Surface Forces: New Zealand Finally Does Right By Its Anzacs


May 24, 2014: After nearly a decade of debate and delays New Zealand has finally selected a company (Lockheed Martin Canada) to do the upgrades for its two Anzac class frigates. These two ships entered service in 1996 and 1997 but have not received much in the way of upgrades since then. Such upgrades and refurbishment has been long overdue.

The Anzac class frigates are considered among the best of their type in the world. Ten of them were built between 1993 and 2006. Two went to New Zealand, with the rest joining the Royal Australian Navy. The 3,600 ton ships have a top speed of 50 kilometers an hour and a max range of 11,000 kilometers at cruising speed of 33 kilometers an hour. The ship uses a lot of automation so a crew of only 163 is needed. Weapons consist of one 127mm (5 inch) gun, 32 ESSM (Evolved Sea Sparrow) anti-ship/missile missiles, eight Harpoon anti-ship missiles, six anti-submarine torpedoes, and one helicopter. The New Zealand Anzacs lacked the Harpoons and used older (now obsolete) Sea Sparrow anti-aircraft missiles rather than the newer ESSM missiles. 

Australia later upgraded the anti-ship missile defenses of its Anzacs. This  consisted of new radars and fire control systems, which enabled incoming anti-ship missiles to be detected and tracked earlier and more accurately. This supports the ship's ESSM missiles more effectively destroying the attackers. There are more and more supersonic anti-ship missiles in service and older anti-missiles are less effective against these faster attackers. Some of the newer missiles also employ guidance systems that are more resistant to countermeasures. Thus anti-missile systems have to be smarter, and faster, to work.

Until now the New Zealand upgrades were mostly concerned with the engines, electrical systems and crew comfort. The new upgrades, to be carried out in Canada, will upgrade weapons (details still being worked out) and the electronics, especially combat control systems. These upgrades will cost about $200 million per frigate.





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