We all understand just how powerful the United States Navy is. Founded in 1775, it has more than 325,000 active-duty personnel and roughly 100,000 more ready reserve personnel.
The Navy also has nearly 300 deployable battle force ships. So yeah, powerful.
But the Navy never settles, because after all, complacency is the first step towards falling behind. In an effort to keep pushing forward, the Navy has awarded deals for 10 new ships that are, shall we say, of the high-tech variety.
The Navy gets an upgrade
The 10 ships will be DDG 51 Flight III Destroyers, and their creation is part of a big strategic push to increase fleet growth while bringing modern technology to the fleet.
Given how much of an undertaking building advanced destroyers is, it makes sense the ships will be built by different manufacturers. Six will come from Huntington Ingalls Industries as part of a deal worth $5 billion, while the other four will be made by General Dynamics Bath Iron Works under a contract for $3.9 billion.
Both contracts run through 2022, which is when the ships should be finished.
"These contract awards are further evidence of the Navy's continued delivery of lethal capacity to the nation with a sense of urgency while ensuring best value for the taxpayer," said James F. Geurts, assistant secretary of the Navy for research, development and acquisition, in a Navy statement. "The Navy saved $700 million for these 10 ships by using multiyear procurement contracts rather than a single year contracting approach.
"We also have options for an additional five DDG-51s to enable us to continue to accelerate delivery of the outstanding DDG-51 Flight III capabilities to our naval force. We executed this competition on a quick timeline that reflects the urgency in which the Navy and our industry partners are operating to ensure we meet the demands of the National Defense Strategy."
The DDG-51s will not replace every ship in the Naval fleet, but the belief is they will greatly supplement what is already there. It makes sense to take advantage of new, advanced technology, especially when it could be the difference in any kind of war scenario.
"This procurement will efficiently provide integrated air and missile defense capability for our future fleet while strengthening our critical shipbuilding and defense industrial base," said Capt. Casey Moton, DDG-51 class program manager, Program Executive Office Ships.
What new features will they have?
It would be great to know what kind of new tech will be featured on these ships, but understandably, some things will be kept secret. However, we know they will feature improved weapons and advanced sensors, with a new radar that is 35-times more sensitive than most current systems and said to be able to detect objects twice as far away at one-half the size of what current tracking radar can do.
Navy Flight III Destroyers also have the capabilities of handling more new tech than older ships, such as more on-board power that could be used to power laser weapons as well as new engines and better electronics. Their software can be updated more quickly, too.
The Navy also says the new ships will be procured in a Flight III configuration and rely on a stable and mature design, so they may not look all that unique. The critical air and missile defense capabilities will feature the AN/SPY6(V)(1) Air and Missile Defense Radar, which will allow the ships to defend much larger areas. The system itself has easily replaceable parts and fewer circuit boards.
Along those same lines, the hardware and software will be updated, with common interfaces that enable continued modernization in future years. Because while the ships are being built with the future in mind -- what, exactly, it holds is anyone's guess.
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