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Australia awards BAE $26 billion contract for Future Frigates

BAE will build 9 Type 26 Global Combat Ships for the Royal Australian Navy with service beginning in the late 2020s

Australia awarded BAE Systems a $26 billion (AuS$35 billion) contract to build nine anti-submarine frigates for the Royal Australian Navy.

BAE’s Type 26 Global Combat Ship was chosen over competitors from Italy’s Fincantieri and Spain’s Navantia, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday, June 28.

The Hunter-class frigates will replace Australia’s current Anzac-class frigates when they come into service, expected to be in the late 2020s.

They will be built by state-owned ASC Shipbuilding at Osborne Naval Shipyard in Adelaide. The company will temporarily become a subsidiary of BAE, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said. The Australian government will however retain a share in the company and resume full ownership at the end of the program.

Type 26 Global Combat Ship

The Sydney Morning Herald reported the move last week, saying its sources were all but certain BAE would be chosen to build the warships. BAE had argued that any problems with the ship would be solved while it builds them for the British Royal Navy.

At nearly 150 meters long and 21 meters at its widest point, the Type 26 features an Artisan 3D radar, Sonar 2087, Sea Ceptor anti-air missiles, and a medium-calibre gun.

Turnbull said the frigates would be fitted with a phased-array radar indigenously developed by CEA and the Aegis combat-management system.

The U.S. Department of State announced on Wednesday that it had approved the sale to Australia of equipment to integrate the Ceafar radar with the Aegis combat system, at an estimated cost of $185 million.

Australian Navy procurement program

Australia’s eight Anzac-class ships are expected to remain in service through the late 2020s or early 2032 and have undergone considerable upgrades since being commissioned in 1996.

Following a study by the RAND Coporation and Defence White Paper, the Australian government decided to replace the Anzac-class warships and revitalize domestic shipbuilding. The $89 billion shipbuilding program was announced in 2015 and the Future Frigate program was brought forward by three years.

Future submarines are expected to be built beginning in the 2030s.

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