Home » Aviation » PEO Carriers: CVN-79 Will Have a New Radar, Save $180M Compared to Dual Band Radar


PEO Carriers: CVN-79 Will Have a New Radar, Save $180M Compared to Dual Band Radar

Aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) sits pier side in the erly morning light at Newport News Shipbuilding in 2014. US Navy Photo

Aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) sits pier side in the erly morning light at Newport News Shipbuilding in 2014. US Navy Photo

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy (CVN-79) will have a different radar than the USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78), bringing the new Enterprise Air Surveillance Radar (EASR) into the carrier fleet one ship earlier than planned and saving the program about $180 million, according to the Navy.

Program Executive Officer for Aircraft Carriers Rear Adm. Tom Moore said the new EASR was meant to enter the fleet in the amphibious assault ship LHA-8 and in USS Enterprise (CVN-80), but a series of events made the early introduction possible.

Ford has the Dual Band Radar (DBR) originally built for the truncated Zumwalt (DDG-1000) class of guided missile destroyer. When the Navy planned to build 27 destroyers, the cost of the DBR would have dropped sufficiently to make it a good fit for the carriers. But without that economy of scale, the carrier program had decided to seek a new radar for CVN-80 and beyond.

“I already have to procure a new radar for 80,” Moore told USNI News after a presentation at the Credit Suisse/McAleese 2016 Defense Programs Conference.
80 is delivering in 2027. CVN-79, which really is not going to become operational until Nimitz (CVN-68) leaves in 2025, is such a short gap, so I went back to the warfare systems guys and said, hey, the radar that we’re looking at for 80 … is there an opportunity to pull that back a little bit to the left and make it available for CVN-79? As it turned out, LHA-8 needed a radar anyway, and the Pentagon had an ongoing effort called basically the Common Affordable Radar – if you want it to be affordable it’s got to be common – so both N98 and N95 and N96, the three resource sponsors, got together with the [Navy acquisition chief Sean Stackley’s] office and said, hey, let’s put a series of requirements together for a radar that would meet the needs of both the aircraft carrier and the big deck amphib.

“We had this working group, they came back to us probably late last summer and said it’s possible,” he continued.
“There are off-the-shelf systems, it’s not developmental, that will meet these requirements.”

Moore said the Program Executive Office for Integrated Warfare Systems would release a request for proposals (RfP) around May, with bids due back in late summer.

“We already know there are radars out there that meet the technical specs that we need, so introducing some competition here will drive cost down,” Moore said.

Whatever radar PEO IWS selects will be less capable than the DBR, which Moore said is fine – “a $500 million radar on an aircraft carrier is overkill at this point,” he said of DBR.

The radar selected for the carriers and amphibs will likely only have volume search capability and need a fire control complement to go with it. Moore said the Navy may use a SPQ-9 fire control system or something comparable.

He also noted that the Nimitz-class carriers’ AN/SPS-48 and AN-SPS-49 radars were becoming obsolete and could be replaced by the new EASR, meaning the new radar would fill three ship class’s requirements.

“From what PEO IWS tells me, it’s a very low technical-risk solution,” Moore said.
“I suspect it will be a robust competition”

The ability to bring in this new radar one ship early – creating a one-time savings of about $180 million, Moore said – was primarily due to the Navy’s decision to switch Kennedy’s construction schedule to a two-phased delivery.

“That gave me a little extra time. If I had to deliver CVN-79 in 2022 when it was originally designed, it wouldn’t have had the radar on it,” Moore said.
“The two-phased strategy gives me the lowest possible cost for the ship, and the radar is a big piece of that.”

  • NavySubNuke

    As long as you can control the requirements – and have an adult in the room who keeps things from getting ridiculous – commonality makes a lot of sense and saves a lot of money. The trouble comes with projects like the F35 that isn’t really common at all (~30%) yet leaves a bad taste in everyone’s mouth to think common programs never work. Sure this example is carriers and amphibs – but other common programs are possible such as a new common ICBM/SLBM.

    • Curtis Conway

      Amen.

      • old guy

        Another case of SWIPE (Shipyards Welfare Incentive Program Expense)

  • Curtis Conway

    AN/SPY-1F would do the job.

    • Secundius

      @ Curtis Conway.

