WASHINGTON – Canada’s next generation frigate is on the rise and will cost more money than originally forecast, according to a new cost analysis.
The Canadian Surface Combatant program, led by Lockheed Martin based on BAE’s Type 26 design, was first selected in 2018 and contracted in 2019.
However, since the announcement, the ship has risen from an estimated 69.8 billion Canadian dollars (55.75 billion US dollars) to 77.3 billion Canadian dollars (61.74 billion US dollars), according to a new cost estimate by the Office of the Parliamentary Budget Commissioner. That cost is more than double the original estimate for the program in 2008, which was in the range of more than $ 28 billion in Canadian dollars for the year, according to the Canadian dollar report.
The ship also packed 900 tons, which is now expected to displace 7,800 tons of light ship weight, compared to the originally planned 6,900 tons. The fully loaded ship is expected to weigh 9,400 tons. Almost twice as much as the 4,700 tons of the current Halifax class, the former head of Irving Shipbuilding told the CBC earlier this month.
The rising cost of the program is likely to put pressure on the Canadian government to consider various options, although observers say it would be difficult and expensive to cancel the program and start over without affecting the ability of the Royal to post Canadian Navy had searched when they searched it chose the sophisticated hull.
The surface combat program is part of a larger national shipbuilding strategy launched in 2010 that aimed to create stable shipbuilding in the industry and avoid the boom and bust cycles of previous national shipbuilding efforts, said Timothy Choi, a researcher and observer of the Canadian Navy.
“We have a strong interest here in making sure that the shipyards survive a long time to prevent the boom and bust cycle that previously characterized our naval yards,” said Choi.
“If you build it really quickly, in a short time – five to seven years, like we did for the Halifax class [frigate]and we’ve split them into three different yards – once that job is done, they have nothing more to do. And it will be another 20 years before they can actually build something big. “
However, the downside to the build-it-slow strategy is that inflation is starting to consume your household food, he said. The alternative, however, is that once the class is built, you will lose shipyard capacity.
“As soon as you start loading that inflation into ours [cost estimate] it looks a lot worse than it would be if we just built them very quickly. However, there is a risk that this yard capacity will be lost once the ships are ready. “
Irving Shipbuilding will begin cutting steel in 2024, CBC reported.
The ship is growing mostly because Canada is charging them with skills, Choi said.
The government opted for Lockheed Martin’s SPY-7 radar, an upgrade over the British Type 26 with a rotating 3D radar that will likely put stress on the hull, he said, but added that Canada plans to “pretty much Using every single weapon of its kind you could imagine a modern high-end fighter, ”added Choi.
The ship will also have X&S band navigational radars, be part of U.S. Navy collaborations (meaning it can shoot at targets that are captured and relayed by U.S. Navy assets), and downloadable with a 32-cell vertical launch system and deck-mounted launchers for Kongsberg and Raytheons Naval Strike Missile and torpedo launchers.
The Canadian cost assessment also assessed a mixed purchase with just a few Type 26 hulls and then began purchasing the much smaller and less expensive British Type 31e frigates based on the Danish Navy’s Iver Huitfeldt-class frigate.
That ship would be a significant downgrade to the capabilities of the Type 26, said Bryan Clark, a retired U.S. Navy submarine officer and senior fellow at the Hudson Institute. However, given the increasing cost of the program, it makes sense to look for new options.
“I think the more sensible way would be to go for a ship that has a proven design and associated costs, ”said Clark.
“If you are Canada, do you need to be at the forefront of technology development or can you go with something proven?” Modern, but proven and modern, but maybe it’s not the next generation ship. “
One option would be to switch to the FREMM, which was previously rejected from the program but would save about 6 billion Canadian dollars according to a Canadian cost assessment. It would also benefit if the US took some of the learning curve off the cost of the ship as it drives the program forward.
Sticking to the Type 26 is likely the preferred option, but saving money on the hull still makes a lot of sense where possible, Clark said.
“I’m sure the argument within the Canadian armed forces is,” Well, we don’t buy these very often. So when we buy a ship, we have to buy the type of edge because we will keep it for a long time. We don’t want to be obsolete, ”said Clark. “If that’s the argument, I’d say you might be better off going with a tried and tested hull design, but make sure it has enough modularity so that you can update it over time. “
Still, Canada is unlikely to want to switch horses in the middle of the river, he said.
“It’s unlikely they’ll just kick it out and start over,” said Clark. “I’m assuming they’ll stay on course on the Type 26 and try to take advantage of the fact that three countries are building it and try to make as much savings as possible.”