The British defence company BAE Systems has come out as the winner of the Royal Australian Navy’s SEA 5000 Future Frigate Program, beating off competition from Italy’s Fincantieri and Spain’s Navantia.
The total value of the program is estimated at $35 billion over its 30-year life and will see BAE Systems build nine of its Type 26 Global Combat Ships in Adelaide. The anti-submarine warfare vessels will be officially known as the Hunter class in Australia.
BAE Systems’ Type 26 Global Combat Ship was competing against Fincantieri of Italy with its FREMM frigate, and Navantia of Spain with an updated Hobart Class/F-100.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is expected to announce the news today, alongside Australia’s defence minister Marise Payne and defence industry minister Christopher Pyne.
The British Prime Minister Theresa May has already hailed the contract between BAE Systems and the Australian government as “the biggest Naval defence contract for a decade.”
A press release published by the British PM’s office today marked the deal as the first export of a British design for new-build frigates since the 1970s.
The deal is expected to create 4000 Australian jobs and deliver the most technologically advanced stealth-capable submarine killer as the replacement for the eight ageing Anzac-class frigates that began service in 1996.
The new fleet will be assigned as the Hunter Class with construction to begin in 2020 and the first ship delivered by 2027.
BAE Systems’ Hunter Class of frigates will be built by ASC Shipbuilding at the Osborne Naval Shipyard in South Australia.
The federal government-owned ASC Shipbuilding will become a subsidiary of BAE Systems during the build.
This subsidiary status is to ensure that BAE Systems is fully responsible and accountable for the timely delivery of the frigates and guarantees the work will be carried out by Australian workers and create Australian jobs.
BAE Systems expects the Australian industry content (AIC) for the Hunter Class build will be 65-70 per cent, which will create and secure thousands of jobs for decades.
As part of its commitment to developing Australia’s sovereign shipbuilding capability, BAE Systems has prequalified over 500 Australian businesses from every state and territory to be in the Hunter Class supply chain.
BAE Systems Australia had earlier announced that it will partner separately with each of BlueScope and Liberty OneSteel for the supply of more than 48,000 tonnes of Australian steel for building the nine Future Frigates.
BAE’s Type 26 Frigate, which will provide the basis of the Australian Hunter class design, can support anti-submarine warfare, air defence and general purpose operations.