Home » Aviation » Lockheed Martin Advocates Accelerating Aegis, SPY-1 Upgrades


Lockheed Martin Advocates Accelerating Aegis, SPY-1 Upgrades

USS Lassen (DDG-82) underway in the Philippine Sea in 2015. US Navy Photo

USS Lassen (DDG-82) underway in the Philippine Sea in 2015. US Navy Photo

Lockheed Martin would like to accelerate both its Aegis cruiser and destroyer modernization efforts and its AN/SPY-1 radar refurbishment program, in the hope of closing a “capability capacity gap” the surface navy faces, the company’s director of Aegis U.S. Navy Programs said Monday.

Jim Sheridan told reporters that “the Navy faces a significant integrated air and missile defense capability capacity gap” – and solving that gap doesn’t just mean more ships, but more ships with the right combat capabilities onboard. He said he believes a solution to this problem is to accelerate modernization efforts on cruisers and various flights of the Arleigh Burke-class destroyers.

“There’s talk about increasing the size of the fleet, and that’s great, we’ll see where that actually goes,” he said.
“But it’s not just numbers, it’s the numbers of ships with the right capability. So I believe we’re really facing a capability capacity gap. How is it that we can transition more of these integrated air and missile defense-capable ships, be it destroyers or cruisers, be it through modernization or new construction; how can we get more of those ships out there?”

Aegis Combat System modernizations began in 2009 for guided-missile cruisers and in 2010 for guided-missile destroyer, he said, and “I’d like to see the pace of the modernizations pick up a little bit.” The Navy had planned to modernize all 62 in-service Flight I, II and IIA destroyers but in its Fiscal Year 2015 budget submission scaled back the Flight I and II modernization plans and canceled five Flight IIA upgrades altogether due to budget constraints. Cruiser modernization efforts were also disrupted due to spending caps; the Navy wanted to save money by laying up 11 of its 22 cruisers and modernizing them down the road, whereas Congress has pushed a plan that would force two ship modernizations a year.

Sheridan said Lockheed Martin, its vendors and the repair shipyards have the capacity to increase modernization rates for the two ship classes.

“I think if you were to ask just about anybody, if the resources were there could you increase production rate? Yeah, absolutely,” he said.
“I think if you went to the modernization shipyards, could you deal with more ships? Absolutely. Could (Lockheed Martin’s facility in) Moorestown deal with increased production to support more ships? Yeah, absolutely. Our head of production in Moorestown always reminds me that back in the day he was building for two cruisers per year and three destroyers per year, so that’s five sets (of Aegis Combat System equipment), so there’s no reason to believe that given the right resources” those parties couldn’t increase their production rates again.

In another effort to bring more capability to 21 large surface combatants, Lockheed Martin is upgrading the SPY-1 air search radar on the Navy’s Flight I and II Arleigh Burke-class destroyers. That refurbishment effort involves adding a low-noise amplifier to the existing antenna, and marrying that equipment to the Aegis Baseline 5.4 Integrated Air and Missile Defense combat system software.

The refurbishment effort adds a “significant integrated air and missile defense improvement in an affordable near-term path to improve the reliability, maintainability as well as the capability of those platforms,” Sheridan said.
“I believe we should accelerate the combined [U.S. Navy]/Missile Defense Agency SPY refurbishment program of record to upgrade the sensor and combat system performance of several of our Flight I and Flight II destroyers through the installation of SPY-1 low-noise amplifiers and … Baseline 5.4. This combination would yield integrated air and missile defense capability and dramatic improvements to every applicable performance metric.”

“I’m suggesting it should be accelerated,” he made clear.

Additionally, Sheridan said he hoped the Navy would consider an additional upgrade to its Flight IIA DDGs, swapping the current radars to a solid state SPY-1 radar that was developed for the MDA’s Long Range Discrimination Radar.

“We should establish the Navy requirement or program of record to install solid state SPY-1 radars to select Flight IIA destroyers,” he said, noting as many as 36 could be upgraded.
“These ships comprise the core of the surface fleet deep into the 2040s, and this material radar upgrade is essential to the current and future relevance versus complex and developing threats.”

The Navy already plans to put a solid state radar, the Raytheon-built SPY-6 Air and Missile Defense Radar, on its Flight III DDGs, and Sheridan said the solid state SPY-1 addition would have the potential to touch the largest number of ships and would bring “pretty significant” capability increases to each hull that received the new radar. He added that the solid state SPY-1 radar upgrade – which would require replacing the antenna and installing a multi-mission signal processor on the back end – would use the same subassembly and therefore leverage the same logistics as the MDA’s LRDR.

