Canadian Halifax frigates getting underwater warfare suite upgrades

The Canadian government has awarded General Dynamics Misssion Systems a CAD186 million contract for upgrades and maintenance of underwater sensors on Royal Canadian Navy’s Halifax-class frigates.

Royal Canadian Navy photo of Halifax-class frigate HMCS Fredericton

The majority of this work will occur in Canada, creating and maintaining about 120 highly skilled jobs while supporting the continued growth of the underwater sensor industrial capabilities in Canada, the government said in an announcement.

The upgrades will allow the frigates to detect quieter targets at increased ranges. In addition, improved automation will allow sonar operators to improve their underwater warfare performance work and to focus on other priorities.

“Threat detection is critical to initiate rapid defense countermeasures that protect our sailors and our ships. As the security environment continues to evolve, we will continue to adapt our naval capabilities, enabling effective defence of Canadian waters and meaningful contribution to international operations and exercises,” said Harjit S. Sajjan, Canadian Minister of National Defence.

Halifax-class frigate sonar operators detect, locate and track surface and sub-surface threats through the continuous monitoring and collection of information via high-tech sensors.

The $186 million contracts include acquisition and upgrade for the first six Halifax-class frigates ($103 million) and in-service support (potentially $83 million).

The contracts include options to upgrade all twelve Halifax-class frigates, which would bring the acquisition portion of to $170 million.

The in-service support contract will maintain and sustain upgraded suites for up to 23 years, if all options are exercised.

The first installation of the upgraded underwater warfare suite is expected to be completed in 2021 and operational in 2022.