Stephen Smith MP
Minister for Defence
Today I announce that the Government has given First Pass Approval for two major Defence capability projects: to provide the Australian Defence Force (ADF) with new deployable air traffic management and control systems; and to modernise the communications capability of the Royal Australian Navy’s eight Anzac class frigates.
The Government has also approved the consolidation of the F/A-18A/B Hornet structural refurbishment programs.
The three announcements combined will involve expenditure of between $650 million and $950 million by the time they are completed.
The deployable air traffic management and control systems, to be acquired under Project AIR 5431 Phase 1, will enable the ADF to safely manage airspace in deployed locations, overseas or in Australia.
The air traffic management and control systems could be deployed in a range of situations including in the event of a natural disaster or to support humanitarian relief efforts.
Project AIR 5431 Phase 1 is cost capped between $100 million and $150 million. Government will make a final decision on approval for the project in the period 2012-13 to 2014-15.
The new Anzac Frigate communications equipment will be acquired under Project SEA 1442 Phase 4, part of a comprehensive communications modernisation project for RAN ships.
The new modern systems will enable faster information transfer between Navy’s ships which is essential in modern war fighting.
Project Sea 1442 Phase 4 is cost capped between $300 million and $500 million. Government will make a final decision on this project in the period 2012-13 to 2014-15.
The Government has also approved the consolidation of a range of refurbishment work on the Royal Australian Air Force’s, F/A?18A/B Hornets into a combined program, with cost-capped expenditure between $250 million and $300 million.
This combined program is estimated to result in savings of more than $500 million over the previously planned approach, but deliver the same enhanced capability result. It will also increase the operational availability of the overall fleet of classic Hornets.
The classic Hornets have been in service for 25 years. This consolidated program will help to ensure that the Hornets continue as a key element of the ADF’s air combat capability through to the end of this decade when they will be replaced by the Joint Strike Fighter.
The consolidated refurbishment program will offer ongoing opportunities for Australian industry, with the potential to attract a skilled workforce to the Newcastle/Port Stephens region.
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