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BAE Systems chosen for $26 billion Australian frigate program

Written by Nick Blenkey
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Global Combat Ship Australia

JUNE 29, 2018 — BAE Systems’ Global Combat Ship – Australia has been selected for Australia’s SEA 5000 Future Frigate program, beating out competing designs from Fincantieri and Navantia. BAE Systems says the value of the nine ship program is expected to be in the region of AUD $35 billion (about US$26 billion) for the design, build and support of the ships.

The frigates, a variant of the Type 26 Global Combat Ship, will be designed by BAE Systems and built by ASC Shipbuilding at the Osborne Naval Shipyard.
ASC Shipbuilding, currently wholly owned by the Commonwealth of Australia, will become a subsidiary of BAE Systems during the build.

According to the Australian government this ensures BAE Systems is fully responsible and accountable for the delivery of the frigates and ensures the work will be carried out by Australian workers and create Australian jobs.

The Commonwealth of Australia will retain a sovereign share in ASC Shipbuilding while BAE manages the program. At the end of the program the Commonwealth will resume complete ownership of ASC Shipbuilding, thereby ensuring the retention in Australia of intellectual property, a highly skilled workforce and the associated equipment.

By the conclusion of the frigate build, says the Australian Government, ASC Shipbuilding will be a strategic national asset capable of independently designing, developing and leading the construction of complex, large naval warships.

To be called the Hunter class, the frigates will have the capability to conduct a variety of missions independently, or as part of a task group, with sufficient range and endurance to operate effectively throughout the region. They will also have the flexibility to support non-warfare roles such as humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

The ships will incorporate the Australian-developed CEA Phased-Array Radar and the U.S. Navy’s Aegis combat management system, with an Australian interface developed by Saab Australia.

BAE Systems expects the Australian Industry Content for the Hunter class build will be 65-70 percent and has prequalified over 500 Australian businesses from every state and territory to be in the Hunter class supply chain.

BAE Systems Chief Executive, Charles Woodburn, said: “BAE Systems’ selection as preferred tenderer for SEA 5000 reinforces our position as a leading designer and builder of complex maritime platforms. I am proud that our world class anti-submarine warfare design and our approach to transferring technology and skills to the nations in which we work is expected to contribute to the development of an enduring world-class naval shipbuilding industry in Australia.”

BAE Systems Australia Chief Executive, Gabby Costigan, said: “Construction of the Global Combat Ship – Australia is expected to make a significant contribution to the nation’s economy, creating thousands of jobs, supporting new industries and boosting the national supply chain for decades to come. We are committed to creating a strong, sustainable and innovative naval shipbuilding industry that will see highly skilled Australians building and sustaining warships for the Royal Australian Navy.

“We are proud to have been selected as preferred tenderer to provide the Royal Australian Navy with a world-class ship, equipped with the latest technologies and designed specifically to meet its needs. The Global Combat Ship – Australia will help protect our shipping lanes and regional trade routes, serve humanitarian missions and provide the nation with a formidable naval capability.”

The company will soon commence negotiations with Australia’s Department of Defence on the initial design part of the contract, which is expected to be in place by the year end, with production expected to commence in 2020.

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