SNA 2023 — Raytheon expects the US Navy this year will order a new variant of its premier missile defense radar, the SPY-6, an important step towards eventually back-fitting numerous Arleigh Burke-class destroyers with the upgraded capability.
“That’s a big deal,” Mike Mills, senior director for naval radars, told Breaking Defense in an interview ahead of the annual Surface Navy Association symposium. “The Navy’s been working closely with us for the last three or four years, getting themselves in a position to be able to get the first backfit installed.”
The variant in question, the SPY-6(V)4, is planned to be installed onboard the Flight IIA Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, a ship variant that is currently the workhorse of the Navy fleet and will likely remain so until the next step up, Flight III destroyers, are ready for operations.
A Navy spokesman did not respond to a request for comment about the pending contract.
Raytheon has developed four variants of the SPY-6 radar, each for a specific subset of US Navy ships. Mills said 2022 was the year where many of the radar variants have transitioned from “the factory into the fleet.”
He cited the Flight III destroyer Jack Lucas (DDG-125) entering sea trials in December, equipped with SPY-6(V)1 radar as well as the amphibious transport Richard M. McCool Jr. (LPD-29) receiving the SPY-6(V)2 radar designed for amphibious assault ships and Nimitz-class aircraft carriers.
“LPD-29 is the first amphib coming online with the SPY-6 radar, and we’ve got all the below deck equipment installed, and they are installing the array” in the coming days, Mills said.
Sea trials, or alpha trials, are an early opportunity for the Navy to begin testing all the different elements that make up a warship, including the combat management system’s ability to command and control the SPY-6 radar.
In addition to the contract to produce radars for the older destroyers, Mills also said that Raytheon installed the SPY-6(V)3 radar onto the second Ford-class aircraft carrier John F. Kennedy (CVN-79) and expects to begin integration work in 2023.