Vanguard Magazine

Oct/Nov 2014

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

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S SuRfACe coMBAtAnt 28 octoBer/noVeMBer 2014 Benoit Maraval served as a defence analyst at the French delegation to nAto and at the Ministry of Defence in paris. He is the ottawa correspondent for A FREMM A FREMM IS THERE IS THERE DESIGN IN CANADA'S FUTURE COMBAT SHIP? As the Canadian Surface Combatant project moves forward, France and others are introducing next-generation frigates. f requently referred to as the "crown jewel" of the $38.3 billion National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy (NSPS), the Canadian Surface Combatant (CSC) proj- ect is attracting world-class ship designers and ship builders into a competition that has not yet offi cially started. Defence companies have had the opportunity to engage in preliminary discussions with the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) pertaining to capabilities and other specifi c requirements for the replacement of the Iroquois-class destroyers and the fl eet of 12 Halifax-class frigates. The phases of Canadian procurement, how- ever, mean that industry is still far from the release of a Request for Proposal (RFP), and the entire interagency review process is known to be rather intricate, which may result in additional delays. As per the procurement process, National Defence still needs to fi nalize the Statement of Requirements that might – and should – be reviewed by an independent third-party before a deci- sion can be made on the best way forward. Much has been said already about the two competing approach- es that will determine the subsequent steps in the procurement process: the "Most Capable Design" (MCD) and the "Most Qualifi ed Team" (MQT). Industry representatives and defence procurement experts alike have shown a clear preference for the MCD approach, considered as the only way forward capable of ensuring best value for money for Canada – in full compliance with the spirit and letter of NSPS. However, notwithstanding a future decision on the approach, parts of the MCD strategy remain obscure. As things now stand, it is still uncertain what the approach entails exactly and whether the "design" applies to both the combat system and the platform. Obviously, providing both designs sounds like a logical and co- herent option. Yet, as logic has not always been evident in past experiences, caution should be exercised. It is also unclear how the selection of two contending teams for the pre-defi nition phase would be conducted. Against this background, I recently had a chance to visit the DCNS shipyard responsible, as overall prime contractor, for the design, construction and integration of the French FREMM, the versatile frigate that could match the Canadian requirements. I had the opportunity to tour one of the 11 frigates ordered for the French Navy. Not unlike the CSC project, the FREMM pro- gram currently comprises two variants with a common platform: an anti-air warfare version (AAW) and an anti-submarine warfare variant (ASW), the latter coming close to what the RCN has in mind for its general purpose variant. From the outset, it is worth noting that three of the new-gen- eration stealth frigate are already at sea. The Aquitaine, the lead ship of the class, was commissioned in the French Navy almost two years ago. Since then, it has joined the U.S. Navy in the train- ing exercise Independent Deployer that highlighted its versatility and high level of interoperability. The Mohammed VI (FREMM

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