IRCO Automation seeing global success from Canada’s ITB and National Shipbuilding Strategy

The global defence industry can appear complex. Take for instance how a global defence company’s long-term commitment to Canada’s Industrial and Technological Benefits (ITB) program and their contract to supply machine gun systems for the Royal Canadian Navy’s Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ships is resulting in a small Canadian business contributing to missile tubes for the United States Navy’s Virginia class submarines.

IRCO Automation, a small Ontario-based business, has been selected by BAE Systems to design, fabricate and install a complete line of mechanized welding and positioning systems to help make submarine missile tubes for the United States Navy’s Virginia class submarines, the new backbone of the United States submarine force.

But this contract is a result of Irving Shipbuilding selecting BAE Systems to supply its Mk 38 25mm Gun for each Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ship being built for the Royal Canadian Navy at Halifax Shipyard, and Canada’s Industrial and Technological Benefits (ITB) program, which ensures 100% of the value of significant defence contracts like those under the National Shipbuilding Strategy is spent in Canada.

Because of Canada’s ITB policy, when any of BAE’s work on Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ship is done outside of Canada, the company must identify new opportunities to benefit Canadian organizations, like the contract with IRCO.

Headquartered in Burlington, Ontario with a second location in Hamilton, IRCO designs, engineers, and manufactures integrated welding automation solutions and weld positioning products that help improve the quality and efficiency in heavy industry.

IRCO has created several new full-time positions because of its contract with BAE Systems, as well as opportunity for local contract services.

Impressed with IRCO’s capability, BAE Systems has since contracted the company on another defense program under the ITB program, creating more opportunity for sustainable, skilled Canadian jobs. IRCO has clients around the world, and the work with BAE will help them grow their team and build capacity for further export and expansion. 

 “The National Shipbuilding Strategy is a valuable opportunity for Canadian-based companies looking for contracts inside and outside of Canada. The ITB program provides Canadian SME’s like ourselves with the opportunity to put forward our expertise and unique capabilities to work with major international companies like the prime contractors on the National Shipbuilding Strategy,” said Hubert Bethlehem, President, IRCO Automation.

Through the National Shipbuilding Strategy, Irving Shipbuilding has committed over $2.1 billion in spending to more than 300 Canadian organizations, including over $675 million in Ontario. Today, the first three of six Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ships are under construction by Halifax Shipyard’s more than 1,900 shipbuilders. The first Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ship, the HMCS Harry DeWolf, was launched 15 September 2018. 


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