According to CBC News, a group of companies led by multinational defence giant Lockheed Martin has been selected as the preferred designer for Canada’s next generation of warships, the Liberal government said last week on Friday.
The announcement that the group’s BAE Type 26 design won the design competition represents a significant step forward for the long-anticipated $60-billion program to replace the navy’s aging fleet of frigates.
“The Canadian Surface Combatant project is the largest, most complex procurement ever undertaken by the Government of Canada. These ships will form the backbone of our Royal Canadian Navy and will be Canada’s major surface component of maritime combat power for decades to come,” Public Services and Procurement Canada said in a press release.
Procurement and defence officials say this is not the final step; they will now enter into negotiations with the winning bidder to confirm it can deliver everything promised in the complex proposal. (Some observers have compared the process to placing a conditional offer on a home.)
The evaluation, which will take place over the winter, involves verifying the winning company’s financial wherewithal to complete the project, confirming that the proposal meets the military’s combat requirements and hammering down aspects of intellectual property licences.
Cindy Tessier, head of communications for Lockheed Martin Canada, said today the company is “confident that our proposed solution meets the requirements established, offering the best ship for Canada, with the world’s most advanced warship design …
“Our proposal is a true industry team effort, and we look forward to providing any additional information to the Government of Canada and Irving Shipbuilding. We are ready on Day 1.”
The federal government now says it expects to award the final design contract sometime over the winter.
It could be 2023 before construction actually gets underway at the go-to yard for warships — Irving Shipbuilding of Halifax.
But finally pulling the trigger on a designer is a “huge step,” Dave Perry, an Ottawa-based procurement specialist at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute, said in an interview with CBC’s Power & Politics. “There’s a huge degree of interest in having this done by the spring, and certainly before the next election.”