Halifax class

The 12 Canadian-built Halifax-class multi-role patrol frigates are considered the backbone of the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN). The ships were originally designed for anti-submarine warfare and anti-surface warfare, primarily in the open ocean environment.

The role of the Halifax-class has changed. Current and evolving maritime threats are faster, stealthier, more maneuverable, and shifting from the open ocean 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 attacks from smaller, more maneuverable vessels that were not envisaged at the time of the ships’ design.

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 Halifax-class ship’s homeports are Esquimalt, British Columbia, and Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Tech Data

Halifax class frigates carry a formidable array of weapons and sensor systems including:

  • 8 Harpoon long-range
  • Surface-to-surface missiles
  • 16 Evolved Sea Sparrow surface-to-air missiles
  • Bofors 57mm rapid-fire gun
  • 20mm Phalanx anti-missile close-in-weapons-system (CIWS)
  • 8 x 12.7mm heavy machine guns
  • 24 anti-submarine homing torpedoes

In addition, the ships can defend themselves using:

  • Infrared suppression
  • Shield decoys
  • Chaff
  • Flares
  • Towed acoustic decoy
  • Radar and sonar jamming devices

The ship's torpedo-carrying helicopter significantly extends its range of operational effectiveness.


The Halifax-class Modernization/Frigate Life Extension (HCM/FELEX) project managed both the modernization of the combat systems and a planned mid-life ship refit program to ensure the frigates remain effective throughout their service life. This work encompassed modernization of the ships’ platform, including ships’ systems upgrades, acquisition and installation of new capabilities, such as enhanced radar, new electronic warfare system, upgraded communications and missiles integrated into a new Combat Management System.

The first modernized Halifax-class frigates were first delivered in late 2014, with the last ship delivered in 2018.

Project breakdown

The Halifax-class Modernization/Frigate Life Extension project and other separately-funded projects within the Halifax-class Modernization program are bringing enhanced capabilities to the ships, which are required to meet the new threats and changing operating environments.

These include:

Halifax-class Modernization/Frigate Life Extension

  • A new Combat Management System;
  • New radar suite;
  • IFF Mode S/5 – Interrogator Friend or Foe Mode S/5;
  • Internal communications system upgrade;
  • Harpoon Missile system upgrade (surface to surface); and
  • Electronic warfare system upgrade.

Other Halifax-class modernization projects

  • Long-range infrared search and track system (SIRIUS);
  • Modification to the BOFORS 57mm Naval Gun;
  • Replacement of the Shield II Missile Decoy Countermeasures System;
  • Replacement of the Integrated Machinery Control System; and
  • Replacement of the Navigation Radars.

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