Every US Navy Warship To Be Equipped With ‘Super Tracker SPY Radar’ To Consecutively Detect Enemy Missiles & Fighters

Raytheon Missiles & Defense has recently been granted a contract worth up to $3.16 billion by the US Navy to integrate the SPY-6 radar family on more than 45 surface ships over the next five years.

Under the new contract, the new radar will be installed on every surface ship of the US navy, from small patrol boats to massive aircraft carriers, allowing it to identify and track enemy missiles and planes simultaneously. 

“There is no other radar with the surface maritime capabilities of SPY-6, and this award highlights the importance of its design and future production for the Navy,” said Wes Kremer, president of Raytheon Missiles & Defense. 

“SPY-6 is the most advanced naval radar in existence, and it will provide a giant leap forward in capability for the military for decades to come,” he added. The radars, according to the business, will allow sailors to detect threats, including hypersonic weapons, from greater distances and respond instantly against them.

The U.S. Navy’s new guided missile destroyer, USS Jack H. Lucas (DDG-125), successfully launched at Huntington Ingalls Industries in Pascagoula, Mississippi, on June 4, 2021. (Huntington Ingalls Industries photo)
The U.S. Navy’s new guided-missile destroyer, USS Jack H. Lucas (DDG-125), successfully launched at Huntington Ingalls Industries in Pascagoula, Mississippi, on June 4, 2021. (Huntington Ingalls Industries photo)

The company has already completed the radar installation onboard the first Flight III destroyer, Jack H. Lucas (DDG-125), which is expected to be operational by 2024.

Last year, Raytheon signed a $237 million contract with the Navy to develop appropriate logistics and delivery services for the company to begin retrofitting the Navy’s fleet of Flight IIA destroyers with the SPY-6 V(4) radar, a substantial upgrade for a ship class considered the fleet’s workhorse. 

SPY-6 Variants

The SPY-6 radar is available in several versions, each of which is made up of individual “building blocks” known as radar modular assemblies (RMAs). These self-contained radars are packaged in 2’x2’x2′ boxes that can be stacked to fulfill the mission needs of the ship.

The V1 is a large array with 37 RMAs that is developed for the DDG 51 Flight III ship. The SPY-6 is already aboard the USS Jack H. Lucas, the class’s first guided-missile destroyer.

The V4 model, which was planned for the DDG 51 Flight IIA destroyer, has four arrays, each with 24 RMAs. The V1 and V4 are both aimed at detecting cruise and ballistic missiles as well as conducting electronic warfare.

AN/SPY-6 (V)1 integrated air and missile defense radar at its advanced Radar Development Facility in Andover, Massachusetts. Image: Raytheon Missiles & Defense

 The V2, which has one rotating array, will be used on amphibious assault ships and Nimitz-class carriers, while the V3, which has three arrays, will be used on Ford-class aircraft carriers. Raytheon’s total number of radars provided to Navy ships would be 46 if all of the contract’s options were implemented, according to Scott Spence, an executive director for naval radars at the company. 

He explained that maintenance costs will be “greatly reduced” given to common training, spare parts, and software upgrades that will be able to provide new features to all four variations without causing further integration issues. The SPY-6 radar, according to Spence, is already a significant technological advancement over the legacy SPY-1 radar.

Furthermore, Navy operators “need the greater detection ranges [and] increased sensitivity, specifically in contested environments — you get a highly contested environment, you need a radar that can see through all that clutter and be able to detect those targets at great distances and give the warfighter more time to react, and determine exactly what they’re looking at and then how to defeat those particular threats,” he said.


The Air and Missile Defense Radar (AMDR), also known as the SPY-6, is a next-generation integrated radar that provides ‘exoatmospheric’ and air defense capabilities as well as surface combat capabilities to US surface ships. 

The SPY-6 includes an air and missile defense S-band AESA radar, a horizon search X-band radar, and a command and control integration center. It is the first radar to use Radar Modular Assemblies (RMA) structural components, allowing it to be scaled up or down. 

It’s said to be 30 times more sensitive than the Arleigh Burke Destroyers’ present radars and capable of handling 30 times the targets of the SPY-1. 

The radar will also allow digital beamforming, enabling more precise tracking and the possibility of executing electronic strikes.

The SPY-6 could also have the ability to launch offensive operations, including the ability to use its active electronically scanned array (AESA) antenna to launch electronic warfare. The ASEA array might use “tightly directed beams of high-powered radio waves” to attack aerial or surface targets, perhaps blinding adversary assets.

Even though the present SPY-6 radar is an upgrade over the SPY-1, the initial idea was larger and more powerful. The 22-foot AMDR was originally designed to equip the Navy’s CG(X) ship, which would replace the aging Ticonderogas.

The Navy, on the other hand, judged CG(X) to be too expensive at $6 billion per ship, and its design to be too risky. It was canceled in April 2010 and replaced by the modified Arleigh Burke Flight III, which can carry a 14-foot radar.