BAE Systems has won an AUD35 billion (USD25.9 billion) competition to provide Australia with nine next-generation, anti-submarine warfare (ASW) frigates for the country’s largest peace-time warship building programme.
Formally announcing the selection of the company’s 6,900-tonne Type 26 Global Combat Ship (GCS) on 29 June, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said that the vessels, which will be known as the Hunter class, will provide Australia under Project Sea 5000 with “a maritime capability that will underpin our security for decades to come”.
“The Hunter class will provide the Australian Defence Force with the highest levels of lethality and deterrence our major surface combatants need in periods of global uncertainty,” Turnbull stated.
“The class will have the capability to conduct a variety of missions independently, or as part of a task group, with sufficient range and endurance to operate effectively throughout the region. The frigates will also have the flexibility to support non-warfare roles such as humanitarian assistance and disaster relief,” he added.
The UK design was selected in a lengthy comparative evaluation process over the ASW variant of the FREMM multimission frigate offered by Italy’s Fincantieri, and an ASW evolution of the F-100 Alvaro de Bazan-class design – on which Australia’s three 6350-tonne Air Warfare Destroyers are based – proposed by Spanish shipbuilder Navantia.
Intended to begin replacing the eight workhorse Anzac-class frigates of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) in 2027–28, the new Hunter class will be constructed by ASC Shipbuilding at Osborne on the outskirts of Adelaide. Turnbull said the programme would create 4,000 direct and indirect jobs in Australia and domestic industry content was estimated at 65–70%.
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