The Navy is working on a $1.6 billion technological upgrade overhauling ship defense systems onboard amphibs and aircraft carriers to include interceptor missiles, streamlined radars and software improvements, service officials said.
The work is being done on what’s called Ship Self Defense Systems, or SSDS – a series of integrated technologies being upgraded to track, identify and destroy a wide range of possible threats such as incoming enemy supersonic missiles.
Ship defense systems upgraded to handle supersonic missiles
Most US ships are still using 1970s-vintage electronic defense, chiefly something called the AN/SLQ-32 (“Slick 32″), which have fallen dangerously behind rapid, globally available advances in electronics. Potential adversaries like Russia and China can equip their anti-ship missiles with targeting radars using frequencies too high for current US defenses to even detect. US Pacific Command is particularly concerned
“Certain countries on the Eurasian land mass are building weapons that a SLQ-32 will not detect,” Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for resources, Vice Adm. Joseph Mulloy, said at this week’s McAleese Associates/Credit Suisse conference. If US ships face these new missiles without an electronic warfare upgrade, he said, “you will never know when something bad is coming, [and] it’s coming in at a supersonic speed.”
That threat is driving the Navy’s $5 billion-plus, multi-phase Surface Electronic Warfare Improvement Program. “I’m buying as many SEWIP advanced modules as I can,” Mulloy said.
SEWIP Block I mainly replaces 1970s-vintage displays and other obsolete components. The Lockheed Martin-built Block II, which has been tested on the destroyer Bainbridge and — in a somewhat scaled-down version — the Littoral Combat Ship Fort Worth, will upgrade the sensors that detect enemy radar beams. Block III, for which the Navy awarded a $267 million contact to Northrop Grumman in February, will bring the fun part: new jammers.
The Navy’s current shipboard electronic warfare system, the 1970s-vintage AN/SLQ-32
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