Published 09 May 2023

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A shore-based test and integration facility will be kitted out with the Type 31 mission systems equipment, under a deal placed by DE&S with Thales that secures dozens of UK jobs.

The £70 million contract will provide equipment and technical services into the Type 31 Mission System Shore Integration Facility at Portsdown Technology Park, the Royal Navy’s test and integration facility in Portsmouth.

The facility will ensure the mission systems and equipment, which will be fitted to the five Type-31 – or Inspiration-class – frigates, can be safely and effectively used by the Royal Navy personnel on board the highly-capable vessels.

The contract will secure 30 highly skilled engineering jobs in Crawley where the Thales Above Water Systems unit is based. More than 2,650 jobs are being supported by the Type 31 programme,  delivering on the Prime Minister’s priority to grow the economy and support jobs across the UK.

Being built by Babcock, Type 31 will be the beating heart of the Royal Navy’s surface fleet, deterring aggression and supporting the UK’s national interests across the world. With a significant UK-based supply chain, this contract is one of many that will support the manufacture and testing of the Type 31 vessels before entering the fleet.

DE&S Director General Ships Vice-Admiral Paul Marshall said:

“I am incredibly proud of the Type 31 team at DE&S who have worked collaboratively and with great endeavour to secure this critical contract as the ships move ever closer to entering service with the Royal Navy.”

The construction of the Type 31 fleet will support around 1,250 highly-skilled jobs at Babcock and see the creation of an additional 150 apprenticeships. A further 1,250 roles in the UK supply chain are also expected to be supported by the programme.

The entire Type 31 fleet is expected to be delivered by the end of 2028 and to enter service with the Royal Navy by the end of 2030.

Commodore Steve Roberts, Deputy Director Ships Acquisition with the Royal Navy, said:

“The Royal Navy is excited about the capability and flexibility that the T31 Class will bring.  The ships will conduct critical maritime security tasks and the Type 31 Mission System Shore Integration Facility will play a vital role to ensure the ships are ready, and remain ready, to undertake these operations.”

Type 31 will be equipped with innovative technology and will benefit from MBDA’s Sea Ceptor, a supersonic anti-air missile defence system, as well as a 57mm and two 40mm Bofors naval guns, and a 4D radar system.

The newest of the Royal Navy’s frigate fleet will undertake a variety of roles on operations including interception and disruption of illegal activity at sea, intelligence gathering, Defence engagement and providing humanitarian support. The vessels – by design – also have the ability to adapt to the ever-evolving threats of the 21st century.

Minister for Defence Procurement, James Cartlidge said:

“I’m delighted to see this continued collaboration with industry, ensuring the critical combat capabilities on our Type 31 fleet will be not only world leading in terms of capability, but safe for our personnel.

“Type 31 will be a critical asset to the Royal Navy and this significant investment will secure a number of highly-skilled jobs in Crawley, beyond the thousands of further jobs across the whole Type 31 programme.”