Minister for Defence Visits Aegis Production Center

U.S. Navy Tech Rep, Captain Kris Biggs describes the set-up and mission of the Navy’s Combat Systems Engineering and Development Site to Minister Fitzgibbon. Also pictured is Lockheed Martin’s Dan Keebler.

April 12, 2009, Philadelphia -- The Minister for Defence, the Hon. Joel Fitzgibbon MP, yesterday visited Lockheed Martin’s Aegis Production Test Center in Philadelphia as part of his visit to the United States.

The Aegis system is the key capability element in the Australian Defence Force’s Air Warfare Destroyer (AWD) Program. The lead ship in the program, HMAS Hobart, is due for delivery in 2014.

The visit provided an opportunity for Mr Fitzgibbon to inspect the phased array radar and related Aegis equipment destined for installation in HMAS Hobart. These radar arrays were recently installed at the Production Test Center, marking the full Aegis system’s transition from its production phase to testing.

Tests on the first Aegis combat system will begin in May, with completion expected in November 2009.

Lockheed Martin is contracted to the US Navy for the supply of the Australian Aegis systems. Mr Fitzgibbon also met with Mr Fred Moosally, President of Lockheed Martin’s Maritime Systems and Sensors, and discussed progress on the delivery and testing of the Aegis system. The visit was hosted by Rear Admiral Terry Benedict, the US Navy’s Program Executive Officer, Integrated Warfare Systems.

“Australia will be acquiring the most advanced technology and capability possible with this version of the Aegis System,” Mr Fitzgibbon said. “The Hobart class system will be the first non-US Navy application of this version.

“This visit has given me the opportunity to see at first hand the high degree of success achieved to date in delivering the Hobart class AWD and its leading edge Aegis capability.”

Mr Fitzgibbon’s visit to Philadelphia follows a meeting with Mr Bob Stevens, Lockheed Martin CEO, in which they discussed progress on the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) Program.

The Minister advised Mr Stevens that no final decision on the JSF would be made until the delivery of the Defence White Paper, however, Australia remained a committed partner.

On Thursday, Mr Fitzgibbon and the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Hon. Stephen Smith MP, jointly led the Australian delegation to the annual Australia-United States Ministerial Consultations, held in Washington, DC. (mediacentre)

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