Home Asia Pacific Australia declares final operational capability for air warfare destroyer fleet

Australia declares final operational capability for air warfare destroyer fleet

Hobart-class destroyers
Hobart Class Destroyers, HMA Ships Hobart, Brisbane and Sydney, work together at sea for the first time off the east coast of Australia in late 2020. Photo: Royal Australian Navy

Nearly nine years after construction began on the lead ship in the class, the Royal Australian Navy declared its fleet of Hobart-class air warfare destroyers (AWD) ready for operational deployment.

The fleet reached final operational capability after the third ship, HMAS Sydney, completed a test and evaluation period off the coast of the United States and Canada.

Chief of the Royal Australian Navy, Vice Admiral Michael Noonan AO RAN, said the milestone ushered in a new era for the navy.

“Navy’s three Hobart-class destroyers use a number of systems in common with the US Navy, which allows our ships to be fully interchangeable with the most advanced allied naval force in the Indo-Pacific region,” Vice Admiral Noonan said.

“Australian destroyers are a key contribution to the Australia-United States alliance and will be employed in maintaining the peace and prosperity of our region for the next 30 years.

“Due to the ever-changing strategic environment, the Hobart class will continue to be upgraded with the latest weapons and sensors over coming years in order to maintain a capability edge.”

About 5000 Australians have worked for or on the AWD program over the past decade, and more than 2700 different suppliers were involved in HMAS Sydney’s construction.

HMAS Sydney returned to Australia in July after a successful test period, which included missile firings against low-altitude and supersonic targets.

Vice Admiral Noonan said the Hobart-class were the most capable warships in Australia’s naval history.

“They are equipped with a layered defensive and offensive capabilities for above water, surface and undersea warfare,” he said.

“Our destroyers are a force multiplier for the Australian Defence Force and a key element of the Joint Force Integrated Air and Missile Defence capability.”

Australia built the three destroyers on the basis of the Spanish F-100 frigate design supplied by shipbuilder Navantia. The ships measure close to 150 meters in length, carry a 48-cell Mark 41 vertical launch system, and Harpoon anti-ship missile launchers in addition to guns and close-in weapons systems.

Hobart-class destroyers are replacing the decommissioned Adelaide-class frigates and will provide air defense for accompanying ships in addition to land forces and infrastructure in coastal areas, and for self-protection against missiles and aircraft.