March 31 (UPI) -- Australia issued Friday a Request for Tender to three companies for its $26.82 billion Future Frigate program. The companies shortlisted contract bidders were BAE Systems, Fincantieri and Navantia.
"Today's announcement shows the Government is on track to begin construction of the Future Frigates in 2020 in Adelaide," Defense Minister Christopher Pyne said in a press release. "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."
Pyne said evaluation of the responses to the Future Frigate RFT would commence later this year. He said that in the contract competition the companies must develop a supply chain in Australia for the ships and show "how they will leverage their local suppliers into global supply chains."
"The Government is committed to maximising Australian industry opportunities and participation and this project will contribute to building a sustainable Australian shipbuilding workforce," Pyne said.
BAE Systems manufactures Type 26 frigates, while Fincantieri produces FREMM frigate for the Italian Navy and Navantia makes the redesigned F100 frigate.
The Australian government plans to acquire nine frigates as part of an $68.2 billion effort to strengthen the country's naval shipbuilding industry.