Elettronica, partners ink MOUs for Aussie frigate program

Italian-based electronic warfare specialist Elettronica has laid the groundwork for further collaboration with Thales Australia and the Australian systems house Daronmont related to the potential construction of nine new frigates for the Royal Australian Navy.

Under the Memoranda of Understanding, the parties would collaborate in the event of a successful outcome of the bidding process currently underway for the frigates’ construction.

The Elettronica/Thales Australia/Daronmont grouping would take responsibility for equipping the new ships with electronic defensive systems present in Elettronica’s Minerva package, which offers ESM, ECM (Electronic Counter Measures), EWM (Electronic Warfare Management) and communications intelligence as well as other capabilities.

Australia’s SEA 5000 Future Frigate program calls for construction of the new vessels primarily to reinforce its anti-submarine warfare capabilities. The three groups short-listed for the project are led respectively by prime contractors from Italy (Fincantieri), the United Kingdom (BAE Systems) and Spain (Navantia).

The MOUs would have effect in the event of the selection of the Fincantieri project for the new craft. A final decision by the Australian Government is expected by early summer.

“We have developed forefront technologies in the EW naval sector. For this reason, we are willing to support the Australian Navy with our solutions. We are also teaming with the most valuable partners. I think we have reason for optimism,” Enzo Benigni, Elettronica Chairman, said.

The total vale of the Future Frigate program is in the neighborhood of AUD 35 billion. Construction of the new warships is expected to begin in 2020 in South Australia, with the first of the nine vessels to enter service later in the decade. The ships are intended to replace craft in the Royal Australian Navy’s existing Anzac class.

The project presented by the Italian-led grouping is based on existing FREMM class frigates in service with the Italian, French, Royal Moroccan and Egyptian navies.