The Australian Royal Navy (RAN) has launched the first of three destroyers, Hobart, at the Port River wharf in Adelaide, marking a milestone in the Air Warfare Destroyer (AWD) programme.
The $8bn AWD programme, one of the largest defence projects ever undertaken in Australia, aims to deliver an affordable, effective, flexible, and sustainable air warfare destroyer platform to the RAN.
The AWD programme, known as SEA 4000, will deliver advanced multirole warships to replace the FFGs of the RAN. The remaining two vessels are Brisbane and Sydney.
Australia Defence Minister Kevin Andrews said: 'We are going to see this project through, but obviously we want it to be as efficient and productive as possible.
"I've got a budget and if I spent it on one thing I can't spend it on another."
Built by AWD Alliance, the Hobart-class vessels are based on the Navantia-designed F100 frigate, which is in service with the Spanish Navy.
Once operational, Hobart will be capable of cruising at a speed of 28k and will have a capacity to accommodate 186 crew members.
The Hobart-class vessels will provide air defence for vessels, land-based forces and infrastructure in coastal lines. They will be capable of defending and destroying missiles and aircraft within a range of 150km.
The vessels will be the first RAN warships to be equipped with the Aegis combat system, which includes a SPY-1D(V) radar, Mk 41 vertical launch system (VLS), SM-2 standard missile, as well as an open architecture (OA) combat system.
Tthe US State Department previously approved a potential foreign military sale to Australia for Hobart-class destroyer sustainment and associated equipment, parts, and logistical support.
The commissioning of Hobart is expected to take place next year.