SeoulStatement by Babcock Australasia CEO Andrew Cridland

“Babcock’s Arrowhead, a Type 31 Frigate derivative, is a capable, adaptable and multi-mission modern warship that is operationally proficient in both blue water and littoral areas. We consider the Arrowhead would deliver significant capability to the Royal Australian Navy and meet naval requirements both now and into the future.

“The Arrowhead is based on a proven, mature design, and provides a flexible, long range and modular capability that can undertake a range of non-combat and combat missions including strike, delivering value for money to the customer.

“To be delivered as a truly sovereign solution, an Australian Arrowhead would be built in-country, providing a significant boost for jobs, industry and the economy and playing a key role in Australia’s continuous shipbuilding agenda. And they can be built quickly; leveraging the Babcock group capability already developed with all five Royal Navy Type 31 frigates being built by Babcock at Rosyth, Scotland.

“Babcock’s innovative Arrowyard concept can support a sovereign build and is a comprehensive and bespoke programme of technology transfer and focused support options. Forged from Babcock’s rich engineering know-how and ship build experience, Arrowyard helps customers to optimise their own shipyard capability.

“Arrowyard can be deployed anywhere in the world and delivers technically proficient naval build infrastructure, an industry 4.0 ready workforce, world-class frigates and an enduring support capability backed by Babcock’s significant warship sustainment experience.

“Capable of operating with a core crew of only 100 people, Babcock’s Arrowhead frigate would allow the Royal Australian Navy to deploy more capability with a significantly smaller crew. There has been strong interest in the Arrowhead frigate internationally – Babcock is the platform design provider and technology partner for Poland’s new frigate program and has a design licence agreement with PT PAL Indonesia. Other potential customers are considering this as a solution for their needs.

“Driven by innovation and backed by 130 years of Defence experience, Babcock’s Arrowhead frigate would ensure our defence forces have access to proven capability to face emerging threats whilst providing our naval customers with operational choice, value for money and absolute confidence in performance.”


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  1. Again, an interesting proposal (an Australian build of the Type 31) but the Base design of the Hunter Class (the Type 26 GCS) was also an interesting proposal. The problem lies not with selecting a design, whither or not it’s a proven design or not, the problem lies solely and squarely with the obsession of tinkering with the design. I don’t mean basic changes to suit Australian conditions, I mean adding this and adding that until you get basically an entirely different ship. The Powers that be ( be they RAN Admirals or DoD Bureaucrats) just can’t help themselves, the OPV80, the Type 26 were officially meddled with until nobody got what they wanted or even the never built Transfield JPV of the 90s and the Light Destroyer Project of the 60s both died on the design table because a good capable original design was meddled with until it was no longer feasible to proceed. It beggars belief that this type of decision making persists.

  2. Much better option than corvettes and probably able to be built much faster should the need arise in the future. Certainly a force multiplier. But I still believe that we need to continue with the Type 26 project.

    Limiting factors of course are budget, crewing and ship building capacity.

  3. Would certainly be a good prospect for the RNZN to replace Te Kaha and Te Mana, but I’m not seeing the fit with the RAN. T
    he focus and energy by the DOD needs to be put into the Hunter and Submarine programs. Everything else in the Navy should fit around them as those two programs are of upmost strategtic importance.

  4. All very well them and Luerssen putting their proposals forward but where’s the money coming from?
    If we cannot afford a reasonable number of IFV’s I’m pretty sure any reasonable number of Corvettes is simply out of the question

    • We can afford to donate $3 billion to US industry under the AUKUS agreement so there’s plenty of money sloshing around. To that can be added $309 million for the unnecessary purchase of the SURTASS towed array, also to keep someone in the US happy for unclear reasons. Then there’s $10 billion for new C-130Js from the US without a competition. If we had purchased A400Ms or C-390s the savings would have been in the order of $2 billion.

