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Providing Anti Air Warfare Capability: the Type 45 destroyer

The project to replace the UK’s ageing Anti Air Warfare capability, which is currently provided by the Type 42 destroyer, has suffered significant delays of over two years and costs have escalated to some £6½ billion, up by nearly 30 per cent from initial estimates of £5 billion. More recently, the project has progressed well, with key milestones, such as completion of sea trials, being met, according to a report released today by the National Audit Office.

The problems arose because of over-optimism about what could be achieved, inappropriate commercial arrangements and, in the early stages, poor project management. The MOD has taken action to resolve these problems and in 2007 reviewed and renegotiated the ship contract with BAE Systems which subsequently merged with VT to become BVT. Since then, there have been no further cost increases or delays to the project.

The MOD has extended the service life of the older Type 42s because of the delay in bringing the Type 45 destroyers into use. The Type 45 destroyers will provide much more capability than the Type 42s. In addition to being able to engage multiple hostile aircraft or missiles simultaneously, they will have better accommodation for personnel, more fuel efficient engines and be able to operate the Lynx, Merlin and Chinook helicopters.

The Type 45 destroyers will be equipped with the new Principal Anti Air Missile System (PAAMS) which is being developed jointly between the French, Italian and British governments. Daring, the first ship of class, will enter into service with the PAAMS system performance having been tested elsewhere but before the missile is first fired from a destroyer the following year.

As part of the MOD’s plan to fit a number of equipments incrementally on ships after they have come into service, the full capability of the Type 45 will not be available until the middle of the next decade. These include the final elements of PAAMS, communications equipments and the Co-operative Engagement Capability which provides a clearer picture of the battle space and has a current target date of 2014 for installation.

"The early years of the Type 45 destroyer project were beset by problems. The Ministry of Defence is currently controlling costs and timescales successfully; but it now needs to focus on installing the other equipment the ships need to obtain their full capability and on getting to grips with developing an effective support solution to be ready in time to support these destroyers."

Tim Burr, head of the National Audit Office

Notes for Editors

  1. To operate safely at sea, the Royal Navy must protect its ships from attacks from the air. The UK’s current air defence capability is provided primarily by the Type 42 Destroyers. These ships were designed in the 1960s and came into service during the 1970s and 1980s. Each ship was intended to be in service for 25 years.
  2. The UK’s current aircraft carrier capability is provided by the Invincible Class of carriers (HMS Ark Royal and HMS Illustrious) which are planned to be retired in 2012 and 2015 respectively. In 2008 the MOD announced that they will procure two new carriers, and part of the role of the Type 45 will be to protect them.
  3. Press notices and reports are available from the date of publication on the NAO website, which is at Hard copies can be obtained from The Stationery Office on 0845 702 3474.
  4. The Comptroller and Auditor General, Tim Burr, is the head of the National Audit Office which employs some 850 staff. He and the NAO are totally independent of Government. He certifies the accounts of all Government departments and a wide range of other public sector bodies; and he has statutory authority to report to Parliament on the economy, efficiency and effectiveness with which departments and other bodies have used their resources.