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Canberra Class Amphibious Ship

In the Federal Government’s December 2005 Defense Update, acquisition over the following ten years of new amphibious ships under Joint Project (JP) 2048 was designed to assure the operational reach of the ADF, consistent with new national objectives centered around: defeating the threat of terrorism; countering the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD); and supporting regional states experiencing difficulties due principally to failures in political governance. As such, project JP 2048 envisaged the acquisition of two flat-deck amphibious ships up to 26,000 tons to allow for the deployment of much larger and heavier forces (up to 1000 soldiers per ship, and Abrams’ tanks) than was possible with existing vessels such as HMA Ships ‘Manoora’, ‘Kanimbla’ and ‘Tobruk”.

As further demonstrated by the Boxing Day 2004 Tsunami, the new amphibious ships and MRH90 helicopters would also provide additional capability for the provision of humanitarian assistance. Systems will deliver over the next decade amajor increase in the Navy’s capability to project power and support amphibious-based operations. The Australians were opting for an overseas design with a local build (according to some, a costly option), based on either an Amaris or Navantia design.

Two 27,000 ton Navantia amphibious ships are also being acquired for $2.6 billion. The amphibious ships, capable of landing up to 1,000 troops and all of their equipment, will be partially constructed by Navantia. However, the intellectual design of the ships will be done by the defense company, Tenix. Prime Minister Howard has stated that these warship contracts represent a ‘massive uplift’ in Australia’s ability to respond to incidents in the Pacific region and in other parts of the world.

The Canberra Class Landing Helicopter Dock (Amphibious Assault Ship) Amphibious Ship project provides the Australian Defence Force with one of the most capable and sophisticated air-land-sea amphibious deployment systems in the world. These 27,000 ton ships, also called LHDs (Landing Helicopter Dock), will be able to land a force of over 2,000 personnel by helicopter and water craft, along with all their weapons, ammunition, vehicles and stores.

The Canberra Class ships are not just for the defence of Australia and its national interests; they allow for large scale humanitarian assistance, at home or to our neighbours, on time of natural disaster. Each ship provides three times the assistance of which HMAS Kanimbla was capable of providing in the wake of the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami.

The total amphibious capability provides a combined arms battlegroup of more than 2000 personnel, providing landing force, helicopter operations, logistics, command and intelligence as well as other supporting units including:

  • space and deck strength sufficient to carry around 100 armoured vehicles, including M1A1 tanks, and 200 other vehicles
  • hangar space for at least 12 helicopters and an equal number of landing spots to allow a company sized group to be simultaneously lifted and projected ashore
  • 45 days endurance for crew and embarked forces including sustainment, medical, rotary wing and operational maintenance and repair support to these forces while ashore for 10 days
  • command and control of the land, sea and air elements of an Amphibious Task Force
  • the ability to conduct simultaneous helicopter and watercraft operations in a wide range of environments, and
  • a hospital facility comprising two operating theatres, high, medium and low dependency wards, dental, x-ray, pharmacy and administration facilities

The package for two amphibious transport ships would equip the Australian navy with one of the largest and most-advanced amphibious deployment systems in the world. The Navantia design featured a 27,000 ton vessel based on the Juan Carlos class of landing ship, which could carry six helicopters, heavy landing vehicles and more than 1000 troops.

The ships would greatly enhance Australia's ability to deploy forces in strength when needed or to provide assistance in time of natural disaster. With their integrated helicopters and watercraft, the ships will be able to land more than a thousand personnel by sea and air, along with vehicles, including the Army's new Abrams tanks, artillery and supplies. Each ship would also be equipped with medical facilities, including two operating theatres and a hospital ward.

EADS Defence & Security (DS) provides the new "Canberra" class amphibious ships of the Royal Australian Navy with the latest technology identification systems in order to enhance flight safety and situation awareness. Defence Electronics (DE), an integrated activity of DS, has been awarded a contract by BAE Systems to deliver two MSSR 2000 I IFF (= Identification Friend or Foe) systems for the installation onboard LHD1 and LHD2 (LHD = Landing Helicopter Dock) by 2015. Their integration into the Combat Management System is done by SAAB.

IFF systems, so-called secondary surveillance radars (SSR), precisely collect data such as origin, course, speed etc. of individual aircraft by automatically sending interrogation signals which are answered by so-called transponders on-board the incoming aircraft. Thus, the IFF systems ensure reliable identification of incoming aircraft substantially reducing the risk of accidentally attacks on friendly forces. This data exchange in the military field is based upon encrypted signals which cannot be analyzed or jammed by hostile forces.



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