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Anzac Class Frigates

The Anzac Class (also identified as the ANZAC Class and the MEKO 200 ANZ type) is a ship class of ten frigates; eight operated by the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) and two operated by the Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN).

During the 1980's, the RAN began plans to replace the River-class destroyer escorts with a mid-capability patrol frigate, and settled on the idea of modifying a proven foreign design for Australian conditions. Around the same time, the RNZN was seeking to replace their Leander-class frigates while maintaining blue-water capabilities. As both nations were seeking warships of similar capabilities, the decision was made in 1987 to collaborate on their acquisition. The project name (and later, the class name) is taken from the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps of the First World War.

Twelve ship designs were tendered in 1986. By 1989, the project had selected a proposal by Germany's Blohm + Voss, based on their MEKO 200 design, to be built in Australia by AMECON at Williamstown, Victoria. The modular design of the frigates allowed sections to be constructed at Whangarei, New Zealand and Newcastle, New South Wales in addition to Williamstown. The RAN ordered eight ships, while the RNZN ordered two and had the option to add two more, but this option was not taken up.

Image: HMAS Anzac FFH150

Steel cutting for the first ship, Anzac, commenced on 27 March 1992. Work on the first New Zealand ship, HMNZSTe Kaha, began in February 1993. Anzac commissioned into the RAN in May 1996, and Te Kaha into the RNZN in July 1997. In early 2002, the first four ships were found to have microscopic cracks in the bilge keel and hull plating. The ships' hulls were repaired and reinforced before the remainder were built. Construction of the final vessel, HMASPerth, began in July 2003, with the vessel commissioning into the RAN in August 2006.

They are 3,600-tonne (3,500-long-ton) ships, 118m (387ft) in overall length, 4.8m (49ft) across the beam and had a draught of 4.35m (14.3ft) at full load. They were capable of a 27-knot (50km/h; 31mph) top speed, and a range of 6,000 nautical miles (11,000km; 6,900mi) at 18 knots (33km/h; 21mph). The hull and superstructure are of all-steel construction, and the ships are fitted with fin stabilisers.

The frigates use a Combined Diesel or Gas (CODOG) propulsion machinery layout, with a single, 30,172-horsepower (22,499kW) General Electric LM2500-30 gas turbine and two 8,840-horsepower (6,590kW) MTU 12V1163 TB83 diesel engines driving the ship's two controllable-pitch propellers. Onboard electricity requirements are met by four MTU diesel generators. Each ship can carry up to 29 cubic metres (1,000cuft) of dry provisions, 29 cubic metres (1,000cuft) of refrigerated provisions, and 54 tonnes (53 long tons; 60 short tons) of fresh water.

The standard ship's company of an Anzac consists of 22 officers and 141 sailors

The armament initially consisted of a single forward-mounted 5-inch dual purpose gun capable of firing 32-kilogram (71lb) shells at a rate of 20 rounds per minute, to a distance of 23 kilometres (14mi). The barrel can elevate to 65 degrees. This was supplemented by an eight-cell Lockheed Martin Mark 41 Mod 5 vertical launch system for RIM-7 Sea Sparrow missiles as a point-defence system. The Sea Sparrow is a semi-active radar homing surface to air missile, with a 39-kilogram (86lb) warhead, a range of 14.6 kilometres (9.1mi), and a top speed of Mach 2.5. Two 12.7-millimetre (0.50in) machine guns were fitted for close defence.

A missile-armed helicopter was a key component of the frigates' armament. When construction started, both navies were planning for, but had not yet identified new helicopters to be operated by the frigates. As an interim measure, the RAN used Sikorsky S-70B-2 Seahawks, while the RNZN embarked Westland Wasps.

The ships were initially fitted for, but not with, a close-in weapons system, two quad-canister Harpoon anti-ship missile launchers, and a second Mark 41 launcher. After the ships were completed, both navies fitted Mark 32 3-tube torpedo launchers to their frigates. These were taken from older ships where possible; for example, Te Kaha's launchers came from the RNZS Southland. The launchers were configured to fire the Mark 46 Mod 5 torpedo, an active/passive homing torpedo with a range of 11 kilometres (6.8mi) at 40 knots (74km/h; 46mph), and with a 44-kilogram (97lb) warhead.

