Canada Chooses BAE Type 26 for Next Generation Warships
The Canadian government has announced that BAE Type 26 design has been chosen for its $60 billion Surface Combatant project to replace the navy's aging fleet of frigates.
The new 150-meter (492-foot) vessels will replace the Iroquois and Halifax-class warships and provide air defense, anti-submarine warfare and anti-shipping capability. Lockheed Martin Canada is partnering with BAE Systems, and Irving Shipbuilding has been nominated as shipbuilder.
Other bids were received from Alion Science and Technology with its proposal based on the Dutch De Zeven Provinciën Air Defence and Command frigate and Navantia/Saab/CEA Technologies with their proposal was based on the Spanish Navy F-105 frigate.
Lockheed Martin Canada and BAE Systems must now go through a due diligence process which includes negotiations with the government on intellectual property rights, an assessment of combat systems performance and an assessment of the companies' financial capability to deliver the project.
A contract award is expected this winter, with construction beginning in the early 2020s. The Canadian Surface Combatant project is the largest, most complex procurement ever undertaken by the Government of Canada.
The announcement follows the decision made by the Australian Government in June 2018 to select the Type 26 for its Future Frigate program.
The Royal United Services Institute of Nova Scotia notes:
1. This step in the project was not a contract award. It was selection of the “preferred bidder” and design. There are details including cost to be worked out. It will take time before a contract is awarded (“winter 2019” is mentioned as date for the award which is understood to mean before end March 2019).
2. Testing needs to be done of what is being offered, and that will take time. If problems arise then there will be more negotiations. If negotiations with the preferred bidder do not lead to resolution of issues, then government will turn to the second bidder. Who the second bidder has not been announced and likely will not be due to negotiations.
3. It will take more time before steel is cut. Cutting of steel is an evident but by far not the first step in shipbuilding. But there is a sense of urgency, particularly as the shipbuilder is emphasizing the potential for a shipbuilding gap between the Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ship project and Canadian Surface Combatant project. Project management staffs are surely considering options. And timings have to be considered within the Canadian political calendar.
4. There is need for some “Canadianization” of the design and that will take time. (As an aside, whether there is a lot of Canadianization or not, there should be avoidance of calling the ships Type 26 or even Canadian Type 26. That naming convention is Royal Navy. The ships are being built under the Canadian Surface Combatant project and should be known by their first-of-class name, just as the Harry DeWolf-class Arctic and Offshore Patrol Vessels are.)
5. A focus on intellectual property (IP) access and rights is appropriate. The Canadian government needs come control over IP to support the operation and maintenance of the ships so at least not to be held hostage to a particular manufacturer’s availability and price. Control is particularly important what with the Canadian practice of operating ships for 30 plus years with often a major mid-life refit and significant change to the ships' equipment. IP security has not been an issue in past Canadian shipbuilding projects. It would set a very bad precedent otherwise.
6. Intriguing is the possibility of a Type 26 “users group” with the U.K. and Australia who have chosen the Type 26. Even more intriguing would be what could happen if the U.S. decides to base their next frigate design on the Type 26.