By Geoff Fein

As the Navy looks ahead to restarting the Arleigh Burke class production line, the service is looking to introduce new capabilities that will enable future destroyers to fill the gap once allocated to the CG(X) cruiser, according to a top service official.

One of the challenges the Navy has faced is the emerging ballistic missile defense (BMD) threat, Rear Adm. Frank Pandolfe, director, Surface Warfare Division (OPNAV N86), told Defense Daily recently. “We need to field the capabilities in the fleet to provide the deterrence and assurance to counter that growing threat.

“The DDG-51 restart program will be central to the introduction of those capabilities to our fleet,” he added.

Starting with DDG-113, the Navy will restart the DDG-51 Flight IIA construction line, Pandolfe said.

“That ship will not be like previous 51s. It will include all of the advances of the last production DDG, which was 112, plus we will forward fit the most important aspects of the DDG modernization program, most notably the ballistic missile defense (BMD) capability,” he said. “DDG-113 will be the first warship ever delivered to the fleet built from the keel up with BMD capability integral to that ship. And every DDG we build forward will have that capability upon delivery.”

Last month, the Navy awarded a $114 million contract modification to Northrop Grumman [NOC] to provide long-lead materials to be used in the construction of DDG-114. In April 2009, the Navy awarded contracts for the first two destroyers in the DDG-51 restart.

In December 2009, the Navy awarded Northrop Grumman [NOC] $171 million for long-lead material purchases for DDG-113, according to the company.

The current Navy plan is to build nine DDG-51 flight IIAs. Pandolfe added that as the service builds those ships officials will look throughout the Navy for efficiencies that can be introduced in an evolutionary manner into this class of ship.

DDG-122, which Pandolfe said will get authorized in fiscal year ’16, and be delivered in FY ’21, will mark the beginning of the DDG-51 Flight III line.

“That ship will have the Air Missile Defense Radar (AMDR), and increased power and cooling to support that system, which will give us a significant increase in the range and sensitivity of our shipboard sensing systems,” he said. “We will build out the Flight III ships into the future. Because they are designed and optimized for integrated air and missile defense, they will fulfill the function that was prescribed for the CG(X) cruiser.”

AMDR will provide further enhancements to the Navy’s BMD capabilities, he said.

AMDR is larger more capable radar than the current SPY radar, Pandolfe said. And, AMDR will be coupled to the open architecture initiatives already being planned for implementation into the DDG-51 class.

“As you get into ACB 12, which will be the heart of DDG-122, integral to ACB 12 will be the upgraded BMD software programs,” he said. “The system is being designed so it can be upgraded over time as needs evolve.”

The restart of the DDG-51 line also marks the introduction of major new capabilities for the fleet, Pandolfe noted.

“The wider picture is, we have a number of new platforms coming in which will be the heart of the future fleet,” he said. “LCS, DDG-51 restart, DDG-1000, LHA-6, LPD-17 and JHSV, are all entering the fleet in the next few years.”