      To small, the AN/SPY-1F is designed to be used on smaller Combatant’s like the LCS classes…

      • Curtis Conway

        The aircraft carrier radar does many things, but its primary job is to track aircraft (SPY radars are a fire control track quality) and work with the UPX-29 to put the squack on the track. The SPY-1F does that very well, and at the greater height will have a significantly greater surface detection range (even periscopes) than the numbers posted for it on the small boys. Also, many of the SPY radars share components, so upgrades are possible. There are frigates out there that have the SPY-1F on them, and they simply do not put out enough power out (due to the # of transmitting elements) to do Ballistic Missile Defense, but is more than capable of doing anything a AN/SPS-48E ! and with a lot better availability numbers. Its the cheapest SPY in any fleet, and should be what is on the LCS/SSC/FF. The more you buy the cheaper they get and to put it on every LHA/LHD/CVN along with the new little FF would really keep the cost down. For the most part SPY school is Spy school until you get to the model specific differences.

        • Secundius

          @ Curtis Conway.

          The AN/SPY-1K is the Smallest of the SPY systems and was designed for small combatants like the LCS classes. The AN/SPY-3 is designed for the Zumwalt class and the Gerald R. Ford class. There are currently no plan’s to mount the system on Nimitz class Aircraft Carriers. The AN/SPY-4 system was cancelled…

          • Curtis Conway

            sI there a SPY-1K installed on any surface combatant today? SPY-1Fs are out and about and have shown their metal in the(exercised) combat environment in the Northern Latitudes. ‘Bird In The Hand’ is low risk, and capable of supporting the entire SM-2 missile line.

          • Secundius

            @ Curtis Conway.

            You must not have read it, but JFK is not getting SPY system. JFK is getting variant of AN/SPS-49(V)1 EASR system…

          • Curtis Conway

            Oh . . . I read it, and could not believe what I read. Once again ANOTHER rotating mechanical monster. Non-rotating 3D sensors offer so much more than anything provided by a rotating radar. Even the relatively inexpensive SPY-1F (integrated with the UPX-29 with BVP) would provide far greater service and reliability. If I never see another rotating radar (except on a fishing boat) it will be too soon. The AESA radars offer even more capability other than just tracking. We need capable, versatile, and inexpensive capability with growth potential into things like comms and EW for the future. The ’49’ does not, and can not, do that. The SPY-1F(V) mounted that high off the water provides a picture any carrier CATC would drool over. Putting it on the LHA/LHD/CVN and FF’s will provide commonality, and a growth path for a NATO Ally as well.

          • Secundius

            @ Curtis Conway.

            What’s 4,500 Lives, compared too $180-Million USD. in cost saving’s. Any Corporate “Bean-Counter” will tell you that’s a fair Trade-Off…

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  • Marjus Plaku

    What? Volume search only for carriers and amphibs and decades old fire control for critical weapons systems? Jesus, hate to be the one to tell thousands of families your loved ones were lost because we wanted a cheap common radar for our capitol ships. So basically the NAVY invested billions in the most capable radar ever on a ship in the DBR and now will only produce one set of it? Typical government strategy.

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  • Chesapeakeguy

    I always cringe when I see or read predictions of ‘money saved’ when it comes to Pentagon spending, or any government spending for that matter, especially when it has to do with a future project.

  • Michael Rich

    Just wondering, why does a Carrier need such a powerful radar anyway? It’s usually in a CSG with 5 other destroyers/cruisers all with these high powered radars.

    • Secundius

      @ Michael Rich.

      That’s where the “RUB” is, with an ever smaller shrinking Fleet. Ship’s are having to perform Double Duty Assignments, including Aircraft Carriers. It’s only a matter of time when Carrier’s go out on Patrol’s as LONE WOLF’s…

      • Michael Rich

        I highly doubt this is the reason. And we would never send Carriers out as lone wolfs.

        • Secundius

          @ Michael Rich.

          As little as ten-years ago, a typical Carrier Strike Group consisted of ~20-ship’s. In 2015, that has drop to 6-ship’s.
          One Aircraft Carrier
          One Cruiser
          Two Destroyer’s
          Two Frigate’s…

          • old guy

            ..and if the cruiser is some kind of upgrade of the DD1000, and the destroyers are DD1000s, and if the frigates are LCSs, THEY are on their own.

  • Ed Pate

    It is going to have to be some incredible piece of technology to replace both the SPS-48 and 49!

