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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.

  • Duane

    At 9,700 tons “frigate” does not seem to fit .. it is as big as our destroyers and cruisers.

    Ship names seem to have lost their functional meanings.

  • Horn

    I’ve always hated the ship classification nomenclature among different navies. This is clearly a destroyer.

    • Ctrot

      Destroyer carries too much of a violent connotation.

      • Duane

        Annoyers then.

      • PolicyWonk

        This is correct, and easily explains why there are some mighty large “frigates” out there…

      • Ser Arthur Dayne

        That’s why there should be more Cruisers! All they do is Cruise, just chill, cruise around, don’t bother nobody, just chillin & cruisin…. Cruisers FTW!

    • thebard3

      I’m waiting on the navy to commission a ‘corvette’.

  • johnbull

    Ship classifications are sort of silly. Why call something nearly 10,000 tons a frigate? If it’s a cruiser call it that, a destroyer call it that.

    • Ser Arthur Dayne

      I hear that! A year or two ago this very forum was basically saying it was plain-jane-obvious that a 9,000-ton ship was OBVIOUSLY a cruiser, but we call our DDG-51s a “Destroyer” and the rest of the world follows …. now we have 9,000-ton “frigate” — lol. C’mon now.

      • old guy

        “A rose by any other name would…..” A ship, by ANY name is either a combat ship or a support ship. Divisions can be by displacement, mission or whatever clearly its purpose.

    • Hugh

      And the smaller AWDs (2 built and 1 building) are called “Destroyers”……..??

      • Rob C.

        Classifications don’t really mean much in the modern navies these days. Either their small combatant or their large. I think with the Aussie Navy going have a lot more up keep if all their combatants all-purpose ships with AEGIS. It was undertaking just to get the AWDs going. I would though the replacement frigates were to be the cheaper ships…

    • publius_maximus_III

      Dad’s WW-II destroyer (DD-384) displaced 1,490 tons. Big enough to make it all the way through that little conflict in the Pacific.

      • Ctrot

        And the Mahan class was ARMED TO THE TEETH. Much unlike recent attempts at “small warships”.

        • Lazarus

          Armed to the teeth with short range, unguided and largely undirected weapons. ASCM test shots on larger Gearing and Sumner class ships often resulted in broken backs and quick sinking from even one Harpoon hit.

        • Duane

          The Viking longships were also armed to the teeth – for the 9th century, that is. They would not have lasted 5 minutes in a battle with 16th century warships armed with cannons.

          And those old WW Two era destroyers wouldn’t last five minutes against even small Iranian speedboats armed with anti ship cruise missiles.

          • Ctrot

            Bravo. An 80 year old DD design can be sunk with missiles. Slow clap.

    • Shlomo Goldberg

      In Commonwealth Royal Navy designations, a frigate is for ASW and surface warfare and a destroyer is for anti-air. It’s irrespective of hull size or displacement

    • old guy

      It’s absolutely appropriate when it is only as capable as a frigate.(e.g. our LCS upgrade).

  • Ed L

    Me thinks “Ship of the Line” sounds better than Frigate. RN build 20. Remembering the Spruance Class DDG, I recently seen models of the 963 class warships with a completely redesign superstructure. 2 CWIS, 2 SeaRams, 16 Harpoon, Latest ECM, Radar. The Bridge was reduced to about half it size with nice large Bridge Wings with a place for Machine Guns. VLS launchers fore and aft. Hanger with flight deck and changing the 5 inch our for the 8″ 71 gun mounts. The out of the box thinkers wanted to gut the DDG 963 in there as built configuration. The Airforce does it all the time with there Bomber and tanker fleet. But that is never going to happen since all the Hulls have been scrapped. with exception of one

    • Duane

      Ship of the line doesn’t fit either. That was the term back in the days of sailing ships for the very large warships that fight in “line of battle” – literally they form a line and hammer away at each other. While frigates were sort of the greyhounds of the naval fleets, being faster and more maneuverable, their job was to scout out the enemy ships for the ships of the line, as well as to engage other frigates and harass smaller ships and merchantmen.

      Frigate is really a meaningless term in the 21st century … navies need to come up with functional classifications that make sense in the 21st century.

      Destroyer is also a term that doesn’t make a lot of sense – its original use in the 20th century was for relatively small, narrow beamed and very fast escorts and sub killers, as well as general naval support of amphibious invasions (gunnery etc.). Today’s destroyers are vastly larger and perform entirely different roles, primarily in fleet support and missile defense.

      Ditto with cruisers.

      We really need an entirely new set of ship type names – I don’t have a list ready to propose, but it seems like a worthy effort for the Navy leaders to take up.

      • Ed L

        I disagree, The Type 26 with it armament is just as formidable as a Burke or Tico or most other FFG or DDG’s in the world. Instead of facing off with broadside to broadside, face to face. they face off in OTH situations with exceptions of an engagement in and around choke points. Whoever gets lucky first or has the deepest magazines wins.

