The UK government has approved an £859m deal with defence company BAE Systems allowing the firm to move forward with development of next-generation warships.
The Type 26 frigates, intended to replace the earlier Type 23, are expected to enter service by 2022. The vessels, also known as Global Combat Ships will be built on the Clyde in Scotland, with other BAE Systems' sites across the UK to be involved.
The contract will secure over 1,700 jobs, according to the Ministry of Defence.
"As part of our long-term economic plan, we're not just building the most advanced modern warships in the world - we are building the careers of many young people with apprenticeships that will set them up for life," Prime Minister David Cameron said after announcing the deal during a visit to the Govan shipyard in Glasgow.
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said the contract is part of the UK government’s commitment to invest over £160bn in military equipment and equipment support over the next decade.
"As a result, our military will have some of the most impressive and technologically-advanced capabilities in the world, from the aircraft carriers and the F-35 Lightning II fighter jets to the Type 45 destroyers, Scout armoured vehicles, the A400M and the Astute Class submarines," Fallon commented.
The Type 26 frigates, in development since 1998, will reportedly be fitted with a ramp for deployment of drones, rigid-hulled and inflatable ships and towed array sonar. Aircraft up to the size of Boeing’s Chinook will be able to take off from the ship, with its hangars being able to accommodate Royal Navy Wildcats, Merlin helicopters as well as unmanned aerial vehicles.
The ship will be equipped with the advanced Type 997 Artisan 3D search radar and will carry Sea Ceptor (CAMM) air-defence missiles and Tomahawk land-attack cruise missiles.
Like the Type 23 it is designed to replace, the warship will have an acoustically quiet hull for anti-submarine warfare and will be armed with Sting Ray acoustic homing torpedoes.
"Through the Type 26 programme, we are transforming the way we design and manufacture naval ships with innovative new technologies, leading-edge processes and modern infrastructure,” said BAE Systems’ chief executive Ian King.
“New ways of working ensure we can continue to deliver the highest quality equipment at the lowest possible cost and compete effectively for future UK and international orders."
The first 13 vessels are expected to be delivered in early 2020s with the whole fleet to remain in service until the 2060s.
Manufacturing is set to begin in 2016 with over 30 companies from across the UK expected to be involved.
The earlier Type 23 warships have been in service since 1989.