Navy Makes Destroyers Look Like Fishing Boats on Enemy Radars

091010-N-8273J-169SAN DIEGO -- The Navy’s USS Wayne E Meyer guided missile destroyer is preparing for a series of extensive upgrades to make the ship stealthier or less detectable to traditional enemy radar.

Having recently returned from a seven-month deployment to the Pacific theater, the Wayne E Meyer will go through what’s called a “maintenance availability” before entering  a larger, longer upgrade period which examines the software, hardware  and various designs on board the ship.

“We’ll get upgrades to multiple systems on board including everything from combat systems to engineering maintenance and management, electrical and thermal systems, ammunition upgrades, weapons systems upgrades and radar upgrades,” said Cmdr. Adam Flemming, executive officer, USS Wayne E Meyer.

Ship design and ship structure will also be a central focus of the upgrades in order to determine if there are ways to reduce the vessel’s radar signature and make the large vessel appear more like a small fishing boat to enemy radar, he said.

“We routinely review not only our own self noise but also how we look to other radar. We are constantly reviewing that process to see if we can reduce our radar-cross section and reduce the threat to the ship,” Flemming added.

These reviews include an examination of structures, shapes and contours of systems mounted to the top of the ship, he explained.

“Anything that is mounted to the top side of the ship effects our radar cross-section. The whole point is self-defense and making us a small target,” Flemming added.

Adjustments could include the use of radar absorbent material or changing the angle of poles mounted on the ship’s deck.  For instance, changing angles on some of the ship’s items could impact how radar signals are bounced off and make the ship less recognizable or detectable.

“Changing the angles on the ship to reflect the radar energy that is coming in to detect us -- and reflecting that off in a different direction makes us appear smaller,” he added.

The Wayne E Meyer’s Vertical Launch Systems, or VLS, are configured to fire Tomahawks, Standard Missile or SM-2s, SM-6s and Vertical Launched Anti-Submarine Rockets. The upgrades will assess potential software improvements for the VLS so that they can accommodate new weapons as they become available.

The upgrades will also improve how ship-based ammunition is handled and stored, Flemming added.

Upgrades will also examine the ship’s AN/SQQ-89 hull-mounted sonar with a mind to keeping the technology abreast of emerging and next-generation threats.

“We are constantly upgrading our data base. Electronic warfare is a constantly evolving mission area,” Flemming said.

Like other Flight IIA guided-missile destroyers, the USS Wayne E Meyer is configured for a range of missions to include surface warfare, missile defense, search and rescue and humanitarian missions.

“We have breadth of mission capability enabling us to do multiple things at once,” Flemming explained. “We’re the Swiss Army knife of the fleet.”

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