Indigenous Supply Chain Strengthening
Australia’s robust $89 billion market for future naval platforms, equipment and services is fuelling significant engagement from the international naval industry. The increasing strength of the national supply chain is contributing to interest in partnership models and offers a good business model for other defence-related programmes, according to local observers.
The SEA 5000 Future Frigates programme, predicating local build of 12 vessels to replace the ANZAC-class frigates, is worth an estimated $35 billion and has already attracted interest from BAE Systems, Fincantieri and Navantia, among others. SEA 1180, the Offshore Combatant Vessel (OCV) programme, foresees a class of 20 vessels to replace ARMIDALE-class patrol vessels, HUON-class minehunters, LEEUWIN-class survey vessels and PALUMA-class motor launches. Damen, Fassmer and Lürssen are already shortlisted for the programme.
The possibility that common design characteristics may be applied to both programmes has been the subject of considerable debate and is contributing to further evaluations being made prior to initial decisions being taken, despite the fact the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) is pressing for those decisions to be made. The RAN has been a close observer of the Littoral Combat Ship programme in the United States and Austal has conducted conceptual studies for a scaled-down variant that could meet the OCV requirement. Huntington Ingalls has also proposed a version of the LEGEND-class National Security Cutter, though the current status of that proposal is not known.
Initial plans for the RAN and the Royal Navy to coordinate replacements for ANZAC-class, Type 22 and Type 23 frigates, though laudable, are unlikely to result in a common construction effort since requirements and timescales between the two services differ considerably. Which does not, of course, mean there will be no read-across between the national efforts.