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Type 32 Frigates: What Do We Know So Far?

Royal Navy sailors

In late 2020, the Prime Minister promised a £16.5bn increase in funding for the Ministry of Defence (MOD) over the next four years.

Boris Johnson went into detail about where the money could go, including a never-before-mentioned Type 32 frigate.

As part of the announcement, Mr Johnson said the increased funding would be used to "restore Britain's position as the foremost naval power in Europe", and stated: "We are also committed to the Type 32."

But what is the Type 32 frigate?

Mr Johnson confirmed plans for eight Type 26 and five Type 31 frigates will continue, with the intention that they will replace the Type 23s in the next decade, however, relatively little is known about the "next generation" Type 32.

What do we know so far about the Type 32 frigate?

Type 32 frigates were first mentioned by the Prime Minister in November and are a new class of surface warship.

March's Defence Command Paper stated both the new Type 31 and 32s "are not just replacements for existing platforms, they will be more flexible than their predecessors".

"Equipped with advanced sensors and weapons, they will embrace modularisation to allow them to quickly adopt emerging technology throughout their life and to switch role depending on the nature of the threat," the document added.

The Type 32s will be designed to protect territorial waters, provide a persistent presence for the UK overseas and support the Royal Navy's Littoral Response Groups.

The Defence Command Paper also suggested the frigates will be built in Scotland.

Type 31 graphic
The Defence Seretary says the Type 32 will "follow a similar track" to the Type 31 programme (Picture: BAE Systems).

However, answering a question on 13 April about Type 32 procurement, Minister of State for Defence Procurement Jeremy Quin was less specific.

"The programme and procurement strategy for the Type 32 frigate will be decided following the concept phase, which has not yet been launched," he said.

It followed a written answer the defence minister gave to Labour MP Kevan Jones on 30 November saying "further work" is required to develop the operational concept of the programme.

"However it is envisioned that Type 32 will be a platform for autonomous systems, adding to the Navy's capabilities for missions such as anti-submarine warfare and mine countermeasures," Mr Quin added.

The Defence Secretary, meanwhile, spoke in greater detail about the what role the Type 32s will have during a Defence Select Committee session late last year.

Ben Wallace stated: "The Type 32 is obviously not in the next five years... but a commitment to put funding to the next Type 32 programme.

"The Type 32, we hope, will come further along from the Type 31 – the Type 31 is only five ships, and the Type 32 will hopefully follow a similar track.

"They will be able to be used for NATO.

"The Navy have requested another class of ship – that's the Type 32.

"If you think of the profile, the Type 23 which will be coming out of service, and some of that will be picked up by the Type 26 and the Type 45s.

"It's about increasing our surface fighting ships, destroyers and frigates."

Cover image: Royal Navy.

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