The Turnbull government announced today that BAE Systems had netted the $35 billion frigate program beating rival Italian and Spanish bids.
“This is the best ship for our purposes, this is the quietest and stealthiest ship,” Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told reporters in Adelaide.
The vessels, officially known as the Hunter-class, will be built by the Federal Government-owned ASC Shipbuilding in Adelaide.
“The Hunter-class frigates will give the Royal Australian Navy the highest levels of lethality and deterrence to hunt and kill submarines, to protect our fleet, and to protect Australia and our interests,” Defence Minister Marise Payne told reporters.
The program will create 5000 direct jobs nationally, and 10,000 indirectly through a national supply chain.
Turnbull said today that 4000 of those jobs would be in Adelaide. The Government expects 1500 direct jobs to be created at ASC.
The frigates will begin entering service in the late 2020s.
They will replace the ageing Anzac-class frigates.
The design will be based on BAE’s Type 26 frigate which the company is constructing in Glasgow for the British Royal Navy.
Defence industry insiders considered BAE as the favourite in the three-horse race, however, the Australian Strategic Policy Institute considered the British bid as the riskiest because the vessel is untested.
British Prime Minister Theresa May said the project was a sign of a strong UK-Australia relationship.
“We have always been clear that as we leave the EU we have an opportunity to build on our close relationships with allies like Australia. This deal is a perfect illustration that the government is doing exactly that,” she said in a statement.
Australia and the United Kingdom are expected to begin negotiations for a free trade deal once Britain exits the European Union next year.
Outgoing Defence Force Chief Mark Binskin hailed the announcement.
“It will allow our sailors to get out and fight and win in an ever-increasing complex environment,” he said.
BAE Systems Chief Executive Charles Woodburn said the company was committed to creating a strong, sustainable and innovative naval shipbuilding industry that will see highly skilled Australians building and sustaining warships.
South Australian Premier Steven Marshall said it was a happy day for his state and he couldn’t wipe the smile off his face.
BAE had been shortlisted for the frigate program along with rival companies Fincantieri and Navantia.
ASC Shipbuilding will become a subsidiary of the UK defence firm during the build.
BAE is also bidding for a Canadian government frigate program.
– AAP with InDaily
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