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Australia To Upgrade Navy For A$750M (Dec. 4)

Defence Minister Robert Hill today announced two major projects worth over A$750 million to further improve the Australian Defence Force's maritime defence capabilities.

The first is a A$500 million project to upgrade the anti-ship missile defences in the Royal Australian Navy's ANZAC class frigates. Key improvements to upgrade sensors and weapon systems will include:

--An infra-red search and track system providing improved detection and indication of low level aircraft and anti-ship missiles when close to land.

--Improvements to the existing fire control radar to increase the detection and engagement range against anti-ship missiles.

--Improvements to the command and control system to shorten the time between detection and engagement of anti-ship missiles.

-- The installation of two very short range air defence weapon systems to provide 360 degree close-in protection against supersonic anti-ship missiles.

Senator Hill said the ability to provide warships with sustained protection against anti-ship missile attack was an essential element of Australia's maritime capability.

“The anti-ship missile defence upgrades will ensure the ANZAC frigates have improved defences against modern anti-ship missiles,” Senator Hill said.

“Defence is also assessing the potential of new radar technologies that could be employed in the ANZAC ships. Active phased array radar, being developed by an Australian company based in Canberra, may offer significant enhancements over conventional radars to detect supersonic anti-ship missiles. The outcomes of current trials being conducted ashore and at sea will determine whether phased array radar will be included in the package.”

The ASMD upgrade for the ANZAC Ships will be contracted through the ANZAC Alliance that Defence has with Tenix and Saab. Most of the work will be conducted in Western Australia during periods of scheduled maintenance.

The second project is the A$250 million-plus purchase of new lightweight anti-submarine torpedo for the FFG and ANZAC frigates, Seahawk and Sea Sprite helicopters and the AP-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft.

“The MU 90 Impact torpedo is a very capable anti-submarine weapon system which is highly effective in both deep and shallow waters,” Senator Hill said. “These torpedoes will significantly improve the capacity of the ADF to destroy enemy submarines once detected.”

The torpedoes will be assembled in Australia, with up to 35 per cent of the torpedo components manufactured here. The torpedoes will be produced by the Djimindi alliance that consists of Thales Underwater Systems, Euro Torp and the Commonwealth. Thales Underwater Systems is already manufacturing acoustic and electronic components in Sydney and there are likely to be other opportunities for Australian industry in the fields of manufacture, assembly, testing and through life support.

Work to provide the ADF anti-submarine warfare platforms with the integrated capability to fire the new weapons has already begun.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: This contract for MU90 torpedoes first was announced on Feb. 18, 2002 by Eurotorp, and hardly counts as a new program. Eurotorp’s announcement was made in the following terms:

“This order, which corresponds to the first part of "phase 2" of the Alliance Agreement between the
Commonwealth of Australia, EUROTORP and Thales Underwater Systems Pty. covers an amount of around 100 million euros. This Alliance Agreement, signed in April 2000, was set up for the Australian Defense Forces replacement Lightweight Torpedo Program named “Project Djimindi.”

The MU90 will be installed on board ships, helicopters and Maritime Patrol Aircraft.”)

A$750 Million to Improve Maritime Defences