20 Juni 2007
Hobart class-air defence destroyer for Australian Navy (image : Defense Industry Daily)
Five new Royal Australian Navy warships will be built by defence contractors in Adelaide and Melbourne in partnership with the Spanish company Navantia.
Three F100 Air Warfare Destroyers (AWD) and two amphibious landing ships will be built in an $11 billion contract which is expected to create around 2,000 new jobs through the firms ASC and Tenix.
"The Royal Australian Navy will undergo a quantum leap in its air warfare capability when the F100 enters service," the Defence Department said in a statement.
The first F100 will be delivered in 2014, with the second and third ships arriving in 2016 and 2017.
"They are very significant decisions for the future combat capability of the Royal Australian Navy," said Prime Minister John Howard.
"They represent a very long term investment in the future defence capability of this country."
Mr Howard says the ships will serve the country for decades.
"This decision will enhance our capability for years into the future, particularly - but not only - in our part of the world".
The F100 can be used for joint maritime operations from area air defence and escort duties through to peacetime diplomatic missions.
Capable of landing more than 1,000 personnel, the transporters will also be used in response to natural disasters.
South Australian Premier Mike Rann has welcomed the employment opportunities.
"We believe that the Spanish design offers enormous opportunities for a fourth ship rather than just three ships," Mr Rann said.
"We'll be certainly very strongly supporting the Federal Government making the decision for a fourth ship to be built, which of course will bring even more benefits to SA."
Victorian Industry Minister Theo Theophanous says the deal will provide a significant boost to the state's ship building industry.
"We've been working on this for a long time and we're very pleased that the Government has made the right decision for the right ship for the Navy," he said.
"It's a very large ship, it's a winning design. It will be the biggest Navy ship ever built in Australia."
The Navy failed to convince the Government to support a rival American bid for the destroyers.
Navantia's F100during visit to Australia (photo : ABC)
Arleigh Burke's design was favoured by the Navy, but was beaten by Navantia.
The executive director of the Australia Defence Association, Neil James, says the US destroyer is superior but the Government's decision is understandable.
"There's no doubt that on paper the American ship was a better ship," he said.
"The problem is, of course, it's on paper whereas the Spanish one you can see and you can touch and you can stand on the deck.
"Also, to an extent, it's cheaper and you may be able to get a fourth destroyer for pretty much the same money."