Adelaide class frigates sale discussions ongoing

Guided missile frigates (FFG) HMAS Melbourne (05) and HMAS Newcastle (06) sail in company off the south coast of New South Wales. Image via Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence.

Talks around the potential sale of Australia's Adelaide Class FFG frigates to Poland continued this week at the Defence Services Asia 2018 event.

Minister for Defence Industry Christopher Pyne met with Poland's Secretary of State in the Ministry of National Defense, Sebastian Chwalek, to continue the ongoing discussions which kicked off in March 2017 when Poland made an expression of interest in purchasing the frigates.

Michal Jach, the chairman of the Polish Parliament's National Defence Committee, told the Safety Forum 2017 conference in Szczecin: "The acquisition of used Adelaide frigates from Australia would represent a major upgrade for Poland, it would raise the combat capability of our Navy."

Like Australia, Poland is working to significantly modernise its defence capability, announcing last August it will spend tens of billions of dollars over the next 15 years.

The vessels could provide enhanced ballistic missile defence to Poland, given the frigates are armed with a Mark 13 missile launcher for SM-2 missiles.

Australia's Adelaide Class frigates, which come out of service over the next two years, are being replaced by the three Hobart Class Air Warfare Destroyers, one of which has been active since September this year.

The FFG frigates have been in service since 1980 and three of the original six are still in service.

The frigates are modelled on the US Navy's Oliver Hazard Perry Class frigates, but were modified for Australian requirements. The first four vessels were built in the US, while the other two were constructed in Australia.

Poland already operates two former Oliver Hazard Perry Class frigates – ORP General Kazimierz Pulaski (273) and ORP General Tadeusz Kościuszko (273) – and it is believed both frigates would be compatible with the Australia's FFGs.

Australia is also in discussions with Poland to export the Thales Hawkei vehicles. Poland is looking to initially acquire around 50 protected mobility vehicles, with follow-on acquisition programs expected to increase this number.

Defence Connect understands negotiations regarding the potential export of these vehicles has been underway for some time, with interested countries, including Poland and Indonesia, waiting for the Hawkei vehicle to reach full production before finalising any contracts.

The vehicles, manufactured in Bendigo, support over 170 jobs in the regional Victorian town.

Former Minister of National Defence of the Republic of Poland Antoni Macierewicz last year said Australia and Poland have a unique opportunity to learn from each other as both countries embark on a significant build up of military capabilities.

"Both our countries are [to] go ahead in very significant build up ... [of] military capabilities," a statement from Poland's Ministry of National Defence said.

"We want to build up our capability on our industrial base so to be sovereign. Sovereign in sustaining and maintaining our platforms, sovereign in building many of [these] platforms.

"That’s what Poland wants to do and that’s what Australia wants to do... and to learn from each other's successes and sometimes our mistakes."

Australia and Poland are both in the process of strengthening their submarine capabilities, with Poland set to decide between France's Naval Group, Sweden's Saab and Germany's ThyssenKrupp Marine System for the supply of three new submarines.

If Naval Group is selected, Australian SMEs in the supply chain for the Australian Future Submarine project may have the chance to contribute to Poland's submarines.

Adelaide class frigates sale discussions ongoing
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