a CT scanner) and she can defend herself.   

The ship was recently in the Caribbean supporting Overseas Territories during the coronavirus pandemic.

To find out exactly how someone goes about buying UK military equipment (and how much it costs) Forces News caught up with Clive Walker, head of DESA.

What is DESA?

DESA is an organisation within the UK Ministry of Defence responsible for managing the sale and transfer of surplus Armed Forces military equipment.

Can anyone buy our equipment? 

"We are very careful about how we select the people we sell to," he said.

"There are laws, regulations, international agreements and we abide by them all – so it's important to get the right customer to look after this equipment."

How does it work?

Clive Walker said: "International Defence Diplomats find out what equipment there's interest in and feed the information back to the team at DESA.

"Ministers then partner with DESA to identify the right customers for the right equipment."

Ok, but it's not like Amazon delivery, so how do you get a 13,500-tonne ship across the world? 

"The best way of doing a deal is always to try and do a 'hot sale' – it's where you've already got the British, be they soldiers, sailors or airmen with the equipment, so that they can meet the counterparts they're selling it to.

"That also starts to forge strong relationships internationally between navies, armed forces and armies." 

How much do we charge for a ship? 

"A classic example of a sale is HMS Ocean," Mr Walker continues.

"Ocean was a helicopter carrier but to bring the Brazilian Navy, who bought Ocean, up to speed required a huge amount of support from British industry and the Royal Navy in terms of training their crews."

In 2018 the UK sold HMS Ocean to the Brazilian Navy for £84m as its new flagship.

So who's buying?

"We've had Bangladesh, the United States of America and Latin America.

"We've got customers in Brazil and Chile – it's a global business."



What are the benefits of selling?

"There is quite a lot of kit that has come out of service but it's being replaced by even better kit.

"What we try and do is to find another opportunity for great equipment because it's been tested globally and a lot of it has also been on operations.

"The money raised from the sale goes back into the service which provided it – a ship, to the Royal Navy, a tank, to the Army

" And it’s more likely the equipment will be properly maintained when it is purchased (rather than gifted)."

Is our kit selling like hot cakes?

"The C-130 fleets that have served our Royal Air Force so effectively are now coming to a point where we will be looking to other customers.

"We've already sold eight, we've got a few more to sell.

"We are confident of raising around £100m in receipts for the UK Armed Forces this year."

Do the British industries that make the equipment continue to service it?

"We are here to support UK prosperity and British industry.

"We want British companies to continue to support the equipment they've looked after in our own Armed Forces to future customers." 

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