28 April 2022
The Hunter frigate: an assessment
By Dr David Shackleton
Powerful and survivable large surface combatants, in numbers commensurate with the expected threat and national budgetary limitations, remain central in the order of battle of any navy of a middle-power such as Australia, but they need to be fit for purpose.
Australia’s government policy has acknowledged deteriorating geostrategic circumstances since 2009, culminating in its 2020 Strategic Update where we are not left in any doubt of the concern over China’s intentions and a stretched United States. The warships Australia acquires should be suitable for the circumstances it finds itself in.
Doctrine describes how the fighting will be done; policy determines which fight to prepare for. This report explores the disconnect between doctrine and policy, which has led Australia to building a warship that is unsuited for its purposes. It offers better alternatives, and suggestions to prevent being in a similar situation in the future, including using AUKUS to form a relationship with the USN to participate in its forthcoming new large destroyer program.