Austal launches first ‘evolved' Cape-class patrol boat

by Ridzwan Rahmat

Australia's first ‘evolved' Cape-class patrol boat seen after its launch. (Austal)

Australian shipbuilder Austal has launched the first of six ‘evolved' Cape-class patrol boats on order for the Royal Australian Navy (RAN).

The vessel was launched at the company's shipyard in Henderson, Western Australia on 22 September, the Australian Department of Defence (DoD) disclosed on 19 October. The vessel has been given the pennant number 314.

Austal has signed an AUD350 million (USD262 million) contract with the DoD for six 58 m vessels. The new vessels have been described as an enhanced variant of the Cape-class offshore patrol vessels (OPVs) that are in service with the Australian Border Force and the RAN.

The keel for the first vessel was laid down in mid-2020. Improvements that have been incorporated in the vessel's design include a larger crew complement of 32 instead of 22, and habitability enhancements.

The monohull vessel can attain a top speed of 26 kt and a range of up to 4,000 nautical miles. With a crew of 22, it has an endurance of 28 days. The vessel can operate up to Sea State 4.

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US Congress extends government funding through mid-February

by Marc Selinger

The US House and Senate both passed a temporary measure on 2 December that will keep the federal government, including the US Department of Defense (DoD), funded through 18 February 2022.

The legislation, or continuing resolution (CR), now heads to President Joe Biden, who is expected to sign it into law. The CR will replace the one that expires on 3 December.

The CRs are needed to avoid a government shutdown because lawmakers have not passed their 12 regular appropriations bills for fiscal year (FY) 2022, which began on 1 October 2021.

Defence industry groups have urged Congress to quickly complete the regular bills, partly because CRs generally prevent the DoD from starting new programmes or increasing production rates. However, disagreement over funding levels and other issues has delayed completion of the appropriations bills.

As the new CR was heading towards passage, the Biden administration urged Congress to “use the coming weeks to engage in robust bipartisan negotiations to reach agreement on appropriations and avoid the devastating effects of a full-year” CR.

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Avon Protection nears unveiling results of body armour business review

by Marc Selinger

Avon Protection, which has been conducting a “strategic review” of its body armour business, plans to disclose the outcome of that review on 15 December, according to a spokesperson for the UK-based company.

The disclosure will coincide with Avon's release of its fiscal year (FY) 2021 financial results, the spokesperson told Janes on 2 December.

Avon announced in mid-November that it was launching the review after the body armour business experienced problems with products intended for two US customers.

During first article testing of body armour plates being developed for the US Army, a failure occurred, “which will significantly delay the likely approval timetable for this product”, Avon said.

Avon has also experienced delays in obtaining approval for body armour plates destined for the US Defense Logistics Agency. Approval for that product is expected in the January–March 2022 quarter.

In light of these setbacks, the body armour business' contribution to Avon's FY 2022 financial results and beyond will be “significantly reduced”, with the ultimate impact depending on the outcome of the review, the company said. Avon had expected to generate about USD40 million in body armour revenue in FY 2022.

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Brazilian Army merges AFV programmes in reorganisation

by Victor Barreira

The Brazilian Army is merging its principal wheeled and tracked armoured fighting vehicle (AFV) projects, Colonel Marcelo Yoshida of the Army High-Staff revealed at the 10th Conference of Systems and Military Technology, held in Brasília from 23 to 26 November.

The existing Army Strategic Program Guarani (Prg EE Guarani) and Army Strategic Subprogram Armoured Forces (SPrg F Bld) – part of the wider Army Strategic Program Obtaining Full Operational Capability (Prg EE OCOP) – will be merged into a single effort designated Army Strategic Program Armoured Forces (Prg EE F Bld) on 1 January 2022.

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Australian shipbuilder Austal has launched the first of six ‘evolved' Cape-class patrol boats on ord...

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