Tasmania-based PFG Group has unveiled a new variant of its Sentinel series of fast boats, the Sentinel 1100, at the Indo-Pacific exhibition in Sydney.
This is a slightly smaller variant of the three Sentinel 1250 tactical watercraft that the company is providing to the Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN). PFG will use the 11 metre-long 1100 variant to bid for the Royal Australian Navy’s (RAN) Future Generation Watercraft project.
The Australian Ministry of Defence is expected to release a Request for Tender for the new programme within months that will replace the existing RHIBs used in the tactical watercraft role. This includes their use by Special Forces under Land 1508 Project Greyfin, on the SEA 5000 Hunter-class frigates and the SEA 1905 Minehunter replacement project.
Sentinel 1100 has a beam of 3.5m and can reach a top speed close to 50 knots using new Hamilton HJX29 waterjets. PFG received an interest-free loan of nearly $421,000 (A$600,000) from the Tasmanian state government to build on its commercial success and develop products for the military market.
A spokesperson from One-2-Three Group, which designed the Sentinel in partnership with PFG, said that the HDPE material that is used to built the watercraft has “revolutionary”. He claimed its characteristics include long-life, durability, reduced vibration, low thermal and acoustic signatures, lightweight, non-magnetic, recyclable, and “unsinkable”.
Manufactured by a Germany company, the HPDE material is used to build the deck, console base and the cabin as well as the hull of the Sentinel 1100. “Over the next decade any serious military will build from this material,” the spokesperson added.
Funding from the Tasmanian government was approved in order to help develop the island’s existing boat building expertise and allow it to engage in wider markets.
PFG is likely to go up against the 9.38m-long Alpha watercraft that was launched by The Whiskey Project company at the Pacific exhibition in 2019. Meanwhile PFG is set to deliver the its first 1250 variant boat to New Zealand in the second half of 2022 with the other two following shortly after.
by Tim Fish