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New Zealand Issues Request for Frigate Combat Systems

Mar. 18, 2013 - 03:51PM   |  
By NICK LEE-FRAMPTON   |   Comments
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Wellington, New Zealand — Anticipating the next phase of the upgrade to the Royal New Zealand Navy’s Anzac-class frigate combat systems, itself part of the frigates’ platform system upgrade, New Zealand’s Ministry of Defence has issued request for tenders for anti-ship missile defense soft kill (ASK) underwater systems and an electronic support measures suite.

The upgrade was approved in November 2007 at an estimated cost of 57.6 million New Zealand dollars ($47.6 million) and the request for the ASK suite says current life is “to at least until 2030.”

The two 387-foot frigates were commissioned in 1997 and 1999.

The ASK suite should “be built up from subsystems that are near-identical to those in service with a larger NATO Navy, the Royal Australian Navy or the Royal Canadian Navy.”

The threats the system should be able to deal with include supersonic aircraft and missiles, plus “suicide light aircraft, model aircraft (wingspan 1m)” and rocket-propelled grenades guided by lasers.

However, the request describes laser detection as a costed option.

Among the mandatory requirements is that the ASK suite be capable of operating “on task” in a cycle comprising two 500-hour and two 250-hour patrols, delivering 95 percent availability and 98 percent reliability.

An ASK training system is expected to be available six months prior to the first sea trials. Similar parameters apply to the underwater and electronic support measures suites.

In the case of the former, the request states the system should improve the existing Spherion B [Mod 5] hull-mounted sonar and should detect torpedoes.

Options allow for appropriate countermeasures including a towed torpedo countermeasure. The latter is noteworthy given that an October 2012 initial study by the Defence Technology Agency suggests that towed acoustic decoys may no longer be effective against the latest generation of torpedoes.

The request for the electronic support measures suite uses subtly different language in respect to compatibility, saying it shall be compatible “with an AUSCANNZUKUS navy,” which includes Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The system also should be able to receive intercepted laser emissions through a 360-degree azimuth and provide an automatic warning that defines “bearing, ID, system status and emitter characteristic data.”

Moreover, the electronic support measures suite should be delivered with a combat system operational trainer at the Maritime Warfare Training Centre, Devonport, which “has the look and feel of the ship-fitted system.”

There is a further training requirement, for “a pod able to be fitted to a target aircraft providing realistic training for two days per ship during sea acceptance trials, three days per ship predeployment and 10 days during a workup.”

Responses to the tenders are due by May 8. The frigates’ propulsion systems and close-in weapons systems have already been upgraded.

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