The Global Combat Ship (GCS) is a ship design and construction programme of the Ministry of Defence of the United Kingdom, to partially replace the thirteen Type 23 frigates of the Royal Navy and for export. The Royal Navy variant is known as the Type 26 frigate and is principally designed for anti-submarine warfare, featuring an acoustically quiet hull and the powerful Sonar 2087 towed array.
The programme began in 1998, under what was then known as the Future Surface Combatant (FSC). However, by March 2010, this procurement programme had evolved to become the Global Combat Ship, following the announcement of a four-year, £127 million design contract being awarded to BAE Systems Maritime – Naval Ships. The design passed Main Gate 1 in early 2015, with Demonstration Phase starting 1 April 2015. In August 2015 the first long lead items for Type 26 were ordered, with manufacturing expected to begin in 2016 and the first Type 26 to be delivered in 2023.
Global Combat Ship is designed with modularity and flexibility in mind to enhance versatility across the full range of operations, including maritime security, counter piracy, counter terrorist and humanitarian and disaster relief operations. As of 2016, BAE’s website suggests a displacement of 6,900 tonnes, a length of 149.9 metres, a beam of 20.8 metres and a top speed in excess of 26 knots (48 km/h). Global Combat Ship will have a core crew of 118 with room for a total of 208. Global Combat Ship is designed for up to 60 days’ endurance and a range of approximately 7,000 nautical miles (13,000 km). Located at the stern are facilities allowing for the deployment of rigid-hulled inflatable boats, unmanned surface vehicles or a towed array sonar. A large Integrated Mission Bay and Hanger is located amidship, enabling a variety of missions and associated equipment. Aircraft similar in size to the Boeing Chinook can be flown off the large flight deck, and the hangar can accommodate up to two helicopters the size of a Wildcat or Merlin. The hangar also has space to accommodate Unmanned Aerial Vehicles.
The Royal Navy’s version of the Global Combat Ship is referred to as the Type 26 frigate. This variant will be equipped with the Type 997 Artisan 3D search radar and Sea Ceptor (CAMM) air-defence missiles launched via 48 VLS canisters. An additional 24-cell Mark 41 “strike-length VLS” is positioned forward of the bridge capable of firing missiles such as the Tomahawk land-attack cruise missile, a future anti-ship missile, or quad packed Sea Ceptor missiles. Like the Type 23 frigate it will replace, Global Combat Ship will have an acoustically quiet hull for anti-submarine warfare and fitted with a Thales Underwater Systems Type 2050 bow sonar and a powerful Sonar 2087 towed array. Global Combat Ship will also be fitted with guns of various calibres. Instead of the RN’s current 4.5 inch Mark 8 naval gun, Global Combat Ship is expected to be equipped with a NATO-standard BAE 5 inch Mark 45 naval gun. Smaller guns include two Phalanx CIWS, two 30mm DS30M Mark 2 Automated Small Calibre Guns and a number of miniguns and general-purpose machine guns.
The propulsion system of the RN ships will have a gas turbine direct drive and four high speed diesel generators driving two electric motors in a CODLOG configuration. In 2012 Rolls Royce repackaged the MT30 used in the Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers so that it would fit into smaller ships, and it is likely Global Combat Ship will use the MT30. BAE have suggested that some customers will install gas turbine engines and others will prefer to sacrifice 2–3 knots of speed by choosing cheaper diesel engines. The choice of CODLOG configuration for propulsion is somewhat surprising as it is a simpler version of the CODLAG propulsion used on the Type 23 which this ship is to replace, and both of the Global Combat Ship’s design contemporaries – the Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier and the Type 45 destroyer – use integrated electric propulsion (IEP).