The first major step has been taken in the development of the Type 26 Global Combat Ships, which will go into production in 2016.
Engineers in Portsmouth have been working on the next phase of frigate since January, with all 23 being based within BAE Systems’ dedicated office within the city’s naval base.
Now the first subcontractors have been announced to make their designs a reality.
The Design Development Agreements with Rolls-Royce in Filton, Bristol; MTU in Germany; David Brown Gear Systems in Huddersfield, and Fleet-based Rohde & Schwarz cover propulsion and communications equipment for the ship design.
Programme director Geoff Searle, based at BAE Systems in Bristol, announced the contracts at the DSEI defence and security exhibition at the Excel conference centre in London.
He said: ‘Confirming our first major equipment design partners is a huge step forward and reflects the maturity we have achieved in the ship’s design.
‘We are working closely with the Ministry of Defence and our suppliers, bringing expertise together from across industry and we are now at the stage of developing detailed design of systems and equipment that will go into the ships.
‘Using proven products and technology ensures we are delivering the highest level of service and capability, giving confidence to the Royal Navy and prospective customers in the global market.’
The 13 Type 26 ships will replace the Royal Navy’s Type 23 frigates.
A spokesman for the firm said no decision had been taken on whether the ships will be built in Portsmouth or in Scotland, and further announcements are due ‘around the middle of the decade’.
However, with work building the Prince of Wales aircraft carrier finishing in Portsmouth in 2014, there is space in BAE’s order book for the city.
The Global Combat Ship will be powered by a combined diesel, electric and gas turbine engine, meaning it can travel very fast, but very quietly.
It will be able to take part in ‘high-intenstiy warfare’ as well as giving humanitarian aid either as part of a fleet or on its own, a spokesman for BAE Systems said.