The following is an excerpt from an interview between Bill Hamblet, Editor-In-Chief of Proceedings, and Scott Spence, the Executive Director of Naval Integrated Solutions at Raytheon Missiles and Defense.
HAMBLET: What is SPY-6 designed to do? What are its threat targets and what advantages does it offer over other radars?
SPENCE: SPY-6 is an integrated air and missile defense radar. It can cover both missions simultaneously. It was designed to be modular and scalable, for all the different threats as well as the different ships it will go on. The first SPY-6, V1, is the 37 RMA [radar module assembly] radar, the largest in the family. It will go on the Flight III destroyers, starting with the USS Jack Lucas (DDG-125).
HAMBLET: It isn’t just for destroyers, correct?
SPENCE: No, SPY-6 V2 and V3 will go on amphibious ships and carriers. Overall, the radar will go on seven classes of Navy ships: Flight-III destroyers, Flight IIA backfit destroyers, the Ford-class carriers, and it will be backfitted onto the older aircraft carriers and amphibious assault ships.
HAMBLET: Earlier this year, Raytheon Missile and Defense was awarded a $651 million contract with options totaling up to $2.5 billion for full-rate production for up to 31 Navy ships. What’s the significance of that award?
SPENCE: It shows the Navy’s commitment to the radar as their signature program. It is being delivered across all the different variants, driving down acquisition and O&M costs for years to come.
HAMBLET: How is SPY-6 easier to maintain than earlier versions?
SPENCE: The radar only needs two tools to be maintained. It uses a common software baseline across all platforms, allowing the Navy to make a fix or add a capability into the software baseline and deliver it to all ships that need that capability. Modularity allow common training across all platforms. The largest cost of any system is O&M. Driving down those costs is critical to ensuring affordability for years to come.
HAMBLET: How does SPY-6 enable distributed maritime operations?
SPENCE: This radar is going to see farther and see smaller objects at longer distances, providing a better picture of the battlespace. Second, there are advanced capabilities being developed, including network cooperative radar, that allow the radars to communicate among themselves to provide a better picture of the battlespace. Gallium nitride technology in the transmitters allows it to create more power and see farther. Increased receiver sensitivity allows it to better process that information.
HAMBLET: Can SPY-6 integrate with other systems the Navy has fielded?
SPENCE: Yes. It is combat-management-system agnostic, so it can provide data to whatever combat management system needs it.
HAMBLET: Other countries are buying and building Aegis-class ships. Is there foreign interest in SPY-6? SPENCE: International partners want to work with the U.S. Navy, and the best way is to use the same technology. Because SPY-6 is combat-management- system agnostic, it can integrate with many different systems in multiple navies across the world.
HAMBLET: How does SPY-6 address the missile threats the Chinese military is fielding?
SPENCE: We’ve participated in flight testing with the Missile Defense Agency and Navy on hypersonic threat profiles. Because it can see smaller targets at greater range, SPY-6 creates additional battlespace to handle those threats. The more time we can give sailors to react to incoming threats, the better they’ll be able to defeat them.