Air Defense: ANZACs Against High Speed Missiles


December 12, 2011:  Australia is spending $81 million each to upgrade the anti-ship missile defenses of its eight ANZAC class frigates. The upgrades consist of new radars and fire control systems, which enable incoming anti-ship missiles to be detected and tracked earlier and more accurately. This enables the ship's Sparrow missiles to more effectively destroy 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.

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 Evolved Sea Sparrow anti-ship/missile missiles, eight Harpoon anti-ship missiles, six anti-submarine torpedoes, and one helicopter.


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