The keel for the third and final air warfare destroyer of the Hobart-class was laid down on November 19. The third destroyer, HMAS Sydney, is the last of three ships currently being built for the Royal Australian Navy under the direction of the Alliance — the project coordinator responsible for managing the works of shipbuilder ASC, mission systems integrator Raytheon Australia, and the Australian Department of Defense .
The press release also notes that initial combat systems activation on the first destroyer of the Hobart-class, the HMAS Hobart, has begun. “We are proud of this further progress. Production is now more than 70 percent complete across the project and significant productivity improvements are being realized from ship to ship. We have come a long way since our first keel-laying ceremony was held three years ago,” emphasized AWD Alliance CEO, Rod Equid.
The lead ship, HMAS Hobart, is slated for completion in June 2017, followed by the HMAS Brisbane in September 2018, and the HMAS Sydney in March 2020. Total costs for the new class of air warfare destroyers are estimated to be over $8 billion. It is the largest defense procurement project ever undertaken by Australia to date.
While the Hobart-class ships, based on the Navantia-designed Álvaro de Bazán-class frigate (aka F-100) in service with the Spanish Navy, are referred to as “air warfare destroyers,” they, in fact, will be multi-purpose weapons platforms that can be used for anti-surface and anti-submarine warfare operations, as well as gunfire support roles, next to the defending naval task forces from aircraft and missile attacks.
“The Hobart Class will provide air defense for vessels, land-based forces, and infrastructure in coastal lines. It will also defend and destroy missiles and aircraft within a range of 150 km. The destroyers can also be deployed in law enforcement operations, defense aid to the civil community, collection of environmental data, rescue operations, and diplomatic roles,” naval-technology.com explains.
The 7,000-ton Hobart-class will be the first vessels of the Royal Australian Navy built around the U.S. Navy’s Aegis Combat System and will include “a SPY-1D air search radar, a 48-cell Mark 41 Vertical Launch System capable of fielding Raytheon Standard Missile 2s and the RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM),” according to USNI News.
In addition, the ships will be equipped with advanced sonar systems and surface-launched torpedoes for anti-submarine warfare operations, and the Harpoon anti-ship missile system for use against surface threats, among a host of other armaments. The ships will also be capable of launching helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) from their flight decks. By Franz-Stefan Gady