Canada’s Future Warships Selected

Kai Huang - 2A Computer Engineering
Posted on: October 31, 2018

    The Canadian Navy’s current surface fleet primarily consists of 12 Halifax-class frigates the entered service in the 1990’s. The Liberal government, in their defense policy review, recognized that the Halifax-class would need a replacement by the 2020’s that improves on wide-area air defense and anti-submarine warfare (ASW), as well as surface combat. Three proposals were submitted in 2017: the British Type 26 frigate, The Dutch De Zeven Provinciën-class frigate, and the Spanish F-105 frigate.

    On 19 October 2018, the government announced that the Type 26 was the chosen design, with procurement moving on to the next stage: negotiations with Lockheed Martin Canada and BAE Systems to confirm that they can deliver on every aspect of the complex design. The specific terms of the deal would cover the construction of 15 vessels as well as the associated equipment and services. The prime contractor for the vessels would be Irving Shipbuilding in Halifax, NS.  Integrated into the Type 26’s core design would be innovative high-tech platforms from many Canadian companies such as CAE, MDA, L3 Technologies, and Ultra Electronics.

    The core armament on the Type 26’s design features 24 vertical launch system (VLS) cells for the British Sea Ceptor surface-to-air missile, as well as another 24 Mark 41 VLS, which primarily utilizes American weaponry, such as the Sea Sparrow missiles, and Tomahawk land attack missiles. This would be a significant boost over the Halifax-class, which does not have any VLS cells and is only able of carrying 16 Sea Sparrows and 8 dated Harpoon anti-ship missiles. The Royal Navy variants of the Type 26 also carry a 127mm main gun, which, if chosen for the Royal Canadian Navy version, would also be a significant upgrade from the Halifax-Class, with its 57 mm automatic cannon.

    The existing designs also use American Phalanx Close-In Weapon Systems (CIWS) for local defense, and utilize towed and fixed sonar arrays. A flight deck is present on the rear of the ship. Canadian variants would likely be similar, with a Sikorsky CH-148 Cyclone helicopter being deployed for ASW purposes. BAE Systems pitches the Type 26 as also being less prone to early obsolescence as it is designed with technologically advanced digital elements in mind, which can be updated throughout the years.

    It is currently expected that the contract will be formally awarded in 2019, with construction beginning in the early 2020’s. There is not yet a formal time frame on when the first ship is expected to be complete. Concerns have arose of Irving’s capability to build the frigates. If the contract were to be delayed, they would likely have to lay off workers in their downtime after their current project is completed, which would only slow down the schedule further with the time it would take to rehire them and familiarize them with the new design. Given Canada’s history with military procurement, it would be all too naive to assume the process will go without a hitch.

Regardless, the new frigates represent a major step up in the Royal Canadian Navy’s capabilities. These will be the first truly modern vessels in our arsenal and also allow for improved synergy with many of our allies around the world that utilize shared systems. Once the fleet is replaced with 15 of these new vessels, a new era for the Navy will begin.

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