skip to main content

Indo Pacific 2023: BAE Systems unveils up-armed Hunter frigate design

BAE Systems Australia displayed a model of its proposed new Hunter-class frigate design at the Indo Pacific 2023 show in Sydney. (BAE Systems Australia/Salty Dingo)

Potential design changes to the Hunter-class frigates contracted for the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) from shipbuilder BAE Systems Australia would boost the number of vertical launch system (VLS) cells on the ships from 32 to 96 and add four deck-mounted quadruple canisters of anti-ship naval strike missiles (NSMs). The potential changes were disclosed by BAE Systems Australia at the Indo Pacific 2023 maritime exposition in Sydney, which concluded on 9 November.

The changes emerged amid uncertainty over the future of the AUD45 billion (USD28.8 billion) nine-ship Hunter-class programme as the government considers the findings of a major review into the composition of the RAN's surface combat fleet. Delivery of the first Hunter-class frigate is scheduled for 2031, with construction starting in 2024.

The changes would be made at the expense of the ship's mission bay and some high-end anti-submarine warfare (ASW) equipment such as the towed array sonar, although some ASW capability would be retained.

A new strike module consisting of 64 strike-length VLS cells and four NSM canisters would replace the existing mission bay aft of the funnel, BAE Systems Australia managing director Craig Lockhart explained to media. If implemented, the design changes would come at minimal risk and cost and would not affect the performance or design margins of the baseline ship, he said.

Looking to read the full article?

Gain unlimited access to Janes news and more...