Arleigh Burke-Class Destroyer Flight III to deliver critical Integrated Air and Missile Defense capability to US Navy

According to information published by the U.S. Navy on November 20, 2020, the U.S. Navy recently achieved several important milestones for the DDG 51 Arleigh Burke-Class Destroyer Flight III upgrade, representing significant progress toward delivering critical Integrated Air and Missile Defense capability to the fleet.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 Artist rendering of new U.S. Navy Flight III DDG 51 Arleigh Burke-class Destroyer USS Jack H. Lucas DDG 125. (Picture source U.S. Navy)

The DDG 51 Flight III upgrade is centered on the AMDR/SPY-6(V)1 Air and Missile Defense Radar (AMDR) system that provides improved capability over earlier DDG 51 class ships by enabling Flight III ships to simultaneously perform Anti-Air Warfare and Ballistic Missile Defense. To support this upgrade the Navy is testing and integrating ship systems at existing land-based facilities. The SPY-6(V) family of radars delivers significantly greater range, increased accuracy, greater resistance to environmental and man-made electronic clutter, advanced electronic protection, and higher reliability than currently deployed radars.

The keel of the first Flight III destroyer, the future USS Jack H. Lucas (DDG 125), was ceremoniously laid and authenticated at Huntington Ingalls Shipyard, November 7, 2019. The ship will have Kevlar-type armor with a steel hull and numerous passive survivability measures. 

New improvements of Flight III include hangars for two SH-60B/F LAMPS helicopters, new combat system software, an enlarged flight deck, the Evolved SeaSparrow missile, the Kingfisher mine detection sonar, Kollmorgen optronic sight, and an upgrade of the Aegis radar system.

The USS Jack H. Lucas (DDG 125) will be powered by four LM2500 General Electrics Marine Gas Turbines. The ship will be able to reach a top speed of 30 knots. The armament of the ship will include one 32 cells, one 64 cell Mark 41 Vertical Launching System, 96 × RIM-66 SM-2, BGM-109 Tomahawk, RIM-162 ESSM, or RUM-139 VL-Asroc, missiles, one 5 in (130 mm)/62 naval gun, two 25 mm Mk 38 automatic cannons, four .50 cal. machine guns, two Mk 46 triple torpedo tubes, and one 20 mm Phalanx CIWS (Close-In Weapon System). 

At the Land-Based Engineering Site (LBES) at the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Philadelphia Division in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania efforts are focused on testing the Hull, Mechanical and Electrical (HM&E) equipment required to facilitate the increased power and cooling requirements for the radar. The Navy recently achieved “light-off” of the Flight III electrical plant at LBES, representing the completion of the Flight III HM&E equipment installation and marking the beginning of land-based HM&E system integration testing of the Flight III power system.

Concurrent with these efforts, the Navy also recently accepted and installed a new AMDR array for land-based testing of the Flight III combat system at the Combat Systems Engineering Development Site in Moorestown, New Jersey. This array, along with the rest of the power distribution equipment, will be used for integration testing with the Aegis Combat System.

With Flight III ships under construction at shipbuilders Huntington Ingalls – Ingalls Shipbuilding Division in Pascagoula, Mississippi, and General Dynamics Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine, completing the test programs at both engineering sites is critical to successfully integrating these complex systems.

This is particularly true for the future USS Jack H. Lucas (DDG 125), the first Flight III under construction, as it moves towards its own activation and test programs. Just last week, the second of four AMDR radar arrays was installed by HII-Ingalls in the deckhouse of the Jack H. Lucas, a significant construction event.

Arleigh Burke-class destroyers are the backbone of the U.S. Navy’s surface fleet, with 68 ships delivered to the Fleet. These highly capable, multi-mission ships conduct a variety of operations, from peacetime presence to national security.