Navies around the world are increasingly facing formidable strategic and threat environments in terms of complexity, lethality, range, sophistication and number of threats. Many of these threats, including long-range anti-ship cruise missiles, can travel hundreds of miles to their targets, toward surface ships challenged to detect the approaching weapon with line-of-sight radar systems. To counter these threats, the militaries around the world are developing networked integrated Air and Missile defense systems (IAMD). IAMD entails both the defence against conventional air threats, such as aircraft, helicopters, unmanned aerial vehicles and balloons (air defence), as well as the defence against ballistic missiles and cruise missiles (missile defense).
The essential requirement of IAMD is a radar which can simultaneously detect and track air and missile targets. Raytheon’s AN/SPY-6(V) radar is capable to simultaneously protect a warship from cruise missile, ballistic missile, hostile aircraft and surface ship attacks. The AN/SPY-6(V)1 Air and Missile Defense Radar (AMDR) is the Navy’s next-generation radar providing sensitivity for long-range detection and engagement of advanced threats. The AN/SPY-6 radar, provides greater range, enhanced accuracy and improved resistance to environmental and man-made electronic clutter, higher reliability and sustainability than currently deployed radars.
The Raytheon-built AN/SPY-6(V) radar is reported by developers to be 35-times more powerful than existing ship-based radar systems; the technology is widely regarded as being able to detect objects twice as far away at one-half the size of current tracking radar. This synergy gives the system an ability to track and help destroy enemy drones, aircraft, cruise missiles and long-range incoming ballistic missiles.
The new radars are in the process of being built into large portions of the fleet to include emerging new DDG Flight III destroyers, amphibious assault ships and even aircraft carriers. Since its launch in January 2014, the US Navy’s SPY-6(V) programme has successfully met all milestones either ahead of or on schedule.
The AN/SPY-6(V)1 is currently planned to be deployed on the DDG 51 FLT III with four arrays each populated with 37 Radar Modular Assemblies (RMAs) providing SPY+16dB sensitivity. A variant of the AN/SPY-6(V) is currently planned to replace the AN/SPY-1 radar on existing DDG 51 FLT IIA ships. This variant includes four arrays each populated with 24 RMAs providing SPY+11dB sensitivity. The U.S. Navy is proceeding with the modernization of DDG 51 FLT IIA ships by replacing the existing AN/SPY-1D(V) with a scaled AN/SPY-6(V) radar to increase IAMD performance against raids of air and ballistic missile threats in adverse environments.
US Navy’s AN/SPY-6(V) Air and Missile Defense Radar (AMDR) program is a new scalable solid-state radar suite intended for future surface combatants such as the CG(X) missile cruiser and DDG 51 Flight III destroyer. The AN/SPY-6 platform will enable next-generation Flight III DDG 51s to defend much larger areas compared with the AN/SPY-1D radar on existing destroyers.
Raytheon Missiles & Defense (RMD) secured a contract to continue the production of AN/SPY-6(V) air and missile defence radars for the US Navy, reported in May 2022. The contract has an estimated value of $423m. The radars produced under the contract will be equipped on seven different types of US Navy ships, including amphibious ships, the Arleigh Burke-class Flight III destroyers and aircraft carriers. The company has already completed the installation of SPY-6 radar on the US Navy’s future USS Jack H Lucas (DDG 125), a Flight III destroyer.
Raytheon’s AN/SPY-6(V) air and missile defence radar (AMDR) has successfully detected, acquired and tracked multiple targets during demonstrations at the US Navy’s Pacific Missile Range Facility, Kauai, Hawaii. During the exercise, the radar system exhibited its ability to track multiple threats simultaneously, as well as a ballistic missile, through intercept.
In February 2019 , the Spy-6 air and missile defense radar system successfully completed its most challenging test. It searched for, detected and maintained track of a short-range ballistic missile target launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kauai, Hawaii. Test success proved AN/SPY-6(V) integrated air and missile defense performance against a short-range ballistic missile target and multiple anti-ship cruise missile targets. The test demonstrated the radar’s sensitivity and resource management, a critical multi-mission capability to extend the battlespace and safeguard the fleet from multiple threats.
“This radar was specifically designed to handle ballistic missiles and cruise missiles simultaneously and it’s doing just that,” said U.S. Navy Captain Seiko Okano, Major Program Manager for Above Water Sensors, Program Executive Office Integrated Warfare Systems.”The speed, range, trajectory and complexity of multiple targets proved no match for AN/SPY-6 – it acquired and tracked them all,” said Raytheon’s Tad Dickenson, AN/SPY-6(V) program director. “AMDR is successfully demonstrating performance in a series of increasingly difficult test events and is on track to deliver advanced capability to the Navy’s first Flight III Destroyer.”
