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Review establishes new baseline design for Australia's Hunter-class future frigates

BAE Systems has completed a year-long Systems Definition Review (SDR) of Australia's Hunter-class frigates. (BAE Systems )

A year-long Systems Definition Review (SDR) has established a new baseline design for Australia's nine future Hunter-class frigates, shipbuilder BAE Systems Maritime Australia said on 10 February.

The company said the review – conducted by BAE Systems' engineering teams in Australia and the UK – defined how the Australian combat system integrates into the reference design provided by the UK Type 26 Global Combat Ship for the AUD44.1 billion (USD32 billion) Royal Australian Navy (RAN) Hunter-class frigate programme.

“In complex naval shipbuilding terms, a successful Systems Definition Review means that you've established a functional baseline from which you can further develop and integrate the design against the mission system specification set by the customer, and we've done just that,” said Craig Lockhart, managing director of BAE Systems Maritime Australia.

He added that the milestone demonstrated the company's ability to “Australianise” the reference ship design for the Hunter programme.

The company's press release made no mention of a report issued by an Australian Department of Defence (DoD) engineering team in November 2021 that alleged problems with the Hunter-class design. These issues were included in a classified report leaked to Australian media and published on 1 February.

According to the report, inclusion in the reference design of the US Aegis Combat System and the Australian-designed CEAFAR2 phased-array radar had pushed the space, weight, power, and cooling margins of the Hunter class to their limits, posing “significant potential risk”.

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