The class was designed in the late 1960s to provide fleet area air-defence. In total fourteen vessels were constructed in three batches, eleven of which remain in service. In addition, two ships were also built to the same specifications as the Batch 1 vessels for the Armada Republica Argentina. The ships, along with the Type 23 frigates, today form the backbone of the Royal Navy surface fleet. HMS Sheffield and Coventry were lost in the Falklands War to enemy action.