Vanguard Magazine

April/May 2013

Preserving capacity, General Tom Lawson, Chief of the Defence Staff, Keys to Canadian SAR

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Page 15 of 47

P POINT Brian Mersereau is vice chairman of Hill+Knowlton Strategies. FREMM Aquitaine. Photo: DCNS MAXIMIZING CANADA'S SH THE VALUE OF OFF-THE-SHELF MODIFIED DESIGNS T he National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy (NSPS) is the federal government's program to build fleets of combat and non-combat vessels in support of the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) and the Canadian Coast Guard. Included in the combat vessel requirement of NSPS is the purchase of 15 Canadian Surface Combatant (CSC) frigates. With a $26 billion budget, CSC is the centrepiece of NSPS; yet the buying power of this budget is shrinking with inflation and delays. Purchasing 15 frigates will become increasingly challenging for the government. Last month's report by the Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO), Feasibility of Budget for Acquisition of Two Joint Support Ships, appeared to challenge current budgetary estimates for the cost of shipbuilding, specifically the cost of the Joint Support Ship (JSS) program. While the PBO report offers solid background to 16 APRIL/MAY 2013 NSPS and JSS, the dollar figures provided clearly indicate that Canada's ship purchasing power (whether adjusted for inflation or not) is significantly decreasing any time there is a delay. As government stakeholders, including Public Works, the RCN, Industry Canada, and ADM(Mat) work to find common ground while recognizing the RCN's operational requirements, only recently have the realities of Canada's diminishing buying capacity for a new fleet come to the public's attention. This reality creates a problem for the current government with its strong desire to demonstrate commitment to the military, including starting shipbuilding as soon as possible to generate the expected economic impact. The RCN's role in the ship procurement process is to delineate the key capabilities and requirements of future fleets. The RCN must define its ships to be techno- logically agile and adaptable, with a mind to the future requirements of domestic surveillance and expeditionary deployments within the concept of a Naval Task group in increasingly hostile and "kinetic" littorals. Some of the key design considerations for CSC are the adoption of reduced platform signatures, improved survivability, and the joint force constellation of intelligence, reconnaissance, surveillance, and strike assets. This is expected to allow Canada's ships to participate in a wide range of tasks, from the ability to deliver lethal effects at sea as part of a network-centric battle group, to leveraging an extended radar range for the improved protection of the ship and the entire battle group. These requirements are compelling for augmenting the RCN's capabilities while better protecting Canada's most valued assets: the sailors and the soldiers and airmen who often accompany them. Continued on page 18

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