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Aegis Lite for the Corvette

September 13, 2009

Strategypage reveals details of the latest development of the Aegis combat system, the Raytheon AN/Spy-5 for small ships:

The new Raytheon SPY-5 could be described as “Aegis Lite” (it can be used in smaller ships, of under 1,000 tons displacement). The SPY-5 (SPY-1 is Aegis, SPY-2 is the anti-missile version of Aegis, while . SPY-3 and 4 are for the new DDG-1000 destroyer) is, in effect a smaller version of SPY-3, which was also designed to replace five different types of radars. In effect, SPY-5 takes care of air and surface search, plus fire control, and anything else you need radar for. The smaller (than SPY 1-3) uses only three flat phased array surfaces to cover all around the ship. The SPY-5 was also designed to be compatible with existing power supplies and electronic systems in Western ships.

As we have often predicted, the small corvette ship is increasingly becoming a formidable warship in its own right, a long way from the thinly protected FACs of previous decades. Hopefully this will drive orders for such craft, which costing in the hundreds of millions of dollars, might be seen as replacements for the giant missile escorts we have dubbed “new battleships”. Such vessels like the US Arleigh Burke and the newer Zumwalt class, plus their European counterparts easily surpass the billion dollar mark many times over. Hardly an incentive for production in large numbers, or risking such exquisite ships in wartime.

12 Comments leave one →
  1. B.Smitty permalink
    September 17, 2009 11:47 am

    I was hoping SPY-5 was going to be a scaled down version of SPY-3, but this appears not to be the case.

    SPY-5 is a PESA array (not AESA) along the lines of SPY-1, but in X-band.

    Just FYI.

  2. Chuck Hill permalink
    September 15, 2009 1:50 am

    It might fit nicely on the new Coast Guard cutters. In addition, to the eight Bertholfs there are 25 Offshore Patrol Cutters planned that would fall in the light frigate category:

    Wonder how the price compares with separate air search and fire control?

    Make provision for putting VLS along the sides of the hangers?

  3. CBD permalink
    September 14, 2009 8:03 pm

    I’d say it’s built for the Koreans and (perhaps) Israel.

    There’s no foreseeable USN plan (unfortunately) to even consider the development of anything near the scale of an FFG, let alone a corvette.

    The LCS is not a multimission warship in the same way (as noted in previous discussions). It would also not benefit much from such a system.

    The South Korean navy, however, has shown an interest in Aegis systems and has built some nice little ships. They are also likely manufacturers of such ships for other, friendly, Asian countries. If they like the old Aegis, they might jump for SPY-5, thus creating a general sales market.

    Also, given that the Israelis are still working on the specifications for their new corvette/frigate, they may be tempted to use the SPY-5 thanks to militarily-linked US funding (in spite of much hope among Israeli tech companies that the IDF naval arm will use their systems for the new vessels).

    Between those two, the SPY-5 could develop a nice reputation.

    As Mrs. Davis said, it’s built for Raytheon.

  4. B.Smitty permalink
    September 14, 2009 8:44 am

    With just 16 short-range ESSMs and a low powered X-band array? Hmm.. I don’t think so.

  5. Mike Burleson permalink*
    September 14, 2009 8:19 am

    Smitty, how about AA?

  6. B.Smitty permalink
    September 14, 2009 6:50 am


    What “focused mission”? Not ASW or MIW (two of the primary missions for the LCS).

  7. Mike Burleson permalink*
    September 14, 2009 6:40 am

    Mark I honestly don’t know much more on the Spy-5 and when I searched for other sources I came up negative. I am certain we will be hearing more about the this and yours truly will follow events closely.

  8. Mrs. Davis permalink
    September 13, 2009 11:05 pm

    Who is the SPY-5 built for?


  9. Mark permalink
    September 13, 2009 9:39 pm

    Who is the SPY-5 built for? America or for export? Is it for NATO frigates and corvettes? Right now America is only building the LCS.

    And does “Aegis Lite” mean it connects to the fleet-wide battleforce network? If so then small Aegis Lite ships on the edges could provide the targeting for an arsenal ship in the center of the fleet.

  10. Mike Burleson permalink*
    September 13, 2009 8:53 pm

    To keep costs down, I am for making these less multi-mission, more focused mission. For instance, the 16 ESSM in VLS, a light cannon, not more than 4 Harpoons or Exocet. No ASW helicopters. Have those embarked from a mothership or even an aviation corvette.

    But if the multi-mission ship can be constructed for $300 million, I’d say go for it.

    Also, seakeeping in a vessel geared for shallow water warfare would be a low priority.

  11. September 13, 2009 6:25 pm


    OK, postulate fitting a SPY-5 RADAR onto a stretched version of the U.A.E. Baynunah class of corvettes. Further below is some imagery of the Baynunah as built.

    Weapons fit (as presently built):

    A) 76 mm DP cannon mounted forward;

    B) Two 27 mm Rheinmetal automatic revolver secondary cannon (two sponsoned mounts, port & starboard just aft of the bridge superstructure);

    C) Eight Exocet Anti-Ship cruise missiles (two superstructure mounts, amidships, facing port & starboard);

    D) Two sets of Raytheon MK-56 VLS for ESSM (two sponsoned mounts, port & starboard mounted on the aft helicopter hanger); either eight embarked ESSM or maybe sixteen warshots (not the 32 that some literature seems to suggest, or so it seems);

    E) One RAM launcher (21 missile version) mounted atop the hanger;

    F) A single light- to medium-weight ASW helicopter;

    Stretch out that design to enable embarking an SH-60 ASW helo and also increase range & endurance. Further, add some more of the MK-56 VLS cells for additional ESSM warshots. Also:

    1) Replace the eight Exocet with eight Harpoon;

    2) Replace the two 27 mm Rheinmetal cannon with either 25 or 30 mm chainguns;

    3) Perhaps replace the 76 mm cannon with a 57 mm cannon (or not);

    4) Add a bow-mounted SONAR, at least.

    5) Elevate the helo landing pad and hanger by one deck level; install a RHIB launching / retrieval ramp and storage deck below the helo pad.

    And that’s just a notional idea of a corvette that the USN might want if larger DDGs simply become too damned expensive to build. And it was Galrahn who first pointed out the Baynunah class might be useful to the USN (as a starting point for building a USN corvette class of warships).


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