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Canadian Navy - Modernization

LEADMARK is the long-range strategic planning document for the Canadian Navy. It considers Canada's geo-strategic location, interests and history as well as the dramatic shifts within the international system in the recent past and uncertain decades to come. Leadmark then articulates a strategy for the future development of a coherent Canadian naval force structure and its most effective employment in the future security environment.

The design of the Next Canadian Navy already is well advanced. Given that its development unfolds within the Horizon 2 (five to fifteen year) planning window, the shape of the Next Navy understandably is informed by the experience of the first decade of the post-Cold War era. It also is based on the principles of capability-based planning, with a particular eye on an enhanced joint focus and allied interoperability.

By 2008 the government had undertaken to renew all of Canada's maritime forces over the next 20-plus years: investing industry with the capacity for long-term in-service support of the 4 Victoria class submarines in the years to come; modernizing the 12 Halifax-class ships, truly the bridge to our future fleet, ensuring that these ``workhorses'' remain as combat capable in the second half of their service lives as they have been in the first half; introducing the Cyclone maritime helicopter - when these aircraft are introduced to the modernized Halifax-class frigates, that team of ship and helicopter would be among the most tactically capable combination in any navy; modernizing the existing Aurora fleet and providing for its eventual replacement; acquiring new capabilities and added capacities that we have not had before for operations both at home and abroad through the acquisition of six to eight Arctic offshore patrol ships and three joint support ships; and finally, acquisition of 15 new Canadian surface combatants, initially to replace the Iroquois class destroyers that quarterback the Canadian task group and eventually to replace the Halifax class when these ships reach the end of their service life in the 2020s and well beyond.

The navy is responding to a developing requirement for an independent capability to transport Canadian troops and equipment with a project to build a multi-purpose ship. The Afloat Logistics and Sealift Capability (ALSC) project is tasked primarily to ensure that continued at-sea logistics support would be available to naval ships and embarked helicopter detachments. To gain the maximum utility from the ship, it also is intended to include the ability to deliver the lead elements of a Canadian expeditionary force almost anywhere in the world accessible by sea. Other roles, including aviation support, humanitarian crisis response and a joint and (or) combined force headquarters capability, may be accommodated as well.

Recognising the need for a replacement for the air defence and command and control capability resident in the Iroquois class destroyers, the navy is developing the Command and Control Area Air Defence Replacement (CADRE) project. With the trend towards littoral warfare and a mandate for a globally deployable Canadian Forces, the implications for such a replacement extend beyond the traditional area air defence functions of the Cold War. Potentially they could include the ability to handle threats from theatre missiles (ballistic and cruise), kinetic and beam (energy) weapons, and shore-based weapons, and CADRE should be able to provide support to joint and combined forces ashore. Since the Halifax class frigates were delivered in the first half of the 1990s they need to undergo a modernisation program if they are to retain their operational viability over the projected 30-year lifetime of their hulls. In addition to evaluating the requirements for new command, control, communications, radars, sensors and weapons suites, the Frigate Equipment Life Extension (FELEX) project would also have to examine what work would be necessary with regard to refurbishing and (or) renewing the hull and machinery. It is not certain whether, at the end of FELEX, the Canadian frigate fleet would retain the uniform configuration and suite of capabilities as seen today. Requirements and budgets may see sub-classes of upgraded vessels emerge.

Similarly, the Victoria class submarines would also require a mid-life upgrade in the near-term as they were originally constructed for the Royal Navy in the 1980s. The Submarine Equipment Life Extension (SELEX) project would need to look at platform upgrades and refurbishment as well as new command, control and communications systems, and perhaps even a new sensor and weapons outfit. However, one of the most exciting possibilities for conventional submarines is that presented by Air Independent Propulsion. The day of the purely diesel-electric submarine is almost over, with most recent new-construction non-nuclear submarines featuring some form of Air Independent Propulsion (AIP). Significantly, one of the over-riding acquisition criteria stipulated for the Victoria class was a capability for possible retrofit of an AIP generation system.

Owing to the multi-purpose nature of the construction of the Kingston class ships, it is not necessary for major modifications to be carried out when a new weapons system is provided (containers outfitted with new equipment can be attached to three pads on the after part of the ships). The Remote Minehunting System project shows promise and may provide a remote controlled stand-off minehunting capability and may also lead to the possibility of a remote influence minesweeping system as well. Development of this capability in modular form would ensure that it can be migrated to a variety of platforms as required, thus greatly enhancing their capability for self-defence against mines whilst reducing risk to platforms and personnel.

Maritime aircraft capital programs are managed by Air Command in response to naval operational requirements. Acquisition of a new multi-purpose maritime helicopter to replace the Sea King would permit the navy finally to realise the full potential of the Halifax class frigates. The approved update programme of the CP-140 (Aurora) maritime aircraft would replace the communications and data processing systems, upgrade the radars and other non-acoustic sensors, and provide a multi-static active and passive airborne acoustic suite.

The state-of-the-art CH-148 Cyclone is replacing the CH-124 Sea King as Canada’s main ship-borne maritime helicopter, providing air support to the Royal Canadian Navy. This new fleet of aircraft is at the forefront of modern technology and one of the most capable maritime helicopters in the world. Well equipped, the CH-148 can excel in all the missions it is designed to undertake.

The Canadian Armed Forces gave a final salute to the CH-124 Sea King maritime helicopter marking its more than five decades of service, in a parade held December 1, 2018 in Victoria, BC. The Sea King officially retired from service by December 31, 2018 as the RCAF completed its transition to the new CH-148 Cyclone maritime helicopter. The CH-124 Sea King was a ship-borne maritime helicopter and the longest-serving aircraft in the RCAF fleet. It was procured in 1963 mainly for anti-submarine warfare but its versatility enabled it to serve in a variety of roles and operations throughout its history. The Sea King supported operations at home and around the world for 55 years.

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Page last modified: 10-12-2018 18:52:01 ZULU