UK and Australia strengthen ties over defence equipment
Defence Minister Harriett Baldwin has visited Australia to discuss equipment concerns in the face of intensifying threats.
Minister Baldwin met with her Australian counterpart, Christopher Pyne – the Minister responsible for military procurement in the country. With £8.6Bn worth of goods and services sold in 2015, Australia is now the UK’s 13th largest export market. Likewise, the UK has become Australia’s fifth biggest export destination – a relationship valued at almost $15Bn in 2016.
Crucially, the much-anticipated Type 26 Global Combat Ship – an advanced anti-submarine warfare frigate, designed to safeguard a new complement of aircraft carriers – has been shortlisted for Australia’s Future Frigate programme.
Previously, BAE Systems awarded a further 15 manufacturing contracts in support of the Type 26 programme, two of which went to Australian contractors. The UK government says these appointments are indicative of a deepening level of collaboration between the British and Australian defence sectors.
“From the First World War to defeating Daesh in the Middle East right now, the UK and Australia continue to fight side-by-side for the values we both share,” commented Minister Baldwin.
“In the face of mutual intensifying threats, the strong relationship between our countries allows vital discussions over how best to protect ourselves. As the Australian Navy looks for a new frigate, the Type 26 is a very strong candidate and I hope to see it form the backbone of our Five Eyes partners’ navies for decades to come.”
Whilst in Australia, the Minister Baldwin also attended a Bushmaster Protected Mobility Vehicle demonstration. Already in service with the Australian Army, the Bushmaster is manufactured by Thales Australia. It is one of two potential candidates under consideration as the UK looks to secure another troop-carrying vehicle and protected battlefield ambulance.
A decision on the procurement – Package Two of the UK ‘Multi-Role Vehicle-Protected programme’ (MRV-P) – is expected in 2018.
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