Australia and the UK have further strengthened their enduring defence relationship by signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to cooperate on building and delivering the next generation of cutting-edge frigates.
The UK and Australia will collaborate on the design and build of the next-generation Type 26 frigate.
BAE Systems' Type 26 Global Combat Ship is designated as the Hunter Class in Australia.
The MoU signed this week re-enforces the two countries’ commitment to working together on delivering these important high-profile national programmes and exploiting mutual opportunities. A key aspect of the MoU is a pledge on information exchange to ensure shipbuilding best practice is shared and that both frigate programmes deliver world beating maritime capabilities to the Royal Navy and Royal Australian Navy.
The agreement also sets out a framework to enable both nations to utilise the T26 and Hunter programmes to create jobs and contribute to the growth of the UK and Australian economies, seeking to support small and medium-sized enterprises.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: "The UK and Australia have always been natural allies. This agreement demonstrates this Government’s ongoing commitment to the Type 26 shipbuilding programme whilst supporting our Australian allies to design and build the Hunter class frigate.
"As we look to the future of our respective navies, our shared continued cooperation will benefit our close alliance and support the industrial supply chain to grow each nation’s shipbuilding sectors."
The UK’s defence relationship with Australia is based on deep historical and cultural ties, reinforced by strong operational cooperation.
From working together in defence operations around the world and to the broader shared interest in safeguarding the rules‑based global order, UK and Australia continue to invest in their long-standing alliance.
In his role as Shipbuilding Tsar, the Defence Secretary is actively reinvigorating UK shipbuilding. This role brings together other government departments to shape policies and strategies and to ensure British shipbuilding thrives.
Australian Minister for Defence, the Hon Linda Reynolds CSC said: "There are currently seven Australian companies contracted for work on the UK’s Type 26 programmes and this agreement supports the close cooperation between UK and Australian industry.
"We are already seeing the benefits of cooperation on the two programmes, with Australian workers involved in the Type 26 build ready to come home and help build the Hunter class frigates in South Australia. The Australian Government is committed to delivering a continuous naval shipbuilding programme and the Hunter and Type 26 programmes provide a great opportunity to capitalise on our shared industrial capability with the UK.
"The MoU will support the successful delivery of Australia’s Hunter Class Frigate Programme, while also growing key defence capabilities in Australia.”
Prototyping for the Hunter Class Frigate Programme will begin by the end of 2020.