Modernizing Canada’s Halifax Class Frigates
Launched between 1988-1995, and commissioned between 1992-1996, Canada’s 12 City Class (now Halifax Class) frigates currently form the high end of its naval capabilities. The Canadian Navy has declined drastically from its post-WWII status as the world’s 4th largest navy, and the Halifax Class itself is finding that its open-ocean design is not suited to cope with modern littoral threats and improving anti-ship missiles. Replacement vessels are still many years away, which means that the 4,750t frigates will need to be modernized within the limits of their design if they are to remain effective.
Canada’s government has decided to fund that modernization, much as Australia and New Zealand are modernizing the Halifax Class’ ANZAC Frigate contemporaries. Refits are scheduled to begin with HMCS Halifax in 2010, and that ship is scheduled to re-enter service about 18 months later in 2012. By 2017, all 12 frigates are scheduled to be upgraded as part of a C$ 3.1 billion (about $2.9 billion) program. This DII Spotlight article explains the scope of the upgrades, notes the current systems, and covers the contracts and developments involved.
Upgrading The Halifax Class
Upgrades will be conducted through Canada’s FELEX (Frigate Life Extension) program. FELEX will manage all work elements in the modernization program, to varying degrees, as the project’s overall Design Integration Authority. The FELEX program is responsible for the ship level design integration including any unique/specific engineering changes required. It is also responsible for effective risk mitigation via scope management, design integration engineering, integrated risk management across all elements of the HCM, schedule coordination, and implementation/installation management.
Some projects will be conducted wholly within FELEX, while others will be stand-alone projects that receive independent funding. Still others will be rolled into the ships’ maintenance efforts. Integral FELEX Projects include:
- Internal Communications System Upgrade. This is also being done to a number of American ships, which are replacing their copper wiring and installing fiber optics and gigabit Ethernet to go with their network and SATCOM hardware upgrades. The ships’ current Communications Control and Monitoring System (CCMS) was supplied by SED Systems of Saskatoon, with a message processing system from Lockheed Martin Electronic Systems Canada. As a related upgrade, the new frigates will also receive an Integrated Platform Management System (IPMS) from L-3 MAPPS that will help handle damage control, electrical control, and machinery control on board.
- Harpoon Missile System Upgrade. Halifax Class ships currently carry 8 RGM-84 Block IC anti-ship missiles each. Boeing’s Harpoon Block II adds GPS guidance, much better near-shore capability, and land attack options.
- Electronic Warfare System upgrade – Electronic Support Measures. Currently the SLQ-501 Canews (Canadian Electronic Warfare System), and SLQ-505 radar jammer. Elbit Systems of Israel was picked as the supplier.
Semi-independent (sovereignty-association?) projects include:
- HMCCS – Halifax Modernized Command and Control System. The ships currently use the SHINPADS integrated processing and display system supplied by Lockheed Martin Canada, each using about 15 AN/UYK-501 workstations manufactured by General Dynamics Canada. They will be replaced with Saab’s 9LV system, a popular combat system used around the world in classes ranging from Sweden’s ultra-modern Visby corvettes to Australia’s forthcoming Canberra Class LHD amphibious landing ships.
- Halifax Class Radar Upgrades. The current set includes 2 Thales Nederland SPG-503 (STIR 1.8) fire control radars, Raytheon’s SPS-49v5 long-range active air search radar operating in the C and D bands, and Saab Microwave Systems’ HC150 Sea Giraffe medium-range air and surface search radar operating in the G and H bands. The Sea Giraffe radars are being updated (June 2/09 and Nov 26/10 entries), and Thales’ Smart-S Mk2 will be added to replace the SPS-49 (July 2/09 entry).
- SIRIUS – Long-range infrared search and track system. Important for near-shore surveillance, and ships operating under low-emissions restrictions. IRST on ships is especially useful against small surface targets, low flying aircraft, and anti-ship missiles. Its TV images are useful for threat classification. DRS Canada and Thales Nederland won with their Sirius system (April 21/06 entry).