The radar suite includes a Raytheon SPS-49(V)8 ANZ radar for aerial search and long-range surveillance, a Saab 9LV 453 Target Indication Radar for air and surface search, an Atlas Elektronik 9600 ARPA navigational radar, and a second Saab 9LV 453 unit for fire control. All ships were initially fitted with a ThomsonSintra Spherion B hull-mounted bow sonar, for active search and attack operations. From Warramunga onwards, ships were launched with a Petrel Mine and Obstacle Avoidance Sonar system. This was later retrofitted to Anzac. All ships were fitted for, but not with, a towed-array sonar, with the RAN and RNZN following separate acquisition programs for these. The frigates were also fitted for, but not with, SATCOM and a Helo datalink.

Countermeasures and electronic warfare equipment fitted at launch included Mark 36 SRBOC launchers, an SLQ-25A towed torpedo decoy, four four-cell Nulka decoy launchers, Racal Thorn modified Sceptre-A electronic support measures (ESM) equipment, and a Telefunken PST-1720 Telegon 10 radar intercept unit.

The Anzacs were also fitted for, but not with, offboard active ECM systems. The Sceptre-A equipment was unable to meet the required performance specifications, and Thales UK (which previously acquired Racal Thorn) was contracted in 2001 to replace the units with the Centaur ESM.

A Cossor AIMS Mark XII identification-friend-or-foe system is also installed.

The core of the Anzacs' combat system was built around CelsiusTech's (now Saab) 9LV 453 Mark 3 distributed command and fire-control system.

The last ship of the class entered service in 2006; and by this point the RAN and RNZN had embarked on separate projects to improve the frigates' capabilities by fitting the additional weapons, along with updates to other systems and equipment.

The RAN commenced plans to improve their frigates' combat capability in 1996, with the Warfighting Improvement Program (WIP). Upgrades proposed under the WIP included installation of a phased-array radar, a second Mark 41 vertical launch system. The WIP was scrapped near the end of 1999, and plans for a less ambitious anti-ship missile defence (ASMD) upgrade were made.

In 2004, Tenix, Saab, and the Department of Defence formed a Private Public Partnership to upgrade the anti-ship missile defence (ASMD) capability of the Anzac class, through the installation of CEA Technologies' CEAFAR and CEAMOUNT phased array radars, a Vampir NG Infrared Search and Track system, and Sharpeye Navigational Radar Systems.

On 18 January 2010, Perth docked at the Australian Marine Complex in Henderson, Western Australia for the ASMD upgrade. Both of the frigate's masts were replaced, and the operations room layout was improved. Additional ballast was required to maintain stability, and the combined weight increase brought the ship's full load displacement to 3,810 tons. After completion in October 2010, Perth was used to test the modifications, with trials completed in July 2011. Approval to upgrade the other seven RAN Anzacs was granted in November 2011, with work on the A$650 million refits to begin in 2012. By March 2017, all eight RAN ships had completed this upgrade.

From Warramunga onwards, the frigates were launched with the ability to carry and fire the RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM) as a replacement for the earlier Sea Sparrows; these were quad-packed into the Mark 41 launcher for a payload of 32 missiles. Warramunga was the first ship in the world fitted with the ESSM, and the first test firing was conducted aboard on 21 January 2003. The modifications entered operational service aboard three ships in June 2004. A CEA Technologies solid-state continuous wave illuminator was also fitted as part of the ESSM system.

From 2005 onwards, the RAN began fitting the Anzacs and the Adelaides with Harpoon Block II missiles in two quad-tube canister launchers. The Australian Anzacs were fitted for, but not with, the launchers, but the original planned location on 02 deck was found to be unsuitable, and the launchers were relocated to 01 deck, in front of the bridge.

Around the same time, the RAN began to fit all frigates deploying to the Persian Gulf with two M2HB .50 calibre machine guns in Mini Typhoon mounts, installed on the aft corners of the hangar roof. Two TopLite EO directors are used with the guns.

