Australians hope NZ will buy Hunter class frigates but size and price will come into Defence considerations

Oops.  We messed up when we posted an item under the heading Navy firms its thinking about frigate replacements.

We posted the same item in March under the heading Navy planners consider replacements for ageing Anzac Class frigates.

Other media are apt to blame “gremlins” when this sort of thing happens.  At Point of Order we try to eschew superstition and the supernatural and, in this case, we happen to know carelessness was the culprit.  

Here’s what we should have posted ….  

THE NEXT major defence project on the books after the C-130J Hercules and the Boeing P-8A Poseidons are replacements for the RNZN’s two Anzac Class frigates Te Mana and Te Kaha. While these are due to remain in service until late in the next decade, planning is under way.

Across the Tasman, the Australians expect the RNZN will select the new Hunter class frigates being built by ASC in South Australia to replace the RAN’s Anzacs.  These are essentially the British BAe Type 26 ships being constructed for the Royal Navy and the Royal Canadian Navy.

However, within the Ministry of Defence and RNZAN, minds are far from settled.  The Hunters are bigger vessels intended to operate at the high end of Allied fleets based around aircraft carrier task forces.  Our Anzacs have had to work hard to keep up with US forces when operating in the Gulf.

So, planners are watching carefully a new programme under way to build a new frigate for the US Navy, designated FFG X and intended to replace the Navy’s Oliver Perry class vessel.  They will be smaller, around 4000 tons and equipped with the latest systems and weapons.

Another candidate could be the US Coastguards’ new Legend class high endurance cutters.  These are essentially frigates but carry the traditional Coastguard “Cutter” designation as they have a law enforcement role alongside a naval function.

The USCG is building 11 ships, 418ft long, displacing 4500 tons with a maximum speed of 28 knots, a range of 12,000 miles and a crew of about 148. They are powered by diesel-electric and gas.

According to the Coastguard it will have automated weapon systems capable of “stopping rogue vessels far from shore” with state-of-the-art command and control systems to provide inter-operability with the Navy, a flight deck and a full suite of sensors and defence systems.

USCG cutters have been exercising with the RNZN and RAN in the Pacific and the Coastguard Command expects deployments to this region will increase. In a sense the RNZN’s role is similar to that of the US Coastguard.

The two forces know each other well especially with the USCG icebreakers working from NZ into the Antarctic.

Both the US Navy and the US Coastguard recognise the need for more and cheaper warships to patrol areas (such as the Pacific) which have a lower-level of threat.

Even the Royal Navy has recognised the need for more smaller warships and has chosen the Babcock-Thales Group, the type T31 general purpose frigate with five ships with an average production cost of £250 million per ship. This is based on the Danish Iver Huitfeldt-class frigates with four diesel engines rated providing a maximum speed of at least 29 knots and range of 9,300 nautical miles at 18 knots.

2 thoughts on “Australians hope NZ will buy Hunter class frigates but size and price will come into Defence considerations

  1. If you argue that the Type 26 FFG (Frigate: Guided Missile) variants are designed to solely work with CBGs (Carrier Battle Groups) then you are somewhat misinformed, because that is only one part of their mission set and that actually depends upon which navy they are built for. They are an ASW (Anti-Submarine Warfare) ship, however they also can be effective in AAW (Anti-Air Warfare) and ASuW (Anti-Surface Warfare) depending upon the sensor and weapons fit. In the RN (UK Royal Navy) they are concentrating on the ASW component because they already have the Type 45 Daring class DDG (Destroyer: Guided Missile) for AAW and these and the Type 26 FFG are designated for RN QE (Queen Elizabeth) CV (Aircraft Carrier) escorts. However, only eight City class Type 26 FFG have been funded and ordered and five Type 31 FF (Frigate) have been funded and ordered to replace 19 Type 23 FFG.

    In RAN (Royal Australian Navy) and RCN (Royal Canadian Navy) service the Type 26 raison d etre is not for CBG escort but for support of Australian and Canadian national political objectives, defending Australia and Canada respectively, and providing ASW, AAW, and ASuW capabilities for their respective navies. In the RAN case escorting and protecting their LHDs, LSD, (Landing Ship: Helicopter Dock) and AORs (Oiler Replenishment Ship) as and when required during amphibious operations. The RN Type 31 is a cut down variant of the Iver Huitfeld, capability wise and wouldn’t survive in a contested environment, something that the RNZN would have to face in the Pacific.

    In NZs case such capabilities as the Type 26 possess would be required to protect HMNZS Canterbury, HMNZS Aotearoa, and army ground forces on and close to the beach during amphibious operations as well. Secondly and just as importantly, our SLOC (Sea Lines Of Communication) don’t stop at the boundary of our 200 nm EEZ but actually continue right through the South China Sea: across the Pacific to the Americas; through the Indian Ocean to the Gulf of Aqaba, the Red Sea and the Suez Canal, so we have to be able to capabilities to operate and integrate with the RAN, USN and RCN as well as the Singaporean and South Korean navies and the Japanese Maritime Self Defence Force. But the three most important navies that we MUST have interoperability with in all matters including capability are the RAN, USN & RCN. Failure to do so, will mean that when things go bad and the diplomats fail, we will be cut off, isolated and left to whither on the vine, ripe for plucking.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Type 26:Frigate isn’t going to pass the Kiwi pub test for the average kiwi punter unless the Chinese plonk a Naval Task Group and set up a Naval base somewhere in the Sth Pacific, then the Type26 Frigate would or be a shoe in. Type 31 or it’s Danish counterpart would suit NZ’s needs and more importantly more palatable to NZ public who want the NZDF to everything from Chap7 to HADR and the more boring routine stuff without high pointy bits.

    Escorting the Fleet train, NGS for a Joint ANZAC Amphibious operations or Convoy escort is just as important than being at the pointy end of High intensity operations. As the old saying goes “Logistics wins Wars”.

    I’m a firm believer that New Zealand won’t partake or will never really under take any high level intensity operations in the future and this is no thanks to the “No Mates Party” aka Nationals slash and burn, and lack investment to Defence in the 90’s which did alot of damage from top to bottom across all 3 services including me as I bugged off overseas. The Infantry Officers Coup in the early 2000’s under Labour/ Alliance Coalition was the final nail in the coffin for both Airforce and Navy, in light at was really happening in ET at time.

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