It’s time to modernize New Zealand’s only serious combat ships. New Zealand bought 2 ANZAC frigates in the 1990s, as a cooperative venture with Australia using the MEKO 100 German design. F77 Te Kaha was commissioned in 1996, and F111 Te Mana was commissioned in 1997. At the time, the ships were adequate low-end frigates, but 20 years later, they’re simply obsolete. New Zealand has long realized that changes were required, and has been planning and funding a whole series of changes since 2006.
New Zealand’s ANZACs
New Zealand’s ships lack the RGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship missiles carried by their Australian counterparts, and carry SH-2G Super Seasprite helicopters instead of larger S-70 Seahawks. They also continue to rely on obsolete RIM-7F Sea Sparrow missiles, instead of the RIM-162 ESSM missiles aboard Australian ships.
The Frigate Systems Upgrade (FSU) program’s new combat system and radar upgrades were approved in 2012, but they follow a series of changes to New Zealand’s ANZACs. Those include changes to improve stability and power-generating diesel engines, compartment configuration changes, installation of a new integrated platform management system (IPMS), and upgrades to onboard environmental control. New Zealand also bought Australia’s low flight-hours SH-2G fleet, along with Kongsberg’s Penguin Mk.3 helicopter-launched anti-ship missiles, and upgraded the Pahalanx systems on board to Block IB status.
The final upgrade will modernize the core combat system to the Saab/Lockheed CanACCS 9LV standard, and integrate it with radar improvements, MBDA’s independently-guided Sea Ceptor missiles, and other modern equipment. Overall, it brings the frigates up from “obsolete” status to that of low-end modern frigates or a high-end corvette.
Upgrades are scheduled to begin in 2016.
Contracts & Key Events
Dec 3/14: Defensive. Rheinmetall announces that it won a €4.2 million ($5.2M) contract from prime contractor Lockheed Martin Canada to equip New Zealand 2 ANZAC frigates with its Multi Ammunition Softkill System (MASS) in its in twin-launcher MASS_2L configuration. According to the company this includes a long-range capability and 2 naval laser warning systems (NLWS) made by Saab. Rheinmetall manufactures MASS in its Buck Fronau plant in Bavaria, while the NLWS parts will be shipped from South Africa to New Zealand for integration by Lockheed Martin.
Sept 18/14: Radars. Thales will deliver 2 SMART-S Mk2 radars to New Zealand in early 2016 and 2017 respectively, according to the company. This opens the fledgling CAMM market for Thales.
Aug 14/14: Defensive. Airborne Systems Europe announces that the Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) will adopt their FDS3 corner reflector decoy, under a GBP 3.4 million (about $5.8 million) contract.
The FDS3 is in use as a defense against the latest radar-guided missiles by the US Navy and the Royal Navy, among others. The deck-mounted launch tube is already preloaded with the decoy. Upon pressing the fire button in the Ops room, the decoy is launched out of the tube, and fully inflates alongside the ship’s hull on the sea surface, before automatically being released and free floating past the stern as an alternate target. This happens fast enough to be effective against supersonic missiles. Sources: Airborne Systems, “Airborne Systems Awarded Contract to Supply Anti-Missile Decoys to the New Zealand Ministry of Defence”.
July 21/14: Defensive. Ultra Electronics’ Sonar Systems business in Greenford, Middlesex, UK receives a GBP 9.9 million ($16.9 / NZ$ 19.5 million) contract from New Zealand for 2 of its Sea Sentor Surface Ship Torpedo Defence (SSTD) systems, as part of FSU.
Sea Sentor is a single in-line towed array with a passive tow for detection, classification and localization of incoming threats, and a flexible towed body countermeasure to decoy and jam torpedoes. Optional launchers can further deploy expendable countermeasures. Sources: Ultra Electronics, “Ultra awarded contract by New Zealand MoD for Sea Sentor Surface Ship Torpedo Defence”.
May 21/14: Weapons. The New Zealand Ministry of Defence signs a contract with MBDA for Sea Ceptor missiles (q.v. Oct 7/13), as part of Royal New Zealand Navy’s ANZAC Frigate Systems Upgrade (FSU) project.
The missiles will replace obsolete semi-active guidance RIM-7 Sea Sparrow missiles in the frigates’ Mk.41 Vertical Launch Systems. Sources: MBDA, “New Zealand Contract Signed for MBDA’s Sea Ceptor”.
