Sydney, Australia — Lockheed Martin and Saab have won major deals to supply combat systems for the Royal Australian Navy, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced Oct. 3, the first day of the Pacific 2017 maritime symposium.
The deals are reported to be worth several billion Australian dollars and have been announced as part of the country’s plans to establish a continuous naval shipbuilding capability.
Turnbull said the Lockheed Martin Aegis combat management system, or CMS, will be integrated into the Navy’s nine Future Frigates together with an Australian Tactical Interface to be developed by Saab Australia, which will be acquired under the SEA 5000 project.
He said the Australian government has also mandated Saab Australia to provide its 9LV CMS for the 12 offshore patrol vessels, or OPVs, to be acquired under the SEA 1180 project and a future upgrade of the Australian Tactical Interface for the Navy’s three Hobart-class air warfare destroyers that are currently being delivered.
The Hobart DDG destroyers currently have the Aegis Baseline 8 combat system with the Australian Tactical Interface provided by Raytheon Australia, but the government is mulling a ballistic missile defence capability, which, among other things, will require an upgrade to Aegis Baseline 9.
The overall announcement is largely seen as an intent by the Turnbull government to guarantee an indigenous CMS capability in coming years. “It guarantees the development of a long-term sustainable Australian combat management system industry, which is integral to the implementation of the government’s Naval Shipbuilding Plan,” Defense Minister Marise Payne said in a statement.
The Future Frigate program will acquire nine warships from the mid-2000s, which will be optimized for anti-submarine warfare but also have a significant air defence capability. The Australian government had previously mandated a phased-array radar to be developed by Australia’s CEA Technologies and the combat system competition was between Lockheed Martin with the Aegis Baseline 9 and Saab Australia with the 9LV system.
“The decision to select Aegis for the Future Frigate is a good decision,” said Gary Feldman, Lockheed Martin’s director of Australian mission systems. “We think the commonality with the air warfare destroyers, the interoperability and the overall capability and the growth path for the future makes it a very important decision.”
The Saab Australia 9LV system is already in service aboard several of the Australian Navy’s warships, including the upgraded Anzac-class anti-ship missile defence frigates and the two 27,000-tonne Canberra-class landing helicopter dock ships.
The decision to integrate the system with the 12 OPVs, to be built in Australia in 2018, will mean that Saab will most likely be involved in some way with all surface ship combat management systems in the future.
“Saab welcomes the announcement by the Australian prime minister that confirms the company as an integral part of the government’s enterprise approach to combat management systems. This is an endorsement of the advanced combat system capabilities we have developed for the RAN, and we look forward to working closely with the Australian Defence Force to deliver highly capable systems for the Future Frigates and other platforms,” Saab Australia’s managing director, Dean Rosenfield, said.
“The government’s decisiveness and support for Australian industry will give Saab certainty to invest in the long term. With a contract in place, this will mean new job opportunities and growth on the Australian market, carrying out development and support across every major ship in the Australian fleet.”
Nigel Pittaway is the Australia correspondent for Defense News.