Two variants of the SPY-6 radars completed a series of tests at the Navy’s Wallops Island test facility in Virginia, which prime contractor Raytheon says was necessary to keep the program’s development on track. The testing, which occurred earlier in 2021, was focused on demonstrating new functionalities for both variants and will allow testing to advance to multi-functional operations and combat management system integration.
The AN/SPY-6 is expected to undergo further development and testing, with plans to eventually integrate it as the next-generation radar for Aegis ballistic missile defense (BMD) on U.S. Navy guided missile destroyers. The radar will work with the Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block IA/IB and Block IIA when deployed as well as the Standard Missile-6 (SM-6).
In total, the Navy plans as many as 22 Flight III DDG 51 destroyers, according to a previously completed Navy capabilities development document. The SPY-6 AMDR scalable radar system is expected to become the tip of the spear of the US Navy’s anti-missile and anti-aircraft capabilities for the next 40 years, through 2050 and beyond.
SPY-6 AMDR a critical element of Naval Integrated Fire Control
DDG 51 Flight III destroyers are expected to expand upon a promising new ship-based weapons system technology fire-control system, called Naval Integrated Fire Control – Counter Air, or NIFC-CA. The technology, which has already been deployed, enables ship-based radar to connect with an airborne sensor platform to detect approaching enemy anti-ship cruise missiles from beyond the horizon and, if needed, launch an SM-6 missile to intercept and destroy the incoming threat, Navy officials said.
Navy developers say NIFC-CA presents the ability to extend the range of attack missiles and extend the reach of sensors by netting different sensors from different platforms — both sea-based and air-based together into one fire control system.
AN/SPY-6(V)1 is capable of operating in different environments and mission regimes against a wide variety of potential targets and profiles. A scalable radar design with improvements in power, sensitivity and resistance to natural and man-made environments over current radar systems is needed for multi-mission capabilities.
AMDR consists of an S-band radar, an X-band radar and a Radar Suite Controller (RSC). Such an arrangement is intended to significantly enhance ship’s defensive capability against advanced anti-ship and ballistic missiles in high clutter environments. AMDR-S is a new development integrated air and missile defense radar designed for long-range detection and engagement of advanced threats and provides wide-area volume search and target tracking. The X-band radar is an existing horizon-search radar that provides horizon search, precision tracking, missile communications and final illumination of guidance to targets.”
Adaptive Digital Beam Forming can generate multiple simultaneous narrow beams which can be steered in multiple directions and detect multiple targets. Digital beamforming processing further improve the radar’s ability to function in adverse conditions and even in presence of adversary jamming. “….Raytheon is developing a mixer-less system with direct RF analog-to-digital conversion that has greater than 400 MHz instantaneous bandwidth and is reconfigurable, able to switch between S- and X-Band… — Microwave Journal, “Radar and Phased Array Breakthroughs” (Eli Booker). “provides horizon search, precision tracking, missile communications and final illumination of guidance to targets
The RSC provides S- and X-band radar resource management, coordination and interface to the Aegis combat system. The system offers increased coverage for early and accurate detection, which optimises the effectiveness of the US Navy’s most advanced weapons, including all variants of Standard Missile-3 and Standard Missile-6.
The use of a scalable antenna, composed of 2ft X 2ft X 2ft Radar Module Assembly building blocks, has enabled developers to engineer tailored, mission-specific, SPY 6 radar applications for different platforms. Modularity of hardware and software, designed in growth path for technology insertion, and Open Architecture (OA) Compliance are required for performance and technology enhancements throughout the radar ‘s service life.
Moton said that special technological adaptations are being built into the new, larger radar system so that it can be sufficiently cooled and powered up with enough electricity. The AMDR will be run by 1000-volts of DC power.“We want to get the power of the radar and minimize changes to the electrical plan throughout the ship,” Moton said.
The AMDR is equipped with specially configured cooling technology. The Navy has been developing a new 300-ton AC cooling plant slated to replace the existing 200-ton AC plant, Moton said.
Radar Modular Assembly (RMA) architecture
The AN/SPY-6 is being engineered to be easily reparable with replaceable parts, fewer circuit boards and cheaper components than previous radars, according to Raytheon developers. It is the first truly scalable radar, built with radar building blocks (Radar Modular Assemblies) that can be grouped to form any size radar aperture, either smaller or larger than currently fielded radars. The AMDR is also designed to rely heavily on software innovations, something which reduces the need for different spare parts, Capt. Casey Moton, Major Program Manager, DDG 51 Program Office, PEO Ships, said.
Raytheon’s EASR concept leverages proven Radar Modular Assembly (RMA) architecture matured on Air and Missile Defense Radar (AMDR). The basic building block of SPY-6 is called a “radar modular assembly.” It is a self-contained radar in a two-foot cube that can easily be connected with other cubes to form an array of any size. The more cubes you add, the more power can be applied to a problem. The Navy’s latest version of its multi-mission Arleigh Burke-class destroyer will have four arrays for 360-degree protection, each containing 37 cubes.
