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VIDEO: Babcock to build new class of U.K. frigates

Written by Nick Blenkey
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Arrowhead 140 design is based on Royal Danish Navy's Iver Huitfeldt-class frigate

The U.K. Ministry of Defence has chosen a team led by Babcock International Group PLC as the preferred bidder to deliver the Royal Navy’s new class of warships, the T31 general purpose frigate program.

The parent craft on which the winning Arrowhead 140 design is based is the Royal Danish Navy’s Iver Huitfeldt-class frigate and its designer, OMT, is a member of the Babcock-led team, in which the Thales Group is also a partner.

According to Babcock, the T31 program will provide the U.K. with a fleet of five ships, at an average production cost of GBP 250 million per ship (about $310 million).

At its height the program will involve a workforce of around 1,250 in multiple locations throughout the UK, with around 150 new technical apprenticeships likely to be developed. The work is expected to support an additional 1,250 jobs within the wider UK supply chain.

Babcock’s Rosyth, Scotland, facility will be the central integration site.

Work on the fleet of five ships will begin following formal contract award later this financial year, with detailed design work to start now and manufacture commencing in 2021 and concluding in 2027.

“It has been a tough competition and we are absolutely delighted that Arrowhead 140 has been recognized as offering the best design, build and delivery solution for the U.K.’s Royal Navy Type 31 frigates,” said Babcock CEO Archie Bethel. “Driven by innovation and backed by experience and heritage, Arrowhead 140 is a modern warship that will meet the maritime threats of today and tomorrow, with British ingenuity and engineering at its core.”

A key element of the Type 31 program is to supply a design with the potential to secure a range of export orders thereby supporting the U.K. economy and U.K. jobs.

The frigate is engineered to minimize through-life costs while delivering a leading-edge ship, featuring an established, proven and exportable combat management system provided by Thales.

“Thales is delighted to be part of the successful Team 31 working with Babcock and has been at the forefront of innovation with the Royal Navy for over 100 years,” said Victor Chavez, Chief Executive of Thales in the U.K. “With the announcement today that Arrowhead 140 has been selected as the preferred bidder for the new Type 31e frigate, the Royal Navy will join the global community of 26 navies utilising the Thales Tacticos combat management system. Thales already provides the eyes and ears of the Royal Navy and will now provide the digital heart of the UK’s next generation frigates.”

Babcock will now enter a period of detailed discussions with the MOD and supply chain prior to formal contract award expected later this year.

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