New Stealthy Navy Destroyer Starts Combat System Activation

Engineering problems may have stalled the guided-missile destroyer (DDG) 1000 USS Zumwalt’s transit to the ship’s homeport of San Diego late last year but Raytheon was still able to get the desired head start on testing the vessel’s combat system.

Engineering problems may have stalled the guided-missile destroyer (DDG) 1000 USS Zumwalt’s transit to the ship’s homeport of San Diego late last year but Raytheon was still able to get the desired head start on testing the vessel’s combat system.

Meanwhile the leadership out in Pacific Command (PACOM) anxiously awaits of the arrival of the Zumwalt-class destroyers to the Western Pacific, where the ship is being slated for patrols off the North Korean coast to help curtail that country’s aggressive missile plans.

The company says it “achieved all of” its “planned test objectives during the transit,” which gets the company “off to a good start in San Diego.”

The ship is slated to test and certify its combat system while in its homeport of San Diego. But Raytheon officials said they planned to start activating and operating the radar even before then during the transit to the West Coast.

The company said it had developed an in-transit transit process for testing and modifying the system – especially in terms of software changes, Wade Knudson, Raytheon DDG 1000 program manager, said.

Raytheon has been especially keen on addressing any radar issues, considering the changes the Navy made in the Zumwalt’s major combat system sensor. The Navy eliminated the volume-search portion of the proposed Dual-Band Radar, requiring modifications to the Raytheon AN/SPY-3 active-array Multi-Function Radar (MFR) eventually put aboard the Zumwalt to restore most of that function.

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The Navy’s worry about the SPY-3 now is whether the modifications needed to restore some of the volume-search functions will cause the sensor to use up its radar timeline budget even more quickly.

Above all, the multi-function radar must properly manage the radar’s resources to direct or redirect its RF energy as well as receive and process signals to predict the courses of enemy missiles, track and illuminate targets and guide weapons fired from its own ship. The radar searches and analyzes return reflections, computes bearings and courses, predicts where a target will be based on data and algorithms – and then adjusts or readjusts based on missile trajectory, speed and other attributes. Speedier missiles require speedier processing.

A radar’s resource manage determines a combat system’s effectiveness and the question is how many missiles does it take to overwhelm a radar’s resource management or radar timeline budget, in which case the radar may be unable to properly track incoming threats or guide offensive missiles.

Further complicating the combat system’s effectiveness, the Navy also has directed that the Zumwalt use existing fleet missiles because it was believed it would be cheaper and easier than developing new weapons for the new radar. That requirement, though, also meant more modifications to make sure the weapons and sensor can operate together as radars and missiles do on other guided-missile vessels.

But the Standard Missile (SM)-2 IIIB slated for DDG-1000 required a new software package to support the waveform, transmit and receive link messages to the MFR as well as modified missile receivers, transmitters, encoders, decoders and a redesigned digital signal processor, Raytheon and Navy officials confirm.

The transit seemed like a good time to put the combat system to the test. But the ship had to towed through the Panama Canal in November and stay put at the be held ex-Naval Station Rodman in Panama for a week of repairs.

The lube oil coolers for the ship's advanced induction motors (AIM), used to propel the port and starboard shafts, had failed, Navy officials said, a problem the crew discovered after finding water in an AIM bearing sump and in a bearing sump on the starboard shaft following the loss of propulsion in the port shaft.

The presence of water in the bearing sumps, the Navy says, indicates the bearing there was leaking.

Such engineering kinks are to be expected, says Adm. Harry Harris, PACOM commander. The important thing is that the ship is making its way toward the West Pacific.

The Zumwalts, he says, will make PACOM’s forces more lethal. The ship’s 155-mm Advanced Guy System and other attributes make it just the kind of platform needed to confront the North Korean threat, he says. “There’s no more immediate threat.”

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