Royal Canadian Navy to Upgrade Undersea Warfare Sensor Suites on Frigate Fleet
By DAVID PUGLIESE, Special Correspondent
VICTORIA, British Columbia — The Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) will modernize its submarine-hunting capabilities for its frigate fleet in a project expected to cost more than $140 million. An industrial team led by General Dynamics Mission Systems-Canada has been awarded a contract to upgrade underwater warfare sensor suites on board the Halifax-class frigates, Canadian military officials confirmed to Seapower.
Work on the project is just starting. Initial delivery of the modernized system is expected in 2021, with full operational capability in place by 2027, Department of National Defence spokeswoman Jessica Lamirande said.
The initial acquisition contract is for six suite upgrades and is valued at 103 million Canadian dollars ($79 million). The in-service support contract for the upgraded suites has a potential value of 83 million Canadian dollars ($64 million) and will maintain and sustain the upgraded suites for up to 23 years, if all options are exercised, Lamirande said. The contract includes options to eventually upgrade the suites of all 12 Halifax-class frigates.
“The Underwater Warfare Suite Upgrade project will greatly enhance system performance through the incorporation of advanced digital processing, integration of upgraded sensors, and the enhancement of acoustic situational awareness via an improved interface to the new Halifax Class Combat Management system,” Lamirande said.
That management system was recently installed on the frigates as part of a life extension program for the vessels.
Lamirande said the decision on whether to proceed with contract options to upgrade all 12 frigates with modernized underwater warfare sensors will be made within three years.
The General Dynamics team includes Ultra Electronics Maritime Systems as well as Nautel, a Canadian firm.
RCN officers say the modernized systems will improve Canadian capabilities in tracking underwater threats in shallow water and high traffic areas. The improvements will include the installation of more active sonars and the capability for torpedo detection.
The original sonar systems on board the Halifax-class frigates were delivered by General Dynamics.
The new sensors will be interoperable with those on board the Royal Canadian Air Force’s CP-140 Aurora maritime patrol aircraft and the new CH-148 maritime helicopters. The equipment on board those aircraft was also delivered by General Dynamics.