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Capability Acquisition & Sustainment Group

Hunter Class Frigate

Project Number:
SEA 5000 Phase 1

Royal Australian Navy


Project description

On December 14 2018 the Government signed the Head Contract with ASC Shipbuilding Pty Ltd, a subsidiary of BAE Systems Australia Ltd, to build the Hunter class frigates under Project SEA 5000 Phase 1.

The Hunter Class Frigate Program (HCFP) will provide nine frigates optimised for anti-submarine warfare to replace the Anzac class frigates based on the UK’s Type 26 Global Combat Ship, modified to meet Australian requirements. The design changes include:

-              The Aegis combat management system with the Saab Australia developed Australian Interface;

-              The Australian designed and built CEAFAR2 phased array radar;

-              Integration of systems to support Australian weapons;

-              Integration of the Seahawk Romeo Maritime Combat Helicopter;

-              Australian communications systems; and

-              Australian legislative requirements.

The HCFP is a multi-billion dollar program with the Government having approved the initial budget of $6 billion for the design activity to incorporate the Australian requirements, to conduct prototyping of ship blocks in the new shipyard under construction at Osborne in South Australia, and to order long-lead items for the first three ships.

ASC Shipbuilding and BAE Systems Australia are implementing a strategy to maximise opportunities for small to medium Australian suppliers in the build and sustainment phases (including their current supply chains).

To date, more than 1100 Australian companies have pre-qualified for inclusion in ASC Shipbuilding’s Hunter Class Frigate supply chain.

The HCFP will provide the Australian Defence Force with the highest levels of anti-submarine capability, and will set in place continuous naval shipbuilding as outlined in the Defence White Paper of 2016 and the Naval Shipbuilding Plan of 2017. It will secure Australian jobs and further invest in Australian defence industry to build and sustain the industry capability needed to design and construct our major warships over the decades to come.

Initial Operating Capability for the first of class HMAS Flinders is expected to be achieved by 2031.


Achieved / Forecast


Project Year of Commencement


Brought forward – see Government announcements below

Government First Pass Approval

April 2016

Three designers—BAE Systems, Fincantieri and Navantia—were shortlisted to refine their designs

Request For Tender (RFT) released 

March 2017

RFT released to the three shortlisted designers: BAE Systems, Fincantieri and Navantia

Combat Management System selected

October 2017

The Combat management system will be provided by the Aegis Combat Management System, together with an Australian tactical interface developed by SAAB Australia.

Government Second Pass Approval

June 2018

Completion of Competitive Evaluation Process (CEP) of the three designs and advice to Government. Government to announce Prime Contractor.

Advanced Work Agreement (AWA) signed

September 2018

The AWA allowed BAE Systems to continue to mobilise the program while the Head Contract was being negotiated

Head Contract signed

14 December 2018

The Commonwealth signed the Head Contract with ASC Shipbuilding to build nine Hunter class frigates at Osborne South Australia, with an effective date of 4 February 2019. The Head Contract contained an Australian Industrial Capability Strategy.


December 2020

Construction to commence in the Osborne South shipyard with prototyping

Steel cut

December 2022

Steel cut on the First of Class in the Osborne South shipyard

First Hunter class frigate acceptance

Late 2020s

Acceptance of the ship from ASC Shipbuilding following contractor Sea Trials

Australian businesses can participate in the Hunter Class Frigate Program by expressing their interest in the active work packages at the following link:

Government Announcements

Australian made steel for Australian frigates – 5 June 2020
New Digital Diploma to support shipbuilding capability – 31 March 2020
Hunter-Class Frigate Program maximises opportunities for local suppliers – 28 June 2019
Defence Industry Service Commendation recipients – 5 April 2019
A safer Australia - Budget 2019-20 - Defence overview – 2 April 2019
Aegis Combat System Integration Limited Tender Released – 15 February 2019
Hunter Class head contract signed – 14 December 2018
Steel raised at Osborne South Shipyard – 14 December 2018
Future Frigate combat system integrator announced – 23 November 2018
First contract for Hunter Class Frigate – 4 October 2018
Western Australia to be home of Hunter class training school – 29 June 2018
First contract for Hunter class frigate - 22 October 2018
Defending Australia and securing our shipbuilding sovereignty - 29 June 2018
New approach to Naval Combat Systems announced – 3 October 2017
Future Frigate Request For Tender released - 31 March 2016
Minister for Defence Industry announces regional Naval Shipbuilding briefings - 28 March 2017
Continuous Naval Shipbuilding, Government First Pass for SEA 5000 Phase 1 - 18 April 2016
Release of RAND Corporation Report – 16 April 2015
Bringing forward the Future Frigate Program – 4 August 2015
Continuous Naval Shipbuilding, Government First Pass for SEA 5000 Phase 1 - 18 April 2016

Defence News articles

Steel contract marks next step in frigate program – 19 June 2020
Suppliers sought for frigate program – 5 June 2020
Keeping the SEA5000 project on track – 27 May 2020
Digital diploma supports shipbuilding capability –29 April 2020

Content is current as at June 2020.

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