Home » Aviation » Navy Quietly Downscales Destroyer Upgrades

Navy Quietly Downscales Destroyer Upgrades

USS The Sullivans (DDG 68) returns to her homeport of Mayport, Fla., following the completion of a six-month deployment in 2013. US Navy Photo

USS The Sullivans (DDG 68) returns to her homeport of Mayport, Fla., following the completion of a six-month deployment in 2013. US Navy Photo

The Navy has quietly reduced the scope of upgrades to its guided missile destroyers in a move that could make up to a quarter of the fleet a target of early decommissioning due to obsolescence, USNI News has learned.

Out of 28 early Arleigh Burke-class DDGs (Flight I/II), 21 will not receive a full upgrade to their Aegis combat systems and instead have a midlife upgrade that will focus on the mechanical health of the ship and some will have upgrades to the ships’ anti-submarine warfare systems as part of a cost saving strategy, Naval Sea Systems Command told USNI News on Friday.

The targeted Flight I and II ships will retain older computer and missile systems and not adapt a new set of anti-air warfare (AAW) standards and systems that will allow the rest of the Burke fleet to be more easily upgraded with new software and weapons, according to information on the program obtained by USNI News.

The focus of the Aegis AAW modernization effort will be instead on the Navy’s newer Burkes — Flight IIAs — the first of which commissioned in 1997, according to NAVSEA.

“There were two major items considered in switching modernization to the FLT IIAs,” according to a statement from NAVSEA provided to USNI News on Friday.
“[First] fiscal constraints drove the modernization rate of the later FLT I/II’s and all the FLT IIA’s well past their mid-life greatly reducing return on investment. [Second] due to the FLT I/II DDGs already having a [Ballistic Missile Defense] (BMD) capability, the ability to increase the number of BMD capable ships is achieved with modernization of the FLT IIA’s.”

The estimated cost of the reduced upgrades is about $170 million per ship for the news systems and testing. The full upgrade costs about $270 million, USNI News understands.

The original upgrade plan for all Aegis ships (Burkes and 22 Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruisers) was slated to cost an estimated $16.6 billion in FY 2010 dollars, according to an Aegis cruiser and destroyers modernization report from the Congressional Research service in 2011.

The Flight I and II ships are currently equipped with a basic BMD capability — BMD 3.6.1 — that allows the ships to field variants of the Raytheon Standard Missile 3 but unable to handle the Navy’s new SM 6 missile that is able to receive targeting information from other sources, including the Northrop Grumman E-2D Advanced Hawkeye.

“These are still very capable ships and we intend to utilize them to their fullest potential. Our plan delivers increased BMD capacity and capability to meet the mission,” Navy spokesman Lt. Robert Myers told USNI News on Tuesday, following the publication of an earlier version of this post.

Baseline 9

USS John Paul Jones (DDG 53) launches a Standard Missile (SM) 2 during a live-fire test of the ship's Aegis weapons system on Feb. 8, 2014. US Navy Photo

USS John Paul Jones (DDG 53) launches a Standard Missile (SM) 2 during a live-fire test of the ship’s Aegis weapons system on Feb. 8, 2014. US Navy Photo

The Navy had planned to upgrade all of the destroyers to the latest standard — now-called Baseline 9, according to a 2008 report in Seapower.

“In order to maintain the Navy’s warfighting advantage, the combat systems capabilities are periodically updated,” said Capt. Jon Hill, then major program manager, Integrated Combat Systems, Program Executive Office Integrated Warfare Systems (PEO IWS) said in a 2011 NAVSEA publication.
“These upgrades modernize the capabilities of our surface combatants, incorporate fleet feedback, and address changing threats and new warfare environments.”

Baseline 9 is a primary building block of the service’s new integrated air and missile defense concept — previously called Aegis Advanced Capability Build (ACB) —that allows ships to deal with a multitude of threats ranging from cruise missiles, to hostile aircraft to ballistic missiles.

“Ships and strike groups are going to be forced to contend with the simultaneity of a ballistic missile and a cruise missile at the same time and how do we align ourselves to do that to project power, do the missions assigned and protect the force and continue to do that over a sustained period of time?” Capt. Jim W. Kilby, deputy for ballistic missile defense, Aegis, destroyers and Future Surface Combatants (N96F) for the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations (OPNAV), told USNI News in an April interview.

Baseline 9 for destroyers includes a complete refresh of computers in the ships from military specific computers to commercial servers that are easier to maintain and upgrade.

