Alion Science and Technology, along with its subsidiary Alion Canada, has teamed with Atlas Elektronik and Hensoldt Sensors to submit a bid based on the Dutch De Zeven Provinciën Air Defence and Command (LCF) frigate design. Bruce Samuelsen, Chief Operating Officer for Alion S&T, and President of Alion Canada, said last year: “Our solution delivers an effective, affordable, production-ready 21st century naval capability to meet Canada’s defence needs”. The De Zeven Provinciën-class frigate, built by Damen Schelde Naval Shipbuilding, has more than 10 years of operational sea-time with the Dutch Navy and was considered one of the top four contenders in the Warship Design competition prior to the streamlined approach of 2016.

Alion chose this design because “this platform meets all seven of Canada’s mandatory requirements for CSC without modification.” According to company documents based on its survey of available Total Ship Reference Point vessels, “the LCF is the closest ship design to meeting Canada’s requirements.” In its response for this article, Alion noted that Damen’s “innovative modular, open construction techniques, and components can be changed out easily during the CSC lifespan.” The company sees this proven product combined with flexible modularity, as a key strength. “By leveraging Damen’s flexible and highly effective business model, Alion offers a proven, mission tested and capable surface combatant to the Canadian Navy.”

Photo courtesy of ALION CANADA

In terms of a Canadian presence, the parent company established Alion Canada in 2007 as a wholly owned subsidiary that currently employs 12 Canadians, with an additional 30 equivalent full-time, to staff requirements on current projects. Alion Canada is a Tier 1 supplier to Seaspan Vancouver Ship Yard under their Non-Combatant NSS agreement, servicing the Joint Support Ship detailed design.

Alion has stated they have plans to invest in growth in Canada. If successful in its CSC bid, the company will create a permanent consulting engineering capability to meet current and future project needs. Their plan includes using Alion’s global client base to grow consulting engineering exports from Canada to support any IRB/ITB obligations that may result from NSS programs.

As is becoming common among the most experienced global shipbuilders, Damen has strongly promoted the idea of building vessels in local shipyards. As an experienced global shipbuilding enterprise, Damen exports its shipbuilding know-how to local shipyards and fosters collaboration with domestic navies and industry to enhance sustainable domestic capability. Damen is reported to have good a working relationship with Irving.

From 2002 to 2005 Damen delivered three vessels to the Royal Netherlands Navy, including HNLMS Tromp. These frigates appear to meet the needs of the RCN in many areas. The hull form is 144.2 m LOA and the ship can reportedly attain speeds up to 30 knots using a CODOG propulsion system (2 Rolls Royce Spey SM1C Gas Turbines and 2 Wärtsilä Diesels) – this speed exceeds one of the critical CSC mandatory requirements.

With 10 years’ service with the Royal Netherlands Navy on NATO operations, the design is certainly operationally proven. One of the Dutch LCF frigates is currently the Flagship for the Standing NATO Maritime Group-2 (SNMG-2) in the Mediterranean Sea and the Black Sea, and its sister ship will become for Flagship for the first half of 2019. The platform has proven itself as a fast and agile multi-role frigate in operations around the world.

Its flight deck and hangar are capable of carrying an NH 90 helicopter. Command Systems and APAR Radar are by Thales, and the vessel is fitted with 40 VLS cells capable of launching the Evolved Sea Sparrow or Standard Missiles. Main armament also includes Harpoon and the 127 mm Oto Melara Gun. The Goalkeeper Close-in Weapons system and ASW torpedoes are also fitted. The 220 standard crew size aligns with current RCN thinking.

Under the leadership of Rick Gerbrecht, Victoria-based Atlas Elektronik Canada (which is currently integrating with tkMS Canada), will be responsible for Combat Systems Integration. Headquartered in Germany, parent company Atlas Elektronik GmbH bills itself as “a leading naval electronic house” specializing in passive and active sonar systems for ships and submarines, ASW and mine hunting; integrated naval C2 systems; heavyweight torpedoes and anti-torpedo weapons; plus mine disposal vehicles and autonomous underwater vehicles. Atlas Elektronik GmbH has worked successfully with 14 national and international shipyards to deliver NSPS-like contractual agreements involving combat system integration and the delivery of combat systems (from 4 to 12 systems per ship class) since 1989. These projects have varied in scope that includes modernization, conversions and new build programs.

In order to reduce program risk, it is critical that the integration of combat systems be proven, certified and in-service. The Atlas Elektronik combat management system is one of the few systems in the world already certified to fire and control modern short- and long-range anti-air missiles and ground-attack cruise missiles.

The Atlas Combat Management System (CMS) F125 is considered a flexible open architecture system that readily accepts new and evolving technologies.

It is expected that the Atlas will include integration with its Data Link System (ADLiS). This system will permit the use of a variety of data links to share info with NATO and allied forces, including the employment of key NATO standards (Link 11, Link 16, and Link 22). ADLiS was proven during the LINK 22 NATO Interoperability Experiment in March 2009, involving dispersed military assets of Germany, France and Spain. Observer nations included Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Sweden and Italy. The ADLiS solution was delivered to the German Navy, on budget, one full year ahead of schedule.

“The requirements for the EW, IRST and certain radar requirements have been particularly demanding, but we have worked with the systems suppliers to meet the specifications,” says Alion Canada’s General Manager, Russell Peters, speaking of partners Atlas Elektronik (CMS integrator) and Hensoldt Sensors (radar supplier). “Our system modelling demonstrates that the warfare scenarios [contained in the request for quotation] can be accurately modelled, threats defeated, and system performance requirements met.”

Hensoldt’s capability and experience in developing and fielding state-of-the art radars was central to meeting the unique Canadian requirements with a fielded, non-developmental radar, the Alion team stated in a recent news release.

Other key members on the Alion Team include L3 Technologies Canada, Raytheon Canada (radars and missiles), DRS Technologies Canada (comms equipment), and OSI Maritime of Vancouver (Integrated Bridge Navigation System).

A key tenet of the Alion proposal is to offer a MOTS design tailored to Canada’s requirements with minimal production risk at an affordable cost. The Alion Team presents some strong bona fides, making it a significant contender for the CSC contract.

The question is, will this bid nudge out the others?