The Australian Navy will anticipate delivery of the world’s best technology as part of a multi-billion dollar investment unveiled by the Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, in Sydney on 3 October.
Announced to coincide with the biennial Sea Power Conference with senior naval delegations, and Defence industry representatives from around the world in attendance, the new approach for combat management systems will ensure Navy’s future ships are fitted out to protect Australia in the decades ahead.
Under the plan, the combat management system for Australia’s fleet of nine future frigates will be provided by the Aegis Combat Management System, together with an Australian tactical interface, which will be developed by SAAB Australia.
This decision will maximise the frigates’ air warfare capabilities, enabling the ships to engage threat missiles at long range, which is vital given rogue states are developing missiles with advanced range and speed.
Once delivered, the ships are likely to be operating in a complex and growing threat environment. By bringing together the Aegis system, with a cutting-edge Australian tactical interface, threats above and below the surface will be countered, while also ensuring Australia maintains sovereign control of key technologies.
In the past, Defence has tendered combat management systems individually, which has meant that Navy has operated numerous systems at the same time. This has not allowed defence industry to strategically invest for the long-term and has also increased the cost of training, maintenance and repair.
The Australian Government has now mandated that where the high-end warfighting capabilities of the Aegis system are not required, a SAAB Australia developed combat management system will be used on all of Australia’s future ship projects.
This includes mandating a SAAB Australia combat management system on the upcoming offshore patrol vessels, which will be built in Australia from 2018, and an Australian tactical interface developed by SAAB Australia for the Hobart class air warfare destroyers when their Aegis combat management system is upgraded in the future, consistent with the 2016 Defence White Paper.
It also guarantees the development of a long-term sustainable Australian Combat Management System industry, which is integral to the implementation of the Government’s Naval Shipbuilding Plan.