- ESSM – Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile. The frigates currently carry 16 RIM-7 Sea Sparrow missiles, which cannot cope with modern threats. Raytheon’s RIM-162 ESSM is an entirely new missile that has become the new NATO standard, with substantially better maneuverability and capability against low-flying targets.
- IFF Mode S/5. Identification Friend-or-Foe technology is not foolproof, but if it fails, the results can be tragic. IFF Mode 5 offers new algorithms that improve performance, encryption, range, and civil compatibility. It also adds “lethal interrogation” as a must-respond last chance, and the ability to see individual aircraft even when they’re close together. The further addition of IFF Mode S assigns a discrete ‘squawk’ which is unique to each aircraft, and complies with advanced civil airspace requirements.
Maintenance projects will include:
- Replacement of the ships’ Integrated Machinery Control System.
- Unspecified modifications to the Saab Bofors 57mm naval gun, eventually finalized to a Mk3 upgrade. The Mk3 offers substantially better capabilities against targets like helicopters, small boats and UAVs, and can even be used in a last-ditch defensive role against anti-ship missiles.
- Replacement of the BAE Systems Shield mk2 missile decoy launchers, which fire chaff to 2km and infrared rockets to 169m in distraction, confusion and centroid seduction modes. In 1997, Canada ordered Nulka hovering decoy systems from BAE Australia, to equip its 4 aged Tribal/Iroquois Class destroyers… but the Halifax Class will use Rheinmetall Defence’s MASS system.
- Replacement of the current Kelvin Hughes Type 1007 I-band navigation radar. Raytheon Anschutz’ NSC radar has been selected.
- A pair of important projects aren’t conducted by Canada’s Navy, but the Navy will have to make sure they can work with the Halifax Class ships. The new CH-148/H-92 Maritime Helicopter will replace the existing CH-124 Sea King Fleet, and a new Military Satellite Communication System will offer greatly improved bandwidth and performance. Canada is a participant in the USA’s high-bandwidth AEHF program.
Respected defense journalist David Pugliese of the Ottawa Citizen notes that:
“Most of the industry folks that I have talked to acknowledge that this [18 months per ship, complete by 2017] is a tight and aggressive schedule considering the amount of work that needs to be done.”
Contracts and Key Events
The radar upgrade is part of the larger Combat Systems Integration contract, awarded to Lockheed Martin Canada in 2008. As part of this order, subsidiary Saab Microwave Canada Ltd. in Halifax, Nova Scotia, will provide additional support services for the Canadian Navy. Saab Group.
Oct 1/10: Canada’s Department of National Defence announces that the HMCS Halifax has begun its refit and modernization at Halifax Shipyards in Nova Scotia under a C$ 549 million contract. The HMCS Halifax is the first frigate to undergo refit and modernization under the FELEX program.
Aug 11/10: Lockheed Martin announces that its Halifax Class upgrade program has just completed its Critical Design Review. The CDR covered Lockheed Martin’s designs and plans for shipboard systems and facilities, as well as land-based and on-board trainer systems that will accompany the upgrade.
The CDR clears the firms involved to begin production, integration, and installation of sensors and the combat control system as scheduled.
Jan 25/10: David Pugliese of the Ottawa Citizen reports that ITAR-related delays have led Canada’s navy to modernize its Halifax Class frigates using as much non-American equipment as possible, in order to preserve both military flexibility and future export opportunities:
“It was a desire (by the customer),” Don McClure, Lockheed Martin Canada’s vice- president of business development, said of the decision to use technology that wasn’t controlled by ITAR. “The primary thing is during the life of a warship there is the need to modify certain tactics or add certain sensors and the navy didn’t want to be restricted to having to ask permission (from the U.S.) for that.”…will also allow [the Canadian firm] to market the system to other navies without having to seek U.S. permission… privately, some Canadian defence industry officials complain that the U.S. selectively uses ITARs to give equipment being provided by American-based companies an advantage in export situations. They say there have been cases where the U.S. State Department has used ITARs to prevent Canadian products from being sold overseas because those items have some American-technology in them, while at the same time giving approval to U.S. firms to sell the same components in the same foreign market.”
