Military and Strategic Journal
Issued by the Directorate of Morale Guidance at the General Command of the Armed Forces
United Arab Emirates
Founded in August 1971

2020-04-01

The Revolutionary Arleigh Burke Class AEGIS Destroyer

As warships that provide multi-mission offensive and defensive capabilities, the United States Navy’s DDG 51 and DDG 1000 class guided missile destroyers can operate independently or as part of Carrier Strike, Surface Action and Expeditionary Strike Groups. 

Replacing the Charles F. Adams class (DDG 2), the DDG 51 offers defence against a wide range of threats, including ballistic missiles. This article will introduce Arleigh Burke class guided missile destroyers, one of the most technologically advanced and capable surface combatants ever built. General Dynamics Bath Iron Works, is the lead designer and builder of the Arleigh Burke class destroyers while Lockheed Martin is its combat system integrator. 
 
Arleigh Burke’s Development History
The Arleigh Burke class is named after the U.S. Navy’s most famous destroyer squadron combat commander ADM Arleigh Burke, the three-time Chief of Naval Operations. Commander Burke was present both for the christening and commissioning of the ship bearing his name, ‘Arleigh Burke’ (DDG 51). 
 
The DDG 51 multi-mission guided missile destroyer operates in support of carrier battle groups, surface action groups, amphibious groups and replenishment groups, providing a complete array of anti-submarine (ASW), anti-air (AAW) and anti-surface (SuW) capabilities. The destroyer’s armament has greatly expanded the role of the ship in strike warfare by utilising the MK-41 Vertical Launching System (VLS). 
 
Moreover, the Arleigh Burke class has been designed with an all-new hull form, incorporating much of the Spruance class (DD 963) destroyer propulsion and machinery plant, while the integrated Aegis Weapons System (AWS) is proven on the Kidd class (DD 993) destroyers and installed on the larger Ticonderoga class cruisers. As the lead yard for the programme, General Dynamics Bath Iron Works is widely recognised as hosting the most successful surface shipbuilding programme since World War II. 
 
The Arleigh Burke class employs all-steel construction and comprises of four separate variants or ‘flights’. DDG 51-71 represents the original design and are designated as Flight I ships, while DDG 72-78 are Flight II ships and DDGs 79-116 are Flight IIA ships in service continuing through to DDGs 124 and 127. 
 
The Flight III baseline will begin with DDGs 125-126 and continue with DDGs 128 and their successors. Production of the first Flight III ship, DDG 125, started on 7th May 2018.
 
Design Outline
The USS Arleigh Burke (DDG-51) is the first in the Arleigh Burke class of guided missile destroyers, sporting a single aluminium mast atop her superstructure. She is noted in U.S. Navy history for being the first warship of size to incorporate stealth characteristics through specialised shaping consistent with today’s stealth technology. 
 
With an armour of Kevlar-protected critical operating posts throughout the ship, the special-engineered steel hull provides better operation in most rough seas than previous hulls. Arleigh Burke is, therefore a vessel capable of operating in dangerous areas contaminated by radiological, biological and chemical weapons thanks to her Collective Protection System. Power is supplied by four General Electric LM 2500-30 gas turbines operating two shafts and generating up to 100,000 total shaft horsepower, allowing for speeds in excess of 30 knots in ideal conditions.   
 
Flexible Combat Capabilities 
The combat capabilities of Arleigh Burke class destroyers centre around the Navy’s Aegis Weapon System, the world’s foremost integrated naval weapon system. When integrated with the Aegis Combat System, the Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC) will permit groups of ships and aircraft to link their radars to provide a composite picture of the battle space, effectively increasing the theatre space and providing the Navy with a 21st century fighting edge. 
 
Designed for survivability, the ship incorporates all-steel construction with gas turbine propulsion and thanks to the AEGIS combat system, Vertical Launching System, advanced anti-submarine warfare system, two embarked SH-60 helicopters, advanced anti-aircraft missiles and Tomahawk ASM/LAM (anti-ship & land-attack missiles), the Arleigh Burke class is one of the most powerful surface combatant ever put to sea.

When the Flight III design replaces the Aegis AN/SPY-1D radar with the Air and Missile Defence Radar (AMDR), it will provide for more electrical power and cooling capacity, guaranteeing a next generation of integrated air-and-missile-defence and joint battle space awareness.
 
AEGIS Combat System: The Aegis Weapon System is the world’s most frequently deployed combat system whose flexible system architecture facilitates a variety of missions. The architecture allows the system to maintain interoperability across global domains on 118 ships, 10 ship classes and seven countries.   
 
