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Richmond's MDA, consortium land navy contract with $60b potential

The aerospace firmwill have to deliver on largest-ever military procurement in Canadian history.
An artist’s rendering of one of the warships proposed by a consortium led by Lockheed Martin Canada and featuring Vancouver-based aerospace firm MDA. Photo: Lockheed Martin Canada

Richmond-based aerospace firm MDA plans to hire 200 more workers across the country following Ottawa’s awarding of a navy contract that could be worth as much as $60 billion to Canada’s Combat Ship Team (CCST).

The contract with CCST, announced Friday (February 8), covers the initial design phase (valued at $185 million) as Canada’s largest-ever military procurement seeks to replace an aging fleet of frigates with 15 new Type 26 warships.

MDA is handling electronics systems for the CCST consortium, which also features Lockheed Martin Canada, BAE Systems, CAE Inc., L3 Technologies Inc. and Ultra Electronics.

Its responsibilities include building a radar system for the Canadian Surface Combatant ships’ weapons system, providing antennas, and developing a laser warning and countermeasures systems.

The aerospace firm will also develop an electronic warfare jamming system for the ships.

Design work for the new warships is expected to take three to four years, with construction expected to be in the early 2020s.

MDA said it will need to hire 200 more workers at facilities in B.C., Nova Scotia, Ontario and Quebec to meet its obligations for the $60 billion contract.

The CCST consortium will employ 9,000 workers in Canada across 40 facilities.

“MDA is proud to play such a critical role in supplying systems and subsystems for the Canadian Surface Combatant program,” MDA group president Mike Greenley said in a statement.

“These Canadian-built solutions further unlock enormous economic benefits and return on investment to the nation, particularly in Quebec, Ontario, British Columbia and Nova Scotia, as we seek to export these technologies globally in the years ahead secure our position as a global technology leader.”

MDA, originally known as MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd., was founded in Vancouver.

It is now a subsidiary of Maxar Technologies Ltd. a new parent company led by American Howard Lance, who is based in the U.S.

The CCST consortium was named as the federal government’s preferred bidder in October 2018.

But it hit a brief snag in late November, when the Canadian International Trade Tribunal ordered the federal government to hit the pause button on awarding any contracts following a complaint from rival bidder Alion Canada.

The issue at hand was whether the CCST consortium could deliver on three mandatory requirements, however, the order was lifted in December.