Navy arms destroyers with new drone, aircraft and missile defenses

Attacking enemy cruise missiles, fighter jets, helicopters and longer-range high altitude ballistic missiles all present substantial threats to Navy surface ships, especially when multiple attacks arrive simultaneously. By and large, defending against incoming ballistic missiles and air and cruise missiles requires separate defensive systems … until now.

A new family of SPY-6 radar systems is being quickly expanded by the U.S. Navy to incorporate a much wider swath of the fleet. The strongest, longest-range and most sensitive variant of the SPY-6, the v1, is the one that has now been built into the Navy’s first-of-its-kind DDG 51 Flight III next-generation destroyer, the future USS Jack H. Lucas; a report from Naval Sea Systems Command says two of four AMDR (Air and Missile Defense Radar) arrays have now been installed in the deckhouse of the Jack H. Lucas.

“Concurrent to these efforts the Navy also recently accepted and installed a new AMDR array for land-based testing of the Flight III combat system,” the Navy report said.

Differently scaled variants of the new radar are now being integrated across the Navy fleet, tailored to the specific mission scope of a particular platform. Scott Spence, SPY 6 director at Raytheon, explained that the AN/SPY-6 is the first truly scalable radar, built with radar building blocks – Radar Modular Assemblies (RMA) – that can be grouped to form any size radar aperture, either smaller or larger than currently fielded radars. RMAs, 2-foot by 2-foot by 2-foot blocks, can be configured for different ships and tailored for a particular mission scope, enabling different SPY-6 variants to perform high-value air defenses across the Navy fleet. Carriers and amphibs, for example, need different kinds of air surveillance and defense when compared with destroyers, for example, which need the most capable air and missile defense radar systems.

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