  • Cynic

    Shocked. I’m positively shocked that a Lockheed rep feels that incredibly expensive SPY and AEGIS upgrades are a national security imperative.

  • John Locke

    LOL!
    A defense contractor wants to accelerate its own program to close a gap. Oh how benevolent of them.
    Don’t be fooled. It’s always, always about the money.

    • Curtis Conway

      AND . . . in this case, it is money well invested vice spent. Every SPY-1 should be so upgraded ASAP.

  • NavySubNuke

    If you really want to accelerate it to close capability gaps then earn yourself some goodwill by voluntarily cutting your profit margin on the contract — otherwise you are just trying to drum up business.
    Sure you are in business to make money but if you really want to make the world a safer place faster than cut your margin to 1 – 2%.

    • NEC338x

      I’m not sure how much that would help. With cost-plus-fixed-fee contracting, you’ll just get LM creative accounting on the “cost” side. The fee will go down and everyone will get a pat on the back during the walk on the back nine. /cynic

    • Aubrey

      It is something of a good sign….LockMart is seeking to improve another profit center because they may very well feel & understand the headwinds building against the LCS.

      I for one would be fine with stuffing their pockets with cash if it is for something that, you know, actually works.

    • Donald Carey

      1 to 2 % profit would not cover the opportunity cost nor would it allow sufficient income to allow stockholders adequate return on their investment. Taking a basic business course would open your eyes.

      • NavySubNuke

        Nice ad hominem troll – if you were smarter and less arrogant you would realize that a multi-billion dollar corporation doesn’t have to make a huge profit on every deal and can actually do better in the long term by not trying to do so.
        Nice try though sweetie.

        • Donald Carey

          If you knew more about economics (and had a little better reading comprehension – nowhere did I advocate “huge” profits), you would know I am correct.

          p.s. There is nothing arrogant about stating facts. You really do need to learn more about the economics of running a business.

          • NavySubNuke

            Again I didn’t say you were wrong – I just pointed out that you were thinking to small and not looking at the big picture.
            This is also something you would understand if you were smarter and less arrogant. But do go on thinking you know more about economics than me – I really could care less about the opinions of minions like you.

          • Donald Carey

            So I am a minion am I? And just who is the arrogant one? As for your vast knowledge base, where did you go to business school? I learned business as part of getting my Pharmacy degree at U.N.C. Chapel Hill and the later as part of running both Retail, Hospital and Institutional pharmacies for over 30 years, and not just as staff, either.

          • NavySubNuke

            This is exactly what I mean about you being small minded and not understanding what I am talking about. Your arrogance causes you to lash out and list a bunch of garbage no one cares about. I’m glad to hear you learned so much about business while getting your pharmacy degree though – maybe you should have taken a little less of what you were dispensing.
            Once again – the issue isn’t the profit (or lack of profit) they make on these individual upgrades – remember we are talking about a multi-billion dollar corporation not your corner mom and pop pharmacy. Nice try though.
            A good example of this from a world you might understand is CVS announcing they will sell a generic form of Adrenaclick for $109.99. They could have sold the same thing for $209.99 and it would still have been cheaper than the alternative and increased their own profits. Instead they are selling it lower than they have to (though who knows what their actual profit margin will be since unlike DoD contractors pharmacy’s aren’t limited by law by how much % profit they can make on any given deal) and making a big deal about it to try and earn some good will.

          • Donald Carey

            Still insulting me I see – you sound like a typical Liberal when someone disagrees with them. Your example about CVS (who I worked for at one time), shows your basic lack of understanding – CVS always does what benefits them the most – taking a “loss” for goodwill is just another part of their advertising budget. Their primary goal is not being good Pharmacists. Just like Walmart who sold drugs at a loss to kill off smaller drug stores, their aim is to dominate the market so they can maximize profit, in the long run.

          • NavySubNuke

            Donald if you were smarter you would realize I’m not actually insulting you – I’m speaking truth to you.
            Also if you were smarter you would realize that this:
            “CVS always does what benefits them the most – taking a “loss” for goodwill is just another part of their advertising budget”
            is exactly what I have been talking about the entire time.
            I’m sorry I didn’t use words small enough for you to understand – but that is really your problem more than mine.
            Nice try though your rantings really are entertaining.

  • Horn

    Kinda scary when a defense contractor talks sense. It would be nice to get those cruisers modernized sooner rather than later.

