BAE Systems Australia’s subsidiary ASC Shipbuilding has been awarded a contract by the Australian Government that provides the framework for the design and build of nine Hunter class frigates for the Royal Australian Navy.
The Hunter Class Frigate
The Hunter Class will be based on BAE Systems’ Type 26 Global Combat Ship design, the world’s first bow-to-stern digitally-designed anti-submarine warfare frigate.
Modified to meet Australian requirements, the Hunter class frigate will be constructed on an acoustically quiet hull and feature unique sonar capabilities, modular digital design and open systems architecture to facilitate through-life support and upgrades as new technology develops.
The Hunter class frigate has been designed for maximum versatility and flexibility in operational roles, from humanitarian and disaster relief operations to high-intensity warfare.
The integrated mission bay and hangar is capable of supporting multiple helicopters, unmanned vehicles, boats, mission loads and disaster relief stores. A launcher can be provided for fixed wing UAV operation and the flight deck is capable of landing a Chinook helicopter for transport of embarked forces.
ASC Shipbuilding has been building complex and highly capable surface naval vessels for the Royal Australian Navy for the past 10 years.
ASC Shipbuilding is currently working on the Hobart Class Air Warfare Destroyer and Arafura Class Offshore Patrol Vessel programs and are an integral part of Australia’s sovereign naval shipbuilding capability.
Progress on the program
On 29 June 2018 the Australian Government announced BAE Systems was selected as the preferred tenderer to deliver nine frigates to the Royal Australian Navy and that BAE Systems would acquire ASC Shipbuilding.
Since then, progress has been rapid.
The Head Contract, Sovereign Capability Option Deed and acquisition of ASC Shipbuilding was negotiated, agreed to and executed in less than six months from the down-select.
Since the Head Contract was signed in December 2018, the program has grown to nearly than 500 people across Australia and the UK.
Combat Systems integration partners – Lockheed Martin Australia and SAAB Australia – have been selected to partner with BAE Systems Australia to deliver the Combat System Integration on the frigates.
To date, more than 900 suppliers from across Australia have registered through the Industry Capability Network to supply into the Hunter program.
Program mobilisation and design activities are well underway, including preparation for prototyping to commence in 2020 before steel is cut on the first frigate in 2022.
The Hunter program will create and sustain 5,000 jobs in BAE Systems, ASC Shipbuilding and the defence supply chain over the life of the program.
At its peak in 2028, the program will contribute around $1 billion in GDP to the Australian economy.