The Royal Australian Navy’s (Ran) Anzac-class frigate HMAS Arunta has test-fired its first Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM).

Conducted off the coast of Western Australia, the testing comes after the frigate completed a 20-month upgrade at Henderson, Western Australia.

HMAS Arunta is the first of seven Anzac-class frigates to receive the upgrade under the Anzac Midlife Capability Assurance Programme (AMCAP).

Delivered by BAE Systems Australia, the upgrade is part of Australia’s Warship Asset Management Agreement (WAMA) Alliance.

In June last year, the frigate re-joined the service following the AMCAP.

Australian Defence Minister Linda Reynolds said: “This successful missile firing demonstrates the success of the AMCAP upgrade, which enhances the frigate’s self-protection, communications, and command and control capability.

“It’s also testament to the WAMA Alliance, a partnership between the Australian Government, BAE Systems, SAAB Australia and Naval Ship Management Australia.”

Reynolds added: “AMCAP is part of this government’s $1.2bn Anzac-class sustainment programme with Australian defence industry, which directly employs more than 140 workers while providing ongoing opportunities for small businesses in Henderson.

“These upgrades will ensure the frigates remain one of the most advanced in the world until the Hunter-class frigates enter service.”

The ESSM serves as a key element of Arunta’s air defence capability. The surface-to-air weapon is designed to engage fast-moving anti-ship missiles. It uses radar homing guidance to counter the target.

The long-range HMAS Arunta frigate is used for surveillance, reconnaissance and interdiction, as well as air defence, surface and undersea warfare.

HMAS Warramunga is currently undergoing upgrade work under the AMCAP.

The first Hunter-class vessel is expected to enter service in the late 2020s.