The winner of the SEA5000 Future Frigates programme was announced tonight
This afternoon (night for Australia), Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced that BAE Systems’ Type 26 Global Combat Ship will be the chosen design for the AU$35million SEA5000 Future Frigates programme. This follows shortly after the US State Department cleared Australia (yesterday) to purchase long-lead equipment that will allow for the integration of CEA’s CEAFAR 2 phased array radar system with the Aegis combat system.
MONCh had the opportunity to visit CEA’s factory in Fyshwick, Australia, and reported on the key successful features of the CEAFAR. Please see here for story.
The new frigates will be officially known as the ‘Hunter’ class and were originally procured with a strong focus on anti-submarine warfare (ASW); this is especially crucial in the Asia Pacific environment where the submarine race continues and where China continues to show its assertiveness in the East and South China Seas. However, as the threat from North Korea also evolved recently with growing concerns over its ballistic missile capability, it became clear that the frigates would also have to be fitted with an anti-air warfare (AAW) systems.
The AEGIS system will therefore give the future frigates such AAW capability, especially as it will be coupled with Saab’s 9LV combat management system. The AEGIS system will also increase the Royal Australian Navy’s (RAN) interoperability with other key allies in the area, such as the US and possibly Japan and South Korea, facilitating the exchange of targeting data between coalition partner ships.
The decision has been announced after much delay and anticipation, and MONCh has closely followed the SEA5000 competition over the past few months as it became increasingly clear that the choice of the final design was going to be as much of a political choice as a technical one. For more details on the politics at work behind the project, please see here.
The construction of the ships is slated to commence in 2020 and the Future Frigates should be in service by the late 2020s.
Dr. Alix Valenti