    • Cabildo

      Our CGs need to be replaced, not modernized. They’re all rapidly approaching the end of their design service lives, have been used hard for 30 or so years, and are going to be increasingly expensive to keep operational. Throwing new radar and computing equipment on them isn’t going to change the fundamental fact that they are very old, and weren’t very robustly designed in the first place. I think the reality is that the FLT III Arleigh Burkes will wind up replacing them, and we will be without active cruisers in service for some time.

      • Horn

        I actually agree with you to a point, but we can modernize half the cruiser fleet to extend the availability of our cruisers for another 10-20 years. That should buy enough time until a cruiser replacement can be put in the works. Then you can just reuse the modern equipment when you scrap the ships, like what they did with the OHPs.

      • Curtis Conway

        Cruiser replacement will not happen in the short term. The SPY-1 upgrade program brings the tide in for all so equipped to a much more efficient level.

    • The Navy is the one who is foot dragging on cruiser modernization. It took an act of Congress to get the program moving at a mere two ships at a time. As for the new Burkes, AMDR packs 12 lbs of sh.. into a 10 lb bucket. You have to remember that after Aegis missed deployment on the CGNs, the system was scaled down to fit into a Spruance hull. When Congress complained about the price of the “Aegis destroyer”, the Navy started calling it a “cruiser” to justify the cost. When the Burkes came along, Congress explicitly limited the capability of the hull so that the cost would stay in the “destroyer” realm.
      The thing you have to consider when you are talking Aegis Weapons Systems is that history has proven that the inherent system design has enough margin to take on roles that were never conceived of in the initial design concept; as an example Ballistic Missile Defense. The system was even capable of shooting down a satellite with a modified SPY-1A radar on Lake Erie.
      Foot dragging is the thing that causes costs to escalate. The Navy needs to better utilize the nation’s shipbuilding industrial capacity or that industry will simply disappear. At least the Aegis cruisers can transit the Panama Canal with their shaft seals intact – think about it!

      • Alan Knapp

        Diogenes is correct about the evolution of the destroyer into a cruiser for the Ticonderoga class … only correction is the Lake Erie is a SPY-1B(V) radar that I’m sure has been upgraded several times independent of BMD. I was a Plankowner SPYGUY on Gettysburg (CG-64) … the capability of the Aegis Combat System is truly remarkable, but something tells me it needs work on the ECCM front. We did our Combat Systems Qualification Trial with the Arleigh Burke (DDG-51) and saw several ECCM modes that were effective way back then.

        • I stand corrected – even though the 1A antenna has a better noise figure. I seem to have SPY-1A on my mind at the moment for some reason.

          • Curtis Conway

            Its replacement of the TWTs. Need to get that going to increase readiness, and the ECCM concerns is mostly software.

      • Curtis Conway

        EXACTLY!!! As one who lived through it in CG-47 PRECOM I can tell you there were no more disappointed when the flush hand of Aegis platforms did not transpire with the Frigate to complete the set. Today, technology exist to do the same thing, provide the same capability at much less cost, and put it on a existing hull (National Security Cutter). Two of these for the price of one DDG-51 Flt III with 10′ shallower draft really increases its potential operating area, and if built with Ice-hardened hull will be an all-ocean platform able to handle any task.

        • Frank Langham

          The Russians are building nuclear ice-breakers, capable of many roles and missions. … I still do propose that we should refit one of Britain’s North Sea mega-rigs and tow it up to the arctic circle, for use as an all-purpose, uh, research platform, replete with a submarine mooring bell, at hovering depth. I wager many of those rigs are sitting idle, with the current glut of cheaper crude. Call it an EBA (Expeditionary Base, Arctic). And, before you laugh too hard, recall that we’ve been dragging that humongous X-Band Sea-Based Radar around for decades.

          • Ask Curtis about that nuclear powered BMD Icebreaker idea of his.

          • Frank Langham

            I trust any of Curtis’ plans for a nuke ice-breaker and I concur, wholeheartedly. I presume a full AMD suite and a large VLS farm, as well as ASW, sub-tender and helo ops, duties. … Lots of cargo space, for the occasional cold Winter. … A veritable prepper’s homestead.

      • Frank Langham

        LoL … I do not hear too many experts shouting for more Zumwalts.

        • Curtis Conway

          Can’t afford them, but will learn a lot from the engineering contained there in. Probably could have learned most of it from an LBTS, but going North of the Arctic Circle teaches one a lot that an LBTS will NEVER reveal. How about it DD-1000? Just a couple of weeks steaming in storms above the Arctic Circle?! We’ll see if we still have a Real Navy!

