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November 28, 2018 | Local, Naval

Canadian Forces says submarines can operate until mid-2020s - but still no details on how fleet will be upgraded

DAVID PUGLIESE, OTTAWA CITIZEN

The Victoria-class submarines were expected to reach the end of their operational lives starting in 2022, according to documents obtained under the Access to Information law.

That could have been a major problem for the federal government as it is looking at planning a modernization program for the on-board systems on the class, starting in 2023 or 2024.

If the subs were to reach the end of their operational lives starting a year earlier, how would that have worked?

Defence Watch asked that question and has been informed that things have now changed. Department of National Defence spokesman Daniel Le Bouthillier said that the Victoria-class start to reach the end of their operational life in the mid-2020s. That later date was determined after DND officials did a more extensive examination of the submarine fleet life.

But there are still no details on what needs to be done to extend the life of the subs, how much that will cost, or when that will be done. “The Victoria-class Modernization (VCM) Program is currently in the Options Analysis stage, where the preferred modernization option is being selected,” Le Bouthillier noted. “Details of specific capabilities and milestones will be determined as the program evolves.”

Last year Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan praised the capability submarines provide Canada. “No other platform in the Canadian Armed Forces can do what a submarine can do,” Sajjan said. “No other platform has the stealth, the intelligence-gathering, surveillance and reconnaissance capability and the deterrence to potential adversaries that a sub does.”

But the Liberals have rejected a Commons defence committee recommendation that the Victoria-class subs, bought used in 1998 from the United Kingdom, be replaced with submarines capable of under-ice capabilities.

“The government has also committed to modernizing the four Victoria-class submarines to include weapons and sensor upgrades that will enhance the ability of the submarines to conduct Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) and deliver necessary improvements of platform and combat systems to extend operational capability to the mid-2030's,” the government response to the committee noted.

https://ottawacitizen.com/news/national/defence-watch/canadian-forces-says-submarines-can-operate-until-mid-2020s-it-is-still-determining-how-to-upgrade

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