Technically, Canada’s DND didn’t ban ITAR-regulated equipment, just gave it a structural competitive disadvantage in its RFPs. This is so, even though Canada has some unique agreements with the USA designed to ease ITAR restrictions. The article adds quotes from Thales Canada’s Conrad Bellehumeur, who has noticed a rise in the desire for ITAR-free equipment “at the Defence Department and from military forces around the world.”
Oct 7/09: Raytheon Anschuetz announces that its NSC navigation radar will be used as part of the Halifax frigate upgrades. The X-/ and S-Band radars will be integrated into the new CanACCS 9LV command and control system, the navigation distribution system, and the Canadian Navy’s SHINNADS electronic chart system.
Aug 3/09: Griffon Corp. subsidiary Telephonics Corporation announces a contract with Lockheed Martin Canada to provide a new Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) Interrogator. The initial award is for $US 16.3 million, with a projected value expected to exceed $US 20 million.
This contract represents Telephonics’ first entry for its all new Common Module ALL MODE interrogator system into the shipboard IFF market, adding Mode 5 and Mode S capabilities. A variant sold under the nomenclature AN/UPX-40 is already used in Canada’s CP-140 Aurora maritime patrol aircraft (P-3), and its future CH-148 Cyclone maritime helicopter (H-92). Other all mode IFF systems from Telephonics include the 40(V), 505, 505(V) and AN/UPX-43 (V).
IFF mistakes can and have resulted in friendly fire deaths. Mode 5 IFF offers much improved algorithm, encryption, range, and civil compatibility. It also adds “lethal interrogation” as a must-respond last chance, and the ability to see individual aircraft even when they’re close together. The further addition of Mode S assigns a discrete ‘squawk’ which is unique to that platform.
July 31/09: Official opening of Lockheed Martin Canada’s new 100,000 square foot Maritime Advanced Training and Test Site (MATTS) in the Highfield Industrial Park in Dartmouth, NS. MATTS will host critical training systems, simulation and testing labs and a new Technology Collaboration Centre that provides a near-at-sea environment for Canadian businesses to test and develop solutions. The facility will host land-based testing and simulation of the frigates’ new combat systems, prior to installation on each vessel. It will also house training systems similar to those currently housed at the Canadian Forces base in Stadacona, reflecting the new combat system. Lockheed Martin release.
In April 2009, Lockheed Martin announced that it was expanding its Nova Scotia operation, adding 100 new jobs over five years. The Province of Nova Scotia, through Nova Scotia Business Inc., is supporting this growth with a $1.8 million payroll rebate.
July 2/09: Thales announces an agreement with Lockheed Martin to deliver 13 Smart-S Mk2 surveillance radars, as part of the Halifax Class Modernization Program.
These 3D multibeam S-band radars are optimized for medium-to-long range volume search and target designation, and includes features that help it work in cluttered near-shore environments with hostile small craft. Key features include 2 main modes, a 250 km/ 135 nautical mile range, up to 70 degree elevation, full support for the RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile, a special helicopter mode, and surface fire channels. Deliveries will begin in Summer 2010 and be complete in 2015.
One interesting wrinkle is that Lockheed Martin, as the prime contractor, is responsible for this contract’s 100% value industrial offsets requirement. Thales Canada, who recently won a contract from the government for aerostat blimps and surveillance towers, has pledged to help Lockheed Martin meet this target. David Pugliese’s Defence Watch.
June 19/09: The Government of Canada awards Raytheon Canada Limited of Calgary, AB an 8-year, C$ 180 million contract to overhaul, repair and upgrade the Canadian Navy’s Phalanx Close-In Weapon Systems (CIWS). The Phalanx serves on Canada’s Halifax class frigates, its aged Iroquois/Tribal class “air defense” destroyers, and its Protecteur class supply ships. The upgrades will likely take the systems to Phalanx Block 1B status, which improves capabilities against fast boats, helicopters, and UAVs.
Canada’s Industrial and Regional Benefit (IRB) Policy applies to this procurement. It requires that Raytheon Canada Limited undertake “high quality and advanced-technology business activities in Canada valued at 100 per cent of the contract value.”