EASR’s flexible approach meets the performance needs of different candidate ship classes for ship self-defense, situational awareness, air traffic control, and weather monitoring. The Radar Modular Assembly (RMA) affords EASR the scalability to be used on a variety of ship sizes across a diverse set of mission requirements ultimately offering reduced total ownership cost across all the EASR equipped platforms. The inherent scalability of the AN/SPY-6(V) AMDR also could enable new instantiations, such as backfits on existing Burke-class destroyers and installation on aircraft carriers, amphibious warfare ships, frigates, the littoral combat ship, and Zumwalt-class land-attack destroyers without significant new radar development costs, Raytheon officials say. The RMA has been designed and tested to prove that it operates successfully in the stressing EASR naval marine environments.
The SPY-6(V) being developed for the Navy’s DDG 51 Flight III destroyer stacks 37 RMAs to form a 14-foot by 14-foot array. This configuration enhances the Navy’s ability to detect, identify and track air, surface and ballistic missile threats – delivering more than 30 times the sensitivity of the currently deployed SPY-1D radar, in similar space and at a comparable cost.
All cooling, power, command logic and software are scalable. This scalability could allow for new instantiations, such as back-fit on existing DDG 51 destroyers and installation on aircraft carriers, amphibious warfare ships, frigates, or the DDG 1000 class, without significant radar development costs.
The radar antenna uses Gallium Nitride (GaN) and Gallium Arsenide (GaAS)-based Monolithic Microwave Integrated Circuits to optimize power in a smaller size and using less space, power and cooling than older technology would require for the same performance.
Because gallium nitride technology enables much higher power densities than previous technologies, the resulting array is 100 times more sensitive than the SPY-1 radar currently in use for overhead defense on Navy destroyers. It didn’t have to be that powerful—the Navy was looking for a 30-fold gain—but Raytheon built in an extra margin of capability that will enable the new destroyers to see much farther than the current radar.
Paul Ferraro, the company’s VP for sea power capability systems in its Integrated Defense Systems unit explained that the 100-fold gain in sensitivity of the full-up array to be installed on the newest Burke destroyers translates into considerably greater range than that provided by existing radars. That increased range can be vital when dealing with fast-moving threats such as ballistic missiles and hypersonic glide weapons, because defenders need time to sort out which assets are best positioned to engage particular targets. Every step of the “kill-chain” will be automated, but the more warning defenders have, the better their prospects are for prevailing.
The radar has no moving parts, so it is extremely reliable and requires only modest maintenance. Its digital beamforming software enables the radar to function effectively even in areas where the adjacent segments of the electromagnetic spectrum are cluttered, or enemy jammers are actively seeking to degrade performance. The latter issue has become a growing concern for military planners as national strategy shifts to an emphasis on great power competition.
The Navy has finished much of the planned software builds for the AMDR system, however Moton explained that using newly integrated hardware and software with common interfaces will enable continued modernization in future years. Called TI 16 (Technical Integration), the added components are engineered to give Aegis Baseline 10 additional flexibility should it integrate new systems such as emerging electronic warfare or laser weapons.
“The top-level biggest thing we are doing with Baseline 10 is to integrate AMDR and take full advantage of simultaneous air and missile defense. This will set up for future capabilities such as electronic warfare attack,” Moton added.
Raytheon has engineered into the system, networking features so that radars on vessels scattered across vast expanses of ocean can cooperate in detecting, tracking and targeting threats. This will enable them to maximize the effectiveness of a new generation of interceptor missiles (also built by Raytheon).
Successes for AN/SPY-6 continue to stack up, following its second ballistic missile test flight in July. The radar has now demonstrated its performance against an array of singular and simultaneous live targets of increasing complexity, including integrated air and missile defense targets of opportunity, satellites and aircraft.
Navy’s AN/SPY-6 radar variants to be produced by Raytheon
In July 2019 , Raytheon was awarded a $40.2 million contract modification to produce variants of AN/SPY-6 radar system for the U.S. Navy. The contract exercises an option for fiscal 2019 production long lead material in support of the production of two configurations of the AN/SPY-6(V) radar systems, the SPY-6(V)2 Rotator Radar, and the SPY-6(V)3 Fixed Face Radar.
The two systems, built for surface warships, are elements of the Raytheon Enterprise Air Surveillance Radar (EASR) project, sensors for the Navy’s next generation radar on aircraft carriers and amphibious vessels. They are designed for simultaneous anti-air and anti-surface warfare, electronic protection, and air traffic control.
The EASR system is an array of radar devices on a 36-square foot platform that can be mounted on a vessel. The two variants offer a single-face rotating radar array for amphibious assault ships and Nimitz-class aircraft carriers, and a three fixed-face array for Ford-class carriers and future guided missile frigates.