The US Navy is moving toward a major upgrade to its Arleigh Burke destroyer fleet. The move is seen as one step to forestall the growing threat from Russian and Chinese weapon systems.
The Navy is planning to buy a scaled version of Raytheon’s Spy-6 Air and Missile Defense Radar to replace the Spy-1D arrays on the Flight IIA destroyers an upgrade that will give the ships greatly enhanced capabilities.
In a statement, the Navy acknowledged it was pursuing the Spy-6 array upgrades as part of the 2020 budget.
“Per the President’s Budget submission for FY2020 Navy will begin procurement of 24 Radar Module Assembly (RMA) SPY-6 radar sets, and associated electrical and cooling equipment in FY2022, for installation in a DDG Flight IIA beginning in FY2025. The specific hull will be named later,” the statement reads.
The array is a smaller version of the Spy-6 intended for the Flight III DDG, the first of which is now under construction at Huntington Ingalls. The Spy-6 destined for DDG-125 will have 37 of what are known as radar modular assemblies, which are a 2-foot-by-2-foot-by-2-foot boxes that use gallium-nitride technology to direct radar energy on air targets. The Flight IIA version will have 24 RMAs in the array.
A version of the radar planned for FFG(X) is a nine-RMA configuration.
The Navy is aiming to upgrade all of its DDGs to Aegis Baseline 9 or higher with BMD capability and extend the service lives to 45 years as part of an effort to grow the fleet. But the Navy is going to try and get 50 years out of its Flight IIA ships. The IIAs make up the bulk of the DDG fleet, with 46 total planned for the service – DDG-79 through DDG-124. DDG-127 will also be a Flight IIA.
The upgraded Spy-6 will be far easier to maintain than the current Spy-1D. Raytheon claims the radar can be maintained by simply removing a down RMA and switching it out with a new one, with the rest of the work being done off-site.