CANBERRA --- The process of selecting the design for the Royal Australian Navy’s nine new Future Frigates will be accelerated by the federal government to save time and to ensure construction of the warships can begin in 2020.
Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne told The Australian the number of competing combat systems being considered for the frigates had been reduced to the two which were considered to be the most suitable.
That would streamline the process of selecting the best vessels, Mr Pyne said. “We won’t be wasting time assessing things we will never use.” That would give the contenders more time to focus on other aspects of their bids.
Mr Pyne said that while the plan was to announce the successful bidder for the frigate in April 2018, the government hoped to bring that forward.
“I can’t guarantee we will be able to, but that is my ambition and we are working with the Department of Defence to bring that forward to an earlier announcement date in order to give the successful bidder more time to prepare for the 2020 cut-steel date.”
The RAN uses both the Aegis and Saab combat systems in its Anzac frigates and Air Warfare Destroyers. Given the navy’s familiarity with both and their interoperability, Defence will choose one of them for the new frigates.
Mr Pyne said the process of spending $195 billion on defence over 10 years had begun. “Making sure as much as possible of that is spent in Australia is really bearing fruit.”
This had already brought thousands of new defence industry jobs, many in hi-tech areas. Work had begun on Pacific Patrol Boats in Western Australia and three companies would tender by March to build the larger Offshore Patrol Vessels. The first of the OPVs will be built in South Australia.
The detailed request for tenders to build the nine frigates would be released in March, Mr Pyne said.
The three designers short-listed for the next stage of the frigate competitive evaluation program are Italy’s Fincantieri with its FREMM Frigate; Spain’s Navantia with a redesigned version of its F100 used for the RAN’s AWDs, and Britain’s BAE Systems with the Type 26 Frigate. (end of excerpt)
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