The Enterprise Air Surveillance Radar (EASR) is the radar system that is replacing the ill-conceived Dual Band Radar (DBR). EASR is intended to replace the DBR on the Ford class carriers and the older rotating SPS-48/49 systems on a variety of ships. It appears that the Navy intends the EASR to become the standard for non-Aegis ships such as amphibious ships, carriers, LX(R), and others. Aegis SPY-x will remain the primary anti-air radar system for Burke class destroyers.
Unfortunately, information on the EASR is scarce but naval-technology.com website offers a glimpse of the system (1).
Raytheon is developing the EASR and the Navy has conducted a Preliminary Design Review (PDR) of the system.
As with any new system, Raytheon/Navy claims that the new radar will perform better, be easier to maintain, require fewer personnel to operate, be more reliable, and cost less. Of course, history assures us that most of these claims will turn out to be marginal improvements or totally false but at this stage of development, claims are typically unlimited and bordering on magical so this is nothing new or noteworthy.
The interesting aspect of this radar system is that it will be modular and scalable.
“The new air surveillance radar is designed on Radar Modular Assembly (RMA) technology, which has been matured through development and recent test successes of the US Navy’s AN / SPY-6 air and missile defence 3D radar for the DDG 51 Flight III destroyers.
Each RMA is a self-contained radar housed in a 2ft by 2ft by 2ft box, and the systems can be linked together to form radar chains of various sizes.
The EASR will be offered to the
Navy in two
variants: Variant one, which will be a single face, rotating radar, and
Variant two, which is a three face, fixed-array unit.” (1) US
The concept of a rotating version is fascinating and leads one to wonder how and why it will be a significant improvement over the older rotating SPS-48/49 units?
|EASR Variant 1 - Rotating|
The system is, apparently, derived from the SPY-6 Air and Missile Defense Radar (AMDR) (2). In fact, Raytheon claims that the AMDR and EASR are built with the identical AMDR cubical 2 ft. building blocks which leads one to wonder how and why the two systems are different and why we’re spending more money on an AMDR with a different name?
According to Raytheon, the difference between the systems is simply the number of RMAs, with the AMDR having 37 and the EASR having 9 (2). As Raytheon describes it (2),
AMDR is comprised of 37 RMAs – which is equivalent to SPY-1D(V) +15 dB in terms of sensitivity. To give this perspective, it means that SPY-6 can see a target of half the size at twice the distance of today’s radars.
EASR is a 9 RMA configuration – which is equivalent to the sensitivity of the current SPY-1D(V) radar on today’s destroyers, and at only 20% of the size of the legacy SPS-48. These are considerable enhancements over the radars in service on current (and future) EASR-designated ship classes.
Raytheon stresses the reliability and maintainability of the system, citing the commonality between the AMDR and EASR due to the identical radar modules.
Raytheon also claims that the system will be more affordable due to having only a single radar type across the entire fleet. They claim that training, logistics, spares, etc. will be streamlined and cheaper.
Of course, what new system in history hasn’t made those exact claims? Some pan out, to a degree, many don’t.
So, if the AMDR and EASR are identical, differing only in the number of RMAs, why are we paying for an EASR “development” program? From USNI News website,
“Radar maker Raytheon has been awarded a $92 million contract to develop a new Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar for the U.S. Navy’s new Ford-class carrier fleet and big deck amphibious warships, company officials told USNI News on a Monday conference call.
Based on Raytheon’s SPY-6 S-band Air and Missile Defense Radar (AMDR) planned for the services Arleigh Burke-class (DDG-51) guided missile destroyers, the Enterprise Air Surveillance Radar (EASR) will be the volume air search radar for most of the Gerald R. Ford-class carrier (CVN-78) — starting with John F. Kennedy (CVN-79) and the planned LHA-8 amphibious warship.
“It’s using identical hardware, identical signal processing software, data processing software. It’s as near identical as possible. The goal of the program to drive affordability and commonality,” Tad Dickenson [Raytheon company spokesman] told reporters.”
Again, if it’s identical, why are we paying for a new developmental program? It seems like $92M is a lot of money to simply change the number of RMAs. But wait, there’s more money coming!
“Following the EMD phase, there are up to $723 million in contract options to support 16 ship sets of the radar – 6 fixed face for the Fords and 10 for amphibious ships.” (3)
And, of course, there’s always the actual construction/purchase funds still to be had!
Interestingly, the EASR does not completely meet the Navy’s radar requirements.
“The service also plans to procure a separate X-band radar to compliment the EASR for both the future carriers and the amphibs.” (3)
I believe the separate X-band radar is intended to cover the low level, short range (horizon) region, meaning sea-skimming anti-ship missiles. Currently, the SPQ-9B performs this function.
Raytheon has a nice little gig going for itself. They’ve managed to direct the Navy into a single radar, sole supplier situation in which they can dictate unlimited prices and exorbitant “developmental” costs. That’s nice work if you can get it! The Navy now has no choice but to keep shipping barges of money to Raytheon.
There’s always the more mundane aspects of this arrangement to consider, as well. If Raytheon’s facilities should suffer a major catastrophe like a fire or sabotage, the Navy will have no source for radars for, potentially, years while Raytheon rebuilds. A prime target for sabotage at the start of a war with
, huh? But, I digress
In summary, the EASR seems to be just a renaming and repackaging of the already developed AMDR. That leads to questioning the need for additional developmental funding. Raytheon can’t have it both ways. They claim the EASR is identical to the AMDR and, therefore, offers all kinds of commonality benefits and yet they want barge loads of money to “develop” the EASR. Which is it? Are the two systems identical or not? I think the Navy is being gouged and has, through mismanagement, backed themselves into a no-choice corner.
(1)naval-technology.com website, retrieved
(2)Raytheon website, retrieved
(3)USNI News website, “Raytheon Awarded $92M Navy Contract for Future Carrier, Big Deck AESA Radars”, Sam LaGrone,