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BAE Systems Starts Design Work on Hunter-class Australian Frigate

Hunter-class version of BAE Type 26 frigate. BAE artist rendering

BAE Systems and the Australian government signed a contract on Friday to start detailed design and engineering work for the Royal Australian Navy’s planned Hunter-class frigate.

The Hunter-class frigate mission will primarily involve anti-submarine warfare, surface warfare, missile defense, surveillance and interdiction missions. The frigates will be outfitted with CEA Phased-Array Radar and the Aegis combat management system, according to the Royal Australian Navy.

“I am delighted that we are embarking on the biggest surface ship project in the nation’s defense history,” Gabby Costigan, BAE Systems Australia chief executive said in a statement. “The Hunter-class frigates will be built in South Australia by an Australian workforce, using suppliers from across the country, which will see Australian defense industry develop and sustain a world-class, sovereign naval shipbuilding capability.”

In June, BAE subsidiary ASC Shipbuilding signed a $26-billion contract to design and build nine Hunter-class frigates based on the company’s Type 26 design. Steel for the first ship is expected to be cut in 2022. The Australians intend to commission the first Hunter-class frigates later in the 2020s.

The Hunter-class frigate has a displacement of about 9,700 tons full load and is 488-feet long, according to a Royal Australian Navy. They are set to replace the existing class of ANZAC frigates.

Meanwhile, BAE is building for the U.K. Royal Navy eight Type 26 frigates at the BAE shipyard in Glasgow, Scotland. These frigates will protect the Royal Navy’s new Queen Elizabeth-class of aircraft carrier, according to the Royal Navy. The Royal Canadian Navy is also considering the Type 26 design for its new frigate class.