The Mark 32 torpedo tubes aboard the Australian frigates were originally fitted with American Mark 46 anti-submarine torpedoes, but these were replaced with the French-Italian MU90 Impact torpedo prior to 2008. Toowoomba was the first Australian ship to fire an MU90 torpedo, during a test firing in June 2008, and Stuart performed the first 'warshot' firing of an armed MU90.

The RAN commenced tendering for a helicopter design to replace the Seahawks aboard the Australian Anzacs in 1996, with a contract for 11 Kaman SH-2G Super Seasprite helicopters signed in 1997. In addition to the Anzacs, the acquired helicopter also had to be operable from the class of offshore patrol vessels the RAN was planning to build with the Royal Malaysian Navy (Malaysia later withdrew from the plan, and the RAN acquired the smaller Armidale-class patrol boats, which were not helicopter-equipped), with a second contract to be signed for these at a later date.

In order to get the best capability for the cheapest price, the Australian Department of Defence opted to have Kaman acquire 40-year-old SH-2F Seasprite airframes decommissioned by the United States Navy, and fit modern flight systems to the reconditioned airframes. This approach led to major delays, and the helicopters were found to be inoperable in low-visibility conditions. By 2006, ten of the helicopters had been delivered, but none were permitted to fly. The Super Seasprite acquisition was cancelled outright in March 2008.

Following the acquisition of the Romeo Seahawk helicopter variant, modifications to the Anzacs began to embark the helicopter.

Since entering service, Anzac-class frigates have made multiple deployments outside local waters, including involvement in the INTERFET multi-national deployment to East Timor, and multiple operational periods in the Persian Gulf.

In 1999, RNZS Te Kaha pursued Patagonian Toothfish poachers in the Ross Dependency, participated in the INTERFET multinational deployment to East Timor, and operated as part of the Multinational Interception Force in the Persian Gulf.  The New Zealand frigates served periods as guardship at the Solomon Islands capital of Honiara during 2000 and 2001.

In 2002, Te Kaha returned to the Persian Gulf, this time as part of Operation Enduring Freedom, after a four-month flag-showing deployment in Asian waters. The frigate was replaced in the Gulf by Te Mana in early 2003.

A 2002 review of the RNZN's abilities found that the navy was not meeting its patrol capability requirements; one of the contributing factors was that the New Zealand Anzacs were both too few and overcapable for EEZ patrols, and deploying them in this manner prevented them from more effective use elsewhere.

In March 2003, Anzac provided fire support for Royal Marines during the Battle of Al Faw during the 2003 Invasion of Iraq.

The RAN plans to begin removing their Anzacs from service from 2024 onwards. To replace them, a class of new frigates will be built under the SEA 5000 acquisition project.

The frigates are predicted to have a displacement of up to 7,000 tonnes (6,900 long tons; 7,700 short tons), and although they will be primarily oriented towards anti-submarine warfare, they are expected to be capable of also operating against air, sea-surface, and land targets.

Originally eight vessels were planned, but by August 2015, the number of planned ships had increased to nine, with an estimated cost of $20 billion. Construction is predicted to commence in 2020. The Abbott Government promised that the two-decade construction project will be headquartered in South Australia, with shipbuilding divided between ASC Pty Ltd in South Australia and BAE Systems' Williamstown Dockyard in Victoria.

On 18 April 2016, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull (Abbott's successor) confirmed that BAE Systems' Type 26-class, Fincantieri's FREMM-class and a re-designed F-100-class frigate designed by Navantia had been shortlisted to replace the ANZAC-class in Australia. The Prime Minister confirmed that the frigates will be built in Adelaide and incorporate an Australian CEA phased array radar. The program is estimated to be worth $35 billion.

The New Zealand 2010 Defence White Paper indicated that the RNZN's Anzacs will be replaced around 2030.


Name: Pennant Number: Commissioned:

Anzac FFH 150 18 May 1996

Arunta FFH 151 12 December 1998

Warramunga FFH 152 31 March 2001

Stuart FFH 153 17 August 2002

Parramatta FFH 154 4 October 2003

Ballarat FFH 155 26 June 2004

Toowoomba FFH 156 8 October 2005

Perth FFH 157 26 August 2006

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