New Australian Warships To Be Equipped With Missile Defence System

Last update: 03/10/2017

CANBERRA, Oct 3 (Bernama) -- Australia's new fleet of frigates will be equipped with long-range missile defence systems to deal with the threat posed by "rogue states," the government said Tuesday, China's Xinhua news agency reported.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced that the nine "future frigates" would be equipped with US defence giant Lockheed Martin's Aegis combat management system as well as locally-developed SAAB Australia technology.

The frigates, the construction of which will begin in 2020, were initially meant to anti-submarine warfare but Turnbull said that including Aegis would make the ships capable of air and missile defence.

"Recent events in our region have proven that Australia's future frigates must be equipped to defend Australia from the threat of medium and long-range missile attacks," Turnbull said at the Pacific 17 maritime and naval showcase on Tuesday.

"This technology will enable the future frigates to engage missiles at long range."

Australia has only ever purchased combat management systems for individual ships but the US$23 billion frigate project will require a bulk order.

"That approach was short-sighted and we consider it no longer in the national interest," Turnbull said.

"I am determined to keep Australians safe. Giving our navy the best combat management technology will ensure that we can meet and overcome any threat that comes our way -- in the air and at sea."

The Aegis system works as the "brain" of a warship, detecting threats and firing weapons.

SAAB Australia will develop a tactical interface for the vessels, a decision that Tim Barrett, Chief of the Australian Navy, said meant that sailors would only have to deal with one standard system.

Three shipbuilders are competing to be awarded the contract; the United Kingdom's BAE Systems, Italy's Fincantieri and Spain's Navantia. The winner will be announced in 2018.