One of the keys for AMDR success, Antkowiak says, will be scalability—the Navy can buy so much performance now and scale up easily.
Northrop officials are clear: AMDR will not only fit on Flight III Burkes; the system and equipment are engineered to fit on legacy ships as well. Many features of Flight III will phase in incrementally, a program watcher notes, beginning with the DDG-113 under construction.
The SPQ-9B X-band radar will be installed beginning with DDG-119 in fiscal 2014 while development of the planned AMDR-X radar will be delayed.
This strategy gets many of the integration and teething problems out of the way early, the source says, so construction and testing of the first Flight III ship—DDG-123 in fiscal 2016—can focus on the new AMDR's S-band components.
Huntington Ingalls Industries' Ingalls Shipbuilding unit is eyeing an LPD-17 San Antonio-class amphibious dock ship that could perform BMD with AMDR equipment, the source adds. Using LPD variants for BMD could free some of the Navy's more valuable assets for other missions.
“The ship's volume will enable the Navy to keep it on station for months without being replenished,” says Ingalls Shipbuilding President Irwin Edenzon, adding, “Can we put a lot of missiles on it? We think we can.
“We can operate these ships farther off shore,” he adds. “We can be in blue water and provide a level of coverage and another level of survivability.”
Scalability works both ways. Lockheed, which leads the team building LCS-1 USS Freedom, could leverage its Aegis experience and develop a module or set of modules that turn its LCS ships into sea-based BMD platforms.
One LCS ship, for example, could be equipped with an Aegis-like detection and targeting system module, while another could be outfitted with a “shooter” module, says Jim Sheridan, Lockheed's director of Aegis programs. “There would be some limits by the physical boundaries of the ship,” he acknowledges. But the system could be scaled to an LCS fit. An LCS BMD platform, he says, could be an affordable force multiplier.