The Commonwealth has confirmed that the Royal Australian Navy’s Collins class submarine Life-of-Type Extension (LTE) and Hobart class destroyer upgrade will be conducted at the Osborne yard in Adelaide.
The announcement puts to rest previously-suggested moves to transition all Collins class full docking cycle maintenance work to Henderson near Fremantle to make room for the now cancelled Attack class build and other naval programs at Osborne.
The LTE of the Collins class is designed to see the boats through to the 2040s by which time they will be replaced by nuclear attack submarines, the announcement of which was made on the same day. The first submarine to be inducted into the full docking cycle will be HMAS Farncomb in 2026, with the rest of class reportedly following at roughly two-year intervals.
The announcement also revealed the RAN’s three Hobart class destroyers – which were only recently declared fully operational – will receive a $5.1 billion upgrade at Osborne from 2024.
“South Australia is home to some of the most skilled shipbuilding workers in the world, they have the know-how, ingenuity, industrial knowledge and determination that is required to provide our Defence Force with the very best capability,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in a September 16 joint release.
Defence Minister Peter Dutton said, “The Collins class submarine to this day remains one of the most capable conventional submarines in the world. The planned Life-of-Type Extension, through the replacement of key systems, will help deliver Defence’s strategic objectives.
“The upgrade to the Aegis combat management system will ensure our fleet of Hobart class air warfare destroyers maintain their capability-edge into the future,” Mr Dutton added.
While details on the upgrade of the destroyers are scarce, it is believed to include an upgrade to the ships’ Aegis combat system to at least a Baseline 9 or possibly Baseline 10 (BL9/BL10) configuration, and possibly the replacement of the SPY-1D(V) primary sensors with more modern Raytheon SPY-6(V)1 or (V)4 radars being developed for the US Navy’s Arleigh Burke class Flight III and Flight IIA destroyers respectively.
The Aegis BL10 and SPY-6 combination provides a more comprehensive ballistic missile defence capability when paired with SM-6 missiles, for which Australia has commenced the approval process to acquire.