          • Frank Langham

            DD-1000 make for a swell test-bed and, just as soon as one can survive the Panama Canal, we should send one up to the Arctic Circle (snicker).

          • Curtis Conway

            Well , DD-1000 almost survived the Panama Canal.

  • Frank Langham

    I would recommend NOT performing “spendy” upgrades to ANY of the FLIGHT I (the oldest hulls) DDGs but, rather, to relegate FLIGHT ONE to less risky and less demanding tasks, such as contraband interdiction, anti-piracy, fishery policing, good will co-operations, Helicopter Ops training and other support roles. … Sure … Provide all the necessary Comms and CIDS upgrades, as well as basic life-extension maintenance but it would be wasteful and even foolhardy to spend very much on the oldest of our aging Burke hulls. … Better to apply most of the available budget to those ships which will last 10 years longer.

    • Curtis Conway

      Frank, this is where we will part company. The Aegis Destroyer (any flight) is still a first class combatant in the modern battle space, and that is with the SPY-1D as is. Upgraded it is much more deadly and effective. A DDG-51 Flt I assigned to any formation can handle ANY mission assigned and provides a ready deck to any helo needing fuel or a place to sit down. Not too shabby!

      • Frank Langham

        After further consideration, and citing Rowden’s clearly practical logic for performing extensive refit and upgrades (and commensurate life extension overhaul) to the VERY old Ticonderoga class CGs (laid down in the early 1980s) I do, therefore, relent and defer to superior logic. The facts seem to confirm that planned Ticonderoga upgrades are not likely to outlast those much older ships (which are also more than just hulls). We can STILL buy a restored ’65 Ford Mustang, or a ’74 Chevy pickup, for a song.
        Can I shine your shoes, Curtis ? (not that they need it).

        • Under Admiral Arleigh Burke, the US Navy embarked on the FRAM program, wherein straight deck carriers were overhauled to put an angle deck on them. The program also included other surface combatants.
          Here are his recommendations, in order of preference:

          1) Build new ships,
          2) Give more time to maintenance,
          3) Accomplish more extensive overhauls,
          4) Provide more money for maintenance,
          5) Institute better training for maintenance personnel, or
          6) Create a large-scale modernization and rehabilitation program to fill the gap until new ships can be built.

          Sounds like we’ve been here before. Still you have to watch out for requirements creep. When they FRAMed Midway, they blew the entire budget for that year.

          • Frank Langham

            I hear that. …
            I do hope that the defense and petroleum industries, as well as western banks will soon realize that their own survival (and any future profits) totally depend on detecting, managing and defeating a rapidly proliferating bevy of very serious threats. … Maybe then, they will reduce costs and even chip-in, rather than devising ways to pad contracts and inflate costs. I don’t know how well all this cheap hardware, that the Chinese are cranking out, will perform in battle but I do know that they make a pretty good pocket knife, for about 20% f the cost of the American design that they ripped off. I also own a few of their flashlights and they also made the Mil-Spec BDU cargo pants that I am wearing. … With some luck, we’ll all be running around without any pants, when the dust settles.

          • Curtis Conway

            “…detecting, managing and defeating a rapidly proliferating bevy of very serious threats.” ASCMs and TBMs! Every surface combatant should have a defense against these threats, and if ‘everyone is to become a ‘shooter’ ” then that 9-RMA AN/SPY-6(V) should be quite a production & installation program right down to the amphibs during future yard periods. The Mk41 VLS should be installed on every one of them. FORCEnet-21 will fill in most of the other gaps, as will the organic AN/SLQ-32 SEWIP III.

          • Frank Langham

            In a perfect world, with unlimited funds and time. Our POTUS does not carry a machine gun (he has a Secret Service Security Detail) and we do not arm every fuel truck that goes in with the Abrams Main Battle Tanks. … I am just shaking my head, here.

