The Australian government has signed the head contract in support of the Royal Australian Navy's (RAN's) Sea 5000 programme to procure Hunter-class frigates from BAE Systems, it was announced on 14 December.
In announcing the deal, BAE Systems confirmed that ASC Shipbuilding, a division of state-owned ASC Pty Ltd, has become a company subsidiary. The transaction was a key part of the proposed deal to enable domestic capability development. BAE Systems was selected as preferred tenderer in the frigate programme, which is valued at AUD35 billion (USD26 billion), in June.
"BAE Systems Australia's new subsidiary, ASC Shipbuilding, has been awarded a contract by the Australian government that provides the framework for the design and build of nine Hunter-class frigates for the Royal Australian Navy," said BAE Systems.
It added, "The Australian government and ASC Shipbuilding signed the contract after ASC Shipbuilding structurally separated from ASC Pty Ltd and was acquired today by BAE Systems."
BAE Systems said the head contract incorporates the detailed scope for the design and engineering work on the programme to allow prototyping to begin in 2020 and to ensure steel is cut on the first ship in Adelaide, South Australia, in 2022. The scopes for the build of the ships are to be agreed and added to the head contract in due course, it added.
Work on building the frigates - scheduled to begin in December 2020 - will start with building prototypes to demonstrate that the Hunter-class design, shipyard processes, and workforce are ready for full-scale production. With first steel expected to be cut in 2022, the delivery of the first-of-type vessel is anticipated in 2025-27.
The Hunter-class frigates are a derivative of BAE Systems' Type 26 anti-submarine warfare frigate, which the company is supplying the UK Royal Navy.
Want to read more? For analysis on this article and access to all our insight content, please enquire about our subscription options at ihsmarkit.com/janes