  • publius_maximus_III

    Radar -almost- saved the fleet at Pearl Harbor in the early days of WW-II, if we had only believed in the emerging technology’s capability at the time.
    .
    During a later battle in the Solomons, six U.S. destroyers decisively defeated
    four Japanese destroyers in a midnight battle, thanks in large measure to the
    U.S. having better radar. Search for “Battle of Vella Gulf” for more details. My Dad was a
    pharmacist mate aboard the USS Dunlap during that battle — no U.S. casualties,
    but three Japanese destroyers were sent to the bottom.
    .
    More than any other capability, even weaponry, early warning of an approaching
    enemy is the key to survival on the high seas, IMO.

    • Secundius

      @ publius_maximus_III

      Actually Nine USN Ship’s, five-Cruisers and four-Destroyers under joint command of Read Admiral’s Daniael Callaghan and Norman Scott against eight-IJN Destroyers under the command of Reard Admiral Raizo Tanaka. Also went under the names of, The Battle of Tassafaronga, The Battle of Lunga Point, and The Fourth Battle of Savo Island. Both Callaghan and Scott killed in battle. Two Kidd class Guided Missile Destroyers, named after them…

  • Secundius

    One say’s AN/SPY-4 or S4R radar. Two say’s Thales SMART-L radar. And three say’s, I Don’t Know…

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  • Secundius

    Man I tell you, try to get Radar Information for a particular ship, is like “Trying To Pulling Teeth on a Rambunctious Five-Year Old”. The Radar to be used on the CVN-79 JFK, is a variant of the Ratheon AN/SPS-49(V)1 EASR (new Enterprise Air Surveillance Radar)…

  • Dan Tootle

    Radars aboard a CV are tasked with several missions: 1) wide area surveillance for both airborne and surface target detection and classification, 2) carrier air traffic control for aircraft arrivals/departures and local airspace management, 3) fire control for onboard defensive weapon systems target detection and engagement, 4) cooperative engagement collaboration with other carrier task force assets (destroyers, frigates, cruisers, and E-2D/AEW units), and 5) surface navigation.
    In the past this has meant that a CV carried multiple types of radars, each specific to the type of mission that provided specific detection and tracking capabilities. Hopefully there are CV radar systems coming into availability that can combine multi-mission support into fewer radar types that reduces the complexity of support and the need to control for mutual electromagnetic interference that can reduce the effectiveness of the installed systems.
    There are times when the CV will be assigned missions when it must provide its own surveillance, detection, tracking, and control functions. So the CV has to be designed and equipped to do that, as well as to operate in conjunction with multi-unit task forces.

    • Secundius

      @ Dan Tootle

      Actually there is, its called “Cobra King”. It’s two AESA radars uisng “S’ band and “X” band radar signals. Right now its being tested as a future AEGIS radar replacement…

      • Dan Tootle

        Can you provide more information about the system characteristics for the Cobra King system such as: is it a rotating or fixed antenna system, will it cover all or a reasonable number of the CV missions, will it be a “common” installation to be installed on enough platforms to make it logistically and operationally affordable, is it compatible with embarked air wing electronics and personnel safety, how soon will be arriving in fleet use, etc.?

        • Secundius

          @ Dan Tootle.

          Other than a few picture of the system, there are NO specifications on the system itself. I guess if I really tried, Could look up the Dimensions of the Ship and do a Ratiometric Scaling of the Physical System. But for the Electronic itself NO. Jane’s Radar and Electronics Warfare Systems, might have so useful Information on the system. But, I wouldn’t “Hold My Breath” on getting any viable information results…

          • Dan Tootle

            Here is all that I could find on the Cobra King system that is installed on a missile testing ship that is operated by the USAF.

            “The Cobra King mobile radar system comprises S- and X-band phased radars to detect missile and space launches and provide high-quality radar data to DOD. The state-of-the-art system is mounted on the USNS Howard O. Lorenzen, which will be operated by Military Sealift Command under a support agreement with AFTAC, according to and Air Forcerelease. MSC is the primary transportation provider for the Defense Department.

            The USNS Lorenzen completed its final trials in 2013, successfully testing the ship’s propulsion, damage control, electrical systems, habitability, navigation, supply and deck operations. The ship will be operated by a mixed crew of contractors and military technicians that will operate the radar system, as well as civilians that will navigate the ship.

            The radar system uses two large, active electronically scanned array radars. The Lorenzen will use S-Band radar to conduct large volume and multiple target collections, and X-band to provide high-resolution data on objects of interest and to conduct searches.”

          • Secundius

            @ Dan Tootle.

            Yup, the same site. That’s as far as I got too…

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