The Australian Government has entered an advanced work arrangement (AWA) with BAE Systems to support the country’s A$35bn ($25.01bn) Hunter-class frigate programme.
In June, BAE Systems Australia was selected as the preferred tenderer for the development and delivery of nine Hunter-class Future Frigates to be used by the Royal Australian Navy (RAN).
The AWA will involve ongoing work on the Hunter-class frigate programme, prior to entering the head contract.
BAE Systems Hunter-class frigate programme managing director Nigel Stewart said: “This is a very important and early milestone in the development of an enduring world-class naval shipbuilding industry in Australia.
“The AWA demonstrates a commitment by both BAE Systems and the Australian Government to ensure timely progress on this critical defence programme.”
Under the interim contract, BAE Systems will continue with maturing design and engineering plans, establishing a skilled workforce and providing the required infrastructure.
Prototyping of the Australian Navy’s Future Frigates is scheduled to start in 2020.
Australian Defence Minister Christopher Pyne said: “The AWA is an interim contract which enables BAE Systems to continue to mobilise its workforce and progress the critical work required to ensure the project remains on track to start production in 2020.”
Negotiations between BAE Systems and the Australian Government for the Head Contract and ASC Shipbuilding acquisition are currently in progress.
Once acquired, ASC Shipbuilding will operate as a wholly owned subsidiary of BAE Systems and be responsible for delivery of the nine vessels and associated support system components to the Australian Navy.