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Navy Again Reduces Scope of Destroyer Modernization, 5 Ships Won’t Receive Any Ballistic Missile Defense Upgrades

USS Chafee (DDG-90) on 2014. Chafee is one of five Arleigh Burke destroyers that won't receive a ballistic missile defense (BMD) upgrade do to a reduction of funding as part of the Navy's FY 2016 budget request. US Navy Photo

USS Chafee (DDG-90) on 2014. Chafee is one of five Arleigh Burke destroyers that won’t receive a ballistic missile defense (BMD) upgrade due to a reduction of funding as part of the Navy’s FY 2016 budget request. US Navy Photo

This post has been updated from an earlier version to include a statement from Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.) — chairman of the House Armed Services Seapower and Projection Forces subcommittee.

Five Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyers (DDG-51) will forgo a combat system upgrade that would allow the ships to fight ballistic missile threats as part of a reduction in modernization funding included in the Navy’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 budget that will save the service $500 million over the next five years, USNI News has learned.

Modernization periods for five Flight IIA Burkes — USS Howard (DDG-83); USS McCampbell (DDG-85); USS Mustin (DDG-89); USS Chafee (DDG-90); USS Bainbridge (DDG-96) — will not include the Baseline 9C Aegis Combat System series of processing power and software upgrades to bring an Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD) capability to the destroyers, according to an unclassified version of the current modernization plan seen by USNI News.

Instead, the ships will undergo a much more modest upgrade that will focus on hull, mechanical and electrical (HM&E) systems repairs, leaving the ships — all commissioned between 2001 to 2004 — without any ballistic missile defense (BMD) capability.

Additionally — without the Baseline 9 upgrade — the ships will not be wired into the Navy’s emerging Naval Integrated Fire Control-Counter Air (NIFC-CA (pronounced: nifk-kah)) that would allow destroyers to download targeting information from assets outside of the range of their SPY-1D radars to attack air and BMD threats with the Raytheon Standard Missile 6 (SM-6).

The budget line item in FY 2016 budget reduces modernization funding by $63.1 million — about what it would cost to upgrade a ship to Baseline 9 — which precluded the Baseline 9 upgrade for Howard.

USS Mustin (DDG-89) in 2014. Mustin is one of five Arleigh Burke destroyers that won't receive a ballistic missile defense (BMD) upgrade do to a reduction of funding as part of the Navy's FY 2016 budget request. US Navy Photo

USS Mustin (DDG-89) in 2014. Mustin is one of five Arleigh Burke destroyers that won’t receive a ballistic missile defense (BMD) upgrade due to a reduction of funding as part of the Navy’s FY 2016 budget request. US Navy Photo

Equivalent cuts to the Burke modernization line in the Navy’s Future Years Defense Plan (FYDP) — about $500 million over five years, USNI News understands — created a knock-on effect for the McCampbell, Mustin, Chafee and Bainbridge modernizations preventing the service from buying long-lead materials for the ships and allowing even a basic BMD capability, USNI News has learned.

When asked about the reductions following a House appropriations hearing on Thursday, Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. Jonathan Greenert told USNI News the cuts were a result of hard fiscal choices and reflected the service’s priorities.

“When I bring the budget to the Secretary [of the Navy] and say ‘Here are the mandates. You saw the priorities’ and then you get to modernization and asymmetric capability and say ‘Here’s where we stand versus the other important matters that we need, I recommend that we’re going to have to defer these modernizations’ and that’s when the ballistic missile defense modernization came out,” he said.

Currently, the Navy’s number one priority is the $100 billion design and construction effort for a new nuclear ballistic missile submarine to replace the aging Ohio-class boomers (SSB).

Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.) — chairman of the House Armed Services Seapower and Projection Forces subcommittee — said the reduction in the modernization was shortsighted.

“This is just another example of a critical upgrade being deferred by budget cuts. This decision was not strategy-driven, it was budget-driven. Demand for ballistic missile defense capacity and for ships that can be integrated into Navy anti-aircraft battle networks is higher than ever,” Forbes told USNI News on Tuesday following an earlier version of this post.
“These kind of decisions ought to be based on what we need for national security, not what we want to spend.”

Baseline 9

USS John Paul Jones (DDG 53) launches a Standard Missile-6 (SM-6) during a live-fire test of the ship's aegis weapons system on June 19, 2014. US Navy Photo

USS John Paul Jones (DDG 53) launches a Standard Missile-6 (SM-6) during a live-fire test of the ship’s aegis weapons system on June 19, 2014. US Navy Photo

Begun in 2007, the Baseline 9 upgrade was designed as a transformational upgrade that would not only replace aging the 1980s AN/UYK-43 32-bit military standard (MILSPEC) computers with much more easily upgradeable and powerful modern commercial computers but also give ships more flexibility in the targets they could handle.

Baseline 9 Types

9A:Upgrade for Ticonderoga-class cruisers that does not include BMD capabilities.

9C: Upgrades Arleigh Burke guided missile destroyers with the Lockheed Martin Multi-Mission Signal Processor that will allow the destroyers to switch between BMD and the air defense role.

