The first six of potentially eight Type 45 Destroyers have been ordered by the MoD. The first is due to enter service in 2010 and will be named HMS Daring, the second and third are to be HMS Dauntless and Diamond respectively and these should be in service by 2011. The successor three ships, that will be joining the Fleet at intervals of about six months after HMS Diamond, are to be named HMS Duncan, Dragon and Defender.
The MoD originally planned to buy 12 Type 45 destroyers, but that was reduced to eight in 2004 and last year to just six. Nevertheless, the NAO said the procurement programme, initially meant to total £5bn, would eventually cost an estimated £6.5bn.
The first of the destroyers, HMS Daring - which was launched in 2006 - is without its full communications system and will not get its new principal anti-air missile system (PAAMS) - which can shoot down multiple enemy aircraft or missiles simultaneously - until 2011. It will have to wait until 2014 to be fitted with the co-operative engagement capability (CEC), which links together weapons systems and sensors on a number of ships, improving their ability to work together in combat.
The NAO said these delays would leave the Navy "struggling" to make do with its ageing Type 42 destroyers, which were designed and built for the Cold War and which the Type 45 is set to replace. Project control and decision-making were poor [and] governance structures were ineffective," it continued. The situation was so bad in the early stages that relations between the MoD and the shipbuilders had completely broken down, it added. However, it acknowledged that the situation improved after the contract was renegotiated in 2007 and that no delays or cost increases had been reported since then.
The Type 45 will succeed the Royal Navy's long-serving Type 42 destroyers, which were designed in the 1960s and came into service between the mid 1970s and mid 1980s. The Type 42's main armament is the powerful Seadart area defence missile system, which has served the Royal Navy well on operations from the Falklands conflict to the Gulf War, but which now needs replacement. But a new type of system is now needed, and PAAMS is a fresh design with the prime role of defending ships against salvo attacks by potent anti-ship missiles that are expected to come into service in the coming decades. The Sampson radar, the associated command and control system, long-range radar, vertical launch system and the very fast and agile Aster missiles combine to create a system several orders of magnitude more powerful and effective than Seadart.
The Type 45 will also have a comprehensive suite of other weapons and equipment that will ensure that it can be deployed on a wide range of military tasks. Equipment selected already for the class will includes a main gun for shore bombardment - currently the 4.5" Mark 8 Mod 1 weapon - and either the Merlin HM Mark1 anti-submarine helicopter or the Lynx HMA Mark 8 helicopter. These aircraft will carry Stingray anti-submarine torpedoes. The ship will also be equipped with the Surface Ship Torpedo Defence System, which is being procured by the Defence Procurement Agency Torpedo Countermeasures project team.
This equipment will protect the Type 45 against the threat of the most advanced current and future torpedoes. The ship will also be able to embark a force of up to 60 of Royal Marine Commandos or other troops and use its aircraft and boats to support them on operations. The Type 45 is large and spacious enough to accommodate lengthened vertical launchers that could carry cruise missiles, should the requirement for a land attack capability arise.