(Updates with quotes from companies)
The Australian government is examining more opportunities for Australia’s local industry in the Hunter Class Frigate Program with three feasibility studies for Australian industry to participate in the build phase of the first three frigates. Prime contractor ASC Shipbuilding, a subsidiary of BAE Systems Australia, has engaged Queensland-based Craig International Ballistics to investigate an Australian solution for ship bridge windows and armour protection.
Adelaide-based REDARC Defence Systems has also been engaged to explore an Australian solution to LED lighting. A third Australian company, West Australian based propeller manufacturer Veem is conducting a study to examine security requirements for local propeller manufacture in Australia.
ASC Shipbuilding has committed to achieving 58 percent Australian Industry Content over the life of the acquisition contract. The study findings are expected to conclude by the end of this year.
Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds said the feasibility studies demonstrates the government’s commitment to maximising Australian industry content in the construction of Defence’s new anti-submarine warfare frigates. “We are on track to begin the prototyping phase of the Hunter Class Program at the end of this year, which is why it’s vital we continue to form new partnerships with Australian industry as we look ahead to the build phase,” Reynolds said. “These feasibility studies announced today build on a feasibility study already underway into locally manufactured main reduction gearboxes for future Hunter batches.”
Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price said Australian industry is being assessed for new opportunities in the design, manufacture, testing and installation of equipment on the Hunter Class frigates. “These feasibility studies ensure Australian companies are given every chance to contribute not only to the Hunter Class build, but to our continuous Naval Shipbuilding endeavour more broadly,” Price said.
ASC Shipbuilding Managing Director Craig Lockhart said “with a 30-year life-span, the building of nine submarine hunting warships provides an enormous opportunity for the nation to advance our sovereign shipbuilding capability and create long-term prospects for Australian industry. I have absolute confidence in Australian industry to bring ingenuity and innovation to the Hunter program, while at the same time providing valuable employment opportunities in the nation’s advanced manufacturing sector at a time when we’ve never needed it more.”
Veem Managing Director Mark Miocevich said “VEEM is very pleased to be part of a feasibility study to examine security requirements for local high level defence propeller manufacturing in Australia. VEEM operates the most advanced commercial propeller manufacturing facility in the world and being considered for the manufacture of the new anti-submarine warfare frigates is an exciting proposition. BAE Systems has a long history in Defence in Australia and have shown over that time, their commitment to supporting Australian Industry Content across a broad range of programs.”
REDARC Defence Systems General Manager Sales Mike Hartas, said “REDARC Defence Systems is proud to have secured a contract with the Hunter Class Frigate Program to explore how we as a local designer and manufacturer of advanced electronics systems can contribute to the first batch of ships and look at how this could flow down across our local supply chain. The outcome of this study, which although does not guarantee work, does ensure we are able to present to the program and the Government the value that we can contribute to the National Shipbuilding and Sustainment Plan.”
Craig International Ballistics CEO James Craig (CEO) said “Craig International Ballistics is a Gold Coast manufacturer that produces advanced ballistic protection systems. As a provider of ballistic protection to many Australian Defence Force assets, we welcome the opportunity to showcase our Australian Industry Capability for the Hunter Class Frigate Program.”