NZ Looks to Upgrade ANZAC Frigates
Beginning in 1989, New Zealand and Australia introduced the ANZAC Class frigates, based on Blohm + Voss’ Meko 200 modular design. A total of 10 were built, 8 for Australia and another 2 for New Zealand; HMNZS Te Kaha [F77] was commissioned in 1997, and HMNZS Te Mana [F111] in 1999. The ships were originally fitted with RIM-7 Sea Sparrow missiles, torpedoes, and 5 inch guns, which will not suffice against modern threats. An Australian program called “ANZAC Class Anti-Ship Missile Defences” aims to extend their useful operational lives by upgrading their ships’ combat systems and radar, switching to the more advanced RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow missile, adding Harpoon anti-ship missiles, and other upgrades. New Zealand appears to be headed toward a similar program, in the wake of conclusions that the ships’ existing systems will not remain effective much past 2010.
As an initial step, New Zealand’s TV3 reports that their navy is spending NZ$ 25 million to upgrade their Mk15 Phalanx 20mm gatling guns to deal with fast boats and helicopters, as well as incoming missiles. These Phalanx block 1B upgrades can be performed quickly, and do not require major modifications or down time.
A NZ$60 million platform systems upgrade is likely to begin in 2009 and be complete by 2010. Areas addressed are likely to include items like gearboxes and engines, generators, air conditioning units, generating equipment, main machinery control equipment and computers outside of the combat system. That change would wait until 2012-2013, whereupon a NZ$ 500 million self-defense upgrade would address upgrades to the combat system and the weaponry it controls. That effort is part of the New Zealand Defence Force’s 2006 long-term development plan, but this does not guarantee future funding.