RFT for Future Frigates Program accelerated

Navantia's F-105 Cristóbal Colón, one of the frigates that toured Australia ahead of the Request for Tender

The request for tender for the $35 billion Future Frigate Program has officially been brought forward and will be released to the tenderers this week.

Minister for Defence Industry Christopher Pyne made the announcement at an event in Canberra on Thursday, 23 March.

"The request for tender for the Future Frigate Program will be brought forward and will be released to the three tenderers by the end of next week," Minister Pyne said.

The three tenderers that were downselected for the program are Spanish firm Navantia, British multi-national corporation BAE Systems and Italian company Fincantieri.

The $35 billion project will see nine frigates 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 Pyne praised the project for the economic and employment benefits it will create for South Australia.

"This $35 billion project will create thousands of jobs in my home state of South Australia," said Minister Pyne.

"It will create knock-on benefits up and down the supply chain across the country.

"The government is getting on with it, making good decisions as early as possible to give Australian industry and the ADF the certainty they seek."

Two of the designs being considered by the government for the project have docked in Adelaide in recent weeks.

Fincantieri's FREMM Class frigate visited Adelaide at the start of February. Minister Pyne toured the vessel and noted some of its advantages and disadvantages.

"One of the advantages for this company is this vessel has been built, it is already in operation," he said.

"One of the disadvantages is that the company doesn't operate here.

"The weaponry of course will be United States' weaponry. That will be integrated into the winning vessel."

Minister Pyne said the government is committed to ensuring a majority of the work on the vessels will be done in South Australia and Australia.

Minister Pyne also toured Navantia's ESPS Cristóbal Colón last week and discussed Australia's defence relationship with Spain.

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