The Canadian Forces’ 12 Halifax-Class frigates, commissioned between 1992 and 1995, form the backbone of the Navy. These multi-purpose ships were primarily designed to accomplish the Cold War missions of anti-submarine warfare (ASW) and anti-surface warfare (ASUW), mainly in the open-ocean environment.
In the years following the end of the Cold War, the roles of the Halifax-Class have changed. Current and evolving threats are faster, more manoeuvrable, and are moving from open ocean areas to areas closer to the coast. The close-to-shore environment poses challenges to sensors and weapons systems due to higher traffic density and proximity to shore-based threats. In addition, ships now face asymmetrical threats, such as terrorist attacks, that had not been envisaged when they were designed.
Innovations in procedures and tactics have enabled the frigates to operate effectively in the new threat environment. However, sensor and weapons enhancements are needed in order to enhance the ships’ ability to deal with these new threats into the future.
The Halifax-Class Modernization (HCM)/Frigate Life Extension (FELEX) project will manage both the modernization of the combat systems and a planned mid-life ship refit program to ensure the frigates remain effective to the projected end of their service life. This work will encompass modernization of the ships, including systems upgrades, acquisition and installation of new capabilities, such as enhanced radar, changes to the platform needed to accommodate the new capabilities, and integration of all aspects of frigate operations into an upgraded command and control system.
The HCM/FELEX project and similar projects within the Halifax-Class Modernization program will bring enhanced capabilities to the ships, which are required to meet the new threats and changing operating environments. These include:
- A new command and control system;
- New radar suite;
- IFF Mode S/5 – Interrogator Friend or Foe Mode S/5;
- Internal communications system upgrade;
- Harpoon missile system upgrade (surface to surface); and
- Electronic support measures upgrade.
Other HCM projects include:
- Long-range infrared search and track system (SIRIUS); and
- Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (surface to air) ESSM.
Related maintenance and sustainment activities and projects will strive to maintain equipment at its current level of capability. These include:
- Preventive, corrective and unique mid-life maintenance activities:
- Modifications to the BOFORS 57mm naval gun;
- Replacement of the Shield II Missile Decoy Countermeasures System;
- Replacement of the integrated machinery control system; and
- Replacement of the navigation radar.
Planning, preparation and coordination of the modernization began in 2005. Modernization and refit of the frigates began in September 2010, with the final ship estimated for completion in 2017.
Department of National Defence, Canada