The refresh also includes the addition of the Lockheed Martin Multi-Mission Signal Processor that will allow the destroyers SPY-1 radar to better handle multiple threats to the ship. Most Aegis ships now are usually designated to handle BMD threats or anti-air threats.
The new system will also facilitate the Navy’s new Naval Integrated Fire Control-Counter Air—or NIFC-CA (pronounced: nifk-kah) concept.

With the addition of the Raytheon SM-6, destroyers can now greatly extend their engagement range using off-board sensors to provide targeting information.

History of Combat System Upgrades

USS Kidd (DDG-993) and the Spruance class destroyer USS Peterson (DD-969). US Navy Photo

USS Kidd (DDG-993) and the Spruance class destroyer USS Peterson (DD-969). US Navy Photo

NAVSEA said the reduced scope of upgrades will be adequate to face ballistic missile threats and that the ships are all planned to reach their expected 35-year service lives.

However, NAVSEA’s statement would be a departure from history.

Ships without a combat system refresh at some point — usually during a midlife upgrade — only average from 17 to 19 years in the fleet, several naval experts told USNI News.

Examples include the late 1970s Kidd-class destroyers. The four Kidd destroyers — originally built for the then Shah of Iran — were pushed out of service for obsolescence issues. The Kidds went through a partial 1990s combat systems upgrade but were decommissioned in favor of the more technologically advanced Burkes.

The first five Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruisers did not receive combat systems upgrades — judged too expensive — and were decommissioned between 2004 and 2005. The ships were 15 years shy of their expected service life.

Legislative Fight

USS Chancellorsville (CG-62) in 2010. The ship was the first to be upgraded to Baseline 9. US Navy Photo

USS Chancellorsville (CG-62) in 2010. US Navy Photo

Modernizing surface ships vice decommissioning has been a divisive issue between Congress and the Navy in the last several years.

The House Armed Services Committee and the Navy are currently at odds over a plan to mothball 11 Ticonderoga-class cruisers as an additional cost saving strategy.

Congress has also legislated the Navy upgrade ships in order they entered the fleet in an effort to keep ships in the fleet. As part of the Fiscal Year 2014 defense act, Congress told the Navy to specifically upgrade Aegis ships in order.

Legislators have pushed the Navy and the Pentagon to keep as many ships as possible in the inventory, reluctant to shrink the force.

The Navy, for its part, has said that in order to keep within budgets and prevent a so-called “hollow force,” it needs flexibility in how it spends.

  • http://nickysworld.wordpress.com/ Nicky

    Why not, as a cost saving measure, now would be a great time to talk about taking all the Burke Flight I & II’s. Convert them to Frigates in the similar fashion as the Álvaro de Bazán class Frigate by removing the aft VLS and installing a Hangar for one helicopter or UAV.

  • RDML(S) Jim Kilby

    As the Deputy responsible for BMD, AEGIS and Destroyers let me be clear: we are fully committed to maintaining relevant, combat ready destroyers to the full extent of their expected service lives. Our proposed plan modifies DDG 79 and beyond closer to mid-life, maximizing our modernization investment. In addition, FLT I and II destroyers will receive a more capable BMD program. The aggregate of the two ensures a more rapid increase in BMD capacity AND capability over time. -RDML(S) Jim Kilby.

    • NeoIsolationist

      Thank you very much Admiral, for your comments. We will not be able to fix our budgetary issues until the civilian leadership abandons the New World Order intentional destruction of our nation, culture, and economy. Once this is resolved and we go back to things like the North American Prosperity Model and capitalism (no too big to fail), we cure the problem.

      • bpuharic

        New world order. You watch too many cartoons.

      • BadgerEE

        The RADM hmade some good points about modernization of the fleet. Why did you have to take a hard right turn with all the conspriracy theory junk that you parroted from Fox News? Do you have a mind of your own or did you lease that out to Fox as well? Did you mean the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America? Not active since 2009. An attempt to create a North American EU. Leave your neocon junk for your facebook page.

  • Alex Harmon

    Good article, but errors on the attached spreadsheet;

    The USS Stethem’s (DDG 63) home port is Yokosuka, not San

    The USS Carney’s (DDG 64) home port is Mayport, not Yokosuka.


  • Ctrot

    The term “fiscal constraints” is shorthand for “cutting defense in order to continue funding the welfare state so as to purchase the votes of those who are the beneficiaries thereof”.

