A Modest Proposal: Increase the Stealth Characteristics of the Type 23 Duke Class

Jeff Head

Staff member
Super Moderator

The Type 23 Duke Class Frigates are the mainstay of the current Royal Navy surface combatant fleet.

These thirteen frigates are very capable multi-role frigates, and until the introduction and completion of the Type 26 Frigates, which will start being delivered late this decade or in the early 2020s, and will not be completely delivered until 2036, these frigates will cotninue to operate as critical combatants for the Royal Navy's and Untied Kingdom's defense and vital interests needs.

They have some stealth characteristics built into them with the angle of their deck houses and them sitting relatively low in the water. However, they have a quite cluttered and non-stealthy layout on the decks, with many of the secondary weather decks above the main deck held up by numerous non-stealthy support columns. A more enclosed, clean look to those decks where the sides of the ship extend up to the secondary weather decks would allow for a much higher degree of stealth and RCS reduction.

Most modern frigates and destroyers, including the Royal Navy's own Type 45 air defense destroyers, already incorporate this characteristic. Due to the layout and set up of the Duke class, this structural change would be relatively easy and cheap to implement.

Here's how the Duke Class looks now:

Type 23 Duke Class-02.jpg

By extending the sides of the ship up to those higher level decks and eliminating the radar catching surfaces they are composed of, you end up with this:

Type 23 Duke Class Additional Stealth-02.jpg

From the side views this would take on this comparison:

Type 23 Duke Class-00.jpg

After the Change:
Type 23 Duke Class Additional Stealth-00.jpg

In an isometric view of a CAD generated model, it loos like this:

Type 23 Duke Class-01.jpg

After the Change:
Type 23 Duke Class Additional Stealth-01.jpg

Now, the "open passage," could be maintained around the vessel with simple doors at each end of the resulting "corridor." Also, clearly, detailed technical studies on the resulting reduction in RCS would need to be done to determine if the gains warranted the costs.

I believe they most certainly would.

In the end, this appears to be a straight forward and relatively low cost method for adding additional stealth, and therefore protection, to the Duke class and the crews, particularly since members of this class will continue to serve the Royal Navy for another 23 years.
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