9D: Is a variant of the 9C program for new construction ships, starting with the planned John Finn (DDG-113).

9E: Is the Baseline 9 variant for the Navy’s Aegis Ashore program.

Legacy BMD capable ships make a choice between BMD and AAW modes.

Initially, the service had planned to upgrade all of its Burkes to Baseline 9 but decided last year to limit the upgrades to earlier Flight I and II DDGs citing the time and the cost of the upgrades.

Instead, the service decided to include HME upgrades and an install a BMD upgrade on the legacy MILSPEC computers on 21 of the 28 Flight I/IIs, Navy officials told USNI News last year.

The five Flight IIAs in the scheme will not see even the limited BMD capability installed in the older ships, according to a draft of the Navy’s FY 2016 fielding profile obtained by USNI News.

Officials at Lockheed Martin — the prime contractor for the Aegis modernization — told USNI News in February the company was working with the service on ways lower costs ways to increase the BMD capabilities of the Flight I/II upgrades.

  • Ctrot

    Kill the LCS program and put all the money toward new / upgraded Burkes.

    • publius_maximus_III

      Amen, Brother.

    • Frank Langham

      Ctrot seems to possess the base modicum of intellect. …
      The fact that MDA could not find their posterior with both hands and a flare-gun did not worry me NEARLY so much as that, NOW, our own evolved naval culture seems to have rather suddenly gone off the tracks. …
      C4SR >>> Attack Subs >>> ASW >>> AEGIS Integrated Battle Compute >>> AEGIS Platforms >>> and a FULL quiver of active ordnance (full VLS batteries) AND reserve ordnance (ready reloads) … We are about to be swarmed … Strategically.

    • old guy

      Where do you think the money is going to?

      • Ctrot

        Huh? The money in the LCS program is going to the LCS program. My suggestion was to kill that program and move the money to buy or upgrade real warships, IE Burkes.

        • old guy

          HOW DARE YOU? Would you end the ASWP?*

          *American Shipyard Welfare Program Or asswipe

        • old guy

          that’s what I meant. You watch, the LCS (and associated programs) will become a one ohm shunt across the treasury.

      • Dan Holland

        Ummm, four F-35C’s?

    • Jon

      Cost of one LCS would upgrade all 5 ships with money left over. I guess having a useless LCS to show the flag (if it can break away from the pier) is more important than giving 5x DDGs an exponential increase in their combat capabilities…

      • old guy

        C’bon, right on, Jon.

    • Larry

      I personally don’t want to send a big DDG into the waters the LCS’s will go.
      The LCS’s will work so much better as trip wires so the bigger costly ships get enough notice to prepare defenses instead of a surprise attack. That is what cheap small disposable ships are for and why they are indispensable. Even a billion Dollar Aegis DDG can’t keep everything on 24/7 and need time to turn their defenses on. Hopefully the LCS with its small crew is fast enough to get out of harms way before to many of the crew die. But that is their jobs.

      In time the DDG’s will get their Ages upgrades when the Republicans take the Whitehouse when it will be to late to build the LCS’s you sacrificed.

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  • Frank Langham

    This is a VERY bad move … The WORST. … THE ONLY expenditures which should be sacrosanct are attack subs, AEGIS global sensor fusion and AEGIS battle-compute integration. I shudder to think what the brass might deem more important than THIS !! I would rather stop-work on a CVN or, as Ctrot advises, scale back or delay the “Fast Frigate” program … About the ONLY thing that is more important is that we must ramp-up AEGIS coordinated ordnance production and top off ALL of our VLS batteries (WITH FRANTIC FERVOR ! )

  • Steve Skubinna

    We shouldn’t even have a Department of Defense. It ought to be scrapped and the resulting peace dividend put towards the Jobs for Jihadis program. You know, addressing root causes of terrorism.

    • Larry

      No, i think you should go join ISIS and tell them how they should get jobs. You know, the root causes of Terrorism.

      • Steve Skubinna

        Not my department, that’s up to Marie Harf and Jan Psaki and the other rocket surgeons.

  • Joe Willoughby

    Question: I’m a proud Navy Dad and my daughter is a FC SPY radar tech finishing up C-School at Dahlgren ATRC. She will be assigned to the USS Pinckney (DDG-91) home ported in San Diego. The ship is currently in dry dock undergoing $40 million worth of maintenance and upgrades. Will the ship receive BMD upgrades during this downtime?

    • Dan

      No, 91 is B/L 7. She will not receive AEGIS Modernization outside of B/L 7 upgrades for a long while.

      • Joe Willoughby

        Dan, Thank you very much for the clarification. My daughter kind of figured that out based on her training track at Dahlgren. Some of her fellow students immediately go to a follow on BMD course prior to reporting. She is going straight to the ship.

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  • Russ Neal

    You may recall that Great Britain onetime had a navy as well. Her welfare state ate her navy and ours is doing the same.

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  • madskills

    Get rid of 2 F-35s and upgrade NAVY SHIPS. Are these guys really that stupid. It’s the Navy, guys. Wonderful.

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