    How about this: instead of building 32 total Littoral Combat Ships stop with the 17 that have been named and save about $7.5 billion over building 32, that should cover the Baseline 9 upgrade to a dozen or more Flight I / II Burkes.

    • bpuharic

      I guess racist comments are to be expected from the redneck class. The biggest welfare cases in the US are the 1% that the right wing keep bankrolling even though they bankrupted our country. But the right wing will sacrifice their own children to protect the rich.

      • Ed C

        yeah…right…do your homework, leftist. You’re probably afraid your check won’t be in the mail if adults are reelected to government in 2016.

        • bpuharic

          Romney got a $10M FDIC welfare check because of right wing support for millionaires. When the right supports ANY protection for the middle class you let me know. And don’t forget to send your kid to Romney. He needs a new doorman.

        • NeoIsolationist

          Ed, probably best to let it go. The disinfo agents are all over this site. I selected bpuharic’s username and got a link to his comments. he’s all over the place, and seems to be a professional at derailing internet discussions. Also, I recently had a response to my original post, above, censored. Take care.

          • bpuharic

            Certainly has nothing to do with the fact the US right is the most extreme in the western world, right?

          • Ed C

            I’ve run into these multi-haters before….must be sad to be them.

          • bpuharic

            In between the right wing war on women, class warfare against the middle class, hatred of gays, atheists, illegal aliens,

            conservatives love every one, you see. As long as you have the right skin color and the right sized wallet.

      • Huh?

        How on earth has the comment above become racist? There is nothing at all racist about it. That word is overused and is meaningless in this context.

        • bpuharic

          Golly. Who are those ‘welfare recipients’ the right is so paranoid about? Mitt Romney and his crew?

          Wrong color.

    • Ed C

      I couldn’t have said it better myself…we know where the priorities of this administration lie…in votes. They get them with welfare payouts and not with military spending.

      • bpuharic

        The right wing gave a $450 billion welfare check to Wall Street in 2008, but complains about having to feed the very same middle class people their policies put out of work.

        • Ed C

          and how much was the Obama “stimulus”? Close to 1 trillion? Still haven’t seen a dime of that in this economy…..

          • bpuharic

            The conservative U of Chicago Booth School did a survey of leading economists.

            80% said the stimulus was effective in reducing unemployment and stimulating the economy.

            Right wingers haven’t a clue about how economics work. They think if we give all our money to the rich they’ll create jobs

            We did that. We got the worst recession in 80 years because of right wing supply side socialism for the rich.

          • Ed C

            You’re certifiably insane if you think this economy is in good shape. Do you actually work?

          • bpuharic

            Well you’re right wing which means you can’t read. You go ahead and point out where I said the economy was in ‘good shape’.

            Then sign up for a reading course.

          • muzzleloader

            Leave it to libtards to pollute a military forum. what are you doing hear anyway? You must have thought this was the gawker

    • bpuharic

      The term ‘welfare state’ is racist code words for you know who. And the right gives welfare to the 1% but objects to feeding people THEIR policies put out of work

    • KAB

      No ‘fiscal restraints’ is shorthand for ‘we let sequestration occur because sticking it to Obama and protecting tax breaks for a bunch of hedge fund managers is more important than keeping America safe.’

      • Ctrot

        Keep telling yourself that. You do know that sequestration was the Obama administrations idea, right?

        • bpuharic

          Sequestration was Obama’s proposal to avoid a complete right wing shut down of govt, like the recent one that cost us 24 billion

          Good job right wingers!

          • Snake

            Keep drinking that Obama Unicorn Milk and you will end up brain dead!

          • bpuharic

            I got the facts. But you keep hurling the insults. It’ll make you feel better.

  • Secundius

    Someone was complaining about crew safety and survivability of the LCS program, what about the KIDD class, SPRUANCE class and TICONDEROGA class ship’s. They all have aluminum hulls.

    • Scott

      No, their hulls are made of steel, their superstructures are aluminum.

      • Marcd30319

        Ignorance is such bliss.

  • Secundius

    Well it can’t be very thick steel because of the rippling-effect, when the metal expands and contracts.

  • Marcd30319

    Another day, another defense cut-back. This administration makes the pre-Korea Truman administration look downright spendthrift on our navy.

    Given the fact that Harry Truman and DefSec Louis Johnson loathed the navy, that is saying something.

    Well, at least. Truman et al. favored the air force; the administration doesn’t play favorites — they have none, except entitlements.

