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AN/SPY-1 Radar

The AN/SPY-l radar system is the primary air and surface radar for the Aegis Combat System installed in the Ticonderoga (CG-47) and Arleigh Burke (DDG-51)-class warships. It is a multi-function phased-array radar capable of search, automatic detection, transition to track, tracking of air and surface targets, and missile engagement support.

A conventional, mechanically-rotating radar "sees" a target when the radar beam strikes that target once during each 360 degree rotation of the antenna. A separate tracking radar is then required to engage each target. By contrast, the computer-controlled AN/SPY-1A Phased Array Radar of the AEGIS system brings these functions together within one system. The four fixed arrays of "SPY" send out beams of electromagnetic energy in all directions simultaneously, continuously providing a search and tracking capability for hundreds of target at the same time.


The SPY-1 radar program began in the early 1970s as part of the AEGIS weapon system development and acquisition process. Three versions of the radar have been delivered.

The SPY-1D(V) radar upgrade is the newest improvement to the SPY-1D. The SPY-lD( V) littoral radar upgrade will supersede the SPY-1D in new-construction ships beginning in FY 1998, and will deploy in DDG 51 Flight IIA ships starting in approximately 2003. The third variant of this radar, known as the Littoral Warfare Radar, will improve the radar's capability against low-altitude, reduced radar cross-section targets in heavy clutter environments and in the presence of intense electronic countermeasures. The SPY-1D radar system is the multi-function, phased-array, three-dimensional (range, altitude, and bearing) radar which conducts search, automatic detection, and tracking of air and surface targets. The SPY-1D also provides mid-course guidance for the SM-2 missile, and has also demonstrated a capability to track theater ballistic missiles. The AN/SPY-1D(V), under development for installation in some Flight IIA ships, is an improved system with better performance against targets in clutter, additional moving target indicator (MTI) waveforms, and greater ability to counter deceptive Electronic Attack measures.

In May 1996, the Commander, Operational Test and Evaluation Force conducted the initial operational test of the SPY-1D(V) radar upgrade at the Moorestown site. The challenge of testing a naval radar in a ground environment was enormous. The Site lacked dynamic sea clutter, oceanic atmospheric anomalies, and very low flying targets. These limitations of the land-based Site were overcome by the extensive use of models and simulations. These models and simulations replicated the at-sea operating environment, providing simulated sea clutter, atmospherics, targets, and electronic jamming. All the models and simulations were accredited for use in this test after surviving a rigorous validation procedure to determine their suitability. After a successful operational test, the SPY-1D(V) was approved for limited rate inital production by the Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Research, Development, and Acquisition) in December 1996.

Current funding completes the development of an upgrade to the current AN/SPY-1D radar, Engineering Development Model 4B (EDM-4B), to enhance its capability against low cross section sea skimming targets in increasingly more severe electronic countermeasures and in near-land clutter environments. The changes are in the transmitter, signal processor, and radar control computer program. for the ARLEIGH BURKE (DDG 51) class ships Two new efforts will start in FY 1999. First, support for a Ballistic Missile Defense Organization (BMDO) Program which is developing a common, backfittable theater-wide radar upgrade signal processor to provide affordable theater-wide exoatmospheric discrimination capability. Second, integration of the AN/SPQ-9B radar into the AEGIS Weapon System to improve capability against the advanced low-altitude threat.

Expanded common signal processor design for the AN/SPY-1 Radar includes advanced AAW functionality and features. The expanded signal processor design will add AAW functionality to and leverage the common signal processorís TBMD functionality design currently being pursued via TBMD funding. The advanced AAW functionality will implement adaptive digital signal processing to improve low altitude clutter rejection performance and ECCM capabilities.

The installation and integration of the AN/SPQ-9B Radar (or ts advanced variant) in the AEGIS Weapon System will include remaining modification work for backfit in destroyers and cruisers.

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Maintained by Robert Sherman
Originally created by John Pike
Updated Friday, June 16, 2000 3:16:14 PM