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Navy’s Next Generation Radar Could Have Future Electronic Attack Abilities

Artist's concept of a DDG-51 Flight III with AMDR. Raytheon Photo

Artist’s concept of a DDG-51 Flight III with AMDR. Raytheon Photo

The U.S. Navy’s Air and Missile Defense radar — which is being developed by Raytheon for the service’s Flight III Arleigh Burke-class destroyer (DDG-51) — might one day be capable of performing electronic attacks with its active electronically scanned array (AESA) antenna, according to Naval Sea Systems Command.

“Right now, that’s not one of the requirements of AMDR — could be in the future — but we’re not doing that right now,” said William Williford with NAVSEA’s Program Executive Office Integrated Warfare Systems (PEO IWS) on Thursday at the Surface Navy Association 2014 symposium in Crystal City, Va.

Airborne AESA radars such as the Northrop Grumman APG-77 found on the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor already have an electronic attack capability. In the future, the Lockheed F-35 and Boeing F/A-18E/F and EA-18G will also receive a similar capability for the Northrop APG-81 and Raytheon APG-79 radars.

Similarly, all the contenders for the Navy’s Next Generation Jammer program use new Gallium Nitride-based (GaN) transmit-receiver modules, which are rapidly succeeding the older Gallium Arsenide-based systems found on the aforementioned radars.

The Navy having adopted high-power GaN based AESA radar for the Flight III ships, can leverage those technologies to use the destroyer’s radar to perform electronic attacks.

With the precise beam steering enabled by the AESA array, it would be possible for the array to attack airborne and surface target using tightly directed beams of high-powered radio waves. Potentially, such a capability would add to the Burke’s air and ballistic missile defense capabilities by blinding enemy aircraft, ships and incoming missiles.

Further, if multiple AMDR equipped ships are operating together, it would be possible to use tied the vessels together to form networked virtual radar that has much higher resolution than a single ship could provide.

“It’s feasible, you have to get radars timed and phased,” Tad Dickenson Raytheon’s program manager for AMDR told USNI News.

That would mean that the Navy could gain the equivalent—or more likely—performance far superior to the much larger AMDR radar that had been proposed for the now moribund CG(X) missile cruiser.

“One of the technologies we’re looking at in the future is linking the sensors together, not just the combat systems, but sensor to sensor so that can give you a larger picture,” Williford said.

“It will be more than AMDR. We’re going to integrate more sensors into that activity.”

With networked capabilities, in the future, surface combatant many not need to be as large since not every ship would have to have massive radar arrays to support only their own situational awareness. Instead, the combined power of multiple vessels could result in a radar picture with a incredible resolution far greater than the sum of its parts.

  • RunningBear

    Not unlike the revolutionary concepts in the sensor merge capabilities in the phenomenal Lockheed Martin F-35 mission systems. Oh yeah, the same set of players; LM GD, NG, Raytheon, etc….hmmmmm….. Now one wonders, does this infer this ability of merging platforms data for the aviation world (i.e. a strike package; F/A-18E/F, EA-18G, F-35B/C, E-2D, P-8A/ MQ-4C)? AESA radar is also a large BW comm-link not unlike Link16++++. Tests by Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, and L-3 Communications enabled the Active Electronically Scanned Array system of a Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor to act like a WiFi access point, able to transmit data at 548 megabits per second and receive at gigabit speed; this is far faster than the Link 16 system, which transfers data at just over 1 Mbit/s.[5]

    • Little Franks


      • RunningBear

        the AN/APG-81 AESA demonstrated robust electronic protection, electronic attack, passive maritime and experimental modes, and data-linked air and surface tracks to improve legacy fighter situational awareness. It also searched the entire 50,000 square- mile Gulf of Alaska operating area for surface vessels, and accurately detected and tracked them in minimal time.

        • ELP

          It would have to. Any other sales brief by the fan-base would mean a disaster for the almost $60B invested in the Just-So-Failed thus far.Too bad that all the systems that drive the aircraft of the very good ’81 are a mess.

  • Robert Muir

    Ya and china will soon have it to.Thanks to spying or we just give it to them.

    • vlhc vlhc

      – China is already building 10x 052D destroyers with 14.5 feet S-band AESA, and 6x 052C destroyers equipped with older ~13 feet AESAs
      – China has essentially sea-trialed large naval AESAs for 10 years on the first 2 052C
      – The Type 055 test facility is already being built to test the next generation S+X dual band arrays and integrated mast, in other words, the USN’s 2023 dual band AMDR

      This is while the USN is still waiting for the first Burke Flight 3
      Sorry to say but there not much to spy on for them

  • ELP

    Electronic attack with fighter aircraft AESA radars has already shown to be dubious. For example, Australia pointed this out with the APG-79s on their new Super Hornets as something that didn’t deliver off of the show-room floor…or PowerPoint. The F-22 has some power sustainment issues in this area too. Then there is the heat build up that has to be shed. So, power limitations; thermal issues, lots of hype and….oh yes, where the field of regard of the radar as a limit, and the narrow in-band frequency limits (X-band). The AESA aircraft thing as “electronic attack” can also be spoofed. And the last thing you want on a aircraft (stealth or otherwise) is to be waving a flag, “here I am”. “Low probability of intercept”, does not mean “impossible.”