Australia has received the first 22m-high mast for installation aboard the Royal Australian Navy's (RAN) first Hobart-class air warfare destroyer (AWD), HMS Hobart, defence materiel minister Dr Mike Kelly has announced.
Delivery follows a previously awarded $3.25m subcontract to MG Engineering to manufacture three 25t masts over a two-year period in support of the RAN's AWD programme.
The AWD alliance, comprising ASC, the Defence Materiel Organisation (DMO) and Raytheon, was awarded a $8bn contract for the construction of three AWDs, namely HMAS Hobart, HMAS Brisbane and HMAS Sydney.
Prior to being consolidated onto HMAS Hobart, the mast will undergo necessary changes by the alliance at the South Australian Government's Common User Facility at Techport Australia.
The five-storey mast will be integrated with significant elements of the Aegis weapon system, as well as a navigation radar and the SPQ-9B, or Spook horizon-search radar.
"The equipment incorporated into the mast structure will enable the destroyers to search and track targets immediately above the sea surface, such as low-flying aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles and missiles," Kelly said.
Based on the Navantia-designed F100 frigate, the AWD ships will provide air defence for vessels, land-based forces and infrastructure in coastal lines and conduct anti-submarine warfare (ASW) operations.
Capable of defending and destroying missiles and aircraft within a range of 150km, the AWDs can support a range of missions, including law enforcement operations, military aid to the civil community, collection of environmental data, rescue operations and diplomatic roles.
HMAS Hobart is scheduled to be delivered to RAN in early 2016.
The second Hobart-class destroyer, HMAS Brisbane is likely to start consolidation in early 2014, while the third ship of the class, HMAS Sydney is currently under construction.
Image: An impression of the Hobart-class air warfare destroyer. Photo: image courtesy of AWD Alliance.