The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) has announced State Department approval of a foreign military sale (FMS) to Australia of long-lead items, engineering development activities and other defence services for the RAN’s Hobart and Hunter class surface combatant programs.
The sale will support the RAN’s three Project SEA 1000 Hobart class DDGs and nine planned SEA 5000 Hunter class frigates. Included in the sale are three Lockheed Martin Aegis weapon system shipsets in the latest MK 6 Mod 1 configuration to upgrade the Hobart class vessels, and the first three Aegis shipsets for the first three Hunter class frigates.
Also for the first three Hunter vessels are three Mk41 vertical launch systems (VLS), three Mk35 gun weapon systems, three pairs of Phalanx close in weapons systems (CIWS), six shipsets of the latest configuration of the cooperative engagement capability (CEC) system for both classes, and various other supporting communications, sensors, processing, command and control, and navigation systems.
Importantly, the deal also includes six shipsets of the AN/SRQ-4 Hawklink radio terminal sets which allows the surface combatant to have over-the-horizon radar, acoustic, EO/IR and network links to embarked MH-60R Romeo combat helicopters. This capability was a surprising omission when the RAN specified the MH-60R and Hobart class requirements and, along with CEC, is a significant capability enhancement.
Defence services to be provided include the development and integration of an upgrade to the Aegis combat system to provide an integrated air and missile defence (IAMD) capability and growth capability for ballistic missile defence (BMD).
Other services will provide for the integration of the Aegis system with the global combat ship design upon which the Hunter class is based, the integration of the Hunter’s CEAFAR 2 Phased Array Radar with Aegis and CEC, and the integration of the MH-60R with the Aegis systems of both classes.