Wednesday, May 16, 2018

BAE Type-26 GCS to be operational in 2027; Still considered a top contender for CSC Fleet

By: David Pugliese, National Post 

One of the top contenders in Canada’s new frigate program – a ship now being built for the United Kingdom – won’t be operational for the Royal Navy until 2027.

BAE’s Type 26 frigate has been ordered by the United Kingdom and the cutting of steel started last year.

But the United Kingdom’s defence procurement minister Guto Bebb has told parliamentarians that the first of those frigates won’t be delivered until 2025. Because of testing it won’t become operational until 2027, the minister added.

Artists Rendition of the BAE Type-26 Global Combat Frigate. 
The Type 26 design has been submitted to Canada for its Canadian Surface Combatant program and is one of three contenders. Construction on the Canadian frigate program to start in the early 2020s.

That raises the possibility, say industry insiders, that Canada could be the first nation to acquire the Type 26 and put it to sea.

Being the first to deploy a new class of warships, however, comes with associated issues of working through the initial problems of new vessels.

That, however, is what the Canadian government had hoped to avoid with its CSC program. It originally stated that only mature ships or proven designs would be considered.

But the Liberal government inexplicably retreated on that stipulation and allowed the Type 26 design to be entered even though the vessel had not been built yet.

That, in turn, sparked a belief in some quarters of industry that the fix is in for BAE’s Type 26. The federal government has denied that.

Lockheed Martin Canada is leading the consortium that has proposed the Type 26. A company spokesperson said the progress of the British program will not have an impact on CSC.

“Our CSC bid meets or exceeds all requirements and this does not impact our bid in any manner,” the spokesperson noted in an email to Defence Watch. “Our CSC bid does not rely upon the T26 becoming operational before 2027.”

Some industry officials have also suggested that the 2027 date won’t be an issue because they expect the CSC to fall significantly schedule. By the time CSC gets really underway, the Type 26 will be ready.

The Canadian Surface Combatant program will cost between $55 billion and $60 billion. Fifteen ships will be eventually built. Three consortiums have bid on the program.

A contract for the CSC is expected to be awarded by the end of this year, said Pat Finn, assistant deputy minister for materiel at the Department of National Defence.

About half of the cost of the surface combatant price-tag is for systems and equipment that will go on the 15 ships, according to federal documents obtained by Postmedia through the Access the Information law. “Approximately one-half of the CSC build cost is comprised of labour in the (Irving’s) Halifax yard and materials,” the documents added.

Last year, Jean-Denis Fr├ęchette, the Parliamentary Budget Officer, estimated the CSC program

would cost $61.82 billion. He also warned that every year the awarding of the contract is delayed beyond 2018, taxpayers will spend an extra $3 billion because of inflation.

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