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Maritime Operations and Anti-Submarine Warfare

The Integrated Investment Program will guide approximately $195 billion of investment to 2025‐26 to deliver the future force of the Defence White Paper. The Government will invest around 25 percent of Defence capital expenditure to 2025‐26 in our maritime capabilities in the most comprehensive regeneration of our Navy since the Second World War. Our maritime forces will become more potent out to the 2030s through more capable submarines, ships and aircraft and better integration of combat and supporting systems across Defence. This will enable our forces to protect our maritime borders and resources, secure our immediate northern approaches and proximate sea lines of communication, and project force in the maritime environment.

Key maritime operations and anti‐submarine warfare capabilities

The future submarine program is the largest defence procurement in Australia’s history. A fleet of 12 new regionally superior submarines with a high degree of interoperability with the United States will replace the six current Collins Class submarines. The new submarines will provide an essential element of Australia’s deterrent capability. The key roles of the future submarine will include: anti‐submarine warfare; anti‐surface vessel warfare; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; and support to special operations. The results of the competitive evaluation process will be announced this year. The Collins Class submarine fleet will continue to be supported and upgraded to ensure that it remains a potent capability through the rest of its life and until transition to the new submarine.

The new submarines will likely begin to enter service in the early 2030s, with delivery extending over two decades to around 2050. A rolling acquisition program for Australia’s future submarines will ensure that Australia is able to maintain a fleet of 12 regionally superior submarines as submarine and anti‐submarine technologies develop over time. As part of a rolling acquisition program, a review of strategic circumstances and developments in submarine technology will be conducted in the late 2020s to consider whether the configuration of the submarines remains suitable or whether consideration of other specifications should commence. A rolling program of acquiring submarines will provide long‐term planning certainty for Australian industry, allowing companies to invest in the capabilities needed to support their involvement in the construction and sustainment activities.

Nine new anti‐submarine warfare frigates will be introduced into service from the late 2020s, with construction to start in 2020, to replace the existing fleet of eight ANZAC Class frigates. The new frigates will have the range and endurance to operate throughout maritime South East Asia and be deployable from forward bases, such as in the Middle East. They will be equipped with offensive and self‐protection systems.

Twelve new offshore patrol vessels (OPV) will begin entering service from the early 2020s, with construction to start in 2018, replacing the 13 Armidale Class patrol boats. The OPVs will have greater reach, endurance and capacity than the Armidale Class patrol boat fleet, allowing them to perform a broader range of border protection and patrol missions.

Australia’s maritime surveillance and response capability will be significantly enhanced through the Government’s acquisition of seven additional P‐8A Poseidon maritime surveillance and response aircraft to be acquired in two tranches for a total of 15 by the late 2020s. In addition to their sophisticated surveillance capabilities, these aircraft can undertake offensive operations against submarines and ships, as well as supporting search and rescue operations.

To improve our ships’ situational awareness on operations, a new maritime tactical unmanned aircraft will also be delivered over the next decade. The tactical unmanned aircraft will be deployable on a range of Royal Australian Navy vessels including the OPVs and anti‐submarine warfare frigates.

Australia’s military hydrography capability provides sailors with precision measurement of the physical features of the oceans and water mass. The current fleet of two large and four smaller ADF hydrographic survey vessels will be progressively retired from around the early 2020s. Defence will replace this capability with an efficient combination of military and commercial hydrographic and oceanographic survey capabilities to deliver the required capacity.

Three Hobart Class Air Warfare Destroyers will be in service by the early 2020s. To ensure these vessels can keep pace with regional capabilities, upgrades will be made to the AEGIS combat system, weapons, self‐protection and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems throughout their service life. The vessels will provide Australian and coalition maritime task with defence against air and missile attack.

24 MH‐60R Seahawk naval combat helicopters are currently being accepted into service. They will enhance the Hobart Class Air Warfare Destroyers’ and ANZAC Class Frigates’ anti‐ship and anti‐submarine warfare operations. A maritime fleet of up to eight MRH‐90 helicopters will support the amphibious and replenishment ship fleet.

Enhancements to Defence’s maritime capabilities will provide Australia with enhanced situational awareness of activities in our maritime domain, earlier detection of emerging threats to our border security and faster responses to deter and defeat any such threat.


An additional around 800 ADF positions will be allocated to 2025‐26 to support the substantially larger maritime force. The workforce will need to continue to grow beyond 2025‐26, in particular to operate the larger fleet of submarines.


Wharf, and training and support facility upgrades to HMAS Stirling in Perth and Fleet Base East (Garden Island) in Sydney to 2025‐26 will support our larger and more potent maritime capability. Infrastructure works at Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Base Edinburgh, South Australia; and RAAF Base Tindal, Northern Territory, will ensure that these airfields can support the fleet of P‐8A Poseidon aircraft. A range of training areas, testing ranges, and other Defence bases will be upgraded to 2025‐26 to support our maritime capabilities, including recruitment facilities such as HMAS Cerberus in Victoria.