With the Hunter Class Frigate Program (HCFP) nearly at the end of its prototype stage, BAE Systems Australia is calling for requests for information from Australian businesses with capacity and capability to support the construction and delivery of nine of the world’s most advanced warships for the Royal Australian Navy.
BAE Systems started working with ICN to identify local suppliers during the program tender phase, and in June 2018, the Australian Government announced the company was preferred tenderer to build the anti-submarine warfare (ASW) frigates.
Australian companies, including Altrad Services Pty Ltd, Codha Wireless and PRP Manufacturing, have already played a role in Hunter’s prototyping phase, which commenced in December 2020 and enables the workforce to de-risk the program by progressively testing and refining processes, systems and tools, as well as workforce competencies, at the state-of-the-art Osborne Naval Shipyard, in Adelaide’s northwest.
During prototyping BAE Systems continues to collaborate closely with the Commonwealth to mature the frigate design, and in the shipyard the first prototype block, 140-tonne Block 16, is successfully constructed, while units for the four subsequent prototype blocks are being manufactured. Quality and precision has been exemplary, such that construction will commence on the first Hunter ship block in May 2023 – 13 months earlier than previously announced.
The frigates are built in blocks: there are 22 blocks in one ship, and each block is made up of one to seven units.
During prototyping BAE Systems has also worked with industry and academia to explore, develop and trial local technologies and innovations that could improve safety for employees and contribute to production and cost efficiencies, as well as environmental benefits.
The Hunter class frigates are regarded as among the world’s most advanced ASW vessels, with a true multi-mission capability which means the ship can undertake a wide range of roles, from high intensity warfare to humanitarian assistance.
ICN SA Supply Chain Manager, Defence, David Royle, said it was pleasing to see BAE Systems engaging extensively with Australian industry and awarding contracts to local businesses around Australia that will support the first batch of three ships.
“BAE Systems is using ICN Gateway to call for requests for information in a range of work packages,” David said.
“We will continue to advise of Hunter program engagement events through ICN email notifications, so to ensure you are kept up to date, please make sure you have a registered account with the ICN against the HCFP.”
More than 1,300 people are currently working on the HCFP, including 30 apprentices, 20 graduates and 12 interns, and at its peak, BAE Systems estimates about 2,200 people will be working on the program.
Meanwhile, BAE, Saab Australia, industry partners and government have developed a Cyber Framework for the Defence Industry (CFDI) to measure and increase the cyber resilience of SMEs wanting to work on Defence programs.
It aims to support companies self-manage their cyber security requirements and risks.
“We want more Australian SMEs to provide services and new technologies into defence programs because a more diverse supply chain enables greater levels of innovation,” BAE Systems Australia Chief Information & Digital Officer, Michael Salas, said.
“The Cyber Framework is a great start for SMEs wanting to self-assess their level of cyber risk.”
To find out more about the Hunter program, go to the ICN Gateway.