BAE reveals next-gen Destroyer concept.
Australia’s Hobart-class destroyer. Photo: Australian Department of Defence
In response to growing challenges and increased capabilities of adversaries in the Indo-Pacific region, the Albanese government’s Defence Strategic Update (DSR) has undertaken a comprehensive review of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). The goal is to transform the RAN into a versatile and future-ready force, capable of addressing both tactical and strategic operational demands set by national policymakers. The review emphasizes the necessity for an upgraded surface combatant fleet that enhances lethality and complements a conventionally armed, nuclear-powered submarine fleet, adapting to the evolving strategic landscape.
The government’s focus lies in establishing a dispersed fleet consisting of “Tier 1” and “Tier 2” vessels, with a specific emphasis on bolstering the Navy’s capabilities in long-range strike (maritime and land), air defence, and anti-submarine warfare. Amidst these discussions, the Spanish government and Navantia Australia have proposed an expanded acquisition of the existing Hobart Class destroyer fleet. This proposal could potentially provide the Navy with an additional 114 missile cells at sea.
Simultaneously, BAE Systems Australia has presented a warship proposal to safeguard the $45 billion Hunter Class frigate program from significant cuts. Their plan involves restructuring the Hunter Class program to concurrently deliver a fleet of heavily armed guided missile destroyers alongside the Hunter Class frigates. BAE Systems’ proposal suggests the initial delivery of three Hunter Class vessels, followed by the construction of a new air warfare destroyer, alternating every two years between a frigate and a destroyer until a total of nine ships are built – comprising six frigates and three destroyers.
In a separate development, BAE UK has been actively working on a robust surface combatant, positioned as the successor to the Royal Navy’s Type 45 Daring Class guided missile destroyers. Leveraging the Type 26 Global Combat Ship hull form as a foundation, the Type 83 destroyer concept is anticipated to be a larger vessel, with an indicative delivery schedule commencing in the mid-2030s. The concept envisions a warship close to 12,000 tonnes, featuring a substantial weapons payload, including a standard five-inch main gun, two Phalanx Close-in Weapons Systems, two 30 or 40mm guns, and two unidentified close-in weapons systems. Notably, the most significant enhancement is the missile payload, divided into two banks of what appears to be Mk 41 vertical launch system cells, totalling an estimated 128 missile cells per ship.