Australian Suppliers Sought for Hunter Frigate Program

Over 150 Australian businesses have registered to supply equipment, services, and materials to the $35 billion Hunter frigate program, due to commence in 2022.

Under tender to British-based international defence and aerospace contractor BAE Systems Australia subsidiary ASC Shipbuilding, the prototyping phase is open to an estimated $20 million in contracts across two specific supplier categories.

In “Category D”, the Hunter program is seeking 100% Australian services and supplies.

From December 2020, five ship blocks will be built at the Osborne Naval Shipyard, in South Australia. This will form the basis for the processes, systems, and facilities required for full-scale construction in 2022.

The Hunter class frigates are anti-submarine warfare ships. The Royal Australian Navy has commissioned nine such ships to be built. This marks the biggest surface ship project in Australian defence history.

The Hunter-class will replace the aging Anzac-class. These “future frigates” will have an operational lifespan of 25 to 30 years. The names of first three ships were announced as the HMAS Hunter, Flinders, and Tasman.

“The Hunter program is committed to maximising opportunities for Australian suppliers through supply contracts and initiatives to nurture and grow small-to-medium sized businesses,” said Craig Lockhart, Managing Director of ASC Shipbuilding at an Adelaide procurement update session on the 25th of June.

“[T]his is a genuine opportunity for our team to help Australian businesses bid for upcoming contracts to supply equipment and materials for the prototyping blocks, like scaffolding, pipes, steel, deck coverings, cables and insulation, as well as services, like outfitting and painting.

“By maximising opportunities for local suppliers through contracts for supply and initiatives to nurture and grow small-to-medium sized businesses, we are raising the Australian defence industry’s ability to compete for and win domestic and international maritime work.

“That’s one of our strategies and commitments to building a world-class, sovereign capability for continuous naval shipbuilding for this country.”

The Hunter frigate program is part of a large-scale continuous naval shipbuilding program worth $90 billion. The Osborne Naval Shipyard is also the home of the Offshore Patrol Vessel program, lead by ASC Shipbuilding. ASC also oversaw the Air Warfare Destroyer reform program in 2014.

RAN has also expressed interest in building twelve new Barracuda-class derivative submarines.

The recently re-elected Morrison Coalition Government committed $50 million to a Manufacturing Modernisation Fund, aimed at stimulating $160 million worth of business investment in new technology and processes.

Suppliers can register their interest at the Industry Capability Network here: www.icn.org.au.

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