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February 24, 2004

Australia looks overseas for LHD design

Australia's Minister of Defence, Senator Robert Hill, says the Department of Defence has settled in principle the capability requirements for Australia's new amphibious support ships.

He says the department has issued a request for information to two international ship builders--the Spanish company IZAR and the French conglomerate Armaris [in which DCN and Thales are partnered]--concerning their respective new LHD designs.

"While the ship will be based on an overseas design," said Hill, "the translation of that design into a ship tailored to suit Australia's challenging environment will require a good deal of local knowledge and experience. Many of the ship's system components will be derived from local industries to ensure whole-of-life support for this capability.

Four Australian shipbuilding companies, ADI, Tenix, ASC and Forgacs have been asked to assist the Government with its design evaluation.

"The two ships will replace replace HMAS Tobruk and one of our LPAs," Senator hill told an Australian Defense Magazine conference. "They will need to be able to embark, sustain and transport by sea an amphibious combined arms battle group together with their equipment and supplies. The force needs to be able to train and rest while en route to operations. The ships will need the capability to carry and tactically deploy several hundred vehicles, including armor, plus trailors. They will also need the ability to airlift simultaneously an air mobile combat team from 12 helicopter launch spots between the two ships."

Hill said each ship will have hangar space for at least 12 helicopters and at least four conventional landing craft that are capable of carrying Australia's new tanks. The ships must also be capable of providing the necessary command, control and communications to direct the battle group's amphibious landing and follow-on forces. Of course, given the prospect of Australian and US forces continuing to work closely in the future, the ships will need to be interoperable with our coalition partners.

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