Why won't Australia host American missiles?

Australia's future warships are getting new missile defenses because of North Korea

Mainly because of North Korea's missile program, the new frigates of the Royal Australian Navy coming from around 2020 will receive the US "Aegis" system including extensive weapons against ballistic missiles. That wasn't planned before.

In view of the increasingly delicate military environment in East and Southeast Asia, the continent state of Australia is also strengthening its armed forces: Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, a conservative, has for some time been confirming immediate rumors that the nine planned warships of the "Future Frigate Program" are opposed to their construction In 2020, the domestic market should also be equipped with long-range defensive weapons against ballistic missiles.

Turnbull said in a speech in Sydney on Wednesday that it was about threats from "rogue states" against Australia, and said primarily North Korea: "Recent events in our region have shown that our future frigates also defend Australia against threats from medium and long-range missiles must be able to ". Therefore, these ships would receive the tried and tested American Aegis combat system from Lockheed Martin, whose functions also include extensive air defense of - depending on the specific missile equipment - a distance of more than 150 kilometers and further.

North Korea had tested more missiles in recent months, some of which flew several thousand kilometers and fell into the Pacific. In addition, there have been three nuclear weapons tests in North Korea since January 2016. In addition to parts of the USA, namely Hawaii and Alaska, the Australian continent is probably also in the fire range of North Korean missiles. Australia is a traditional ally of the US and has a permanent US base in Darwin in the north of the country. Most recently, North Korean state media had explicitly mentioned that Australia (25 million inhabitants) could also be reached with missiles.

So far the focus has been on submarine hunting

The importance of the announcement is also made clear by the fact that this procurement program, which was initiated in 2009 and is worth at least 35 billion Australian dollars (more than 23 billion euros), should actually have its focus on submarine hunting. Due to the decision to equip with Aegis, some changes are necessary. In the foreseeable variant, the inventory of anti-aircraft missiles of the new frigates will probably consist of weapons from the "Standard Missile 2" family from "Raytheon". These come in ranges of around 170 and 180 to 370 kilometers (the maximum flightheights are naturally significantly lower). Even stronger variants of this rocket series (such as the SM-3) are specially designated rocket and satellite killers with firing ranges of up to 700, even 2500 kilometers.

The nine new ships, the class designation of which has not yet been determined, each with a displacement of around 7,000 tons, are to replace the eight frigates of the "Anzac" class, which were introduced to the Royal Australian Navy in 1996, and the planned three destroyers with a focus on air defense the "Hobart" class. Their lead ship, HMAS "Hobart", has only been active for a few weeks.

The Hobart class is built in Adelaide (South Australia) and is based on the frigates of the "Álvaro de Bazán" class of the Spanish shipyard "Navantia". The Hobarts are gradually replacing the currently three old frigates of the "Adelaide" class, which in turn are upgraded versions of the American "Oliver Hazard Perry" class.

Spaniards against Italians against British

Who will build these future frigates from 2020 is still undetermined. What is certain is that they too will be put together to support the national economy in the state of South Australia, although that is more expensive than building it abroad. The Spanish shipbuilder Navantia, its Italian competitor "Fincantieri" and the British group "BAE Systems", which now also Aegis in must incorporate their plans, which will not be difficult for them. The winner should be known in early 2018.

The Spaniards are essentially offering a kind of improved and enlarged Hobart-class ships, the Italians their "FREMM" multi-purpose frigates (Fregata Multi-Missione) developed jointly with France, the British an export variant of the brand-new Type 26 frigates Construction for the British fleet had only begun this summer.

With the decision in favor of Aegis for the nine new ships (also the three Hobarts have or will get Aegis), Australia is in line with the fleets of the US, Japan and South Korea in the Pacific, said Australian Vice Admiral and Fleet Chief Tim Barrett. That simplifies the operational cooperation of the warships in the region. You could then also take over data from allied ships with Aegis, and possibly also from aircraft, and form networked associations.

Currently the core of the RAN (around 15,000 men and women active) consists of the destroyer Hobart, eleven frigates, two amphibious dropships / helicopter carriers of the "Canberra" class and six diesel-electric submarines of the "Collins" class. The latter will also be exchanged from the end of 2020, namely with twelve ultra-modern French "Shortfin Barracuda" boats.