New Aegis Radar to be 100 Times More Sensitive than Current Radar (May 22, 2019)

New Aegis Radar to be 100 Times More Sensitive than Current Radar (May 22, 2019)

In my post of February 11, 2019, I discussed a number of planned new S-band radars, including the Navy’s Air and Missile Defense Radar (AMDR), which is scheduled to begin deployment on the Navy’s new Flight III Aegis destroyers in about 2023. In that discussion, I used the standard claim that the AMDR, also designated the SPY-6(V)1, would be about 15 dB = 30 times more sensitive than the current SPY-1 radar on U.S. Navy cruisers and destroyers.  I also noted, however, that there were some recent indications the AMDR might be even more sensitive, possibly by a factor of 40-70 over the SPY-1.

Now, following developmental testing of the AMDR, the Navy has validated a Raytheon Company (the manufacturer of the AMDR) assessment that the radar’s actual sensitivity is almost 100 times that of the SPY-1.[1]

The Technical Director of Raytheon’s Seapower Capability Systems, Curt von Braun, explained that “The 30 was an original number. But [during] the test period out at Pacific Missile Range Facility, we’ve been realizing additional sensitivity through our design margins that have now been tested.  So we’re more at liberty to advertise the better performance than was designed in the margins and now those are being officially realized by the radar.”[2]

According to Scott Pence, Raytheon’s Director of Naval Radar Systems, “SPY-6(V)1 is approximately 20 dB more sensitive than the SPY-1 – nearly 100 times – which translates to more than three times the original requirement” and that “SPY-6 also delivers a significant increase in range to the legacy radar.”[3]

Assuming the two radars were operated in exactly the same way (which seems unlikely), a factor of 100 in sensitivity would result in about a 3.2 times range increase against a given target.


[1] Jason Sherman, “Navy Determines SPY-6 Radar Three Times Stronger than Original Requirement,” Inside Defense SITREP, May 6, 2019.

[2] Sherman, “Navy Determines.”

[3] Sherman, “Navy Determines.”

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