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The UK's 'joint strike frigate'

From one perspective, BAE Systems' planned Type 26 frigate will combine the best of both worlds: If all goes well, it'll be advanced and ubiquitous like the F-35, and also have the ability to take aboard custom, modular equipment like the littoral combat ship, officials hope. From another perspective, the F-35 and the LCS, with their many challenges, are the last two weapons programs you'd ever want to emulate -- especially together in the same ship.

Still, UK defense secretary Liam Fox said this week that there's widespread interest in the Royal Navy's planned 'global combat ship,' and that he is hoping for many international customers to help keep down the ships' unit cost -- just like the F-35.

Per Reuters' Adrian Croft:

Britain offered Brazil the chance to become a partner in the project last year and the government has said that several other countries are interested, including Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand and Turkey.

"There are conversations ongoing at government, Navy and industry level with a number of other potential partners," a BAE Systems spokeswoman said, without naming them. She said the company hoped to make some formal offers to other countries to participate in the programme this year ...

The new type 26s are expected to cost between 250 and 350 million pounds each, according to defence sources.

Fox said he wanted the Type 26 programme to be the "maritime equivalent" of Lockheed Martin's F-35 Joint Strike Fighter project "where we build a basic vessel that can be adapted to a range of different uses and at different levels of specification."

Below you can see a photo from BAE that gives a good perspective on the ships' LCS inspiration: Just as with Lockheed and Austal's ships, this Type 26 design includes a stern gate that will enable the ships to deploy small boats, or unmanned systems, or some other kind of naval accessory that hasn't been dreamed up yet.

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