US commissions 1st Flight III Arleigh Burke class destroyer USS Jack H. Lucas

According to information published by the US DoD on October 7, 2023, the U.S. Navy commissioned the USS Jack H. Lucas (DDG 125), the latest addition to the Arleigh Burke-class of guided-missile destroyers in Tampa, Florida.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 First Flight III Arleigh Burke class destrouer USS Jack H. Lucas. (Picture source: US DoD)

The Flight III design emerged as a response to the canceled CG(X) program. With design work commencing in FY2013, the Navy envisioned procuring 24 Flight III ships between FY2016 and FY2031.

However, the program faced budgetary challenges, especially concerning the Air and Missile Defense Radar (AMDR) essential for ballistic missile defense (BMD) roles.

While the CG(X) had proposed a larger AMDR with a 22-foot diameter, the Flight III design could accommodate a radar with a 14-foot diameter. Despite concerns from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) about the radar's efficacy, the Navy remained confident in the DDG-51 hull's ability to support the radar requirements.

Unlike its predecessor, the AN/SPY-1D, which had a 12-foot diameter and utilized a passive electronically scanned array, the AN/SPY-6 employs an active electronically scanned array with digital beamforming.

Raytheon, the radar's developer, claims that the SPY-6 offers a 15 dB improved sensitivity over its predecessor. Integrated with the Aegis Baseline 10, this radar ensures enhanced detection and tracking capabilities.

To support the new radar, the Flight III design underwent several modifications. The ship's power generators were upgraded to accommodate the radar's increased power requirements.

The air conditioning systems were enhanced to provide better cooling, crucial for advanced electronic systems. To accommodate additional crew, the area near the rigid-hull inflatable boats (RHIBs) was enclosed, leading to a stacking arrangement for the RHIBs.

The ship also saw the replacement of its Halon-based fire suppression system with a more modern water mist system and structural reinforcements to the hull to support the added weight.

Looking ahead, the U.S. Navy might procure up to 42 Flight III ships, potentially bringing the total number of Arleigh Burke-class destroyers to 117.