Halifax-class Modernization / Frigate Life Extension


The 12 Canadian-built Halifax-class multi-role patrol frigates are considered the backbone of the Royal Canadian Navy. They can deploy anywhere in the world - with NATO or individual allied nations.

Commissioned between 1992 and 1996, the class is currently undergoing a planned mid-life modernization that includes a new command and control system, new radar capability, a new electronic warfare system and upgraded communications and missiles.

Under the Halifax-class Modernization (HCM) / Frigate Equipment Life Extension (FELEX), the frigates are also undergoing a mid-life refit to ensure that they continue to operate effectively as the backbone of the navy fleet.

The Government of Canada is committed to providing the Canadian Forces with the safe, reliable equipment they need to meet the challenges of the 21st century. The HCM-FELEX project is an example of the Government delivering on this commitment.

Additional Information



The HCM-FELEX project has made significant progress to date. HMCS Halifax, the first of the seven east coast frigates to enter modernization and refit, is in the latter stages of this work in Halifax. HMCS Calgary, the first of the five west coast frigates,is also in the latter stages of its modernization and refit in Victoria. These ships have begun some of testing and trials that form part of a Tiered Readiness Program (TRP). The TRP will bring these two ships back into operation by early 2014.

Other vessels are also progressing through modernization and refit, in keeping with the overall HCM-FELEX project schedule. HMCS Fredericton is progressing through its work period in Halifax Shipyards, and the refit and modernization of HMCS Montréal is also underway there. On the west coast, HMCS Winnipeg's work period began in April 2012, and work is progressing as planned.

Each modernization and refit period is expected to take approximately 18 months. The final ship upgrade is anticipated to be completed in the 2017 timeframe.

For more information:

Project Details

Project Details

Halifax-class Background

The 12 Halifax-class frigates, commissioned between 1992 and 1995, form the backbone of the Royal Canadian Navy. The ships were originally designed to accomplish the Cold War missions of anti-submarine warfare and anti-surface warfare, primarily in the open ocean environment.

In the years following the end of the Cold War, the role of the Halifax class has changed. Current and evolving threats are faster, stealthier, more manoeuvrable, and are moving from open ocean areas to the littoral (near-shore) environment. The littoral environment poses challenges to sensors and weapons systems due to higher traffic density and proximity to shore-based threats. In addition, ships now face asymmetrical threats, such as terrorist attacks, that had not been envisaged when the ships were designed.

Innovations in procedures and tactics have enabled the frigates to operate effectively in the new threat environment, despite equipment limitations. However, sensor and weapons enhancements are needed in order to enhance the ships’ ability to deal with these new threats into the future.

The HCM/FELEX project will manage both the modernization of the combat systems and a planned mid-life ship refit program to ensure the frigates remain effective to the projected end of their service life. This work will encompass modernization of the ships’ platform, including ships’ systems upgrades, acquisition and installation of new capabilities, such as enhanced radar, changes to the platform needed to accommodate the new capabilities, and integration of all aspects of the ships’ operations into an upgraded command and control system.

The HCM/FELEX project and other separately-funded projects within the Halifax-Class Modernization program will bring enhanced capabilities to the ships, which are required to meet the new threats and changing operating environments. These include:

  • A new command and control system;
  • Multi-Link;
  • New radar suite;
  • Interrogator Friend or Foe Mode S/5;
  • Internal communications system upgrade;
  • Harpoon missile system upgrade (surface to surface); and
  • Electronic warfare system upgrade;
  • Long-range infrared search and track system (SIRIUS); and
  • Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (surface to air).

In addition, various maintenance and sustainment activities and projects will strive to maintain equipment at its current level of capability.

There will also be several follow-on, stand-alone contracts let outside the HCM/FELEX project to complete other needed upgrades, such as accommodation for the Cyclone maritime helicopter, and the new military satellite communication system. Planning, preparation and coordination of the modernization began in 2005. Modernization and refit of the frigates began in 2010 and the final ship is expected to be completed in 2017.

Technical Information



Jun 2007 Preliminary Project Approval and Part 1 Expenditure Authority for Non-Combat System Integration Components received
Mar 2008 Award of Multi-Ship Contracts (Docking Work Periods and Refits)
Oct 2008 Effective Project Approval and Part 2 Expenditure Authority for the Combat System Integration Components
Nov 2008 Award of Combat System Integration Contract
Fall 2010 Commence 1st refit (HALIFAX)
Spring 2011

Commence 2nd refit (CALGARY)

Fall 2011 Commence 3rd refit (FREDERICTON)
Spring 2012 Commence 4th refit (WINNIPEG)
Summer 2012 Commence 5th refit (MONTREAL)
Spring 2013 Commence 6th refit (CHARLOTTETOWN)
Spring 2013 Commence 7th refit (VANCOUVER)
Winter 2014 Commence 8th refit (ST JOHN’S)
Spring 2014 Commence 9th refit (OTTAWA)
Fall 2014 Commence 10th refit (VILLE DE QUEBEC)
Spring 2015 Commence 11th refit (REGINA)
Summer 2015 Commence 12th refit (TORONTO)
Winter 2019 Project Close-Out


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