May 7/09: Elbit Systems subsidiary Elisra Electronic Systems Ltd. receives a US$ 55 million contract from Lockheed Martin Canada Ltd., to supply Electronic Warfare equipment for the Canadian Navy’s Halifax Frigate Modernization program. An Elbit spokesperson told DID that “only passive EW systems” will be supplied, as opposed to equipment for active jamming. Elbit Systems release [PDF] | Elisra naval EW products page.
March 30/09: A contract to equip the 12 Halifax Class frigates with its MASS (Multi Ammunition Softkill System) naval countermeasures system, in place of BAE Systems Shield mk2 missile decoy launchers, is announced. If the ship is attacked, MASS fires decoys that work in all relevant wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum (radar, infrared, laser, EO, UV). The programmable system can be integrated into all naval command and control systems, but can also operate in a stand-alone mode.
No costs are provided. Deliveries will take place during the 2010-2014 timeframe, with Rheinmetall Defence’s ship protection specialists in Fronau, Germany as the prime contractor and Rheinmetall Canada Inc. working as a subcontractor. Canadian government | Rheinmetall Defence.
Since its market launch in 2002, MASS has attracted orders from 9 nations, for 130 launchers, on 15 different classes of naval vessels. Announced customers now include Germany (F123 Class frigates, K130 Class corvettes, 2 minehunter classes), Canada (Halifax Class frigates), Finland (Squadron 2000 FACs), Norway (Skjold Class FACs), Oman (Khareef Class OPVs), Sweden (Visby, Goteborg and Stockholm Class corvettes), the United Arab Emirates (Baynunah Class frigate), and an unnamed “country in the Middle East.”
March 18/09: Northstar Electronics, Inc.’s wholly owned subsidiary, Northstar Network Ltd., announces a C$ 2.6 million ($2.05 million equivalent) contract from L-3 Communications MAPPS Inc. Northstar will provide Machinery Control Consoles under the Halifax Class Patrol Frigate IPMS (Integrated Platform Management System) program, and will deliver a variety of MCC consoles, support engineering for the design of the prototype and manufacturing, and handle assembly and factory acceptance testing of the production consoles.
Feb 25/09: BAE Systems announces a US $50 million contract to upgrade 14 of its 57mm guns from the Mk2 to Mk3 configuration. The Mk3 gun (Mk110 in the USA) can fire Bofors 3P ammunition with 6 different mode capabilities, including standard proximity fuzing, gated proximity for air defense, impact, armor piercing, and a timed mode that helps it hit small, fast-maneuvering naval targets or concealed on-shore targets. Each round can be individually programmed, and the gun will fire up to 220 rounds per minute.
The contract funds one upgraded gun for each Halifax Class ship, one training gun and one spare gun. The contract also includes an option worth US $25 million for Integrated Logistic Support products, including simulators, interface computers, a training package, documentation and spare parts. Upgrades will be performed at the BAE Systems Bofors facilities in Karlskoga, Sweden from 2009 – 2016, before being shipped back and installed in Halifax and Victoria, Canada. Frontier India report.
Dec 12/08: The Government of Canada announces a contract to L-3 Communications MAPPS Inc. for a new Integrated Platform Management System (IPMS). The 12 Halifax Class frigates require an IPMS to upgrade the damage control, electrical control and integrated machinery control systems on board. The system will also link sensors and computer systems to the Halifax Class Command and Control System, providing real-time updates.
The IPMS system has also been selected for the UK Royal Navy’s new Queen Elizabeth Cass aircraft carriers. L-3 release.
Nov 7/08: The government of Canada announces that it has finalized C$ 2 billion worth of frigate modernization contracts with Lockheed Martin. Team members include Saab Systems, Elbit Systems’ Elisra subsidiary, IBM Canada, CAE Professional Services, L-3 Electronic Systems and xwave.
Lockheed Martin Canada currently has about 500 employees at facilities in Kanata (Head office), Montreal, Halifax, Victoria, Esquimalt, Dartmouth, Valcartier, Petawawa and Wainright. Over the next 12 months, Lockheed Martin expects to hire up to 200 new engineering, technical and manufacturing employees in Montreal, Ottawa, Esquimalt and Halifax. The HCM CSI effort will be supported by Lockheed Martin’s Maritime Systems & Sensors business. Government of Canada | Lockheed Martin.
