Work has begun on the first Type 26 frigate for the Royal Navy. Today at BAE Systems' Glasgow shipyard, the British Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon pressed the button that started the cutting of the first steel for the City-class warship now named HMS Glasgow. The first of eight Type 26s, it's expected to enter service sometime in the mid-2020s as an advanced anti-submarine warfare ship to defend the Navy's ballistic missile submarines and aircraft carriers.

First proposed as the Global Combat Ship in 2020, the £8 billion (US$10.3 billion) Type 26 program is designed to replace the Royal Navy's current fleet of Type 23 frigates. With a length of 149.9 m (492 ft), 20.8 m (68 ft) abeam, and displacing 6,900 tonnes (7,600 tons), the state-of-the-art modular design, designed using 3D and virtual reality techniques, allows for easy upgrades as well as the creation of variants for the export market. The class is expected to serve with the Navy through the 2060s.

When completed, HMS Glasgow will be powered by a Rolls-Royce MT30 gas turbine and four MTU diesel generators driving two electric motors that run the drive shafts and propel the ship to a top speed of over 26 kn (48 km/h, 30 mph). She will have a range of over 7,000 nm (8,000 mi, 13,000 km) and her flight deck will be large enough to handle a Chinook helicopter as well as its standard complement of two Merlins or Wildcats.

The first steel being cut at BAE System's Glasgow shipyard(Credit: Royal Navy)

Though heavier than the Type 23, she'll have a complement of only 118 crew – 67 fewer than her predecessor class. Sensors will include the Type 997 Artisan 3D radar, the Type 2050 bow sonar, and a Sonar 2087 towed array. For combat, there are 48 CAMM vertical launch missiles, 24 vertical launch cells for Tomahawk cruise missiles or ASROCs, and a BAE 5-in 62-calibre Mk 45 naval gun. Anti-missile defenses include two Phalanx CIWS radar-controlled guns.

"Today marks a historic milestone for the Royal Navy, Scottish shipbuilding and UK Defence more widely," says Sir Michael."HMS Glasgow and the other seven frigates in this new class will protect our powerful new aircraft carriers and nuclear deterrent, helping keep Britain safe across the world. The Type 26 is a cutting-edge warship that will maintain our naval power with a truly global reach. Designed for a service life of at least 25 years, the Type 26 frigates will form a backbone of the future Royal Navy surface fleet well into the future."

There have been eight Royal Navy ships named Glasgow since the 18th century, which have won 10 battle honors between them. The latest was a Type 42 destroyer that served during the Falklands War in 1982.

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