        • Duane

          I did not say that the Type 26 has no teeth, but it will never function in a “line of battle”. That term only had meaning in the days of sailing ships with huge numbers of cannons shooting broadsides of iron balls at most a mile or so distant.

          Whatever naval warfare is today, and will be for the next 50 years, it is not like that.

          • Ed L

            Not into alternate history are you. Thomaston LSD loaded with Marines get sucked into a time vortex back to 1776 where it defeats the British Fleet with it’s 6 x 2 3”50’ mounts and in the well deck are four m-60 tanks with 300 Marines who defeat the British Army on North America.

          • fxreyman

            You are probably a huge fan of 1980 release of The Final Countdown with Kirk Douglas, James Farentino and Katherine Ross, where the USS Nimitz is transported back to December 6th 1941.

        • fxreyman

          A comparison between the Type 26 and a Burke class IS almost correct. The Burkes carry an additional 24 VLS tubes. The Sea Ceptor missiles which these ships will carry in a 48 cell VLS is similar to the US Navy’s ESSM missiles. The ships will also be fitted to carry a long range strike capability with a 24 VLS load out of Tomahawks, Asroc and when it is ready to deploy, the LRASM. But the load out of the Burkes is stronger and the ship although, about 2,000 tons heavier than the Type 26’s still has a speed advantage of 4 knots. There is NO comparison between a Tico and a Type 26. The Tico’s, although a much older design (based on the 963 class) is faster, and has a much larger missile capacity, plus 2 five inch guns and enough room to accommodate flag quarters.

          • Rudeboy

            I wouldn’t read much into the RN’s speed figures…..they’re notoriously unreliable. Deliberately so.
            T26 is designed to escort the QE Class, just like the T45. She’ll do 32 knots….

            Remember the QE only being able to do 25 knots? On her second day of sea trials she hit 29.2 knots, then the AIS was switched off. In reality she’ll hit 32 knots, which makes her the fastest carrier in service anywhere…

        • The British Type 26 is a single-role ASW ship and half of them won’t even be any good at that since they don’t have enough towed arrays and helicopters for all of them. The AAW system is only good for point defense and the ASuW system is limited to the 5″ gun.

          The Australian Type 26 fixes most of those deficiencies, but it will still have just 1/3 the missile battery of a Burke and a less capable combat system.

    • publius_maximus_III

      I’ve always liked “Man ‘O War” — but these days, they would also have to build a line of “Woman ‘O War” hospital ships and oilers. And of course, there would be the “Tranny of War” transports, etc…

      • You really think you would get away with assigning “Woman O’War” to hospital ships and oilers? Don’t you know that women are just as good as men in every way?

        • publius_maximus_III

          If that’s true, then why don’t they lift the seat when they’re through.

        • publius_maximus_III

          p.s. I knew you were being sarcastic….

  • DaSaint

    UK, Australia, Canada (should they pass their protest review), maybe Chile and Brazil next…

    • Rudeboy

      Suspect not for either of them. Chile will probably be picking up some UK T23’s as they retire (they already have some T23’s and 22’s), and the T26 is probably too much ship for their needs.
      Both Brazil and Chile if they were interested in something new would be more likely to go for the T31 when it arrives. If the BAE Leander design is chosen Brazil already has experience with the gun and River Class ships, for Chile they will have experience with the weaponry.

      • DaSaint

        Have to agree with your points re: Chile. Disagree re: Brazil, as they’re spending to build 4 modern French-designed Scorpene-class SSKs, the first of which was just launched last Friday. ( http :// navyrecognition .com/index.php/news/defence-news/2018/december/6706-brazil-launches-its-first-naval-group-scorpene-class-submarine-riachuelo.html )

        • Rudeboy

          Those were ordered a long time ago. The budget isn’t as good for Brazil as it was then…Realistically they’ve no need for a T26 type vessel. They’re not going to be hunting Russian or Chinese SSN’s.

  • Adrian Ah

    Where does that weight come from?

    Weaponry is standard European- 32 mk 41 VLS cells and a 5 inch gun, some torpedoes. Ship dimensions are similar to most “frigates”. There’s no mention of extra thickness of steel. That leaves engines and sensors. Are they really 2000 tons more than the Hobart class’s?

    • Duane

      These Hunter class frigates are a bit longer and a lot beamier than what we used to call a frigate in the USN.

      In comparison with our former Oliver Hazard Perry frigates:

      OHP – displaced 4,200 tons, 453 ft long, and 45 foot beam

      Hunter class – displaces 9,700 tons, 492 ft, and 67 ft beam

    • The sensor suite is vastly more capable than that of a Hobart, more advanced silencing, bulkier electric drive, modern habitability standards, greater growth margins – it all adds up.

  • old guy

    It might be fortuitous if the USN joined the Brits during Preliminary design. Merge the great ideas.