Canada’s C$4.3 billion Halifax Class Modernization (HCM)/ Frigate Equipment Life Extension (FELEX) programme is approaching its conclusion, with nine out of the 12 frigates returned to service, and the last refit now in its final stages.
The Royal Canadian Navy’s (RCN’s) Halifax class frigates, commissioned between 1992 and 1996, were originally designed for anti-submarine warfare and anti-surface warfare in the open reaches of the deep ocean. Under the HCM/FELEX project, the ships are receiving both a combat systems upgrade (including a new command and control system, new sensors and electronic warfare systems and upgraded communications) and a planned mid-life overhaul to ensure that they remain effective for the remainder of their service lives.
While planning, preparation and co-ordination of the HCM/ FELEX project began back in 2002, it was not until November 2008 that Lockheed Martin Canada Mission Systems and Training was brought under contract as prime contractor and Combat System Integration (CSI) and in-service support agent. Under the C$2 billion CSI contract, Lockheed Martin Canada is taking responsibility for the development, integration and test of a new CMS, together with the procurement integration of new radars, ESM, Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) equipment, and a multi-link data processor. The company is additionally responsible for redesign of ship compartments and structures, modifications to the operations room, and the provision of a suite of simulation/ training systems, and is also integrating other sensors and weapons acquired under prior standalone programmes.
Upgraded combat system At the core of the upgraded combat system is the upgraded CMS330 command and control system, which introduces open architecture and functionality from Saab’s 9LV Mk 4 CMS line.
The SPS-49 2D long range air search radar is replaced by the Thales Nederland SMART-S Mk 2 E/F-band 3D surveillance radar, while the two legacy STIR 1.8 firecontrol radars are replaced by a pair of Saab Ceros 200 re-control radars. The existing Sea Giraffe 150HC is also being enhanced by Saab to improve performance in high clutter environments.
Other key equipments being introduced under the scope of the HCM/FELEX programme comprise a Telephonics IFF Mode 5/S interrogator, the Elisra NS9003A-V2HC ESM system (replacing the SLQ-501 CANEWS suite), an IBM multi-link (Link 11, Link 16 and Link 22 enabled) datalink processing system, and two Raytheon Anschütz Pathfinder Mk II navigation radars.
Lockheed Martin Canada is also responsible for integrating other equipments (acquired separately by the Canadian government and supplied to the programme as government-furnished materiel) into the upgraded combat system.
For example, a tailored variant of Rheinmetall’s Multi-Ammunition So kill System (MASS), known as MASS_DUERAS, has been procured to replace the obsolete Plessey Shield decoy system.
BAE Systems Bofors is upgrading existing 57mm Mk 2 guns to Mk 3 standard.
New 3P ‘smart’ pre-fragmented programmable ammunition is being introduced commensurate with the Mk 3 upgrade. Other weapons integrated as part of the HCM/FELEX upgrade include the Harpoon Block II surface-to- surface guided weapon, the Phalanx Block 1B close-in weapon system, and the Evolved SeaSparrow Missile point defence missile system.
Refit streams HCM/FELEX refit streams have been established on both the Paci c and Atlantic coasts. To date, HMCS Halifax, HMCS Fredericton, HMCS Calgary, HMCS Winnipeg, HMCS Montreal, HMCS Vancouver, HMCS Charlottetown, HMCS St John’s and HMCS Ottawa have all been cycled through the upgrade and returned to operations. HMCS Ville de Quebec completed her modernisation in late 2015, but has yet to return to operations.
In April 2016, HMCS Regina, the fifth and final frigate on the west coast to complete its modernisation by Seaspan’s Victoria Shipyard, was returned to the RCN to complete sea trials.
HMCS Toronto, the seventh and final east coast frigate, and the last of the 12 ships to go through the HCM/FELEX modernisation, is due to complete its refit at Irving Shipbuilding’s Halifax Shipyard in the third quarter of this year.
Following acceptance of Toronto, corresponding sea trials and project close-out activities are expected to be completed by January 2018.