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Arafura-class OPVs are helicopter-capable, says Australian DoD

Australia's first Arafura-class OPV, seen here ahead of its launch. (Luerssen Australia )

The new Arafura-class offshore patrol vessels (OPVs) destined for the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) will be able to accommodate helicopters on its flight deck.

The matter was confirmed by the Australian Department of Defence (DoD) in response to questions from Janes on 20 April. “The Arafura-class offshore patrol vessel deck is designed for helicopters and for support to unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) operations”, the DoD spokesperson said.

The RAN is receiving a total of 12 Arafura-class OPVs under an AUD3.6 billion (USD2.41 billion) contract awarded for Australia's Sea 1180 Phase 1 programme in January 2018.

The new OPVs will replace the service's fleet of Armidale- and Cape-class patrol boats and will also take on some duties associated with Huon-class minehunters, and Leeuwin- and Paluma-class survey vessels.

The first two ships in the class are being built at the Osborne Naval Shipyard in South Australia, while a further 10 boats in the class will be built by CIVMEC in partnership with Luerssen Australia at Henderson in Western Australia. The first-of-class was launched in December 2021.

The Arafura class has a standard displacement of 1,640 tonnes, an overall length of 80 m, an overall beam of 13 m, and a hull draught of 4 m. The vessel can accommodate a crew complement of 40, and it is built with a flight deck at its stern.

Australian media reports dating back to 2020 indicate that this flight deck has been “down-designed” such that it is not able to support the weight of a helicopter. In its response to Janes

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