The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) informed Congress on 14 January of State Department approval for a possible Foreign Military Sale (FMS) to Australia in support of the Australian Surface Combatant (ASC) programme. The estimated value of the sale is $1.6 billion (€1.35 billion).

The Australian government has requested authorisation for the supply of long lead items, engineering development and other support services for the ASC programme, including modernisation of the three HOBART-class destroyers and construction of the first three (of a proposed total of nine) HUNTER-class frigates. The list of equipment requested includes (number of shipsets in parentheses): AEGIS Weapon System (AWS) in Mk 6 Mod 1 configuration (6); Australia AWS computer programmes (2); Mk 41 Vertical Launching System (3); Close-In Weapon Systems (CIWS) (3); GPS-based Positioning, Navigation and Timing Service (GPNTS) systems and associated Advanced Digital Antenna Production (ADAP) systems (6); upgraded Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC) equipment (6); Command and Control Processor (C2P) equipment (6); Multifunctional Information Distribution System Joint Tactical Radio Set (MIDS JTRS) terminals (8); Mk 34 Gun Weapon System (GWS) modification equipment, to include the Electro Optical Sight System and changes supporting Naval Fires Planner and associated TacLink Control System (3); Mode 5/S-capable Identification, Friend or Foe (IFF) systems (3); Gigabit Ethernet Data Multiplexing System (GEDMS), AN/WSN-7 Ring Laser Gyrocompass Inertial Navigation Systems, WSN-9 Digital Hybrid Speed Log systems, Common Data Link Management System (CDLMS) and Global Command and Control System-Maritime (GCCS-M) systems (3); AN/SRQ-4 Hawklink and SQQ-89 sonobuoy processing equipment (6); and a slew of development and engineering activities in support of integration and capability upgrades.

The proposed sale will enhance Australia's Surface Combatant capability by modernizing their existing three AEGIS-capable HOBART-class destroyers with the latest technology and capability, and delivering the first three (of nine) AEGIS-capable HUNTER-class Future Frigates. This sale enhances Australia's self-defense capability, while significantly improving interoperability with US Navy AEGIS combatants in the region. By deploying a surface combatant fleet that will incorporate Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC), Australia will significantly improve network-centric warfare capability for US forces operating in the region,” the DSCA statement read.

The BAE Systems Type 26 Global Combat Ship design forms the basis for the RAN’s HUNTER-class future frigate. (Image: BAE Systems)

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