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Combat systems agreement boosts Australian sovereign shipbuilding capability

Integration of the complex combat systems on the Royal Australian Navy’s existing Hobart-class destroyers and planned Hunter-class frigates will be done in Australia, following an agreement between three of the country’s largest defence companies and the Department of Defence.

BAE Systems Australia, Lockheed Martin Australia, Saab Australia and Defence have signed a Combat System Integration (CSI) Collaboration Agreement (CCA) that will grow a long-term, cost-effective and agile CSI sovereign industrial capability for the Navy’s major surface combatants. The agreement is another significant step towards the development of continuous naval shipbuilding in Australia.

Specifically, the collaborative relationship will support CSI in surface vessels fitted with the US Navy’s Aegis combat management system produced by Lockheed Martin and with an Australian Interface developed by Saab Australia. The Interface is based on the 9LV Mk3E combat management that Saab Australia has built for the RAN’s ANZAC-class frigates and other non-Aegis surface ships.

“Key to delivering the high-end warfighting capabilities for Australia’s naval surface fleet is the design, installation and integration of the combat management systems into a warship,” said BAE Systems Australia — Maritime Managing Director, Craig Lockhart. “And that’s why we worked so hard to secure this collaborative arrangement with Defence, Lockheed Martin Australia and Saab Australia.

Through the CCA, BAE Systems Australia, Lockheed Martin Australia, Saab Australia and Defence have established the Combat System Integration – Integrated Project Team (CSI-IPT). The CSI-IPT team will comprise professionals from the Department of Defence and an equal mix of combat systems integration professionals from each of the industry organisations, facilitating a ‘one team’ approach.

As part of the CSI-IPT, all four organisations will work collaboratively to design, integrate, test and deliver the integrated combat system for the Hunter-class frigates and the major combat systems upgrade to the Hobart-class destroyers.

“Working together makes us stronger,” said Steve Froelich of Lockheed Martin Australia and New Zealand. “The CCA aligns all four organisations on a joint path of success to ensure Australia’s security, economic growth and ongoing military interoperability with the US and allied partners across the Indo-Pacific.”

Saab Australia has decades of experience building successful combat systems for the RANs surface fleet, noted Saab Australia managing director Andy Keough CSC. “Through this collaborative partnership, and as the nation’s sovereign combat management system provider for the Royal Australian Navy’s Surface Fleet, we are strengthening Australia’s sovereign defence capability and jointly developing the skilled workforce we need to deliver future programs.”

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