Warships to get anti-missile system
AUSTRALIA'S new warships will have the capability to shoot down long-range missiles including those from rogue states such as North Korea.
The Royal Australian Navy will add nine new anti-submarine frigates with anti-missile capabilities to its fleet, complete with the multi-billion dollar technology, with construction planned to begin in 2020.
"Recent events in our region have proven that Australia's future frigates must be equipped to defend Australia from the threat of medium and long-range missile attacks,” Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told the Pacific 17 maritime and naval showcase, referencing North Korea.
"We must have the capability to meet and defeat them.”
North Korea said in August Australia had committed a "suicide act” by aligning with the United States.
"This is a suicidal act of inviting disaster, as it is an illustration of political immaturity, unaware of the seriousness of the current situation,” KCNA, Korea's official news agency, said at the time.
The Prime Minister unveiled his "important step forward keeping Australia safe” at the showcase, as he described Australia's "largest recapitilisation, regeneration of Australia's navy in peacetime”.
In his speech, Mr Turnbull predicted a "complex threat environment” and said Australia needed the best ships that can deal "effectively both over and under the water”.
Yet Mr Turnbull claimed the defence of our nation on the high seas was "stronger than ever at every level and in every field, whether it is defending Australia from regional or global threats, from threats from rogue states like North Korea, from threats of terrorism, from threats right here at home.”
Mr Turnbull said the new ships were "bringing the most advanced manufacturing, the most advanced technological skills” to "build the navy of our future”.
The announcement comes after a series of tests by North Korea of its medium and long-range ballistic miles. It's sixth nuclear test was launched on September 3.
The government says it hopes America's Aegis combat management system will protect Australia "in the decades ahead”, according to a statement from the Prime Minister's office.
"This decision will maximise the future frigate's air warfare capabilities, enabling these ships to engage threat missiles at long range, which is vital given rogue states are developing missiles with advanced range and speed.”
Currently, three of the Royal Australian Navy's fleet use the system, the Hobart-class air warfare destroyers, use the same system. More than 100 ships use the technology globally, including the United States, Spain and South Korea.
Previously tenders for combat management systems were requested for individual ships but now the government is moving to a bulk order.
"That approach was shortsighted and we consider it no longer in the national interest,” Mr Turnbull said.
Navy chief Tim Barrett said the decision meant sailors would only have to deal with one standard system.
Under the plan, the frigates will use a Lockheed Martin Aegis combat management system with an Australian tactical interface from SAAB Australia.