Navy Pushes Back Schedule for Upgraded Destroyer Program; HII Set to Build First Flight III

May 31, 2017 8:42 PM
An artist’s conception of a Raytheon’s SPY-6 radar on a Flight III Arleigh Burke destroyer . Raytheon Image

The Navy has reached a tentative agreement with Huntington Ingalls Industries for the shipbuilder to build the first Flight III Arleigh Burke guided-missile destroyer (DDG-51) in its Mississippi yard, the Navy’s acting acquisition chief Allison Stiller told a House Armed Services panel last week.

The move from the Navy will push back the first ship to field a next-generation solid-state S-band radar and an upgraded combat suite designed to counter cruise and ballistic missiles and enemy aircraft simultaneously.

“We have a handshake agreement with Huntington Ingalls to introduce the Flight III capability on their FY ’17 ship,” Stiller told the House Armed Services seapower and projection forces subcommittee in a May 24 hearing.

As of last year, the Navy intended to include the Flight III configuration on a General Dynamics Bath Iron Works destroyer as part of a planned third Fiscal Year 2016 ship through an engineering change proposal (ECP). The Navy decided to award the third ship to BIW as part of a complex “swap ship” agreement with HII.

Naval Sea Systems Command Image

“The Navy intends to award the third FY16 DDG-51 ship to Bath Iron Works,” the service told USNI News last year.
“This corresponds to the December 2015 long lead time material contract award for LPD-28 to Huntington Ingalls and would be in addition to the currently contracted multiyear ships, subject to congressional authorization and appropriation.”

The update from Stiller on the Flight III program delay comes as the service has been in more than a year-long negotiation with shipbuilders HII and BIW over the ECPs that would modify a Flight IIA hull to include the Raytheon AN/SPY-6 air and missile defense radar as well as upgrade the electrical and cooling systems to accommodate the new systems.

“We’re also in negotiations with BIW to try and get a Flight III configuration on their FY 2017 ship, but we haven’t gotten to that point yet,“ Stiller told USNI News.

A spokesperson from HII referred comments to the Navy.

A BIW spokeswoman told USNI News on Wednesday, “we are actively working with the Navy on Flight III and swap ship contract negotiations. The history of Navy shipbuilding has shown significant risk to cost and schedule in starting construction when the design of the ship and ship systems is largely incomplete.”

In addition to the SPY-6, the changes to the design will increase the power available on the ship by replacing three Rolls Royce 3-megawatt generators on the Flight IIA ships with Rolls Royce’s 4-megawatt generator in the same footprint on the ship.

The electrical grid on the ship will also be upgraded from the 450-volt configuration to a 4,160-volt grid, which will lead to additional design changes.

Sam LaGrone

Sam LaGrone

Sam LaGrone is the editor of USNI News. He has covered legislation, acquisition and operations for the Sea Services since 2009 and spent time underway with the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and the Canadian Navy.
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