Feds award design contract for $60 billion warship fleet to Lockheed Martin

A mock-up of the Type 26 frigate Lockheed Martin has pitched for the next generation of Canadian warships.

The federal government is awarding a long-awaited contract to design its $60-billion fleet of warships to U.S. defence giant Lockheed Martin.

Procurement Minister Carla Qualtrough announced the deal in Halifax this morning, saying the Royal Canadian Navy's 15 new warships will be built by Irving and based on the British-designed Type 26 frigate.

She made the announcement at Irving's Halifax Shipyard, as hundreds of workers in hard hats applauded.

Lockheed's design had been selected as the best last October, beating out submissions from Alion Science and Technology of Virginia and Spanish firm Navantia to replace Canada's existing frigates and destroyers.

Defence Department officials will now sit down with Irving and Lockheed to figure out what changes need to be made to the company's design, along with the navy's requirements to make sure they fit.

That process will have a direct bearing on how much the ships ultimately cost and how long they will take to build.

The decision comes after difficult negotiations that saw Alion ask the Canadian International Trade Tribunal to quash the decision, saying Lockheed's design did not meet the navy's requirements and should have been disqualified.

The tribunal initially ordered the government not to award a contract to Lockheed until it could investigate Alion's complaint, but later rescinded that decision and then tossed the case entirely last week.

Lockheed Martin’s Canadian headquarters are located in Kanata, where the company’s Rotary and Mission Systems division works on combat management systems for naval vessels. Earlier this week the firm landed another deal to supply its CMS for Canada’s coming fleet of joint support ships.

– With files from OBJ staff