Canada announced Friday it had partnered with US weapons maker Lockheed Martin on a Can$815 million project to design 15 warships.
"Our government is providing the Royal Canadian Navy with the ships it needs to do its important work of protecting Canadians," Procurement Minister Carla Qualtrough said in Halifax, where the ships will be built.
Based on the British-designed Type 26 frigate, developed by BAE Systems for the British defense ministry, the ships will measure 492 feet (150 meters) from bow to stern.
Armed with sea-to-air missiles and with a range of 8,000 miles (13,000 kilometers) and a top speed of 26 knots (48 kilometers an hour), the ships will carry crews of between 157 and 208 sailors.
The design period is expected to last three to four years, with construction due to start in the early 2020s.
While the initial contract is for Can$815 million ($613 million), the cost of building all 15 warships will rise to Can$60 billion, according to Radio-Canada, a public news service.
"These highly advanced, state-of-the-art warships will enable our navy to monitor and defend our waters here at home, help us support our international allies and keep Canadians safe," said Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan.
Since coming to office in 2015, the government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has launched an extensive modernization program of Canada's armed forces, updating warplanes and submarines and buying new light armored vehicles and a new generation of precision-guided munitions.
The long-term aim is to bolster defense spending from the current one percent of gross domestic product to 1.4 percent by 2027.
Explore further: Navy wants small warships that pack a bigger punch