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Australia to Upgrade Adelaide-Class Ships, Eyes UAV Fleet


The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) will upgrade four of its Adelaide-class frigates under a $402.5 million program, Australian Defense Minister Robert Hill announced July 15. The units to be upgraded are the HMAS Darwin, Melbourne, New Castle and Sydney, with completion scheduled for early 2009. Funding for the program will mainly derive from the savings associated with the decommissioning of two units from the class in 2006.

The improvements are expected to take place in Australia at the Garden Reach facility with the ships’ Mk 13 launchers being modified for the Standard Missile-2 (SM-2) as well as modifications to the Mk 92 fire-control systems.

The introduction of the SM-2 into the RAN will significantly improve the range of the sea service’s area air defenses and can be considered the prelude to the Air Warfare Destroyer Program, for which the SM-2 will form the basis of the area air defense network. The Air Warfare Destroyer program is expected to begin by 2007.

In another move, Hill announced that a request for proposal (RfP) for a fleet of tactical unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) worth $73 million to $110 million would be issued by the end of July. The responses are due in November with an award currently scheduled for May 2005.

Preliminary information calls for a fleet of UAVs capable of launching in a variety of ways, including conventional wheeled takeoff and landing, catapult launch and parachute landing, and vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL), as well as rotary wing configurations.

Although the Australian Army would operate the systems, the capability would include unmanned maritime patrol and surveillance from shore facilities as well as leaving open the possibility for the RAN’s surface combatants to be equipped with the VTOL or rotary wing UAVs.

Italian Navy Launches Conte di Cavour-Class Carrier

Italy launched the first and only unit of the Conte di Cavour-class aircraft carrier July 20 from Fincantieri’s Riva Trigoso shipyard. Formerly known as Andrea Doria, the new carrier is expected to begin sea trials in 2006 with commissioning scheduled for November 2007.

The Conte di Cavour has more than twice the displacement tonnage as the Garibaldi class (26,000 tons versus 13,000 tons) that was completed in 1985. The new carrier was laid down in June 2001 and is expected to operate the Joint Strike Fighter, when available, as well as the current air wing of AV-8B Harrier II jump jets and assorted helicopters. The new carrier is also expected to support command-and-control efforts as well as peacekeeping and humanitarian operations.

Malaysia Sets Aside Funds To Form New Coast Guard

The Malaysian government has announced it has earmarked more than $84.2 million to fund the formation of a Coast Guard. Included in the figures is the purchase of an undetermined number of AgustaWestland AB-139 search-and-rescue helicopters to be operated by the new service, which is expected to be formed by the end of the year.

The Coast Guard will absorb the independent departments of the Royal Malaysian Police, and the Customs and Fishery Departments. It also will operate the smaller craft of the Royal Malaysian Navy. The Coast Guard is due to begin patrols in March 2005 and be responsible for safeguarding the Straits of Malacca as well as the country’s territorial waters with regard to piracy, terrorism threats, human trafficking and pollution.

Canada Picks S-92 Superhawk As Sea King Replacement

Canadian Minister of National Defense Bill Graham announced July 23 the selection of Sikorsky’s S-92 Superhawk for the Maritime Helicopter Project to replace the Canadian Navy’s aging Sea King helicopters. The new helicopter will assume the responsibilities of the Sea Kings — which are more than 30 years old — in antisubmarine patrols, surveillance, search and rescue, and cargo and personnel transfers.

The first of the new helicopters are scheduled for delivery in 2008. Additionally, General Dynamics Canada and L-3 MAS Canada will be responsible for systems integration, providing a 100-percent Canadian developed and built mission data management system and long-term in-service support for the Canadian Navy. This includes modifications to the 12 Halifax-class frigates from which the new S-92s will operate.

The $2.4 billion contract for 28 S-92s includes service support for the next 20 years. The S-92 was selected over the AgustaWestland EH-101 Cormorant and the combined Lockheed Martin/NH Industries NH-90. Canada is the first military to operate the S-92.

AMI International Inc., Bremerton, Wash., is an international consulting and naval intelligence services company located on the web at

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