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Navy League 2021: US Navy hopes to cut frigate risk with proven systems

The incorporation of deployed and proven US Navy (USN) systems will help lower the risk on the development of the Constellation-class guided-missile frigate (FFG 62), said Captain Kevin Smith, programme manager, PEO Unmanned and Small Combatants.

“We're using a lot of GFE [government-furnished equipment] that's already been fielded,” Capt Smith said during a 2 August briefing at the Navy League 2021 Sea-Air-Space exposition in Maryland.

Specifically, he cited the Aegis Combat System, which is deployed on the USN guided-missile destroyers (DDGs), cruisers (CGs), and other vessels.

“They are out in the navy,” he added. “We've already proven that out. We just have to integrate it.”

However, anchoring that combat system will be a yet-unproven AN/SPY-6 Air and Missile Defence Radar (AMDR) variant.

The AN/SPY-6 sensors are built from individual ‘building blocks' called Radar Modular Assemblies (RMAs), or self-contained radars that come in 2×2×2 ft (61×61×61 cm) boxes. Those boxes can be stacked together to match the requirements or limitations of the ship, making the radars scalable.

Designed for the Flight III DDG 51 destroyer, the AN/SPY-6(V)1 features four array faces, each with 37 RMAs providing continuous, 360° situational awareness (SA). The first ship is Jack H Lucas (DDG 125), being built at Huntington Ingalls Industries' Ingalls Shipbuilding yard in Pascagoula, Mississippi.

The radar, scheduled for the Constellation-class frigates and Ford-class aircraft carriers, is the AN/SPY-6(V)3 fixed variant. It features three fixed-face array faces, each with nine RMAs, providing continuous all-around SA and air traffic control and ship self-defence capabilities.

The first ship set to operate with the EASR fixed variant is aircraft carrier John F Kennedy (CVN 79), now under construction at Huntington Ingalls Industries' Newport News Shipbuilding in Virginia.

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