GEAR & TECH

Australia's Navy relies on one frigate in particular

The Royal Australian Navy has a big job, even though it is a relatively small force. This force relies on one ship as its backbone, the Anzac-class frigate, and those frigates have been on the front lines for Australia and New Zealand.


The Royal Australian Navy Anzac Class frigate HMAS Ballarat (FFH 155) prepares to conduct an underway replenishment during Rim of the Pacific 2016.  (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Holly L. Herline)

According to the Sixteenth Edition of The Naval Institute Guide to Combat Fleets of the World, Australia has eight of these vessels in service, while New Zealand has two. These ships can be very powerful, and are based on the MEKO 200 design from Germany, a vessel that has also been sold to Turkey, Algeria, Greece, Portugal, and South Africa.

HMAS Parramatta, an Anzac class MEKO 200 type frigate of the Royal Australian Navy. (Wikimedia Commons photo by Saberwyn)

Australian Anzac-class frigates are heavily armed. They have an eight-cell Mk 41 vertical-launch system for the RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile, a five-inch gun, eight RGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship missiles, and the ability to operate a Sikorsky MH-60R Seahawk multi-mission helicopter. They also have Mk 32 launchers for 324mm torpedoes. These vessels have received upgrades for defending themselves against anti-ship missiles. These upgrades are centered around the CEAFAR and CEAMOUNT phased-array radars.

HMAS Perth (FFH 157) CEAFAR phased array radars. (Wikimedia Commons photo by Hpeterswald)

The New Zealand Anzacs didn't get the same upgrade, largely due to the collapse of the ANZUS mutual-defense treaty in the 1980s, spurred by New Zealand's anti-nuclear policy. As a result, the Te Kaha and Te Mana have a less-capable system. Their Mk 41 vertical launch system initially only fired RIM-7 Sea Sparrows, and they operate SH-2G Sea Sprites. An upgrade, though replaced the old Sea Sparrows with the Sea Ceptor system from the United Kingdom

Royal New Zealand Navy ship HMNZS Te Kaha (F 77) arrives at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam for Rim of the Pacific 2016. (US Navy photo)

These frigates will still be around for a while. Australia plans to replace them with one of three designs (the French-Italian FREMM, the British Type 26m, or a modified Spanish F100) starting in 2024. New Zealand's will remain in service until 2030.

Check out more about these frigates in the video below.