The US Navy’s newest light cruiser and aircraft carrier designs offer a wide array of new technologies. One is the Dual-Band Radar (DBR) system, which can be scaled up or down for installation in the new DDG-1000 Zumwalt Class “destroyers”, and the CVN-21 Gerald R. Ford Class aircraft carriers.
The DBR concept involves a significant change from current naval design approaches, and that change is not without risk. The USA’s GAO audit office remains concerned that key tests may not happen before the radar is installed on new ships, and any more development or testing snags could put much larger programs at risk. In April 2009, a successful full-power “lightoff” of both DBR radars was encouraging, but 2010 saw a major program shift. Sharp drops in the planned number of DDG-1000 destroyer created a per-ship cost crisis. Part of the response involved a shift to a single X-band SPY-3 radar for the Zumwalt Class, leaving DBR as a dual-band SPY-3/ SPY-4 solution only on America’s new carriers.