The progress of Australia’s largest defence project for Air Warfare Destroyers is to be delayed to help spread government payments. The measure comes after substantial cuts to defence spending, totalling A$5.45 billion over the next four years, were introduced to help balance the books. The revised timetable for the three ships means Hobart will now not be delivered until March 2016, while the gap between the second and third ship will be extended, so Brisbane is to be completed in September 2017 and Sydney in March 2019.

Defence hopes the scheduled slowdown will also improve the quality of construction work. Completion of Hobart was previously set back by 15 months after welding on the keel was botched at Melbourne shipyards in 2010. The mistake soured relationships with Navantia, and forced the reallocation of work to other shipyards.

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