Sept 5/08: Lockheed Martin Canada, as the last contractor team standing, become the preferred bidder for the Halifax Class’ Combat Systems Integration (CSI) Design contract and Build and In-Service Support contract.
The C$ 1.4 billion CSI contract will upgrade the ships’ command and control systems, including the addition of Saab’s 9LV combat system. Team Lockheed will also redesign the operations room, and reconfigure the ship’s mast to accommodate a new radar suite. The actual refit work will take place at Halifax Shipyards and at Victoria Shipyards Company, per the April 21/08 entry.
The In-Service Support contract is valued at approximately C$ 600 million, and will ensure long-term support of the installed systems. Government of Canada release.
June 11/08: Defense reporter David Pugliese of the Ottawa Citizen reports that the General Dynamics team has withdrawn:
“The buzz in the defence industry that started over the problems on the Halifax-class frigate modernization program has risen to a collective groan about how the defence procurement system has gone off the rails.
Fingers seem to be pointed in a number of directions; inexperienced DND procurement staff, lack of proper guidance from Public Works and unreasonable expectations for the amount of money on the table, are among the reasons folks are putting forth about the growing problems with military equipment projects… Well, General Dynamics and its partners (General Dynamics was one of two consortiums that were deemed capable of working on this project) decided not to bid on the $1.1 billion program as it was just too risky and “not commercially viable.”
A consortium led by Lockheed Martin Canada, following the rules set out by the government, dutifully put in their bid last Friday.”
June 9/08: Deadline for HCM-CSI bid submission. Reports indicate that the team composed of Lockheed Martin Maritime Systems & Sensors, Saab Systems, xwave, IBM Canada, L-3 Electronics and CAE Professional Services was the sole bidder.
April 21/08: The Government of Canada awards 2 contracts for the on-going maintenance and refit work to be performed on its 12 Halifax Class frigates. Each contract is valid for a period of 12 years. If the refit options are exercised, the shipyards will need to complete the refit work of each vessel within a 12-month operational window allotted to that vessel.
Halifax Shipyards in Nova Scotia receives a C$ 549 million contract to maintain and refit 7 frigates on Canada’s east coast. At its peak, it is expected to maintain and create up to 600 local jobs.
Victoria Shipyards Company Ltd. in British Columbia receives a C$ 351 million contract to maintain and refit 5 frigates on the west coast. It is expected to create up to 110 local jobs and to help maintain an additional 450 jobs. Government of Canada release.
April 17/08: Lockheed Martin Canada’s Halifax Class Modernization (HCM) Team uses the CANSEC 2008 show to demonstrate its integrated combat management system, including the proposed “CanACCS-9LV” combat system, advanced consoles, ship integration modeling, and a modernized operations room. Some of the attendees include some of the sailors who will eventually operate the modernized Halifax Class ships.
While there’s always a long leap between a demonstration and a working system, the intended positioning as a low-risk solution could not be clearer. Lockheed Martin release.
April 7/08: General Dynamics Canada announces that CMC Electronics Inc., of Montreal, Quebec, has joined their CSI HALIFAX bid team. CMC’s specialty is human factors engineering, and their experience includes providing a complete analysis of the operations room and communication requirements of the Halifax Class operations team. CMC has also developed components for the Royal Navy’s Astute-class submarine and is currently investigating crewing effectiveness, joint fires support and collaborative tactical picture compilation for multi-nation task groups.
March 17/08: With MDA’s team eliminated in the initial down-select, the Vancouver firm joins the General Dynamics team. General Dynamics Canada announces the move; their team now consists of GD/GD-AIS, MDA, Raytheon, and Thales Canada/Nederland.
MDA makes Canada’s Naval Combat Operator Trainer, which required a certain amount of familiarity with the combat system. Their experience will be used to maintain training-system currency with the new system, and contribute to In-Service Support during the legacy period.
