British defence major, BAE Systems’ Type 26 Global Combat Ship (GCS) frigate design has been selected as the preferred solution for the Royal Australian Navy’s SEA5000 Future Frigate program.
According to reports, the selection will be announced by Malcolm Turnbull, Australia’s Prime Minister, on Friday. This is the first overseas order for the new generation of British-designed frigates.
The contract will see BAE Systems delivering nine advanced guided missile frigates, which will be called ‘Hunter-class’ in Royal Australian Navy service. The primary role of the vessels will be Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW). The estimated total cost of the program is AUD35 billion (£20B, USD26B) over its 30-year life, but is valued between A$15bn and A$20bn during the build phase.
The vessels will be built by ASC Shipbuilding at the Osbourne Naval Yard in Adelaide starting in 2020. ASC Shipbuilding, currently wholly owned by Australia, will become a subsidiary of BAE Systems during the build. The first vessel is scheduled to enter service in 2027 and will start replacing the eight Anzac-class frigates, with the final vessel due to be delivered to the RAN in 2042.
The variant of the Type 26 Global Combat Ship offered by BAE Systems is called Global Combat Ship-Australia (GCS-A). The new frigates will be equipped with CEAFAR 2 Phased Array Radar System, AEGIS Combat System and Saab 9LV combat management system.
The vessels will have a 5-inch gun, a 24-cell Mk 41 vertical launching system for long-range strike weapons such as the Tomahawk cruise missiles and Sea Ceptor anti-air missiles. They will be capable of landing a Chinook helicopter on its flight deck and will have hanger facilities.
BAE Systems beat out rival bids from Spain’s Navantia with the F5000 design, and Italy’s Fincantieri with the FREMM design.