BAE Systems Australia is ramping up its quest to have the Type 26 Global Combat Ship (GCS) design selected for the Royal Australian Navy’s Future Frigate requirements, with plans towards the end of this year to set up at its Canberra office a 3D visualisation capability to display the features of the specialist anti-submarine warfare ship.
According to David Bond, Chief Operating Officer of BAE Systems Australia, establishment of the 3D visualisation capability in Australia will be preceded in September by a series of supply chain engagements that will seek to assess Australian manufacturing and service enterprises via its Global Access Program (GAP), in order to determine potential for participation in GCS production for both the UK and Australian navies, as well as any other potential exports to countries such as Germany and Canada.
Prospects for the Type 26 program received a boost in March with the UK Ministry of Defence letting a GBP472 million contract to BAE Systems to extend the new vessel’s demonstration phase, which included securing the manufacture of long-lead items relating to the first batch (3 of 8) vessels to be built for the Royal Navy. The demonstration phase will run to June 2017, after which the Ministry is expected to be in a position to approve the Phase 1 ship build, leading to a first-of-class in-service date of 2022/23.
Bond said that bringing a Type 26 3D visualisation capability to Australia will help both Department of Defence representatives and local industry improve their understanding of the outstanding features of the ship, as well as improve the visibility of modifications needed to the baseline Type 26 design to accommodate CEA Technologies’ second-generation phased-array radar system.
He added that the current level of digital design achieved with the Type 26 means reaching a “sweet spot” in terms of timing with Australia’s consideration of the GCS for project SEA 5000, and the desire of the Australian government to accommodate additional technologies and systems, including CEA’s new radar.
“Incorporation of this system into the Type 26 design will be much simpler than our recent experience with the Anti-Ship Missile Defence upgrade on the ANZAC frigates, where physical modifications to accommodate the new radar system were required to be undertaken in 170 of the ships’ 180 compartments,” said Bond.
“Having a clear understanding of the Australian government’s additional capability requirements for the Future Frigate and being able to integrate these with the current state of Type 26 modelling will be critical in supporting the 2020 target date for the cutting of steel on the SEA 5000 vessels previously confirmed by Defence Minister Payne.”
Recently appointed Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne was in Cairns on August 10 to discuss opportunities for local industry in the delivery of future military capabilities outlined in the Defence White Paper. The Minister visited BAE Systems and was briefed on the support (including via the Tropical Reef Shipyard) the company provides to the Royal Australian Navy.