Australian shipbuilders reportedly laid down the keel for their third Hobart-class destroyer last week Thursday. According to AWD Alliance, the HMAS Sydney is the third and last destroyer of the three ships currently being built for the Royal Australian Navy. The project is being carried out under the guidance of Alliance, mission systems integrator Raytheon Australia, and the Australian Department of Defense.
A press release was issued revealing the news. The press release further disclosed that the work on the first destroyer, the HMAS Hobart, is also underway, and the initial combat systems activation is also underway.
AWD Alliance sets the tone for naval warfare
The CEO of AWD Alliance, Rod Equid, heaped praise on the shipbuilders, adding that AWD Alliance is proud of what has been accomplished so far as this marks the initiation of another landmark project under its guidance. He revealed that more than 70% of the work across the overall project has already been carried out. And in addition to that, the ships are being improved at every step. The CEO further added that it has been three years since they laid down the foundation for the first keel of the first destroyer and that in such a short span of time, the work on the third ship has already begun, which is a massive achievement.
The cost of the air warfare destroyer
The HMAS Hobart is set to be completed in June 2017, while the second ship, the HMAS Brisbane is lined up for completion in September 2018. The total cost of all three air warfare destroyers is estimated to be in the area of US$8 billion, and this project is by far the largest defense-related project in Australia’s history.
These Hobart-class ships are referred to as air warfare destroyers, but in reality, they are much more. These ships are based on the Navantia-designed Álvaro de Bazán-class frigate that’s currently in service in the Spanish Navy and have a multi-purpose weapons platform. Also known as the F-100, they are also capable of anti-surface and anti-submarine warfare operations. The ships also offer gunfire support and can be used to defend naval tasks forces from both missile and aircraft attacks.
According to AWD Alliance’s official website, the Hobart Class ships will prove to be a great asset for Australia as they will provide air defense for both vessels and land-based forces. In addition, they will provide cover to infrastructure located in coastal lines. The Hobart Class will also have a “defend and destroy” capability and be able to defend and destroy missiles and aircraft within a range of 150 kilometers. These ships can also be positioned in various law enforcement operations and used as defense aid to the civil community. Other uses include collecting environmental data, carrying out rescue operations and engaging in diplomatic roles, according to Naval-technology.com.
The Hobart class is the first vessel of the Royal Australian Navy that is being built on the drawings of the U.S. Navy’s Aegis Combat System. The 7,000-ton vessel will also include a SPY-1D air search radar and a 48-cell Mark 41 Vertical Launch System. According to USNI News, this Vertical Launch System is capable of fielding Raytheon Standard Missile 2s and the RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM).
A multipurpose vessel
These ships will also be equipped with advanced sonar systems and will be capable of anti-submarine warfare operations thanks to the surface-launched torpedoes function. These ships will be armed with a Harpoon anti-ship missile system as well, which will allow them to carry out operations against surface threats. And the flight decks of these ships will be built in such a way that they can be used for launching helicopters and unarmed aerial vehicles or drones.
These developments will surely catch the eye of China, which is looking to enhance its influence in the Asia Pacific region. Whether this will force China to reconsider its aggressive policy in this region or force Xi Jinping’s administration to speed up its naval building has yet to be seen.