Defence Minister Linda Reynolds has announced a government move to create opportunities for Australian industry in its Hunter Class Frigate Program, with a feasibility study launched into locally manufactured main reduction gearboxes for future Hunter batches.
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Minister Reynolds said the study would determine the capability and suitability of locally sourced gearboxes to meet the stringent technical requirements of the program.
“The manufacture of an anti‑submarine frigate’s main gearbox must meet a very high standard in respect to shock resilience, noise and vibration, which has never been done before in Australia,” Minister Reynolds said.
“As we grow Australian industry capacity and skills to support sovereign shipbuilding, this feasibility study demonstrates the Morrison government’s commitment to actively open new opportunities for Australian industry to grow its capacity to support the Hunter Class Frigate Program.”
To ensure the Hunter Class Frigate Program meets capability and technical requirements, ASC Shipbuilding will work closely with Australian industry to leverage the experience gained across the first three ships.
Minister Reynolds added, “Australian industry is proving its ability to produce these gearboxes right here in Australia to enhance our sovereignty.”
The Hunter Class Frigate Program is continuing on schedule with ‘cut steel’ for prototyping due to commence at the end of 2020. The Hunter Class is billed as an anti-submarine warfare (ASW) centric vessel delivering an advanced ASW capability to the Royal Australian Navy at a time when 50 per cent of the world’s submarines will be operating in the Indo-Pacific region.
BAE Systems Australia announced that it had selected Lockheed Martin Australia and Saab Australia as combat systems integration industry partners, responsible for delivering the Australian designed CEAFAR 2 Active Phased Array Radar, Lockheed Martin designed Aegis combat management system and Saab Australia 9LV tactical interface.
The $35 billion program sees ASC Shipbuilding become a subsidiary of BAE Systems throughout the build process beginning in 2020 at the Osborne Shipyard in South Australia, creating more than 4,000 jobs.
BAE Systems expects the Australian industry content for the Hunter Class build will be 65-70 per cent, which will create and secure thousands of jobs for decades.
At the end of the program the Commonwealth will resume complete ownership of ASC Shipbuilding, thereby ensuring the retention in Australia of intellectual property, a highly skilled workforce and the associated equipment.
SEA 5000 is expected to support over 500 Australian businesses who have been pre-qualified to be part of the Hunter Class supply chain, with the Australian steel industry in particular, benefiting from the 48,000 tonnes of steel required to build the ships.