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Potential New Approach to the Canadian Surface Combatant Project

Yesterday there were numerous reports (here, here and here) of the Canadian government potentially adopting a new approach to the CSC project that would require potential warship designers and combat systems integrators to team up and present a combined bid to government. Additionally, unspecified Canadian equipment would have to be included in any successful bid. There was also a government desire for an off-the-shelf design.

I very much support the proposal as I always found the existing idea of trying to marry up the winning warship designer with the winning combat integrator with Irving's yard building process too complex in the extreme. That original approach also seemed to guarantee delay and diffuse responsibility. This new process forces warship designers to meet with potential combat integrators right now and sort out their initial incompatibilities and then develop a workable plan. Under the old plan, that would not have started until late in 2017 with the potential for incompatible partners being forced into a marriage.

I also think that mandating internal Canadian content as this new approach does recognizes we are the world leader in such things as helo haul down systems, integrated machinery control systems, integrated bridge navigations systems, secure voice distribution systems, and ASW systems. A foreign integrator would be likely to introduce his own national kit first and ignore ours without such a direction. Will it cost us more - potentially, but in these systems we are buying the best.

If I have any concerns, it is the expectation that there may be significant savings from using an off-the-shelf design. Even with the greatest discipline there will be mandatory changes to that design to meet Canada's geographic situation (anti-icing comes to mind) and regulatory regimes. Further, David Rudd has demonstrated using Australian data even minor changes to an off-the-shelf design significantly increase costs.

Here, there is also no mention of increasing the reportedly inadequate $26 billion budget for the Canadian Surface Combatant. Overall, however, I would characterize this new Liberal approach to the CSC as good news for the project.

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