Surface Forces: The Horizon Turns into Type 45

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October 19, 2005: The Horizon Project was a cooperative effort by France, Italy and the United Kingdom to build a new class of destroyers. The British were going to purchase twelve out of the planned twenty ships. Then the Italians and French cut back their orders. In April 1999, Britain decided to leave the program, but that still left the need for a new class of destroyer. The result of this was the Daring-class destroyer, also known as the Type 45. This ship displaces 7,350 tons, has a top speed of 53 kilometers per hour, and is equipped with ASTER 30 surface-to-air missiles, a 114-millimeter (4.5 inch) gun in the early ships (later ships may carry a 155-millimeter gun), two 30-millimeter cannon, and two Phalanx Close-In Weapon Systems. They will also have the ability to carry a single helicopter (probably the Westland Lynx HMA.8). While twelve of these ships were originally planned, the Royal Navy cut this planned order to eight in July 2004. The lead ship, HMS Daring, will enter service in 2007, and all eight ships will be in service by 2014.

These ships are replacing the seven Sheffield-class destroyers (also known as the Type 42) currently in service. This was originally a class of fourteen ships, but HMS Sheffield and HMS Coventry were lost in action during the Falklands War, and HMS Birmingham was decommissioned in 1999. Four others were decommissioned in 2004. The Type 42 displaces 3,560 to 3,880 tons, and is armed with a 114-millimeter gun, a launcher for the Sea Dart surface-to-air missile, which has a range of 64 kilometers, and four twenty-millimeter cannon. The last four Type 42s also carry two Phalanx Close-In Weapon Systems, which give these ships a last-ditch defense against incoming anti-ship missiles (one of which sank Sheffield at the Falklands in 1982). These ships carry 22 Sea Darts. They also carry a single Lynx HMA.8 or HAS.3 helicopter. Argentina has purchased two of these vessels, both of which are being converted to destroyer-transports capable of operating Sea King helicopters.

The new British destroyers are going to be among the most capable in the world. Given their larger size, they will be much more able to take damage than the Type 42s or the Franco-Italian Horizon-class destroyers. The only destroyers that are better the American Arleigh Burke-class destroyers (both the baseline version and the Burke IIA subclass) and the Japanese Kongo and Atago classes. – Harold C. Hutchison (hchutch@ix.netcom.com

 


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