  • Marcd30319

    Friend, watch your code. And watch your post go bye-bye.

    As far as defense spending, consider the fact that we alone hel keep the sea lanes and air space open to all, that require forces on a global scale. If a couple of Somalis in a speedboat can tie up shipping, as well as jack up insurance rates and the cost of imported good, then you need a navy with global reach.

    • bpuharic

      Dog whistle codes for ‘inner city’ or ‘entitlements’ are well known for their meaning. Of course, then the right mentions welfare they somehow skip welfare given to the rich. Funny how that works.

      And if the ROW can’t kick in some money to keep sea lanes open then they can go hang. Or they can rent carriers from us when they need them. There’s no reason the right has to keep billing the US taxpayer to pay for welfare for the rest of the world.

      • Marcd30319

        Friend, who appointed you the speech sheriff at this blog? Keep you PC mind-speak to yourself. Now, say good night, Gracie, again.

        • bpuharic

          I might ask you the same, with your view of ‘entitlements’ that encompasses only the ‘you know who’ folks. How’s the view from your petard?

          • Marcd30319

            The only one who has been hoisted is you. Say good night.

  • Secundius

    Yes, but how much of that 37% goes too actually building the weapons and how much goes to lining pockets.

  • Secundius

    I don’t know where your getting your news information (a.e. FOX NEWS). Obama didn’t shut down the government Cruz did!

  • Secundius

    If you up-gun a FREEDOM class LCS with a 127mm/65-caliber, not 54-caliber (5-inch) LW gun mount. You could deploy them as Fast Picket Ships or Perimeter Action Ships as the FLETCHER class Destroyer, was deployed during WW2. You would have valuable surface asset. Too harassing force against enemy forces, until other heavier assets can be properly deployed.

  • old guy

    With a President hostile to the military and such overblown and under-perfoming programs such as the LCS, DD1000 and the V22 its no wonder that the Navy is running out of money to fund good upgrades for the Arleigh Burke and Ticonderoga classes. ADMs “Bud” Zumwalt and “30 Knot” Burke must be spinning in their graves.

    • bpuharic

      A president so hostile to the military he’s started precisely

      While conservatives sent thousands to die in useless wars then refused to fund programs to help them when they were injured.

    • Secundius

      @ old guy.

      Tell that to the GOP, Controlled House of Representatives.

  • old guy

    It is really too bad that people so easily forget history. I am old enough to remember these same words coming out of people like Sen. Taft that we should hide our heads in the sand and Europe and Asia will settle their scores and all will be tranquil again. Similarly they forget the 9/11 horror and creatures like Saddam Husein and Pol Pot who,like Hitler, Mussolini and Tojo, in their quest for power, killed 10s of millions, only to be stopped, finally, by our intervention.

    • Secundius

      @ old guy.

      At wars end of World War 2, the official date being 31 December 1946 CE., The Us Navy had a total Fleet of 71,009-Ship’s of various classes. Here in, as of 2014 our Fleet Strength is 430-Ship’s, 40-less then the PLAN. And even that suppose to drop from 430-Ship’s to 306-Ship’s. “How the Mighty, Have Fallen.”

      • bpuharic

        One modern destroyer could sink anything in WW2 except possibly an aircraft carrier. There’s a reason ships cost a billion a shot.

        • Secundius

          @ bpuharic.

          Yes, but while our Navy keeps getting SMALLER, the Chinese Navy is getting BIGGER. And for the time being, the only thing keeping the Chinese Navy at bay is ourAircraft Carrier Fleet. And if our Navy drops below 250-Ship’s, even our Aircraft Carriers won’t hold back the Chinese anymore.

          • bpuharic

            A navy that has 1 ship increases by 100% when it gets 2. That’s not an argument.

            The Chinese have a toy aircraft carrier. The reason we can’t afford more ships is that war is getting too expensive to fight.

          • Secundius

            @ bpuharic.

            Also, keep in mind they have almost 4-1/2 times the population then we do. And there probably saying to themselves, what do they have to loose, go for broke. And I really don’t think we could mobilize our population, our government and, our industries the same way as we did. After the Pearl Harbor attack.

          • bpuharic

            That’s useful for an army, not a navy. They’re also trying to build an economy. Again, technology overcomes population. That’s why the JSF costs $188M a plane..an absurd figure given that planes are consumables. But war is probably going to be too expensive to fight unless we take humans out of the equation.