          • Curtis Conway

            Now Frank you disappoint me. This is not a truck accompanying a tank. We must keep things in perspective, and an American Frigate has always been something that any prudent surface combatant from another nation must give due regard and treat with respect (which the British, French, and the Barbary Pirates found out the hard way), or at least until the advent of the LCS/frigate. If you have ever had an opportunity to visit an Aegis platform you will come to appreciate not only the mere complexity of the system, but true simplicity of the idea of the combat system functions. It is all based around a timely and rock solid situational awareness tools, excellent display and dissemination systems, and a weapons control system. Pull the term Aegis out of the title, and equip the beast with these very capable tools. Even the TRS-4D with four (4) fixed array faces is preferable over a rotating radar, but the 9-RMA SPY-6(V) is obviously better, even with three array faces. The Lockheed Martin COMBATTS-21 can handle the display and dissemination tasking with a few more consoles. Add the SQQ-89 with a tail, VDS and an Mk32 triple torpedo tubes, and all we need is a missile field, all placed on the NSC hull. We can upgrade as time goes on, but base sticker price is $1Billion (what Tico cost upon commissioning) so two+ for the price of one DDG-51 Flt III. Gets the surface combatant count up faster, and adds a shallower draft vessel to the battle group. This frigate, combined with Lightening Carriers, and a new VSTOL/STOVL AEW&C aircraft that could operate off of any US Navy flight deck would revolutionize (read game changing capability) the new surface combat world, and that’s before we start bolting on missile launchers on all the amphibs.

          • Frank Langham

            Yes, C. … I have spent time (on duty) in an AEGIS CIC. (USS BRISCOE DD-977) and, except for SSNs, their ain’t nothing better than a DDG. I would definitely trade 10 Burkes for 16 shallow-draft FFGs (with commensurate AAW/ASW, AMDR, TERN, etc.) … Frankly, up-armed P-8 Poseidons might be even better, in many situations.
            …. Gotta have the money but, yeah … Let’s see what we would be willing to trade-up from.

          • Curtis Conway

            Frank, I knew there was a reason we got along so well. Birds of a feather….

          • Curtis Conway

            There are so many who just believe I think the world is made of money and all we have to do is keep on borrowing. NO! We must invest/re-invest the programed funds in the most efficient platforms available, as quickly as possible. One DDG-51 Flt III can be two Uber Frigates with greater steaming area via shallower draft. The Ford Class Super Carriers can take their time coming on line as we stand up two “Lightning Carriers” by re-tasking USS America (LHA-6), and USS Tripoli (LHA-7) when she comes out, and alternating the programed funds for LHA platforms from LHA-9 to have LHA-6 configuration (with improvements), and alternate the production for three more units (with & with-out well-deck). The Uber Frigate will provide the greatest benefit because it will not have the engagement range with as many weapons, but will have the tracking volume, and a few missiles to donate to long range engagements with the intercept NIFC-CA controlled by F-35B/EV-22 AEW&C Osprey. The Non-Recuring Engineering cost of the Uber Frigate development, and VSTOL/STOVL AEW&C Aircraft, and new Passive-Centric Combat System (PCCS) are the new elements in question.
            What should be fact:
            1) Every Surface Combatant (FF/DD/CG) built from this day forward should be a BMD ship to some extent, out of survival, and ability to protect the area in which it operates.
            2) Everyone is a shooter. A bolt on missile field and launch control complex must be engineered for installation on any surface vessel so designated based upon operation area and mission assigned.
            3) Organic detection, tracking, and fire control system developed that is bolt-on and stand-alone if needed, on any platform installed including Amphibious Ships, and the new Icebreakers.
            4) The new Icebreakers should be an integral set piece of the new Arctic Force that must manage that waterway that is getting more crowed, and the Russians now occupy in force.
            5) The USS America (LHA-6) “Lightening Carrier” experience should grow to at least six (6) units providing much more flexibility in the fleets.
            6) A VSTOL/STOVL AEW&C Aircraft should be developed that can operate off of any US Navy flight deck, tie into FORCEnet-21, and provide NIFC-CA capability, particularly to less defended platforms and formations.
            7) Upgrade all Aegis platforms to be BMD ASAP, and that engagement capability, methodology is a foundational design criteria in all new USN Surface Combatants down to frigate size.
            8) Make the PCCS a bolt-on add-on system to any surface vessel.
            9) Keep the DEW Program fully funded and get the wattage up as rapidly as practical, for this is the ultimate defensive weapon.

            Except for a submarine launched torpedo, it would nigh on impossible to sink an Uber Frigate by air attack. A few long range SM-6 without a Mk72 booster for short/medium range engagements, predominantly ESSM loadout for 20 nm and closer engagements, then DEWs for everything coming in close, and Mk-15 CIWS is the insurance policy. The ASW mission requires some ASROC length Mk41 VLS which can also house a full length and capable SM-6/SM-3IA/B.

  • Curtis Conway

    The SPY-1 Upgrade is money well spent. It will be the fastest way to accelerate readiness and increase capability across every SPY-1 user in the fleet.