Australia and the United Kingdom have signed an agreement to collaborate on BAE Systems’ AUD35 billion (USD25 billion) programme to build nine Hunter-class frigates for the Royal Australian Navy (RAN).
The frigates, the first of which is scheduled to enter service in the late 2020s, are based on the Type 26-class frigate that BAE Systems is building for the UK Royal Navy.
The Australian Department of Defence (DoD) said that the new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), which was announced on 20 October, is positioned to support both countries and both projects. The MOU reinforces Australia and the UK’s “commitment to working together on delivering these important high-profile national programmes and maximising mutual opportunities”, it said.
BAE Systems is scheduled to start the prototyping phase of Australia’s Hunter-class frigate (an artist’s impression of which is pictured above) in late 2020. (Royal Australian Navy)
The DoD added that the agreement is focused on supporting exchanges of information and efforts to engage industry in both countries, including providing opportunities to access each other’s supply chains.
“A key aspect of the MOU is a pledge for information exchange to ensure shipbuilding best practice is shared and both frigate programmes deliver world-beating maritime capabilities to the Royal Navy and Royal Australian Navy,” said the DoD,
The DoD added that the agreement also sets out a framework to “enable both nations to utilise the Type 26 and Hunter programmes to create jobs and contribute to the growth of the UK and Australian economies”. A focus of the accord was supporting small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in both countries, it said.