*Note: Consideration should be made towards developing a long endurance ship-deployable UAV/AEW airship – for use off the LHD ships - to provide extended air and/or surface surveillance on close approach towards potentially threatening areas.
Hobart Class Destroyers (5)
The acquisition of a fourth and fifth vessel will come after 2019 when the first three vessels have replaced the Adelaide Class Frigates. If procuring additional Hobart Class ships prove problematic, then greater numbers of replacement vessels for the ANZAC Class frigates will be in order. The additional vessels are to provide a limited strike capability via the Tomahawk Land Attack Missile so that bombardment of distant airfield, air-defence, plus command and control targets is possible. These ships must also be upgraded with either the Advanced Gun System or Otobreda 127/64 Gun that are under development, plus have towed sonar systems. Additional CIWS or RAM systems will be included to improve survival against missile attacks. SAMPSON type radar could be incorporated in the future to aid the anti-missile defences against low flying targets at range. In addition to an SH-60R helo these ships will also carry two MQ-8B Fire Scout drones.
Type 26 Frigates (12+)
These frigates are to replace the ANZAC Class ships from 2022. They will be optimised for anti-submarine warfare and air defense. In the absence of additional Hobart Class ships, two or three more vessels, bringing the total above twelve, should be fitted with Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles for strike operations. All of these platforms must come equipped with bow and towed sonar as part of their standard configuration. The main gun will be the Otobreda 127/64 system. The radar systems on these vessels will be optimised to detect and shoot down low flying missiles at range, as on Daring Class Destroyers, with two CIWS units as the final layer of defence. The numbers of these frigates are increased from the Anzac Class ships to provide an adequate defence for the amphibious landing ships. Like the Hobart Class ships these frigates will also operate two MQ-8B Fire Scout drones.
HDW Type 216 Submarines (12)
These submarines are intended for many missions, with a focus on offensive operations. They will act as the key strategic strike platform (via Tomahawk LAMs), as an anti-submarine platform, as an anti-ship platform, plus conduct surveillance and special operations deployments. These boats must also include a towed sonar array, carry expendable UAVs, and later field a tube-launched anti-aircraft system for downing ASW aircraft. The submarine fleet numbers should be expanded if possible. *Note: The verticle launch tubes may be deleted from the final design as Harpoon and Tomahawk (TTL) missiles can be fired through the torpedo tubes. The favoured alternative submarine to the HDW216 is the SMX Ocean-Class currently under development.
Gowind Class Offshore Patrol Boats (16)
These ships, upgraded to be effective war fighting vessels, are intended to replace the Armidale Class Patrol boats. In addition to their 76mm deck gun they will also be fitted to carry anti-ship missiles, a RAM system and some type of lightweight sonar/torpedo system. The ship will be modified to extend the flight deck over the RHIB dock allowing the aircraft hangar situated under the bridge to be moved further aft. This ship can facilitate, but is not equipped with, AS565 MB Panther helos. Usually they will carry 2-3 Camcopters (or even Fire Scout UAVs). In times of conflict these Patrol Boats will employ helicopters or armed UAVs to give them an advantage over other surface combatants.
Canberra Class LHDs (2)
The Canberra Class LHDs primary role is as a transport landing ship, equipped with either LCM-1E or L-Cat landing craft, with secondary ASW and anti-ship capability provided via AW101 or SH-60R helos. Their standard transport helicopter must be the three engined AW101. When operating in hostile environments it is essential these ships be fitted with CIWS to protect against missile attacks plus have anti-aircraft and anti-ship missile capability via VLS or RAM. Both ships must also be capable of acting as an auxiliary aircraft carrier fielding AV-8B fighter-bombers, for anti-ship strike and ground attack operations where the threat of air attack is low, with early warning (AEW) helos or ship deployable UAV airship AEW platforms.
Aircraft per LHD:
(4) Airship UAV/AEW platforms. These aircraft will use helicopter mounted AEW systems and have multi-day endurance. Alternatively the 24 hour endurance MQ-8C drone could be used in a similar capacity.
(4) AW101s for troop transport (replacing the present NH90s), plus an extra four (4) for ASW if no SH-60Rs are carried, and a further (4) AEW types if UAVs are unavailable.
(4+) SH-60Rs [or AW101s] optimised for surface attack and ASW.
(2) AS565 MB Panther multi-mission helos also used for fixed wing [AV-8B] pilot recovery.
(4) Tiger ARHs, intermittently carried on board as close air support platforms.
(5) AV-8Bs, intermittently carried on board, for use in the ground attack, maritime strike and limited air defence roles. A total of 14 aircraft will be operated by the RAAF with 5 to 6 aboard during training cruises. F-35Bs, if they ever become operationally viable, are unable to operate on the LHDs.
Endurance Class LDS (2)
Two vessels of this class are intended as replacements for HMAS Tobruk. The weapons systems on these ships are to be upgraded with improved radar and multiple RAM or CIWS to protect against missile attacks.
