The latest AN/SPY–6(V) radar, part of the Navy’s to digital technology, uses advanced radar modular assembly (RMA) units, Gallium Nitride, and digital beam-forming technology to increase versatility and power output.
The system recently underwent its first ballistic missile-specific flight test at the Pacific Missile Range Facility in Hawaii. The test, named Vigilant Hunter, demonstrated detection and tracking of a short-range ballistic missile. The Navy said the test was successful.
“This marked a historic moment for the Navy. It’s the first time a ballistic missile target was tracked by a wideband, digital beam-forming radar. AN/SPY–6(V) is on track for delivery to DDG 51 Flight III,” said Capt. Seiko Okano, Program Manager at the Program Executive Office of Integrated Warfare Systems.
According to NAVSEA statements, the AN/SPY–6(V) radar is key to ballistic missile defense, anti-air warfare, and anti-surface warfare missions. The radar also has electronic protection and environmental awareness support functions.
As the next generation active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, the AN/SPY–6(V) system could be built as the three separate panels needed for AESA radar due to its versatility and power efficiency.
According to Raytheon, the AN/SPY-6(V) system is versatile because of its use of RMA units, or 2’ by 2’ by 2’ “building blocks,” which can function as individual radar or be combined to create larger radar installations.
Its power efficiency, Raytheon also reports, is due to its use of Gallium Nitride.
A complementary system, the AN/SPQ-9B radar, works alongside the AN/SPY-6(V) and adds horizon scanning ability to AN/SPY-6(V) detection capabilities. The AN/SPQ-9B radar uses X-Band frequencies, which is the range between 8 and 12 GHz, whereas the AN/SPY-6(V)’s S-Band frequencies are between 2 and 4 GHz, according to the IEEE.
Both radar systems are supported by Radar Suite Controller (RSC) technology that facilitates interface coordination with the combat management system.
Overall, the AN/SPY-6(V) radar system is powered jointly by AC Voltage battery power and DC voltage power from the ship directly to ensure a constant energy feed.
The antenna interface sends raw data to the Array subsystems, made up of the RMA units. This data is converted into In-Phase (I) and Quadrature-Phase (Q) data, also called “analytic signal,” which assigns the signal vectors more specific three dimensional coordinates according to Dr. Sharlene Katz of California State University at Northridge.
Digital beamforming technology then converts this data into digital signals that are sent to the radar control processor and RSC system along with AN/SPQ-9B horizon tracking data. At this point, the radar system interacts with the combat system for optimal mission control.
As part of the Navy’s transition from MILSPEC analog to solid-state digital systems, the AN/SPY-6(V) is being developed to address emerging threats, increase signature control, and streamline operational training for technicians,” according to Rear Adm. Tom Druggan, Commander of the Naval Surface Warfare Center.
“It gives us the ability to go to see with smart techs that require less training to maintain the radar at a higher level of readiness than what we have today,” explained Druggan. “That’s mission assurance, that’s what we do.”