Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Radar Costs What???!

Northrop Grumman has received an $84M contract to deliver 12 AN/SPQ-9B radar systems, combat interface kits and a technical data package.  That's $7M per radar!

As radars go, this is about as small and simple as it gets.  It's an old style rotating antenna, for goodness sake and it's been in production since 2002 so this is just routine production.  We're talking just electronics, motors, and circuit boards.

This is seriously messed up.  You could get Tibetan monks to lovingly handcraft these radars and carry them across the Himalayas on the backs of Leprechauns for less money than this.  Are these things made out of Mithril and Adamantium?

The Navy needs to do some serious investigation into alternate supply sources.

That Little Suitcase On The Mast Is $7M


  1. It's apparently not that small or simple. I guess detecting low flying ASCMs is a challenging mission.

    For comparison, Sea Giraffe and TRS-3D are only ~$1.4 million each.

    1. I find it interesting that with all our AMDR, SPY-xx, AESA, EO/IR, IRST, sensor fusion, and mental telepathy sensing, we're using a decades old rotating radar for the crucial function of detecting low flying missiles. Honestly, I don't know the deep details of the various radars well enough to understand the nuances of the selection.

      Odd, isn't it, that arrays are considered so superior to rotating radars and yet that's exactly what we're using for such a critical task?

    2. Cost drove the decision to use SPQ-9B. SPY-3 was supposed to be the X band component. But it was too large and expensive.

      AMDR-X will replace SPQ-9B eventually, with a fixed AESA array. I'm sure it will be even more expensive.

    3. My point was that the performance differential is apparently not great enough to justify the cost. That doesn't square with the glowing descriptions of the various array options.

    4. The advantage of arrays, as far as I understand it, is that they can move their beams rapidly in both elevation and azimuth. That's vey valuable for generalised air defence.

      The AN/SPQ-9 series seems to be intended for targets on and near the surface, and arrays don't seem to be so advantageous for that role, so they haven't, yet, taken over. As always, it's necessary to discount claims that originate in manufacturer marketing departments.

    5. CNO,

      How do you know that the performance differential is not great enough to justify the cost? It's orders of magnitude cheaper than SPY-3.


      Arrays are advantageous for horizon scan as well. Fixed arrays are just larger, heavier and more expensive. SPY-3 fills this role for DDG-1000 and is considerably more capable than SPQ-9B.

    6. This is not an opinion, this is just a statement of fact. The performance differential was not great enough to make the Navy pay for a more expensive option. Just fact.

    7. What is the less expensive option?

    8. The -9B. Are you into the eggnog already?

    9. "SPY-3 fills this role for DDG-1000 and is considerably more capable than SPQ-9B."

      It does, to an extent. The -3 will perform both the volume search and horizon search/targeting functions and reports indicate that the horizon search/targeting is degraded while in volume search mode. To what extent the degradation is and how that overall capability compares, then, to the -9B is unknown.

    10. The larger point when discussing -9B costs and capabilities is that the Navy enthusiastically sold the DBR as hugely superior to the -9B and yet when it came time to pay the bill they suddenly concluded that the -9B was good enough. This kind of blatant "spin" (it's Christmas so I won't say lying) continues to erode whatever little credibility the Navy has left.

    11. Not "good enough". More like "better than nothing".

      The current Burke hull doesn't have the space, weight, power or cooling margins to add SPY-3, on top of AMDR, so there really wasn't much of a choice to be made.

    12. That's not what the Navy slideshows are saying. They claim to have plenty of margins for everything. Again, credibility. They're lying about the margins so that Congress won't start asking questions.

    13. The expected Flt III margins are suitable for moderate system upgrades over the life of the ship, but not necessarily suitable for adding 60,000lbs worth of X-band radar.

    14. From a CRS report,

      "According to the Navy, the upgraded SPQ-9B radar fits better
      within the Flight III’s sea frame and expected power and cooling availability. Program
      officials state that the SPQ-9B radar will have capabilities equal to the new design for
      current anti-air warfare threats, it will not perform as well against future threats"

      They're claiming that the -9B will have performance equal to the SPY. Of course, I no more believe that than I do any other claim by Navy officials. They'll say anything to get what they want or to avoid looking bad so take that statement for what it's worth!

  2. With all due respect, based on the adjacent railing and walkway, that small suitcase looks big enough to fit the offensive line of the Buffalo Bills. Of course, you might have to fold up one or two, but the Bills are pretty good at folding up lately.


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