Hope BAE Systems SEA 5000 win will seed Australia's own warship industry
by ANZDD on 30-Jun-2018
Australia's Turnbull government says the construction of its new fleet of British-designed naval frigates will create 4000 jobs and create an industry that in future won’t need help from overseas to make large and complex warships.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will on Friday confirm that Britain’s BAE Systems has won a hard-fought contest to help Australia with the $35 billion program to build nine new frigates to be named the Hunter class.
They will be built in Adelaide and come into service from the late 2020s, replacing the current Anzac Class frigates.
An artist's rendering of BAE Systems Global Combat Ship Australia, confirmed as the chosen design for a new fleet of frigates.
The choice of the British firm over Italian and Spanish rivals reflects that BAE Systems had the most modern design, but also likely the fact Australia is looking to shore up its close relationship with Britain at a time of global strategic uncertainty.
The deal involves putting BAE Systems in charge of the Australian government-owned shipbuilder in Adelaide, ASC Shipbuilding, while the nine frigates are being built over the next decade-and-a-half.
But by the end of the program, “ASC Shipbuilding will be a strategic national asset capable of independently designing, developing and leading the construction of complex, large naval warships”, Mr Turnbull said in a statement ahead of the formal announcement on Friday.For Australia to become largely self-sufficient in developing surface warships in the future would represent a significant step for an industry that in the past has been plagued by so-called “valleys of death” in which lengthy gaps between projects meant skills and momentum were lost.
Mr Turnbull will announce the deal in Adelaide on Friday alongside Defence Minister Marise Payne and Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne.
The frigates will specialise in anti-submarine warfare, though they will have other roles. Half the world’s submarines are expected to be in the waters stretching between the Pacific and Indian Oceans by the 2030s.
“The Hunter class will provide the Australian Defence Force with the highest levels of lethality and deterrence our major surface combatants need in periods of global uncertainty.”
“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,” he said.
The Australian government would however retain a share in the company and, at the end of the program, would resume full ownership, “thereby ensuring the retention in Australia of intellectual property, a highly skilled workforce and the associated equipment”.
However, the Prime Minister’s statement contains no mention of Western Australian firm Austal, the nation’s other major shipbuilder. The government has indicated that it will be up to the winning contractor — now BAE Systems – whether it wants to partner with other Australian shipbuilders.
Overall, Australian industry would contribute 65 to 70 per cent of the work to the ships when all of the components — such as the complicated internal electronics and mechanics — are taken into account, Mr Turnbull said.
Source: The Age