Aegis has the reputation of “working right every time, all the time” with its weapon system currently deployed on 22 U.S. Navy Ticonderoga-class cruisers and 62 Arleigh-Burke-class destroyers. Having supported more than 3,800 missile launches at sea, the Aegis Weapon System has a proven track record of continuous operational availability during frequent 6-10-month-long deployments. 
 
SPY-1D Phased-Array Radar: The SPY-1D(V) arrays are the visual icon of Arleigh Burke class ships with an S-band frequency range permitting optimum performance in all-weather operations and performing all major radar functions, while simultaneously providing proven S-band mid-course guidance for semi-active missiles (Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile, SM-2 and SM-3). 
 
The SPY-1 can maintain continuous radar surveillance, automatically tracking more than 100 targets at one time and reputedly able to detect a golf ball-sized target at over 165 km. The SPY-1 radar range is about 310 km when applied to a ballistic missile-sized target. 
 
The DDG 51 Flight III upgrade for the AMDR/SPY-6(V)1 Air and Missile Defence Radar system provides vastly increased capability over DDG 51 Flight IIA ships. The SPY-6 family is now integrated to defend against ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, hostile aircraft and surface ships simultaneously, giving several advantages over legacy radars including significantly greater detection range, increased sensitivity and more accurate discrimination.
 
SPY-6 radars are built from individual ‘building blocks’ called Radar Modular Assemblies, self-contained radars that come in 2’x2’x2’ boxes and stack together to make the SPY-6 family the Navy’s first truly scalable radars.

Each variant uses the same hardware and software in a less expensive, more reliable modular construction, with the AMDR/SPY-6(V)1 enabling Flight III ships to perform Anti-Air Warfare (AAW) and Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) simultaneously in an enhanced surface combatant Integrated Air and Missile Defence (IAMD) capability.
 
MK 41 Vertical Launching System: With more than 3,500 successful missile firings on surface ships in 12 navies and for more than 20 different classes encompassing more than 180 ships, the MK 41 Vertical Launching System (VLS) eliminates all the problems of conventional and single purpose launchers.

Installed below deck, the MK 41 VLS can simultaneously accommodate the weapon control system and the missiles of anti-aircraft, anti-surface, antisubmarine and land attack mission areas as it can accept any missile into any cell, significantly enhancing operational availability, survivability and versatility with minimal staffing and training requirements.
 
An eight-cell MK 41 VLS module assembled in the desired numbers meets specific mission and hull requirements enabling the system to be deployed in 13 different configurations, ranging from a single module with 8-cells to 16 modules with 122-cells.

The basic module is available in three sizes: the Strike module is approximately 25 feet (7.6 metres) long, capable of launching the largest missiles that support sea-based midcourse ballistic missile defence and long-range strike; the Tactical module is approximately 22 feet (6.7 metres) long and capable of accommodating the same missile types as the Strike, except for the Tomahawk land attack cruise missile and those missiles designed for a SMD role; and the Tactical module is currently being integrated and installed in ships of the Turkish and Australian navies. 

 
At just more than 17 feet (5.2 metres), the Self-Defence module is ideal for meeting the mission requirements of offshore patrol vessels, corvettes, small frigates and amphibious ships. The open architecture present in both the weapon control interface and the missile mechanical and electrical interface then allows the system to support any missile in any cell. 
 
The capacity of the MK 41 VLS to integrate new tactical weapons has been consistently demonstrated, with the latest missile integrations, including the Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM), Tactical Tomahawk, Standard Missile 3, Standard Missile 6 and Vertical Launch ASROC Lightweight Hybrid Torpedo.
 
Sea Power 21 Plan
Sixty-seven DDG 51 class ships have been delivered to the fleet (DDG 51-DDG 117) while 21 ships are currently under construction contract with shipbuilders Huntington Ingalls Industries, Ingalls Shipbuilding and General Dynamics Bath Iron Works including the recent award of 11 Flight III ships under the FY 2018-2022 Multiyear Procurement. The MYP continues the procurement for the proven DDG 51 Class shipbuilding programme, indicating how leveraged competition, a strong industrial base and a stable design have all achieved savings.
 
Moreover, a DDG modernisation programme is underway to provide a comprehensive mid-life upgrade to ensure the DDG 51 class will maintain mission relevance and remain an integral part of the Navy’s Sea Power 21 Plan. These modernisation changes are also being introduced to new construction ships in order to increase the baseline capabilities of the newest ships in the class and provide commonality between new construction ships and modernised in-service ships. 
 
Reference Text/Photo:
 
 
 
 
 

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