      • Correct but that money has gone.
        Wasted possibly but nonetheless gone.
        The only possible outcome I can see coming from the upcoming surface fleet review is a recommendation that some of the LCS’s the USN doesn’t want get foisted on to the RAN.
        Our “friends” in the US are not interested in what is best for us.
        They are only interested in what benefits them the most

        • The $3 billion has not yet gone to the US. Guess why? Legislation is needed so the payment can be accepted because no other country has ever done anything so stupid. It’s currently stuck in the Senate.

          • It outrageous that the money is offered up front, on the hope that the AUKUS subs are built.
            Up arming the OPV would useful, but a completely different solution needs to be created rather than more of the same. What Rod Pope (above) suggests is along the correct lines.

        • correct and we should tell them to ” sod off “. It’s our fault for electing such gutless and gullable pollies

  5. Delightful sales pitch but how does it solve the problems of meeting doctrinal needs that keep getting hurled at the Hunter design? It has 32 cells of VLS, small calibre main armament and isn’t inter-operable with the fleet-in-being without refitting it with a phased array, Aegis and/or the Saab combat system. What hole in maritime doctrine does it fill? It can’t apply offensive pressure and defend itself with only 32 cells, it can’t support amphib operations with a pea shooter and it can’t support area air defence without a radar and combat system compatible with the rest of the fleet. For constabulary duties it is too slow and overpowered. All the things wrong with the Hunter reference design but at least that platform will be optimised for ASW…even though the doctrinal argument for that is tenuous.

    What is the threat?
    How will we counter that threat?
    What ship or mix of ships will meet the answer to those questions?

    Forget designators like FFL (Corvette), FFG (Guided Missile Frigate) and DDG (Guided Missile Destroyer) because they are meaningless. Find Ships that can;
    a. Defend themselves while delivering offensive firepower in Blue water, (DDG 51 for example)
    b. Support sea denial to the enemy in any environment, (Anything with decent sensors, a solid Anti-Ship Missile loadout and the ability to support ASW helicopters and integrate with land based support aircraft)
    b. Be interoperable for air and missile defence in any environment, (Platforms carrying Phased Array, serious numbers of SM 3 / 6 missiles and the ability to cooperatively target and engage)
    c. Support constabulary duties in Brown Water. (Fast well armed designs compatable with archipelagic operations and solid point defence capability).

    There is no 1 design which can do all of this but I doubt the type 31 is suitable for any of it. It’s a general purpose ship designed for Atlantic Task Group support and European constabulary roles. Sure, we can modify it…. I’m sure that would end well!

    • Thanks. Interesting analysis. Speaking of doctrine, the DSR says – fairly simplistically – that the RAN needs to be restructured so that it has more smaller ships rather than a few big ones. I guess we will find out in the next few weeks how the Hilarides review interprets that directive.

    • I am curious as to the use of larger calibre guns for naval use.
      For supporting amphibious ops the vessel will need to be within 37km of the target (mk45 mod4). AT this distance any land based artillery can strike it. The plethora of surface to surface missiles and drones also then become a problem.
      For ship to ship encounters agin you would want the enemy to be that close and missiles will be used.
      For an aerial target it would be using standoff weapons to attack, again outside the range of the gun.
      So in what scenario are they useful?

  6. Australia has gotten itself in quite a mess. The navy currently only has 34 commissioned vessels with a number of those about to age out of service and a large number of the rest dependant on LOTE to keep them operational into the 2030s. Even then you would have to question the combat value of the ANZAC frigate and Collins subs going into the next decade. Even our best ship, the Hobart class, is looking decidedly underarmed.

    We need fast solutions but we also need good solutions. To be honest money isn’t the issue at the moment.

    • This slow motion train wreck has been apparent for years – and the RAN + successive governments have done nothing about it. Why start Collins LOTE in 2026 and not in 2022? Ditto AWDs. Why not have equipped the Arafuras with basic weapons like those on the parent class for the Brunei navy? Why select a design and builder for the Hunter class that has the slowest program in the western world? That’s not hyperbole – contract award to BAE Systems in 2018; first ship delivered in 2032, if we are lucky – 14 years. At least we have an air force that functions.


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