Gibbs & Cox’s AWD Evolved Design Competitor Unveiled
DID has covered Australia’s A$6 billion SEA 4000 project, which aims to produce 3 AEGIS air defense destroyers for fielding between 2013-2017. The competition has sorted itself out in part, with Raytheon Australia as the combat system integrator and ASC as the shipbuilder. In the current design phase, two alternative designs are competing for the project. A variant of Navantia’s F100 Alvaro de Bazan Class 5,800t AEGIS frigate with Australian equipment is the “Existing Design” option. There will also be an “Evolved Design” by renowned naval design firm Gibbs & Cox, which has more commonality with the USA’s DDG-51 Arleigh Burke Class AEGIS destroyers designed by that firm. A final choice will be made some time in 2007.
The first images of the Evolved Design for Australia’s Air Warfare Destroyer (AWD) project were unveiled on August 3, 2006 by Minister of Defence Brendan Nelson at the opening of the new AWD Systems Centre in Adelaide. At 7,370t/8,100t full load, the ship is much closer to the DDG-51 destroyers in size, with 64 vertical launch missile cells, 2 close-in defense weapons, 2 helicopter hangars, extended range, and good future growth capabilities. As a matter of comparison, Britain’s new Type 45 Daring Class anti-air warfare destroyers reportedly weigh in at 8,000t full load. Gibbs & Cox is working on the new design in conjunction with ASC Shipbuilder Pty Ltd, Raytheon Australia, General Dynamics Bath Iron Works, and Australia’s Defence Materiel Organisation; and the firm is rapidly growing its workforce in Adelaide. See Gibbs & Cox release for full details, and also the Minister’s “Doorstop Interview” at the AWD Systems Centre on August 3rd.