The Future Frigate Program (FFP) has reached a significant milestone, with the official release of the request for tender (RFT) to the three shortlisted designers: BAE Systems, Fincantieri and Navantia.
The FFP is currently the largest frigate shipbuilding program of its kind in the world.
Minister for Defence Industry Christopher Pyne said release of the RFT is an important achievement for the project.
"Today’s announcement shows the government is on track to begin construction of the Future Frigates in 2020 in Adelaide," Minister Pyne said.
"The release of the RFT is an important part of the Competitive Evaluation Process, which will lead to the government announcing the successful designer for the Future Frigates in 2018."
Minister Pyne said evaluation of the responses to the Future Frigate RFT would commence later this year.
"Three designers – BAE Systems with the Type 26 Frigate, Fincantieri with the FREMM Frigate, and Navantia with a redesigned F100 – have been working with Defence since August 2015 to refine their designs," he said.
Minister Pyne stressed that supporting Australian industry must be a focus for the shortlisted tenderers.
"The three shortlisted designers must demonstrate and develop an Australian supply chain to support Australia's future shipbuilding industry, and also how they will leverage their local suppliers into global supply chains," he said.
"The government is committed to maximising Australian industry opportunities and participation and this project will contribute to building a sustainable Australian shipbuilding workforce."
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The Future Frigates, which will replace the eight-strong Anzac Class frigate fleet, are the next generation of naval surface combatants and will conduct more challenging maritime warfare operations in the Australian region, including delivering a greater impact on anti-submarine operations.
The frigates will also be equipped with a range of offensive and self-protection systems.
The nine Future Frigates are part of the government’s $89 billion national shipbuilding endeavour, which aims to develop a strong and sustainable naval shipbuilding industry in Australia.
The government said the program is a demonstration of critical investment that will generate significant economic growth and sustain thousands of Australian jobs over decades.