Industry Fielding More Powerful, Flexible Radars
Lockheed Martin photo
The defense industry is working alongside the Pentagon and allied nations to bring online new radar systems that can be used on land and at sea.
Among those is Raytheon’s AN/SPY-6 air-and-missile defense radar, said Scott Spence, senior director of naval radar systems at the company.
“SPY-6 is not just one system, it is a family of radars,” he said.
It is configured using building blocks known as radar module assemblies, or RMAs, he said.
The radar has a number of variants including SPY-6(V)1, which was previously known as the air-and-missile defense radar, or AMDR. It is used for integrated air-and-missile defense.
The system was designed for DDG-51 Flight III destroyers and has four array faces, each with 37 radar module assemblies, Spence said. It can defend against ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and other threats such as aircraft.
“A single RMA acts as its own radar,” he said. The blocks can be scaled smaller or larger to fit different ships according to their mission.
The radar “sees much farther than ... current generation radars or previous generation radars, and it also sees much smaller targets and tracks many more of those targets incoming,” Spence said. “It allows quicker reaction for those destroyers.”
The Navy took the capabilities that were proven through the SPY-6(V)1 system and created the enterprise air surveillance radar, or EASR program, which turned into SPY-6(V)2 and SPY-6(V)3.
The V(2) features a single-face rotating array for amphibious assault ships and Nimitz-class aircraft carriers, Spence said.
“They took nine of these RMAs, they put it in a rotating face and made that the EASR (V)2,” he explained.
The platform can be used to defend simultaneously against a variety of anti-surface and anti-ship threats while offering jamming protections, he said. The system can be backfitted onto aircraft carriers, amphibious assault ships and smaller surface vessels that can’t sustain larger radars.
The (V)3 iteration has nine RMAs and a three-face fixed array, Spence said. The technology can be integrated onto Ford-class aircraft carriers and the future FFG(X) guided missile frigates.
The radar can also simultaneously defend against cruise missiles, anti-surface and anti-ship threats and provide jamming protections.
Both iterations of the radars are scalable with radar module assemblies technology — each RMA is a self contained radar and measures 2 feet by 2 feet by 2 feet, with a single software-hardware baseline, which allows for more streamlined maintenance, training and sustainment across ships.
The Navy’s “real plan with this program was to get that common baseline of hardware and software [to] drive down [operations and support] costs and create that additional advanced capability for the entire fleet,” Spence said.
The company has managed to pass all major design hurdles, he noted
“Those are really behind us,” he said. The program has completed its engineering and manufacturing development phase, and it is now in production.
For the enterprise air surveillance radar program, the company delivered a system to the Wallops Island, Virginia, test facility in April 2019 where it underwent assessments until last fall.
“It only had to test out the additional functionality that was done for the EASR program because all of the baseline software had already been tested in the AMDR program,” Spence said.
Raytheon is now working with the Navy to integrate the radar into combat management systems and onto ships.
The SPY-6 technology will be integrated with Lockheed Martin’s latest Aegis combat weapon system upgrade — Baseline 10 — which will go on Navy destroyers, Spence said.
“Right now, we’re bringing hardware down to [the Navy’s] facility so we can … actually do hardware integration with the Baseline 10 software and show that that works,” he said.
Meanwhile, Raytheon is working with shipyards and the service to ensure that installations onto existing warships go smoothly, Spence said.
“As they get to each particular deck level that the equipment is required for, we deliver the hardware — whether it’s cooling systems or power distribution systems — and then we will deliver the array faces this summer when the deck house is ready for those installations,” Spence said.
Next, the company will begin looking to backfit legacy Flight IIA Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers with the capability.
“We actually built what we call a technical data package, which is the design of the Flight IIA radar,” Spence said. It is smaller than the SPY-6(V)1 — with 37 radar module assemblies — and includes 24 RMA per face, he said.
The technical data package was delivered to the Navy in October.
“We’re looking forward to starting that program with the Navy,” he said. “As they look at the 2021 budget, it starts putting this capability into backfit.”
Raytheon has nine ships on contract for the SPY-6(V)1 program. The Navy awarded the company a $250 million contract in December to build radars for an eighth and ninth ship, Spence said.
Meanwhile, Lockheed Martin is designing an iteration of its next-generation radar capability for international partners, said Paul Lemmo, the company’s vice president and general manager for integrated warfare systems and sensors.
The Missile Defense Agency awarded the company a contract for the long-range discrimination radar, or LRDR, program in 2015.
“The long-range discrimination radar is going to really serve as the backbone of the Missile Defense Agency’s layered defense strategy to protect the U.S. homeland from ballistic missile attack,” Lemmo said. “It’s going to provide 24/7, 365 days [a year] capability for acquisition tracking and discrimination of ballistic missile targets.”
The LRDR is modular and built out of what the company calls subarray suites.
“Each subarray suite is about the size of a shoebox and there are thousands of these subarray suites in the antenna,” Lemmo said.
The radar also has two antenna faces, he noted.
“Typically a ship will have four antennas to cover 360 degrees,” he said. However, the radar has two antenna faces because it doesn’t require 360 degrees of coverage.
The technology is software defined, giving it the ability to be updated through software changes without having to make significant hardware alterations, Lemmo said.
Manufacturing of the radar components will be completed in the second quarter of 2020, he said.
The company is building an iteration of the LRDR for Japan. Lockheed Martin was contracted by the Japanese Ministry of Defense to produce two solid state radar, or SSR, antenna sets for Aegis Ashore Japan, a land-based missile defense system. In 2019, the SSR was designated by the U.S. government as AN/SPY-7(V)1.
“For Aegis Ashore Japan, we’re using the exact same subarray suites that we use in LRDR,” Lemmo said. “We just need less of them.”
The company is scaling the physical structure of the antenna down to meet the size requirement for the program.
“The technology is the same, just a different size of the array,” Lemmo said.
The radar will have four antennas, with 360-degree coverage, he said. Two will be installed at different sites in Japan.
“We’re ready to move into production on those antennas for Japan,” he said. “We haven’t started yet. We’re still doing a lot of the upfront system engineering on the overall system, but we certainly are ready to begin the hardware production as soon as we’ve got all the system engineering finished.”
After the radar is integrated with the nation’s Aegis Ashore, Lockheed Martin plans to offer the SPY-7 capability for Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force.
“As they consider plans for next-generation ships in their navy, we would offer a SPY-7 with Aegis,” Lemmo said.
Variants of the AN/SPY-7(V)1 radar will also be used by Spain and Canada.
While Aegis Ashore Japan was being bid, Lockheed Martin was working on bids for the Canadian surface combatant. The Canadian navy wants to buy 15 new frigates, Lemmo said.
Meanwhile, the Spanish navy is purchasing five ships for its F-110 multimission frigate program, Lemmo said. Lockheed will work with Spanish company Indra to provide the radar, which will be integrated into the vessels’ combat management systems when the frigate deploys in 2026.
For both programs, Lockheed offered a SPY-7 derivative radar with the Aegis fire control loop software, which can detect, track and engage threats, Lemmo said.
The SPY-7 technology has been selected to operate on a total of 24 systems, Lemmo said.
“That is the equivalent of 91 antennas,” he noted. “Then in those 91 antennas, we will be producing over 15,000 subarray suites.”