Arunta upgrade marks milestone for frigates

This article has photo gallery Published on LEUT Gary McHugh (author), ABIS Christopher Szumlanski (photographer)

Location(s): BAE Systems, Henderson, WA

Topic(s): HMAS Arunta (F151)

HMAS Arunta during its Anzac Midlife Capability Assurance Program (AMCAP) upgrade at the Australian Marine Complex in Henderson, Western Australia. (photo: ABIS Christopher Szumlanski)
HMAS Arunta during its Anzac Midlife Capability Assurance Program (AMCAP) upgrade at the Australian Marine Complex in Henderson, Western Australia.

The Warship Asset Management Agreement (WAMA) Alliance has achieved a critical milestone with the removal of HMAS Arunta’s mast during its Anzac Midlife Capability Assurance Program (AMCAP).

The mast removal is required to allow for the installation of a new radar system and was conducted at BAE Systems, Henderson, Western Australia.

WAMA Alliance Major Projects Implementation Manager CMDR Steve Ford said the program would incorporate the SEA 1448 Phase 4B Air Search Radar, a replacement to the ageing SPS49 Long Range Air search radar. 

He said the new radar was developed by the Australian company CEA Technologies and complements the existing anti-ship missile defence system.

“Once operational, this system will provide increased capability and reliability, and lead to a significant reduction in ‘through-life’ costs for the Anzac Class,” he said.

“The SEA1448 Phase 4B project will also replace the existing IFF (Identification, Friend or Foe) and secondary surveillance radar capability with a new and enhanced system.”

During its time at Henderson, Arunta will also undergo a platform systems obsolescence program to improve platform reliability and maintainability.  Work will also be done to improve the ship’s habitability for the crew, while ensuring ‘through-life’ supportability and reduced ‘total cost of ownership’ into the future.

CMDR Ford said the AMCAP period also included an upgrade to the ship’s communications systems through SEA 1442 Phase 4, which will resolve a number of obsolescence issues that have arisen since the platform was introduced in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

“This will result in significant improvements to the ship’s integrated communications system, including tactical and secure communications,” he said.

The WAMA Alliance is a strategic partnership between the Commonwealth of Australia, BAE Systems, SAAB Australia, and Naval Ship Management Australia to deliver total asset management of the Anzac Class Frigates.

Its mission is to deliver materially seaworthy warships, driving long term efficiencies to enable Navy to fight and win at sea. After completing a successful initial 18-month program agreement, the WAMA Alliance recently entered into its second program agreement term for a period of five years.

Arunta is expected to be back in service towards the end of 2019 with the remaining seven ships to completed by 2023.