Head of Defence Sir Tony Radakin head admits ‘teething problems’ in £26-billion Australia frigate project

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THE head of the armed forces has assured Australia that a British-designed frigate project is on track despite ‘teething problems’.

Chief of defence Staff Admiral Sir Tony Radakin addressed concerns about the project during a recent trip to Australia, which awarded a £26bn contract for UK firm BAE Systems to deliver nine new frigates.

BAE Systems, the UK’s largest defence contractor, won the project to produce the high-tech, anti-submarine frigates in 2018, beating rival bids from Spain and Italy.

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In an interview with the news service of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), Sir Tony conceded that the UK’s parent programme was experiencing ‘teething problems’ but insisted the joint project was on track.

Newly appointed head of UK Armed Forces, Chief of Defence Admiral Sir Tony RadakinNewly appointed head of UK Armed Forces, Chief of Defence Admiral Sir Tony Radakin
Newly appointed head of UK Armed Forces, Chief of Defence Admiral Sir Tony Radakin
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He said: ‘The overall programme is in a good shape, but what you inevitably see with a first-of-class, with these high-end designs… are teething problems with the first ship,” he said.

‘Those are being resolved and that’s all going ahead very, very well.’

The fleet of Hunter class global combat ships are based on the new British Type 26 warship.

Production on the ships began in Adelaide in 2020 and, at the time of BAE winning the contract, were expected to enter service before 2030.

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According to ABC News, concerns are growing over delays and technical problems with the project.

In November BAE Systems denied ‘supply chain pressures’ from the pandemic had had any impact on performance or operations for 2021.

The defence giant said it had a ‘strong’ pipeline of opportunities and stressed that there is “continued demand” for its capabilities, with defence largely resilient to the impact of the pandemic.

At the time, the contractor said it was particularly well positioned to be boosted by increased defence spending in the Asia Pacific region.

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Sir Tony, who is currently in Australia for the Indo-Pacific Chiefs of Defence (CHODs) Conference in Sydney, said more visits to Australia from Royal Navy nuclear-powered submarines were likely as work continues on the Aukus project.

The Portsmouth-based sailor took over from General Sir Nick Carter as head of the armed forces at the end of 2021, making him the first military chief to come from the navy since Admiral Sir Michael Boyce in 2001.

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