With the first on-board radar running, Raytheon is looking to upgrade the SPY-6 for distributed operations

WASHINGTON – Even as Raytheon Missiles and Defense builds and installs its first SPY-6 radars, it is also working with the US Navy to add new functions to the radars with a software tool that would connect ship radars for an improved view of threats potential on the ocean.

Four versions of the SPY-6 radar will equip seven types of ships in the future Navy fleet. The program is still in its infancy: a single destroyer, the Jack H. Lucas, had its large anti-aircraft and anti-missile V1 (AMDR) radar installed and fired to begin integration tests. The first of the smaller Enterprise Aerial Surveillance Radars (EASR) V2 and V3 is expected to be installed in 2022.

But Raytheon foresees the day when dozens of these radars will be at sea, with the potential to communicate with each other and provide a clearer view of the battlespace for the Navy and joint force operators.

Raytheon, the Office of Naval Research and the Above Water Sensors of the Program Executive Office for Integrated Warfare Systems (PEO IWS) recently completed a demonstration of the Network Cooperative Radar concept, which they say is the basis of distributed maritime operations. of the Navy. concept.

Bryan Cavener, director of advanced technologies at Raytheon Missiles and Defense, told Defense News this month in an email that the project shows “how multiple radars can communicate and cooperate together on objectives. Network Cooperative Radar is aligned with the US Navy’s Vision for Distributed Maritime Operations (DMO), which is based on the distribution of forces throughout the battlespace and then linking these units together in an architecture of robust network.

With this more complete picture of the area of ​​operation, the Navy can make better decisions to achieve and maintain sea control and project power, he said. “They could, for example, track an object together, communicate information to each other about what each radar ‘sees’.”

This ability could become critical in the future, as adversaries become better able to hide ships, planes, and weapons in both the physical and electromagnetic environments.

“One of the main advantages of distributed sensing is the ability of forces in different parts of the battlespace to share their tactical data, creating a more complete picture of the force,” Cavener said. “The sensors activated by the RCN will have a greatly improved collective ability to see through operational factors that could obscure an enemy unit; where a ship might not see contact, a ship in another part of the battlespace might be fine-[positioned] to track contact, then share that information with the rest of the force.

Although Raytheon and the Navy did not detail next steps for this effort, which began in 2016 and falls under the Navy’s Future Naval Capabilities science and technology program, Cavener said the flexible equipment demonstration with defined capabilities by software is an important first step in the achievement of maritime operations.

“Our new ‘software-defined aperture’ radar development model means we can deploy smarter radars every day through cyberspace-enhanced software upgrades,” he said. “Programs like Network Cooperative Radar and [the Radar Modular Assembly-based Flexible Distributed Radar] are so exciting because they prove this model. In the case of NCR, these are SPY-6 radars for which we have developed new software to perform distributed detection.

In a press release, Rear Admiral PEO IWS. Seiko Okano hailed the distributed sensing demonstration as a catalyst for future operations.

“SPY-6 will provide an unprecedented level of protection for naval forces, and software updates like this show that it’s only getting better,” she said. “Programs like NCR ensure that SPY-6 will be the backbone of our distributed detection capabilities in the future. “

But first, the radars will have to be deployed.

Jack H. Lucas, the first Arleigh Burke-class destroyer on Flight III, has his AN / SPY-6 (V) 1 air and missile defense radar installed and operational. The boat reached the “light off” of its Aegis combat system on December 17, marking the start of on-board combat system testing and crew training. This is the first time that the new radar and Aegis Baseline 10 software have interacted on a ship, despite having undergone extensive and continuous ground testing.

At Raytheon’s manufacturing plant in Andover, Mass., Workers produce one array of radars per month, at a rate of three sets of ships per year.

“We’re really starting to crank up the production,” Scott Spence, director of naval radar programs at Raytheon Missiles and Defense, told Defense News over the summer.

A future production plan calls for a maximum requirement of 59 sets of ships over five years, or about 12 per year in all four variants – the larger V1 being for the destroyers of Flight III; the little V2 rotating aboard America-class amphibious assault ships, San Antonio-class amphibious transport docks, and Nimitz-class aircraft carriers; the small fixed V3 supporting Ford-class aircraft carriers and Constellation-class frigates; and the large V4 being modernized on the destroyers of flight IIA.

A separate production line builds the smaller V2 and V3 radars, Spence said, and that line is also starting up ahead of demand spikes. Spence called 12 a year the upper limit of what they expected – especially given funding issues that could slow frigates and DDG adaptations, and the fact that the Navy will not engage in a purchase of several vessels. amphibious ships due to uncertainty as to how many the service wants.

Yet, he said, Raytheon is doing what he can to make those sales attractive. On the adaptation side of the DDG, Spence said Raytheon had worked hard to reduce the time it would take to install the new radar into a maintenance standby.

The large four-sided radar, with each side made up of 24 2-by-2-foot modular radar assemblies – compared to the even larger V1 radar which has 37 RMA per side – will replace the old AN / SPY-1D. Spence said the drawings are already made and match the power and cooling capabilities of the destroyers on Flight IIA; now they are working on the installation and integration plan.

“It’s really about trying to get this ship in and out of its [availability] as soon as possible and put it back into service. We were therefore able to reduce this time a little. … And that was probably one of the biggest concerns the Navy had, I think, was that they didn’t want ships to be laid up for a long time, as you can imagine, ”Spence said. .

Installing the first V1 radar on Jack H. Lucas helped refine that plan, he said.

“One of the ones we really looked at was how to attach the network to the structure of the ship and create a basically bolted configuration that allows you to put that network there very quickly. So we drew a lot of the lessons we learned about how we lifted and loaded the SPY-6 (V) 1 onto the Flight IIIs and said, let’s duplicate that kind of infrastructure.

On the V2 and V3, Raytheon performed extensive testing in 2021 to prepare the radars for installation and integration in 2022. The summer test event at the Wallops Island Test Facility in Virginia s ‘is focused on anti-aircraft warfare, air traffic control operations and electrical system modeling. Spence said, adding that the tests had been cut short due to common hardware and software shared with the V1, which had already performed important tests before it was installed on a ship.

The additional capabilities tested over the summer are needed for amphibious assault ships and aircraft carriers to control the whereabouts of fixed and rotary wing aircraft, and the increased threats they may face in as capital ships.

Megan Eckstein is the Naval Warfare reporter for Defense News. She has been covering military news since 2009, focusing on US Navy and Marine Corps operations, procurement programs, and budgets. She has reported on four geographic fleets and is happiest when recording stories from a ship. Megan is a University of Maryland alumnus.

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