Would be nice to have some clarity on this development.This link from Defense-Aerospace (sourced from AFR) suggests up to a 2 year delay for the Hunter program. If true, it would seem to match Canada’s CSC timeframe somewhat (Canadian start even further down the road). This is why 2 more De Wolfe class ships are being built to keep Irving active. If Canada faces similar engineering delays it might be good for NZ. There would be a lot of incentive for Irving and the Canadian government to make a very good offer on a ninth De Wolfe.
Suggest the Hobart and ANZAC class need to be supported by a true middle tier vessel that the Arafura Class unfortunately does not satisfy.
This will be prudent if the Hunter Class program slips in time table.
While "up gunning" the Arafura Class has been discussed at length to the frustration of many, there maybe another option.
With the recent Defence Strategic Review stating that up to eight vessels will be acquired in the mine counter measures role and that these may be based on the Arafura Class, then there lies the potential for up to 20 vessels of a common hull form.
Many will remember this is a similar number to what was proposed a decade ago as a class of ship to replace our existing patrol / mine warfare and survey force.
Suggest there is now an opportunity to split this build into a class of two.
The Arafura Class is based on the Lurssen OPV 80 which is similar to the Brunei Navy's Darussalam Class.
Lurssen also offer a range of larger OPV vessels and these may be of interest for the RAN to satisfy the needs of a more robust middle tier vessel.
A version of their OPV 90 should provide a vessel with a true helicopter capability complete with a dedicated hangar.
Being of larger size and weight additional sensors and weaponry could and should be added.
This is not meant to be a frigate substitute, but rather a vessel adequately equipped to fulfil the broad range of tasks required in between a OPV and your major fleet assets.
It would still have much commonality with the existing Arafura Class but just with "more Stuff."
As to the number mix, take your pick, but suggest this approach should be a quick solution to any slip in the HUNTER Class program and probably a much needed missing capability at any case within our existing fleet.