U.S. Navy Spends $677 Million More on Radars That Can See Everything

USS Jack H. Lucas (DDG 125) 7 photos
Photo: Raytheon/HII
USS Jack H. Lucas (DDG 125)USS Jack H. Lucas (DDG 125)USS Jack H. Lucas (DDG 125)USS Jack H. Lucas (DDG 125)U.S. Navy completes new test of the Aegis-backed SM-6 missileAegis and Arleigh Burke destroyers
Somehow, in the span of just two short years, our world has transitioned from being a relatively peaceful and stable place to standing on the edge of global war. And you can't get a better sense of what's going on than by looking at how much money militaries are spending to arm themselves.
There's no doubt about it that the American military, the main target of some very powerful adversary nations, is the biggest spender in this respect. The U.S. is pouring billions to upgrade and equip all branches of the military with the best equipment there is, most likely in the hopes it will not have to be used in combat, but as a deterrent to keep vultures at bay.

The U.S. Navy too is part of the modernization program, and the most recent investment has to do with the ability of its ships to defend themselves against the most advanced weapons the enemy could throw into a battle.

The latest huge spending, which amounts to $677 million, has to do with more radars to be equipped on more ships. And not just any radar, but the "most tested, most advanced radar technology in production today."

The hardware is called AN/SPY-6(V), and it is a product of defense contractor Raytheon. The thing is literally brand new, with the first example being delivered to the Navy for testing just four years ago.

SPY-6 is technically an active electronically scanned array three-dimensional radar system. It is modular in design, as its component parts can be stacked together to serve the needs of a variety of ship types – and this, claims Raytheon, "makes the SPY-6 family the Navy's first truly scalable radars."

USS Jack H\. Lucas \(DDG 125\)
Photo: Raytheon
It is meant to take on protective duties, constantly looking for threats in the form of missiles (ballistic, cruise, or hypersonic), but also offensive ones, as it can be used to better direct counterfire with all the weapons in the Navy's arsenal.

The system is described by its maker as being far superior to existing designs. It comes with a greater detection range (the exact numbers on that are not disclosed), increased sensitivity, and increased discrimination.

On top of it all, the SPY-6 can be used to defend ships against missiles, aircraft, and even enemy surface ships, by tracking them all at the same time. For the ships that need such a feature, the radar will not only help defend and attack, but can also be used as a sort of air control center.

In March 2022 the U.S. Navy awarded Raytheon a contract for the production of this radar that, over the next five years (meaning by 2027), will end up being valued at $3.16 billion. That's because the Navy plans to "outfit every new surface ship in its fleet" with the SPY-6. That's right, all new ships, or a total of seven classes, ranging from small patrol vessels or aircraft carriers.

The first part of the money, $651 million, came Rayheon's way back in 2022, but last week we got word of another $677 million contract being placed for more radars. Seven of them will be produced, bringing the total to 38, as per the current procurement agreements.

Aegis and Arleigh Burke destroyers
Photo: Lockheed Martin
As said, the system will become part of every new Navy ship to be made from now on, be them destroyers, frigates, aircraft carriers and amphibious warships. The first one to get it will be the USS Jack H. Lucas (DDG 125).

That's not just any Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, but the first one to be made as a Flight III variant, the most recent and most modern in the entire fleet. The ship was commissioned in October last year as the 75th destroyer of its kind, and it is expected to become the backbone of this new generation of fighting vessels.

The USS Richard M. McCool Jr. (LPD 29), launched in 2022 as the last in a run of 13 San Antonio-class amphibious transport docks, will get the system next, with more and more vessels making it on the list as soon as they become seaworthy.

Older vessels, especially the destroyers and legacy aircraft carriers that are part of the Flight IIA generation, will be equipped with the radar as well. In all, the Navy plans to have at least 65 ships using the new radar over the next ten years.

Separately, a similar radar called SPY-7, produced by another defense contractor, Lockheed Martin, is currently undergoing testing. The last time we heard of it was back in April, when it was integrated with the Aegis Combat System and used to track targets in space.

Lockheed describes the system too as being the most powerful in the world, and it too has the ability to detect, track, and engage multiple ballistic missiles and other types of high-speed weapons. There is no word yet when testing of the SPY-7 will end.
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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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