WASHINGTON — In something of a surprise move, the US Navy revealed the long-touted dual band radar (DBR) being installed in new carriers of the Gerald R. Ford class will only be fitted on the first ship, and a new, yet-to-be-chosen radar will be installed on subsequent ships.
The revelation came Tuesday as Rear Adm. Thomas Moore, program executive officer for aircraft carriers, spoke at the McAleese Credit Suisse defense conference in Washington.
Moore indicated the move, decided upon last fall, was not due to particular problems with the DBR, now under development by Raytheon. Rather, he said, the decision was based on economics and need.
"It's a very capable radar," he said of the DBR, but analysis showed the carrier didn't need all the system's capabilities. The move to the Enterprise Air Surveillance Radar (EASR), he told reporters, could save up to $120 million on the second ship, the John F. Kennedy.
A specific EASR radar has not been chosen, Moore said, noting that "several candidates" were on the market.
Raytheon has been working on the EASR oncept under a $6 million study and demonstration contract awarded in June 2014 by the Office of Naval Research. The ONR study, according to a press release, is intended to "leverage proven Radar Modular Assembly (RMA) architecture matured on Air and Missile Defense Radar (AMDR)." The EASR, like the AMDR — also under development by Raytheon to replace SPY-1 radars in new Aegis combat systems — is intended to be a scalable family of radars tailored to suit different sizes of ships.
The complex DBR suite was once intended to be a cornerstone of a new combat system, fitted on DDG 1000 Zumwalt-class destroyers and CVN 78 Ford-class carriers. The system combines a SPY-3 X-band multifunction radar with a SPY-4 S-band volume search radar.
The Navy decided in 2010 to remove the SPY-4 radar from the Zumwalt destroyers as a cost-reduction move, although the carriers were to retain the original configuration.
With the decision to remove the DBR from subsequent ships of the class, the Ford now will be the only ship in the fleet to operate the full system.
A spokeswoman for the Naval Sea Systems Command said an EASR Request for Proposals "should be forthcoming."
The Ford, Kennedy and all other US aircraft carriers are built at the Huntington Ingalls Shipbuilding shipyard in Newport News, Virginia.