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Canada’s multibillion-dollar combat ship plan nears key decision

After years of studies, the preliminary design review for Canada’s future surface combatant ships is expected to be completed before the end of the year, according to an executive with shipbuilder Lockheed Martin.

The company was selected in 2019 to develop the design for 15 new Canadian Surface Combatants (CSCs) for the Royal Canadian Navy, and the service has taken its time to review all aspects of the design, Glenn Copeland, Lockheed Martin Canada’s general manager for rotary and mission systems, told reporters Oct. 19.

The CSCs, which will be built by Canada’s Irving Shipbuilding, will replace the navy’s retired Iroquois-class destroyers and Halifax-class frigates beginning in the early 2030s. With a budget of $56-60 billion CAD (U.S. $40.5-43 billion), the program is hailed as “the largest and most complex shipbuilding initiative in Canada since World War II,” according to the defense ministry’s website.

Over the past couple of years, Lockheed has been in conversations with Canada about “a number of solutions” to include in the design, which the nation has then been deliberating in tradeoff studies, as it seeks one ship that has “got to do it all,” Copeland said during a press conference at the biennial Euronaval trade conference here.

“Canada doesn’t have the luxury of having three different platforms, but they’ve committed to 15 ships,” he added. “So they’re taking the time to get this right.”

Lockheed’s proposal hinged on BAE’s Systems Type 26 Global Combat Ship, and the CSCs are intended for a range of missions, including: counter-piracy; counter-terrorism; interdiction and embargo operations; delivering humanitarian aid; search and rescue; and law and sovereignty enforcement for regional engagements.

Canada placed a specific focus on anti-submarine warfare, which has informed initial design elements, Copeland noted. Ottawa also requested a ballistic missile defense capability, which Lockheed is seeking to fill via its Aegis Weapons System, the SPY-7 radar and CMS 330, a derivative of the combat system used on Canada’s Halifax-class.

Once the design review is complete, production for the CSC should begin in 2024, with deliveries expected to begin in the early 2030s, and full operational capability achieved by 2031 or 2032, Copeland added.

Source: Defense News