What would a real 'combat ship' designed for combat look like?
All in all, for just about any job likely or unlikely, a fleet auxiliary with a helicopter deck and aircraft suited to the task would be better, as well as being much cheaper. A proper carrier, able to operate jets as well as helicopters, would be far and away better still. A frequent justification for frigates and destroyers is that you need them to protect carriers, but the fact of the matter is that carriers can protect themselves on their own far better than the escort ships can.
And then a carrier or a fleet auxiliary actually can support operations ashore usefully, too, unlike a frigate.
Given that the Royal Navy is struggling desperately to afford carriers right now - and will then struggle to afford aircraft to fly from them - the decision to spend £127m on a new frigate design right now seems frankly bizarre. And this is only the first of two such designs, we are told by BAE.
None of this is to say that there might not be a place for some surface warships other than full-blown carriers in the Royal Navy of the future. A rational navy would probably buy something very like a fleet-auxiliary helicopter ship, with provision made for proper Tomahawk cruise missiles to be installed as well if required.
Such a vessel, working with a radar helicopter above, would be able to sweep the seas of Type 26s and their like before they ever came near. It would be able to cruise-missile shore targets from far out in the offing with impunity. It would be able to sweep pirates from vast swathes of ocean using quickly reacting helicopter-carried boarding parties of marines, or put ashore (and support) a worthwhile little landing force. Equipped with Merlin anti-sub helicopters, it would hunt subs very well indeed should there be any to hunt.
And it would almost certainly cost less than a Type 26 too. That actually would be a "combat ship", if you like.
But it wouldn't offer a viable career path for a naval officer who wasn't an aviator or a marine - as most of today's Royal Naval officers are not.
Nor would ships like that offer any opportunities for British industry. They would be basically merchant ships with flight decks bolted on and fittings for Tomahawks. British shipyards can't build floating steel boxes at prices to compete with yards abroad: they need to have sonars and radars and guns and missiles and complexity built into the design so as to justify a huge price markup.
Not to be a pedant
But you seem to be missng the point a little... The backbone of the frigate fleet is still Type 22's, which are very old (likewise, the backbone of the destroyer fleet is 42's which are just as old, but one day they'll eventually be replaced :p) - and comparitvely manpower intensive, which is something we can't really sustain (250 men ish iirc?).
Frigates are probably the most useful mutlirole ships besides helicopter carriers - as you yourself pointed out they can fulfil antisubmarine, surface combatant, limited antiair and naval gunfire support roles.
It's not really accurate to say that the helicopter is the only useful antisubmarine weapon on a frigate, I KNOW that you know the towed array sonar is it's most useful asset, and likewise I KNOW that you know that it's passive sonar and not active sonar that you use for hunting submarines, you only fire up the active sonar when you have a very good idea where the sub is as it broadcasts your position to a far greater range than that which you'll get any useful return from.
I get that you hate BAe, and I can't say I disagree that the proposed concept ship is the way forward (I preferred the original FSC concept that was basically a repurposed 45 shell) - but equally I know if you let the steam wear off and think rationally for a minute, you aren't suggesting the Royal Navy replaces its fleet with converted merchant ships as there's much more to making a competent multirole warship than sticking some helicopter pads on the back of a passenger ferry. They're two different ships designed for two different roles - what you keep referring too is more like an amphibious assault ship or an LPD and we already have plenty of those. While they have their place, it's not the same place as a frigate.
It makes me proud to be a taxpayer
The cold war is over, but we're spending billions on Trident, supersonic fighter planes & cruise missiles. Obviously our soldiers don't have proper boots or vehicles, but savings have to be made somewhere if BAE's cosy, corrupt monopoly is to be maintained.
The picture is a typical british design
After reading the article one more time and going back to the picture:
It is a typical British design - designed by a committee with everyone's wishes accounted for and nobody being told a NO. Someone wanted to have a cannon - here is a cannon, someone wanted to have some anti-ship capabilities - here are some harpoons, etc.
The result is something that wants to be a destroyer, but cannot quite make it to that level. Meaningless ship. It has to either grow up and become a proper destroyer like the most recent Russian (and the ones they sell to China) or American ships or slim down and become something usable for antisubmarine warfare/special ops like the ships French and Russian use for the purpose.
That however means some members of the committee which have decided the spec to be told to f*** off and leave the room. It means saying NO. That is an anti-British behaviour and insults the Britishness of the committee to its core. That is the actual reason why Britain will get this inferior and rather useless ship while other navies will get something better. It is not BAE, it is not officer career or any other reason for that matter. It is British committeeing