Babcock commences design work for Type 26 AWHS

Babcock has begun work on the first phase of the contract to design and supply the Air Weapons Handling System (AWHS) for the UK’s new Type 26 Global Combat Ship (GCS) announced recently by BAE Systems.

Under the full contract Babcock will design, manufacture, test and oversee the installation of the AWHS system on the 13 ships planned in the UK Type 26 GCS programme, as well as providing long term support functions to ensure through life system performance and availability.

The AWHS will have the capability to handle and stow all air weapons safely in a flexible stowage arrangement.  The system is modular with interchangeable stowages between weapon types for maximum stowage density and flexibility.  The AWHS includes a handling system to facilitate the positive control and transfer of munitions from their stowages to designated weapon preparation areas prior to their transfer onto aircraft or into torpedo launch systems, where fitted. 

The AWHS contract will include all supporting systems required for handling and stowing air weapons within the air weapons magazine.  This will include mechanical, electrical, electronic, pneumatic and software systems, as well as definition of all interfaces with the ship structure, combat system and weapons as required.

Babcock’s AWHS delivers reliable, flexible, multiple weapon handling and stowage within the air weapons magazine, and is a primary system in providing T26 GCS with critical airborne defence capability.  Among the key features of the Babcock design is a weapon handling system to stow and un-stow all weapon types independently from one another and in any desired sequence.  The system is designed to facilitate the desired level of operator automation, from mechanised assistance to fully automated operation.  The AWHS system significantly reduces the manual handling requirement for weapons handling operations compared to systems currently in-service, thus supporting the T26 GCS requirement to reduce operational manning.  Through intelligent design and material selection, the system will be designed to ensure quieter operation than current in-service solutions (a critical requirement of the T26 GCS) and to be resilient to non-contact underwater explosive shock loads, maintaining system operation after such an event.

Babcock’s Head of Surface Ship Business Development, David Wright, said: “We are delighted to have been selected to provide the Type 26 AWHS, which is a key system critical to enabling the ship to carry out its operations.  Our expertise in weapons handling and magazine design has already been demonstrated in the highly mechanised weapons handling system (HMWHS) on the Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carrier, which provides automated handling of munitions between the deep magazines, hangar, weapon preparation area and flight deck operational spaces.  Our knowledge of the transverse requirements for stowing and handling munitions and other critical naval assets in shipboard environments, and our understanding of the system safety requirements for these primary systems, has been fundamental to our success in winning the AWHS contract.  Our experience in these transverse requirements, coupled with our extensive experience in the design and supply of these systems, will directly benefit the design for the T26 AWHS.”

Babcock has over 30 years’ experience in the design and manufacture of weapons launch and handling systems for both surface ship and submarine platforms for the UK and overseas navies, including the supply of a complete weapons handling and launch system from stowage to launchers for Australia’s Hobart Class Air Warfare Destroyers.