May 1/14: Upgrade. Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman announces that Lockheed Martin Canada has won the prime contract for the NZ$ 446 million (about $385 million) frigate combat systems upgrade phase. Much of the work will be done in Canada, where the firm has taken the lead in upgrading Canada’s Halifax Class frigates with am improved version of its combat system, new radars, new weapons, etc.
Lockheed Martin Canada will be responsible for the design, installation and integration of the new ANZAC CMS and Combat System Trainer for the Devonport Naval Base in Auckland, as well as the procurement of new sensor and weapon systems for HMNZ Ships Te Mana and Te Kaha. The exact system set isn’t clear yet, because final design work isn’t done yet, but the upgrade is scheduled to begin in 2016. Saab Canada remains a key partner, with a number of Canadian firms as sub-contractors, and a planned role for some New Zealand firms:
“The contract award represents Lockheed Martin Canada’s first export sale of its Combat Management System [The CanACCS 9LV], which was designed as a modern, affordable solution for the international market. This key export of Canadian-designed technology… further demonstrates our ability to successfully leverage purchases and investments in high-technology defence products to create jobs and economic growth in Canada…”
Lockheed Martin pegs their share at only “more than C$180M [DID: $163+ million] over four years,” creating work in Dartmouth, NS; Kanata, ON near Ottawa; and Montreal, PQ. An optional but likely installation work package would also create work for the Seaspan shipyard in Victoria, BC, which is tooling up to produce non-combat ships for the Canadian Navy. Sources: NZ Government, “Frigate combat systems upgrade contract awarded” | Lockheed Martin Canada, “New Zealand Ministry of Defence Awards Upgrade Program to Lockheed Martin Canada”.
Main upgrade contract
October 2013: Following due diligence in August and a subsequent Contract Definition Stage (CDS), the New Zealand Ministry of Defence re-confirms its intention to contract with Lockheed Martin Canada for the ANZAC Frigate System Upgrade program’s Prime System Integrator (PSI) role. Sources: Lockheed Martin Canada, “New Zealand Ministry of Defence Awards Upgrade Program to Lockheed Martin Canada”.
Oct 7/13: Weapons. The Royal New Zealand Navy will upgrade its 2 ANZAC Class frigates with MBDA’s CAMM/ Sea Ceptor for air defense, rather than following Australia’s ANZAC upgrade and replacing the ship’s RIM-7 Sea Sparrow missiles with Raytheon’s RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow.
New Zealand is the 1st Sea Ceptor export customer, and they’re also the 1st customer to benefit from MBDA and Lockheed Martin’s MoU around the Mark 41 Vertical Launch System.
New Zealand’s air defense upgrade is expected to be cheaper than Australia’s, and is also expected to be cheaper per missile, while providing a different set of performance advantages in the short term. CAMM’s active guidance is currently an advantage compared to the RIM-162 ESSM, in exchange for shorter range. Both missile types can be quad-packed, giving their 8-cell Mk.41 vertical launchers a maximum load of 32 air defense missiles. The tradeoff is that Australia’s ESSMs can use the ship’s more powerful radar for guidance, in exchange for additional work tying the missile into the frigate’s combat system. ESSM Block 2 will probably add an active guidance option, erasing CAMM’s edge and retaining longer range, but that isn’t even at the design stage yet. Sources: MBDA, Oct 7/13 release.
Dec 11/12: Approved. Defence Minister Dr Jonathan Coleman announces that Cabinet has approved a Detailed Business Case to upgrade the country’s ANZAC frigates. The project aims to replace the hardware and software of the Combat Management Systems on the ships, modernize radars and sensors, and replace the self defense missile systems. A Request for Tender is scheduled for 2013. Sources: NZ’s Scoop Independent News, “Upgrade for NZDF Frigates”.
* RNZN – HMNZS Te Kaha – F77.
* RNZN – HMNZS Te Mana – F111.
* DID – SH-2G Seasprite Helos: (Mis)Fortune Down Under. Australia’s self-inflicted misfortune, New Zealand’s good fortune.
* Airborne Systems Europe – Naval Decoy FDS3.
* DID (May 19/08) – NZ Looks to Upgrade ANZAC Frigates. This is the final phase.
* NZ MoD (October 2006) – Defence Long-Term Development Plan (LTDP). This has been planned for a while.
* DID – Modernizing Canada’s Halifax Class Frigates. Last updated 2010.
* DID – Australia and USA Collaborating on New Small-Ship Radars. Those radars are part of Australia’s ANZAC upgrades, but New Zealand is going in a different direction, with different sensor and combat system choices.