Spearhead Class JHSVs (4)
The Joint High Speed Vessels (JHSVs) are intended for rapid 'in theatre' mobility. These ships must include standard anti-air/anti-missile RAM systems.
Unmanned Surface Vessels
Two Classes of USVs will be required for surveillance, mine detection, special operations and fleet defence:
# Ship-Deployable Inshore USVs - are intended for reconnaissance in littoral waters. They will have a multi-day loitering capability being able to launch small recon UAVs (two per boat) for closer inspection of inland targets. The boats should be equipped with a FLIR system, have sonar (mine detection), and be radar equipped - plus capable of firing both Hellfire (surface attack) and Stinger (anti-aircraft) missiles. These 'lightweight' drones come in two types - a larger 7 ton launch, the Fleet Class USV or similar, for use off capital ships, and a smaller RHIB version for use on Corvettes and Offshore Patrol Vessels.
# Blue Water USVs (7) - these larger 300+ ton ships are intended for picket line Air Defence and Anti-Submarine warfare; primarily to protect the Canberra Class LHDs. Featuring a VLS they could be modified to conduct surface warfare also in the (amphibious) fleet defence role. And, being unmanned, they can be built cheaply to commercial standards. These drones will have a two month long endurance, needing only to refuel to remain active. They will also be equipped with anti-missile systems, either RAM or CIWS or both.
KEY NAVY COMPONENTS:
(5) Hobart Class Destroyers - displacing 6,000+ tons.
(12) Type 26 Frigates - displacing 5,400 tons.
(12+) HDW Type 216 Submarines - displacing 4000+ tons.
(16) Gowind Class Offshore Patrol Vessels - displacing 1450 tons.
(2) Canberra Class LHDs - displacing 27,000 tons.
(1) HMAS Choules LDS - 16,000 ton strategic sealift vessel.
(2) HMAS Tobruk replacements (2 Endurance Class LDS types) - displacing 8000+ tons.
(4) Spearhead Class high speed transport catamarans - displacing 2362 tons.
(6) Future Heavy Landing Craft replacing Balikpapan Class - displacing 400+ tons.
(7) Future USV Air Warfare and ASW 'picket line' drones - displacing 300+ tons.
(2) Future Fleet Replenishment vessels with CH-47 operable heli deck - displacing 25,000+ tons.
(4) Future Mine Sweepers - displacing 1500 tons.
(2) Future Survey vessels - displacing 2000 tons.
(-) Requisition of civilian transport ships - ferries, container ships - during emergency situations.
The Aircraft Carrier Option (1):
The deployment of a CATOBAR aircraft carrier can provide a strategic deterrent against regional shore based airborne threats, surface vessels and allows for high aircraft sortie rates against far off land targets. A moving airfield is a huge advantage. Such a platform can provide strong support to all manner of expeditionary operations.
The ship should displace 35,000 tons and will employ an Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS). Onboard weapons must include CIWS, anti-air and anti-ship VLS missiles plus (defensive) torpedo/sonar/decoy systems for increased ASW capability in high threat environments. Regular training operations will include ASW exercises involving Australian submarines.
The secondary function of this ship is as a Landing Platform Helicopter vessel with the section aft of the superstructure to include bays, one on each side, that can be utilised for landing craft - as seen amidships on HMS Ocean. Starboard and stern cargo doors will also be a feature to allow an additional roll-on roll-off cargo capability (see side column for details).
Aircraft Carried (CATOBAR):
(14) FJ-23 or F/A-XX Multi-Role Fighters -- with 8 shore based.
(2) EA-6B Prowlers or (3) 'EFJ-23' electronic warfare aircraft -- with 2 shore based
(2) E-2D Hawkeye AWACs platforms -- with 2 shore based.
(4) UAV/AEW airships.
(3) S-3 Vikings ASW/tankers/SAR (new built) -- with 2 shore based.
(4) SH-60R ASW helos or AW101s.
(2) AS565 MB Panther helos.
Two shore based training squadrons will feature:
(14) T-45 Goshawks -- upgraded and equipped to carry a greater range of ordinance and sensors on their 3 underwing hardpoints. Notable weapons include anti-ship missiles, air-to-ground missiles, anti-radar missiles, AAMs, JDAMs and laser guided bombs.
(14) Embraer EMB 314 Super Tucanos -- navalised and equipped with tail hooks. The numbers of NAVY Tucanos will be subtracted from the total Air Force numbers (65).
All training aircraft must have useful weapons capability as they are also required to act as lightweight multi-role fighters (T-45s) or light attack aircraft (Super Tucanos).
Note: If an aircraft carrier is employed the AV-8Bs, deployed on the LHDs, will be transferred from the Air Force to the NAVY's Fleet Air Arm.
For further details on the design of this ship and the operation of a second aircraft carrier, see the side information column.