ANZAC Midlife Capability Assurance Program


While a lot of media attention is being paid to the Hunter Class Future Frigates, less notice has been taken of the capability upgrades to the ANZAC class, which will remain in service until 2032. Recently APDR visited BAE Systems Henderson shipyard to receive a briefing on the ANZAC Midlife Capability Assurance Program (AMCAP) and observe work being done on the ANZACs there. HMA Ships Arunta (F151), Anzac (F150) and Perth (F157), were all currently on the hardstand.


AMCAP is delivering the Maritime Communications Modernisation Project (SEA 1442 Phase 4), the Anzac Air Search Radar Replacement (SEA 1448 Phase 4B) and the Platform Systems Remediation program.


Work on HMAS Arunta is the most advanced, with the early November announcement that her new mast had been installed in a major milestone as part of the ship’s AMCAP. The new mast was manufactured by BAE Systems as part of the Warship Asset Management Agreement (WAMA) between BAE Systems, SAAB Australia, Naval Ship Management (NSM) and the Commonwealth of Australia.


BAE Systems Chief Executive Gabby Costigan said at a ceremony marking erection of the new mast that “Our Maritime Sustainment team at Henderson and Williamstown (Victoria) has established and maintained an important maritime engineering and program management capability through the sustainment of the ANZAC fleet over more than two decades through an Alliance arrangement.


“That capability is critical to ensure that the project achieves quality, cost and schedule milestones despite the enormous complexity of such work.”


Also, during November AMCAP work started on HMAS Anzac, the second vessel in the program.


As well as the WAMA team and their supply chains, important contributions to AMCAP come from CEA Technologies of Canberra for the L-band Air Search Phased Array Radar and by Leonardo Australia subsidiary SELEX for the communications systems.


Around 650 people are currently working on the upgrade of the Anzac frigate fleet, including 400 BAE Systems Australia employees.


HMAS Arunta’s new mast installation was one of the last major works on the ship ahead of her undocking before the end of the year.  She will then undertake sea trials ahead of a planned return to service in 2019.


The replacement mast is taller and wider than the existing mast so that it can accommodate the new CEA L-Band radar system, while retaining the existing Anti-Ship Missile Defence radar capability. The new L-Band radar capability will be integrated into the existing Combat Management Systems of the ship by SAAB Australia.


CEA’s phased array technologies provide modular and scalable phased array products suitable for use in the maritime and land environments. The CEAFAR Active Phased Array Radar provides a multi-function Digital Beam Forming radar capability able to perform 3D volume search, surface search, fire control support, target classification in demanding, cluttered and jamming environments.


The CEAMOUNT Active Phased Array Illuminator performs target illumination and missile uplink for multiple simultaneous semi-active homing missiles. The CEAMOUNT Active Phased Array Radar Illuminator can be configured as a mechanically trained face or a fixed multi-face solution as chosen for AMCAP. The flexibility provides support for existing system upgrades and new applications.




The Hobart Class Air Warfare Destroyer program will soon deliver all three vessels to the RAN Fleet, and all eight ANZACs are due to have their AMCAP upgrades complete by 2023. The upgraded frigates will complement the AWDs in defending high value escorted vessels, especially the Canberra Class LHDs and the two new supply ships being delivered in August 2019 and May 2020. While the AWDs possess long-range defensive missiles, the upgraded ANZACs will be able to offer an inner screen of defence.


The first Hunter Class Future Frigate is due in the water during 2023, meaning that from the early 2020s onwards the RAN will have a formidable fleet of large warships, capable of many different roles.


HMAS Arunta arrived at Henderson in September 2017. As part of her upgrade, she is having:

  • Upgraded ventilation systems;
  • New sewage systems;
  • Improvements to the Control and Monitoring System,
  • Engine modifications to improve power and efficiency; and
  • A new communications suite.


The ship’s Control and Monitoring System technological refresh has replaced existing analogue technology with digital. This is the first time that such a technology refresh has been undertaken on such a large scale on the Anzac Class ships.


Integration of the communications system into the existing ships data communications systems has been closely managed during design by Melbourne based defence communications company Leonardo Australia as part of SEA 1442 Phase 4.


