Navantia, BAE Systems and Fincantiere have been downselected to refine their designs for the $35 billion Future Frigates program.
The detailed request for tenders (RFT) to build the nine frigates are expected to be released later this month.
The nine frigates will be built in Adelaide and will incorporate the Australian-developed CEA Phased-Array Radar.
Construction of the frigates is due to commence in 2020 and the first Future Frigate is expected to be in service in the late 2020s.
Minister for Defence Industry Christopher Pyne toured the frigate and discussed the importance of the program for Australia’s navy, along with the economic benefits for the nation.
"Australia’s Future Frigate program will provide a cutting-edge, anti-submarine warfare capability to Australia’s navy," Minister Pyne said.
"The project itself will directly create more than 2,500 jobs and will form the backbone of Australia’s future surface shipbuilding industry.
"Australia’s defence materiel projects with Spain are worth almost $13 billion across shipbuilding and aircraft."
Minister Pyne also praised the frigate’s capabilities, as well as Navantia’s operational skills.
"The Cristóbal Colón is a highly capable vessel and demonstrates the kind of capability that Navantia are offering in the Future Frigate project," Minister Pyne said
"Navantia was instrumental in turning around the Air Warfare Destroyer program in Australia, taking the Osborne shipyard to internationally competitive standards.
"Navantia’s ability to run shipyards, Australia’s long relationship with Spain and the capability of ships like the Cristóbal Colón are among the reasons Navantia were downselected for Australia’s Future Frigate program."