Hunter Class Frigate

On December 14 2018 the Government signed the Head Contract with ASC Shipbuilding Pty Ltd now known as BAE Systems Maritime Australia, a subsidiary of BAE Systems Australia Ltd, to build the Hunter class frigates under Project SEA 5000 Phase 1.

The Hunter Class Frigate Program (HCFP) will provide six frigates optimised for anti-submarine warfare to replace the Anzac class frigates based on the UK’s Type 26 Global Combat Ship, modified to meet Australian requirements. The design changes include:

-              The Aegis combat management system with the Saab Australia developed Australian Interface;

-              The Australian designed and built CEAFAR2 phased array radar;

-              Integration of systems to support Australian weapons;

-              Integration of the Seahawk Romeo Maritime Combat Helicopter;

-              Australian communications systems; and

-              Australian legislative requirements.

The HCFP is a multi-billion dollar program with the Government having approved the initial budget of $6 billion for the design activity to incorporate the Australian requirements, to conduct prototyping of ship blocks in the new shipyard under construction at Osborne in South Australia, and to order long-lead items for the first three ships.

BAE Systems Maritime Australia is implementing a strategy to maximise opportunities for small to medium Australian suppliers in the build and sustainment phases (including their current supply chains).

To date, more than 1400 Australian companies have pre-qualified for inclusion in BAE Systems Maritime Australia’s Hunter class frigate supply chain.

The HCFP will provide the Australian Defence Force with the highest levels of anti-submarine capability, and will set in place continuous naval shipbuilding as outlined in the Defence White Paper of 2016 and the Naval Shipbuilding Plan of 2017. It will secure Australian jobs and further invest in Australian defence industry to build and sustain the industry capability needed to design and construct our major warships over the decades to come.

Initial Operating Capability for the first of class HMAS Flinders is expected to be achieved by 2031.

Deliverable Achieved / Forecast Notes
Project Year of Commencement 2015 Brought forward – see Government announcements below
Government First Pass Approval April 2016 Three designers—BAE Systems, Fincantieri and Navantia—were shortlisted to refine their designs
Request For Tender (RFT) released  March 2017 RFT released to the three shortlisted designers: BAE Systems, Fincantieri and Navantia
Combat Management System selected October 2017 The Combat management system will be provided by the Aegis Combat Management System, together with an Australian tactical interface developed by SAAB Australia.
Government Second Pass Approval June 2018 Completion of Competitive Evaluation Process (CEP) of the three designs and advice to Government. Government to announce Prime Contractor.
Advanced Work Agreement (AWA) signed September 2018 The AWA allowed BAE Systems to continue to mobilise the program while the Head Contract was being negotiated
Head Contract signed 14 December 2018 The Commonwealth signed the Head Contract with ASC Shipbuilding now known as BAE Systems Maritime Australia to build nine Hunter class frigates at Osborne South Australia, with an effective date of 4 February 2019. The Head Contract contained an Australian Industrial Capability Strategy.
Prototyping 18 December 2020 Prototyping on the HCFP commences at Osborne Naval Shipyard - South in Adelaide
Steel cut December 2022 Steel cut on the First of Class at Osborne Naval Shipyard - South in Adelaide
First Hunter class frigate acceptance Late 2020s Acceptance of the ship from BAE Systems Maritime Australia following contractor Sea Trials

Australian businesses can participate in the Hunter Class Frigate Program by expressing their interest in the active work packages at the following link:

Government Announcements

Steel cutting marks major milestone for Hunter Class Frigate Program – 18 December 2020 
Indigenous connections opens new pathways for Hunter Class Frigate Program – 12 November 2020
Australia and the United Kingdom cooperate on frigate programs – 20 October 2020
Hunter Class Frigate Program engagement with Australian industry grows – 15 October 2020
SA jobs boom as Osborne Shipyard is complete – 26 September 2020
Hunter Class Frigate Program doing more with Australian industry – 16 September 2020
Australian steel to support Hunter Class Frigate prototyping – 15 September 2020
Morrison Government creating new jobs through its Hunter Class Frigates Program – 1 September 2020
Creating opportunities for Australian industry in the Hunter Class Frigate Program – 13 August 2020
First intake of apprentices for Hunter Class Frigate Program – 13 July 2020
Australian made steel for Australian frigates – 5 June 2020
New Digital Diploma to support shipbuilding capability – 31 March 2020
Hunter-Class Frigate Program maximises opportunities for local suppliers – 28 June 2019
Defence Industry Service Commendation recipients – 5 April 2019
A safer Australia - Budget 2019-20 - Defence overview – 2 April 2019
Aegis Combat System Integration Limited Tender Released – 15 February 2019
Hunter Class head contract signed – 14 December 2018
Steel raised at Osborne South Shipyard – 14 December 2018
Future Frigate combat system integrator announced – 23 November 2018
First contract for Hunter Class Frigate – 4 October 2018
Western Australia to be home of Hunter class training school – 29 June 2018
First contract for Hunter class frigate - 22 October 2018
Defending Australia and securing our shipbuilding sovereignty - 29 June 2018
New approach to Naval Combat Systems announced – 3 October 2017
Future Frigate Request For Tender released - 31 March 2016
Minister for Defence Industry announces regional Naval Shipbuilding briefings - 28 March 2017
Continuous Naval Shipbuilding, Government First Pass for SEA 5000 Phase 1 - 18 April 2016
Release of RAND Corporation Report – 16 April 2015
Bringing forward the Future Frigate Program – 4 August 2015

Defence News articles

Preparation underway to build new frigates – 7 January 2021 
Indigenous contract for Hunter-class frigate – 1 December 2020
Steel contract marks next step in frigate program – 19 June 2020
Suppliers sought for frigate program – 5 June 2020
Keeping the SEA5000 project on track – 27 May 2020
Digital diploma supports shipbuilding capability –29 April 2020


Content is current as at 14 January 2021.