In 2017 Leonardo Australia opened its SEA 1442 Shore Integration & Test Facility in Port Melbourne, where they actually test each system and make sure that it all works to specifications, before transferring the system in its entirety to Henderson ready for frigate installation.


According to Defence’s Science and Technology Group (DST Group) ‘SEA 1442 is a multi-phase project to provide a maritime communications and information exchange architecture to meet the ADF’s requirements for Network Centric Warfare in the maritime environment.


‘The project is to upgrade the capability of existing communications systems, provide new communications capability and integrate with related maritime communications projects. In addition, SEA 1442 will provide a communications architecture to inform future maritime platform projects.


‘DST Group is supporting the project as it develops the New Generation Maritime Communications System for the ANZAC class frigates. This includes the provision of advice on the technical risks associated with this project and strategies to mitigate them.


‘A particular area in which DST is working with the project is in analysis of the complex electromagnetic environment of the ship, to avoid electromagnetic interference between communications and other systems.  If not addressed, such interference has the potential to seriously degrade key platform capabilities such as communications and sensors.’




Earlier this decade the whole fleet of Anzac frigates went through the ANZAC upgrade and refit program included implementation of the anti-shipping missile defence (ASMD) capability, engineering changes and maintenance activities which took approximately 600,000 hours per ship. Around 30 local and national subcontractors, and more than 100 small-to-medium enterprise suppliers, were involved with the 10,000 components ordered for work being conducted in 171 of 182 compartments on board.


The statistics on consumed materials per vessel are staggering – 28 km of electrical cable, 4,000 square metres of alloy plate, 375 km of welding wire, 28 tonnes of old paint removed, being replaced inside and out by 12,000 litres of new paint.


Under the ASMD program, each ship’s combat management system was upgraded and a new infrared search and track system was introduced, together with a new dual navigation radar. At the same time as each ship received its ASMD upgrade, a number of other significant engineering and structural changes that are unique to each vessel were also being made. These include enclosing the quarter deck, extra crew berths, galley refurbishment and modifications to accommodate MH-60R maritime combat helicopters.


For data interchange with other ADF and coalition elements, LINK 16 capability was added during the upgrade and refit. Link 16 is a US and allied government-backed system for transmitting broadband, jam-resistant, secure data and voice across a variety of sea, air, and ground-based platforms.


The last ANZAC frigate to go through the ASMD program was completed mid-2017.




The Anzac Class is a long-range frigate capable of air defence, surface and undersea warfare, surveillance, reconnaissance and interdiction, especially when carrying its MH-50R ‘Romeo’ maritime combat helicopter. The earlier ASMD upgrade program, most of whose capabilities have been carried forward or upgraded with AMCAP, provided an enhanced sensor and weapons systems capability far in advance of the ships’ fighting abilities when they were first built from the mid-1990s to early 2000s.


Anyone who doubts the Australian Defence Industry’s world class capabilities needs to look no further than this AMCAP which represents outstanding local design, development, construction and integration by such leading organisations as CEA Technologies, Saab Systems, Leonardo Australia and BAE Systems.


And the good local industry news continues with BAE Systems having selected Lockheed Martin Australia and Saab Australia to partner with the company to deliver the Combat System Integration on the Hunter Class frigates.


Vince Di Pietro, Chief Executive Lockheed Martin Australia and New Zealand has said

“Lockheed Martin Australia is delighted to partner with BAE Systems and Saab Australia to integrate the Hunter Class Combat System into Australia’s Future Frigates. Lockheed Martin has more than 40 years of experience in the production and integration of Aegis combat systems around the world. We look forward to partnering with the Commonwealth, the United States Navy, BAE Systems and Saab Australia to integrate, operate, and maintain the system right here in Australia, by Australians.”


“The nine anti-submarine warfare frigates are a new generation of major surface combatants which will replace the current eight ANZAC class frigates,” Minister for Defence, the Hon Christopher Pyne MP, said. “I would like to congratulate Lockheed Martin Australia and Saab Australia for being named the preferred tenderers to partner with BAE Systems Australia to deliver the Combat System Integration on the Hunter Class frigates.”



SOURCEGeoff Slocombe/Henderson Shipyard
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