Full steam ahead [CS19D1]

29 May 2019

A design based on the UK Royal Navy's (RN's) Type 26 Global Combat Ship has been selected as the basis for the Royal Canadian Navy's (RCN's) next generation of surface combatants.

The award of an initial C$185 million contract to Irving Shipbuilding for the design phase of the Canadian Surface Combatant (CSC) programme was confirmed in February this year. Lockheed Martin Canada - partnered with BAE Systems, CAE, L3 Technologies, MDA, and Ultra Electronics Maritime Systems under the banner of Canada's Combat Ship Team - has in turn been contracted by Irving Shipbuilding for design phase activities.

Selection for CSC is the second export success for BAE Systems' Type 26 design, following on from the selection last year of a Global Combat Ship variant for the Royal Australian Navy's (RAN's) Project Sea 5000 Hunter-class frigate programme. Representatives from the RN, RAN and RCN on 1 May signed a charter formally acknowledging Canada's entry into the Global Combat Ship Users Group.

The CSC acquisition projects the construction of 15 ships, to be built by Irving Shipbuilding at its yard in Halifax, Nova Scotia, to replace the RCN's 12 Halifax-class frigates and three now-retired Iroquois-class destroyers.

With a total estimated project budget of C$56-60 billion, the CSC programme is the largest and most complex procurement ever undertaken by the Canadian government. Construction of the first ship is planned to begin in the early 2020s.

Lockheed Martin Canada, proposing a design derived from Type 26, was last October announced as preferred bidder for the CSC design, combat system and ship integration by Public Services and Procurement Canada, being selected ahead of rival bids from Alion (offering a design based on the Royal Netherlands Navy's De Zeven Provinciën-class frigate) and Navantia (teamed with Saab and CEA Technologies to offer a customised variant of the Spanish Navy's F-105 frigate design).

Alion in November called on the Canadian International Trade Tribunal to overturn Lockheed Martin Canada's downselection, arguing that the Type 26 Global Combat Ship design was noncompliant with the RCN's requirements. The trade tribunal initially ordered the government not to negotiate a contract with Lockheed Martin Canada until it could fully investigate Alion's complaint. However, it rescinded that decision in December, allowing negotiations to continue, before dismissing Alion's case outright on 31 January.

Following February's contract awards, the Canadian government and Irving Shipbuilding are now working with Lockheed Martin Canada and its industry team to customise the GCS ship design to meet RCN requirements and incorporate Canadian systems and equipment. The design phase - the value of which will increase as engineering work progresses - is expected to take three to four years to complete.

Lockheed Martin Canada chose to offer the Type 26 Global Combat Ship because it was the closest warship design to Canada's specific requirements, thus necessitating the fewest and least risky design changes. Also, the completely digital design is expected to minimise design transition risk, and offer the lowest-risk path to manufacture and production at the Irving Shipyard facility.

From an operational perspective, the flexibility, versatility and adaptability intrinsic to the Type 26 Global Combat ship enable the ship to undertake a full spectrum of roles from humanitarian assistance to high-intensity conflicts, including anti-submarine warfare (ASW) and air defence. The ship has been designed with an extremely low acoustic signature to maximise its performance in the ASW role.

Also, with the UK's Type 26 programme running three years ahead of CSC, there is an expectation that Canada will benefit from an active production line where - due to its current stage in the manufacturing lifecycle - there will be no obsolescence issues.

While leveraging the acoustically quiet hull form and machinery package from the RN's Type 26 frigate, the Global Combat Ship design offered by Canada's Combat Ship Team features a much-revised combat system tailored to the CSC requirement, including Lockheed Martin Canada's own CMS 330 combat management system and a Lockheed Martin S-band solid state active phased array radar.

Ultra Electronics Maritime Systems, as the ASW lead, will provide a low-frequency active and passive towed sonar system paired with its next-generation hull-mounted sonar. The company will also lead the integration of these sensors with sonobuoys and other capabilities for wide-area underwater surveillance.

BAE Systems has received a contract from Lockheed Martin Canada for the design of the Type 26 variant for CSC. To reduce risk and save time, the redesign work specific to the Canadian derivative is making use of existing engineering resources at BAE Systems' Scotstoun site in Scotland.

This approach has been designed to facilitate the quickest transition into build, so avoiding gaps in industrial capability at Irving between the end of the six-ship Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ships programme and the start of CSC.

Design change required to adapt the Type 26 platform to meet the CSC requirement is estimated at only 10 per cent, with work largely focused on topside changes to accommodate elements of the Lockheed Martin Canada combat system. A large part of the change activity is a new mast to accommodate the solid state active phased array radar.

Under the CSC evaluation framework, bidders were incentivised to submit a value proposition that would maximise Canadian participation in CSC design-phase engineering/ integration services, and also seek to incorporate high-technology Canadian systems and equipment into the ships. Lockheed Martin Canada's value proposition commits to performing at least 58 per cent of the design phase engineering/integration services work in Canada.

Through the design phase, Lockheed Martin Canada will incorporate dozens of Canadian systems and equipment into the CSC design involving leading Canadian enterprises. Also, as part of its commitment to work with local industry, the company has committed to invest 10 per cent of the total subcontract value into Canadian small and medium-size businesses.

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