Confirmation on Friday that the Government of Canada, through Irving Shipbuilding which acts as the Canadian Surface Combatant Prime Contractor, has formally signed a $185 million design contract with Lockheed Martin Canada and partners that will eventually lead to 15 next-generation Canadian Surface Combatant (CSC) frigates based on the BAE Systems Type 26 Global Combat Ship design built for the Royal Canadian Navy not only marks the beginnings of what has been estimated to be an eventual $45 billion procurement programme but also, the largest and most complex defence procurement deal ever undertaken by the Canadian Government.
The contract award to the Lockheed Martin Canada led partnership and that includes BAE Systems alongside CAE, L3 Technologies, MDA and Ultra Electronics, will see all 15 proposed vessels built at the Irving Shipbuilding Halifax, Nova Scotia shipyard.
Not only is the initial CSC award hugely important for the Canadian economy and for defence as a whole, for Irving Shipbuilders and the many jobs that will eventually be involved (some 9,000 Canadians are likely to be employed in more than 40 different facilities together with a supply chain that is likely to extend to 4,000 individual contracts to individual Canadian businesses) to Lockheed Martin Canada who will be responsible for the CSC build integration and to BAE Systems whose the Type 26 Global Combat Ship is at the heart of the CSC design, but it is also strong confirmation, if that were needed, that the UK is once again to be regarded as a world leader in naval ship design.
The Canadian Surface Combatant (CSC) frigates are intended to replace the Royal Canadian Navy’s ageing fleet of Iroquois and Halifax-class warships. The contract award follows a contest that had seen the Type 26 design put forward by the Lockheed Martin, BAE Systems and Irving Shipbuilding partnership beat off formidable competition from Dutch, Spanish and Franco-Italian frigate challengers.
The CSC frigates to be built for the Royal Canadian Navy will be the most advanced and modern anti-submarine warships in the world. As noted, CSC is based on the design of the Type 26 Global Combat Ship of which the first in-class HMS GLASGOW is currently under construction for the Royal Navy at BAE Systems’ Glasgow shipyard.
CSC will be a highly capable and versatile multi-mission frigate that is acoustically quiet having a virtually silent hull, highly survivable and one that has been purposely designed to support anti-submarine warfare, air defence and general-purpose operations around the world. CSC frigates will also be equipped with high-tech platform innovations from prominent Canadian companies.
For the United Kingdom and for BAE Systems the Canadian CSC award, alongside that of the award late last year from the Australian Government for the Hunter Class Frigate, reinforces Type 26 ‘Global Combat Ship’ as being one if not THE most advanced warship design in the world. Indeed, in respect of ship design, it showcases the undeniable strength of UK based innovation on the world stage.
Importantly, Canadian CSC alongside that of the £19.6 billion ‘Hunter Class’ frigates for the Royal Australian Navy and that is similarly based on the BAE Systems Type 26 design should dispel once and for all the ‘myth’ that the UK is no longer a major player in navy ship design and indeed, construction. Moreover, the contract awards signal that the UK is today, through BAE Systems, a global industry leader in respect of navy ship design.
The CSC contract award to Ottawa, Ontario based Lockheed Martin Canada follows a long and successful relationship that they have had operating in Canada and where the company employs more than 850 professionals supporting all branches of the Canadian Armed Forces. Having demonstrated success collaborating with Irving Shipbuilding and also, performing as Canada’s primary Combat System Integrator, Lockheed Martin also has an excellent record of delivering on time and on budget.
For BAE Systems which has design responsibility for Type 26 and the Hunter class and CSC variants, this latest award is further recognition of the brilliant work achieved by the company’s Naval Ships business.
Further building on the already announced success of Type 26 procurement for the Royal Navy and Hunter Class Frigate programme in Australia, the CSC award further highlights excellence of BAE Systems frigate design capability and also, in my view, provides a really solid foundation on which BAE Systems can further its export market ambitions of the Global Combat Ship. I am in no doubt that other international opportunities will arise.
Both Canadian Surface Combatant and Australian Hunter class Frigate programmes will not only benefit from advanced digital design techniques but also from the Royal Navy’s formidable pedigree and extensive operational experience in anti-submarine warfare. Both Australian ‘Hunter’ class and Canadian CSC frigate programmes present significant opportunities for synergies across the UK, Australia and Canada alongside of course, many strategic benefits of the so-called ‘Five Eyes’ intelligence cooperation that also includes the US and New Zealand as well as Britain.
For the record, the ‘Five Eyes’ intelligence alliance ensures that security procedures, parameters, data and training can be extensively shared between navies. Just as has long been the case between the Royal Navy and Royal Australian Navy, the Royal Canadian Navy and Royal Navy share a longstanding and close working relationship using as they do, similar operational practices. The CSC award, alongside that of the Australian/UK partnership on the Hunter Class Frigate Programme, will help to ensure that naval capabilities will be optimised for joint operations through their having joint access too, and development of, combined CONOPS, training, and intelligence.
For the Type 26 programme I take the view that the CSC award together with that of the Hunter class ships that BAE Systems will itself be building in Australia demonstrate a capability and design that has enormous further future potential. Looking at this another way would be to suggest that with the UK, Australia and Canada effectively now guaranteeing a 15 year build programme of ships based on the Type 26 design that the capability should also have that rare commodity of almost zero obsolescence. In respect of cost that is extremely important.
Perhaps another and equally serious point to make here is that other allied Navy’s around the world are, in my view, bound to look at the very huge attractions of Type 26 design capability established by BAE Systems and, as proven by the differing requirements of the two export customers so far, the flexibility available in the ultimate capability design requirement that Type 26 allows potential international government customers.
CHW (London – 10th February 2019)
Howard Wheeldon FRAeS
Wheeldon Strategic Advisory Ltd,
M: +44 7710 779785