commission before the end of the decade. They will
provide a significant maritime-based air-warfare capability which we’ve not had before. They will work in a
very networked fashion with our other maritime assets,
including the E- 7 Wedgetail airborne aerial warning
aircraft, the P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft, the
MQ-4C Triton [unmanned aerial vehicle] and a range
of other modern aviation capabilities.
A recent enhancement is the acquisition of the
MH-60R Seahawk helicopter, 24 of which have been
delivered to the RAN over the past two years and are
now operational. They introduce a range of capability
improvements into the maritime environment — new
sensors, including the reintroduction of dipping sonar
into the RAN — as well as Hellfire air-to-surface missiles and the advanced Mark 54 anti-submarine torpedo.
Ultimately, we will have eight flights at sea concurrently
with the Seahawk force.
MRH-90 Taipan utility helicopters are now operational
in the fleet, having replaced the Sea Kings in the utility
and maritime support role. They provide vertrep [vertical
replenishment], search and rescue and general transport.
A significant upgrade to our Anzac-class frigates has
also been under way now for the last few years, and
most of that force of ships is back at sea having been
fitted with the highly impressive CEA Phased Array
Radar, an indigenous capability which has been proved
now in recent air-defense exercises and weapons fir-
ings, as well as a new combat management system and
various new sensors. They are now a highly potent
and most lethal maritime asset. Nine new frigates will
be built in Australia. They will be optimized for anti-
submarine warfare and brought into service from the
late-2020s to replace the eight Anzac frigates.
Recently, it was announced by the government
that two new underway replenishment ships of the
Spanish Cantabria design will be acquired and built for
Australia in Spain. These are highly capable ships and
a third support ship is forecast as likely by the end of
the next decade.
Twelve large offshore patrol vessels are also forecast
to replace our current patrol boat force. They will be
aviation capable, have long range and endurance, and
be able to undertake several roles, including enhanced
border protection and patrol missions. Steel for the
first one will be cut in 2018, so it’s an ambitious project, with all 12 ships scheduled to be in service by the
end of the next decade.
There are also upgrades to our mine countermeasures and military hydrographic force ships.