Australia finalizes frigate upgrade

Aug. 5, 2009 at 1:19 PM
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MELBOURNE, Aug. 5 (UPI) -- Australia has given final approval to put its eight ANZAC-class frigates through a major $133 million anti-ship missile upgrade.

The minister for defense, Sen. John Faulkner, and the minister for defense personnel, materiel and science, Greg Combet, jointly made the announcement of the anti-ship missile defense plan.

ASMD involves a comprehensive upgrade of the ANZAC frigates, including the addition of phased array radar technology designed and built by the Australian company CEA Technologies.

In all 10 of the 3,600-tonne displacement ships were built between 1993 and 2004, with two going to the Royal New Zealand Navy. They have a maximum speed of 27 knots and a range of 6,000 nautical miles at 18 knots. The last Australian ship was commissioned in 2006.

The upgrades were planned even before all the ships were commissioned and in 2004 the Australian Defense Department formed a private public partnership with electronics and advanced technology firm Tenix and Swedish firm Saab to upgrade their missile defense capability.

The ships were built with Raytheon AN/SPS-49(V)8 ANZ (C/D-band) air search radar and CelsiusTech 9LV 453 TIR (Ericsson Tx/Rx) (G-band) surface search radar.

The upgrade is currently scheduled to include Sagem Vampir NG IRST (Infra-red search and track) capability, Saab Combat Management System upgrade, and CEA Technologies PAR 3D E/F band, fixed active phased array radar and illuminator.

This is the first lightweight application of such technology, according to a government announcement. If successful, it will deliver an enhanced search and track and target illumination capability in the maritime environment, it said.

"The ASMD program will ensure the Royal Australian Navy's Anzac frigates have a far greater level of self-defense against modern anti-ship missiles," Faulkner said.

"It will also improve the ability of the frigates to provide close-in protection to an amphibious maritime task group and support the Navy's future air warfare destroyer capability."

Their anti-surface is also planned to be upgraded with the addition of RGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship missiles fitted in two quad launchers.

By the mid 2020s the ANZACs are to be replaced by eight Future Frigate class ships weighing 7,000 tons. These will be equipped with cruise missiles and anti ballistic missiles.

The Australian confirmation comes after New Zealand announced the final upgrade tender for its two ANZAC frigates last month.

The $38.5M platform system upgrade, set out in November 2007, includes work on control and monitoring systems, overall weight and stability management, the propulsion systems, and the heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems.

The next and final phase is the integrated platform management system and the HVAC solution upgrade. For this a project definition study will be undertaken by ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems Australia, acting as the Crown's design authority.

The request-for-proposal was released on July 10 and advertised on the Ministry of Defense's website and the Government Electronic Tenders Service Web site.

Contracts for the other work have already been signed with MTU Detroit Diesel Australia to undertake the preliminary design study. ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems Australia will complete the design authority and Australian Marine Technologies will undertake the design component of the stability enhancement element.

The project team is now working with MTUDDA on the power upgrade element. Once this is complete they will schedule the implementation of each subcontract.

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