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Babcock Team 31 has been selected by the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) as the preferred bidder to deliver its new warships, Babcock announced on 12 September.

Led by Babcock in partnership with Thales, the T31 general purpose frigate programme will provide the British government with a fleet of five ships at an average production cost of £250 million (€280 million) per vessel.

Following a comprehensive competitive process, ARROWHEAD 140, a capable, adaptable and technology-enabled global frigate, will be the UK Royal Navy’s newest class of warships, with the first ship scheduled for launch in 2023.

At its height, the programme will maximise a workforce of around 1,250 highly-skilled roles 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 roles within the wider UK supply chain.

With Babcock’s Rosyth facility as the central integration site, the solution provides value for money and squarely supports the principles of the National Shipbuilding Strategy. It builds on the knowledge and expertise developed during the QUEEN ELIZABETH-class aircraft carrier modular build programme.

The announcement follows a competitive design phase in which Babcock Team 31 was chosen alongside two other consortia to respond to the UK MOD’s requirements.

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

“It has been a tough competition and we are absolutely delighted that ARROWHEAD 140 has been recognised as offering the best design, build and delivery solution for the UK’s Royal Navy Type 31 frigates […] 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. It provides a flexible, adaptable platform that delivers value for money and supports the UK’s National Shipbuilding Strategy,” commented Babcock CEO, Archie Bethel.

ARROWHEAD 140 will offer the Royal Navy a new class of ship with a proven ability to deliver a range of peacekeeping, humanitarian and warfighting capabilities, while offering communities and supply chains throughout the UK a wide range of economic and employment opportunities.

A key element of the Type 31 programme is to supply a design with the potential to secure a range of export orders, thereby supporting the British economy and jobs. ARROWHEAD 140 will offer export customers an unrivalled blend of price, capability and flexibility, backed by the Royal Navy’s world-class experience and Babcock looks forward to working closely with DIT and MOD in this regard.

ARROWHEAD 140 is a multi-role frigate equipping today’s mariner with real-time data to support immediate and complex decision-making. The frigate is engineered to minimise through-life costs while delivering a truly 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 […] 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,” observed Thales’ Chief Executive in the UK, Victor Chavez.

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

The ARROWHEAD 140 design will form the basis for the Royal Navy’s Type 31e frigates. (Image: Babcock)

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