Sonar equipment stalwarts, Thales and Ultra, have come together with BAE Systems to offer decades of technology transfer to Australia, should its design be chosen for the SEA 5000 project.
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BAE Systems, which has offered the Global Combat Ship-Australia for SEA 5000, a local variant of the UK Royal Navy’s Type 26 Global Combat Ship currently in production in Glasgow, has committed to an "unprecedented transfer" of technology and anti-submarine warfare (ASW) knowledge from itself, the Royal Navy and the UK defence industry.
Under the arrangement, BAE Systems, Thales and Ultra will develop local capability to build, maintain and optimise the systems and sub-systems that will enable the ships to detect, hunt and destroy submarines. Thales and Ultra are already key suppliers of sonar equipment to the Type 26 Global Combat Ship.
BAE Systems said such a commitment would make Australia one of a handful of nations with advanced stealth technology and ensure the country becomes a leader in ASW technology, creating new industries and hundreds of high technology jobs.
"BAE Systems is committed to growing Australia’s industrial knowledge base. The expertise of BAE Systems, our partners and the UK Royal Navy, will contribute to a technology transfer solution for Australian industry that will fast-track the development of new ASW and underwater industries," said BAE Systems SEA 5000 managing director Nigel Stewart.
"This will give Australia the opportunity to apply local capabilities to SEA 5000 and future exports."
Rear Admiral Chris Gardner added that not only would new stealth technologies underpin a new capability for the Royal Australian Navy and be the catalyst for the development of new industrial opportunities for Australia, but the UK-Australia operational defence relationship would also benefit.
"We have a close, strategic relationship with the Royal Australian Navy. As Five Eyes partners we have a unique opportunity to further enhance our relationship in ASW operations," said RADM Gardner.
"The visit of HMS Sutherland in recent weeks has provided further opportunities to build our relationship in ASW operations."
A decision on the $35 billion SEA 5000 project is expected before the second half of the year. BAE Systems is up against bids from Fincantieri and Navantia.