Feb 11/08: General Dynamics Canada announces that Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems has joined its CSI Halifax Team. Raytheon builds the frigates’ SPS-49 radar, RIM-7 Sea Sparrow air defense missile and its RIM-162 ESSM successor, their Mk 46 torpedoes, and their Phalanx close-in weapons system for last-ditch missile defense and firepower against UAVs and small boats.
Jan 4/08: David Pugliese of the Ottawa Citizen offers a full round-up of the 3 teams competing for the HCM program. The 3rd team is led by Canadian Firm MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates, in partnership with EADS subsidiary Atlas Elektronik of Germany, who is offering the same ANCS command and control systems recently provided to the German and Finnish navies.
MDA’s team would be eliminated in the first down-select, leaving Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics to battle for the contract.
Jan 3/08: Lockheed Martin hosts the Canadian Navy’s Combat System Integration Lab at their facility in Montreal. Unsurprisingly, they’re leveraging that to assist their bid. The firm announces that Saab’s 9LV Combat Management System is now operational in that lab, a move that may reduce the system’s perceived technical risk.
Dec 18/07: Lockheed Martin announces that L-3 Electronics Systems Canada has joined its Combat Systems Integrator bif team, alongside Saab Systems, IBM Canada, xwave and CAE Professional Services. L-3 is involved in the CP-140 Aurora Avionics Optimized Weapons Systems Management contract, and led the Tribal Class Update and Modernization Project (TRUMP) for Canada’s aged destroyers.
Sept 5/07: General Dynamics Canada announces its team for the [at the time] $1.1 billion Halifax Class Modernization (HCM) – Combat Systems Integration (CSI) program.
General Dynamics Canada is heading the team. They currently act as the integrated mission systems contractor for Canada’s new CH-148/H-92 maritime helicopters, and the AIMP program to improve the CP-140 Aurora maritime patrol aircraft fleet. GD Avanced Information Systems brings their experience with the USA’s Littoral Combat Ships. Thales Nederland and Thales Canada bring their TACTICOS command and control system ship-sets, which serve with 13 different navy customers on 12 different ship types. They also bring a position as the established radar provider for the Halifax Class, and their recent SIRIUS IRST system win.
April 11/07: Lockheed Martin announces its intention to pursue the Halifax class’ mid-life modernization program, and unveils its team at the annual CANSEC trade show in Ottawa.
Lockheed Martin Canada is the current systems integrator for the Halifax Class, and is an original equipment manufacturer for its current combat system. They also hosts the Canadian Navy’s combat systems integration lab at their facility in Montreal, and maintain the frigates’ Operations Room Team Trainer (ORTT) simulator.
Saab brings its popular 9LV ship’s combat system, delivered to 15 navies worldwide. IBM Canada, xwave and CAE Professional Services bring made-in-Canada software applications and in-service support expertise that will address integrated logistics support, human factors engineering, et. al.
October 2006: The government of Canada issues a C$ 150 million Platform System Design Agent Contract, worth $150 million, to Fleetway, Inc. of the Irving Group.
The Irving Group is a very diversified conglomerate whose size makes it a major economic and political player in Eastern Canada. This did not suffice to earn Canada’s recent submarine refit contract, however.
April 21/06: The Canadian navy placed an order for 13 Sirius long-range Infrared Search and Track (IRST) systems with DRS Technologies Canada, now part of the Italian Finmeccanica group following a 2008 acquisition announcement. Thales Nederland is the major subcontractor. The larger order is placed in conjunction with the Netherlands, who will be installing them on their ultra-modern F124 De Zeven Provincien anti-air frigates. In Canada, 12 systems are slated for the Halifax Class frigate upgrade program, and one will be used for land-based training. The systems will be delivered between 2008 – 2011.
For full coverage of the contract’s details, the Sirius system’s capabilities, and why those capabilities matter to modern ships, read “Canada & Holland Order 17 SIRIUS Shipboard Long-Range IRST Sensors.”
- Naval Technology – Halifax Class Frigates, Canada
- DND Canada – Modernized HALIFAX Class. Includes sub-sections like project schedule.
- Public Works and Government Services Canada – Halifax class frigates Modernization
- DND Canada (June 28/07) – Backgrounder: Halifax-Class Modernization (HCM) / Frigate Life Extension (FELEX)