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Hunter-class frigate passes PDR milestone

BAE Systems’ Hunter-class Frigate Program has successfully completed its Preliminary Design Review (PDR). The review, which started in July, is a technical assessment that ensures the design is operationally effective and underpins the more detailed work that will now be undertaken.

More than 1,800 people are now working on the Hunter program, which is transforming Australia’s shipbuilding industry by helping build a world-class, continuous naval shipbuilding capability.

BAE Systems Australia’s Managing Director Maritime, Craig Lockhart, said: “The Hunter Class Frigate Program has come a long way from initial head contract signing, to the acceptance of the shipyard, start of prototyping work, and commencement of the first Schedule Protection Block.

The completion of the preliminary design review is another significant step forward for the program which is developing Australia’s sovereign industrial capability and is growing the nation’s engineering workforce.”

Companies from across Australia are working with BAE Systems to support the manufacture of the first batch of three Hunter class frigates. It is anticipated the program will create and sustain more than 5,000 jobs at BAE Systems and the wider Australian defence supply chain, including up to 1,000 apprentice and graduate roles.

“Through this national endeavour, we are committed to maximising opportunities for Australian industry. More than 80 contracts have been placed with Australian businesses to support the program,” said Craig Lockhart.

At Indo Pacific 2023 the company showed a model of a significantly ‘upgunned’ version of the Hunter-class frigate carrying 96 Mk41 VLS cells instead of the 32 currently arming the Hunter-class. This trebles the missile capacity of the ship at a stroke and has resulted in a design that is the same length as the Hunter-class but is slightly narrower.

The configuration of the RAN’s future surface combatant fleet has been the subject of a review which is now complete. The government will unveil its response to the review early in 2024.

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