Saab Australia has been selected by BAE Systems to be part of a team, including Lockheed Martin Australia, to deliver the combat system integration for the Hunter class frigate.
This selection continues a long standing and successful partnership on defence projects in Australia and is an important first step in work that will endure for the life of the Hunter class frigate programme. At this stage no contract has been signed.
“The fact that BAE Systems Australia has selected Saab as partner is further proof of our world-class combat system integration capabilities. The extensive skills and experience that we bring to this project will complement those of BAE Systems”, says Anders Carp, head of Saab’s business area Surveillance.
Since the Australian Government announcement in October 2017, mandating Saab’s 9LV combat management system across the Royal Australian Navy fleet, Saab Australia has grown its workforce by more than 25 percent and expanded its graduate employment program.
The decision further contributes to the development of an Australian sovereign combat systems capability that will underpin the Commonwealth’s continuous naval shipbuilding strategy, said Saab in a statement.
Hunter Class Guided Missile Frigate (FFG)
BAE Systems won the tender for the Royal Australian Navy’s SEA 5000 future frigate program, offering the Global Combat Ship – Australia (GCS-A), a variant of its Type 26 Global Combat Ship (GCS) design, being built at BAE Systems yard in Glasgow, Scotland for the UK Royal Navy.
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. BAE Systems beat out rival bids from Spain’s Navantia with the F5000 design, and Italy’s Fincantieri with the FREMM design.
The contract will see BAE Systems delivering nine advanced guided-missile frigates, which will be called ‘Hunter-class’ in RAN service.
The Hunter class will have a 8,800-tonne full load displacement and will be 149.9 metres in length. The vessel will be capable of sailing in excess of 27 knots and will have a full complement of 180 crew. The vessels will also have accommodation for up to 208.
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 54 cal. Mark 45 Mod 4 dual purpose gun, a 24-cell Mk 41 Vertical Launching System (VLS) for Standard Missile-2 (SM-2) and RIM-162 Evolved SeaSparrow Missile (ESSM) anti-air missiles, a 48-cell vertical launch silo for Sea Ceptor anti-air missiles, two 30mm short range guns, two 20mm Phalanx Close in Weapons Systems (CIWS), MU90 Impact torpedos and the Nulka Decoy System.
They will be capable of landing a Chinook helicopter on its flight deck and will have hanger facilities. In operational use, a MH-60R ‘Romeo’ Seahawk helicopter will be carried.
The frigates will have the capability to conduct a variety of other missions independently, or as part of a task group, with sufficient range and endurance to operate effectively throughout the region. The primary role of the vessels will be Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) but they will be also capable of conducting Air Defence, Anti-Surface Warfare (ASuW), Surveillance & Intelligence and Interdiction missions. The frigates will also have the flexibility to support non-warfare roles such as humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR).
The Hunter class FFGs will be built in Australia by ASC Shipbuilding at the Osborne Naval Shipyard in South Australia. ASC Shipbuilding is a subsidiary of BAE Systems after its was transferred by Australia to the company until the completion of the project.
The Hunter class will begin entering service in the late 2020s replacing the eight Anzac class frigates, which have been in service since 1996. The final vessel is due to be delivered to the RAN in 2042.
The names of the first three frigates were announced as HMAS Hunter (for Vice Admiral John Hunter, the second governor of New South Wales), HMAS Flinders (for Captain Matthew Flinders, commander of HMS Investigator, the first ship to circumnavigate Australia) and HMAS Tasman (for Abel Tasman, the first European to discover Tasmania and New Zealand).