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Air warfare destroyer project achieves FOC

The last of Australia’s new Hobart Class destroyers is ready for deployment after completing test and evaluation exercises.

The last of Australia’s new Hobart Class destroyers is ready for deployment after completing test and evaluation exercises.

The Royal Australian Navy’s air warfare destroyer HMAS Sydney has returned to Australia after passing test and evaluation trials off the coast of the US and Canada, which involved missile firings against low-altitude and supersonic targets.

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The milestone marks the achievement of final operating capability (FOC) for the new Hobart Class fleet, developed as part of the Commonwealth government's $8.5 billion SEA 4000 program. 

Approximately 5,000 Australians are estimated to have worked on the air warfare destroyer program over the past decade, with over 2,700 unique suppliers supporting the development of HMAS Sydney.

Chief of the Royal Australian Navy, Vice Admiral Michael Noonan, AO, said the milestone has “ushered in a new era” for Australia’s Navy, enhancing interoperability with the nation’s most powerful allies.

“Navy’s three Hobart Class destroyers use a number of systems in common with the US Navy, which allows our ships to be fully interchangeable with the most advanced allied naval force in the Indo-Pacific region,” VADM Noonan said.

“Australian destroyers are a key contribution to the Australia-United States alliance and will be employed in maintaining the peace and prosperity of our region for the next 30 years.

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“Due to the ever-changing strategic environment, the Hobart class will continue to be upgraded with the latest weapons and sensors over coming years in order to maintain a capability edge.”

Vice Admiral Noonan described the destroyers as the “most capable warships in Australia’s naval history”.

“They are equipped with a layered defensive and offensive capabilities for above water, surface and undersea warfare,” he said.

“Our destroyers are a force multiplier for the Australian Defence Force and a key element of the Joint Force Integrated Air and Missile Defence capability.”

Former defence minister Linda Reynolds and VADM Noonan first welcomed HMAS Sydney to Australian shores in May 2020 ahead of the test and evaluation process. 

Alongside sister vessels HMA Ships Hobart and Brisbane, HMAS Sydney will primarily provide air defence for accompanying ships, in addition to land forces and infrastructure in coastal areas. 

Based upon the Spanish F100s, the Australian variants incorporate a number of modifications and Australian-specific structural/design and combat system modifications to provide a uniquely Australian surface combatant with international provenance.

The delivery was executed by the Air Warfare Destroyer Alliance — a co-operative comprising the Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group (CASG), Australian Shipbuilding Company (ASC), AWD Shipbuilding and Raytheon Australia.

The Defence Science and Technology (DST) Group contributed to risk mitigation activities, acceptance testing and planning for sea trials to demonstrate and quantify the level of capability achieved by the project.

The project is a key component of Defence’s broader $90 billion National Shipbuilding Plan.

[Related: RAN destroyer, sub to gear up for multinational maritime warfare training]

Charbel Kadib

Charbel Kadib

News Editor – Defence and Security, Momentum Media

Prior to joining the defence and aerospace team in 2020, Charbel was news editor of The Adviser and Mortgage Business, where he covered developments in the banking and financial services sector for three years. Charbel has a keen interest in geopolitics and international relations, graduating from the University of Notre Dame with a double major in politics and journalism. Charbel has also completed internships with The Australian Department of Communications and the Arts and public relations agency Fifty Acres.

Air warfare destroyer project achieves FOC
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