Following a 20-month upgrade, Royal Australian Navy warship HMAS Arunta has fired its first Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM) off the coast of Western Australia.
The Anzac Class frigate is the first of her class to undergo the Anzac Midlife Capability Assurance Program (AMCAP) upgrade at Henderson, Western Australia, as part of Australia’s Warship Asset Management Agreement (WAMA) Alliance.
The ESSM is a surface-to-air weapon that uses radar homing guidance to counter fast-moving anti-ship missiles, forming part of Arunta’s air defence capability.
Defence Minister Linda Reynolds welcomed the milestone achievement, saying the missile firing was an important part of testing the ship’s upgraded capabilities.
"This successful missile firing demonstrates the success of the AMCAP upgrade, which enhances the frigate’s self-protection, communications, and command and control capability," Minister Reynolds said.
She added, "It’s also testament to the WAMA Alliance, a partnership between the Australian government, BAE Systems, SAAB Australia and Naval Ship Management Australia. AMCAP is part of this government’s $1.2 billion Anzac Class sustainment program with Australian defence industry, which directly employs more than 140 workers while providing ongoing opportunities for small businesses in Henderson."
The aim of AMCAP is to upgrade and update the capability of the Anzac Class frigates to maintain relevance, and to ensure the class remains effective until the introduction of the Hunter Class frigates.
Homeported at HMAS Stirling in WA, Arunta is a long-range frigate capable of air defence, surface and undersea warfare, surveillance, reconnaissance and interdiction.
She is one of seven Anzac Class frigates progressively undergoing AMCAP upgrades, with HMAS Warramunga’s upgrade currently underway.
“These upgrades will ensure the frigates remain one of the most advanced in the world, until the Hunter Class frigates enter service,” Minister Reynolds said.
There are three major elements of the upgrade, that is, a new communications suite, the new air search radar and the platform systems remediation (PSR). The PSR will see the upgrade of systems such as the propulsion control, fridges, waste management and water production.
The WAMA partnership was launched in 2016 to support the Anzacs and includes BAE Systems Australia, Saab Australia, Naval Ship Management and the Commonwealth of Australia. It’s worth more than $2 billion over eight years.
The Henderson-based Australian Marine Complex (AMC) is integral to Australia’s frontline defence and is an important asset in maintaining the RAN fleet. The Common User Facility (CUF) has facilitated major works and repair programs for RAN’s Collins Class submarines, Anzac Class frigates and supply tankers.
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The AMC-CUF is home to the world’s most technically advanced floating dock, which can lift vessels of up to 12,000 tonnes out of the water for service. Its four wharves can accommodate vessels of up to 300 metres in length and provide adequate berthing space for major works, including ship conversions, refits and repairs.
The AMC-CUF is also home to ASC West, which provides a purpose-built submarine repair facility and the WA headquarters of ASC, an Australian-owned prime defence contractor and builder of the Collins Class submarine and Hobart Class air warfare destroyer.
ASC’s through-life support contract will see the Collins Class submarines maintained at the CUF over the next 25 years. Warfare systems developer Raytheon Australia and other defence contractors, including BAE Systems, also reside within the AMC’s precincts.