SPY-6 family of radars

US Navy’s advanced SPY-6 family of radars by Raytheon

The SPY-6 family of radars used by the US Navy on its seven classes of ships provides them with air and missile defense capabilities. According to Raytheon. 

Raytheon company with its core manufacturing concentrations in weapons and military and commercial electronics is a major US defense contractor. It was the world’s largest producer of guided missiles. 

According to the President of Raytheon’s Missiles & Defense, Wes Kremer, “Our multi-mission radar’s ability to detect and track ballistic missiles, air and surface-borne threats simultaneously in a contested environment is an evolutionary step forward in the Navy’s warfighting capability.”

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Features of SPY-6 radars:

According to the company, these radars can provide defense against incoming missiles including ballistic and cruise missiles, surface ships, and other hostile aircraft. 

The radar provides an extended detection range with accurate distinction. It is also more sensitive than its older version. The exact radar detection range is not yet disclosed by the company.

“SPY-6 radars are built from individual building blocks called Radar Modular Assemblies (RMA), or self-contained radar that comes in 2x2x2 boxes,” Raytheon reported. “Those boxes stack together to fit the mission requirements of any ship – a feature that makes the SPY-6 family the Navy’s truly scalable radars.” 

The radar is 30 times more sensitive than its older version. “It’s like replacing a rooftop TV antennae with an HD digital receiver.” According to Jack Arbeiter, radar hardware lead for Raytheon Missiles & Defense. 

The radar includes the array faces, a back-end processor to compute array signals, a power system, and a cooler to remove excess heat. 

SPY-6 Family of Radars
U.S. Navy’s SPY-6 Family of Radars


These radars come in four variants;

  1. Version-1
  2. Version-2
  3. Version-3
  4. Version-4

Technical Details of Radar Variants:


The Version-1 has a greater range and sensitivity than its predecessor. It has four array faces each with 37 RMA’s which provides 360 degrees situational awareness. 

It provides protection against incoming ballistic and cruise missiles, and anti-surface and anti-air threats. It also provides defense against jamming/clutter and electronic warfare. 

Theis variant is designed for DDG 51 Flight III Navy’s destroyer. 


The second variant has 1 rotating array face with 9 RMA’s. It is also known as the ‘Enterprise Air Surveillance Radar (rotator variant)’. It is used for air traffic control and ship’s self-defense purposes. 

It provides protection against cruise missiles, anti-ship and anti-surface threats, and jamming and electronic warfare threats. 

The second variant of the radars is specifically designed for Nimitz-class carriers and amphibious assault ships. 


It has three fixed-face array faces, each with 9 RMA’s. It also provides 360 degrees of situational awareness. It provides air traffic control and enhances the ship’s self-defense capabilities. 

The radar provides defense against incoming cruise missiles, anti-ship and anti-surface threats, and jamming and electronic warfare threats. 

The third variant is designed for FFG(X) guided-missile frigates and Ford-class aircraft carriers. 


It has 4 array faces, each with 24 RMA’s. It shares the same features as the other three variants. 

The fourth variant is specially designed for DDG 51 Flight IIA destroyers. 

“Fulfilling all these mission capabilities while providing unmatched range and high sensitivity for naval forces – that’s really the magic of SPY-6.” President of the Raytheon Missiles & Defense, Kremer added. 

Radar production line:

The company has a 30,000 square-foot Radar Development Facility with each radar undergoes extensive near-field range testing. 

The Raytheon company with its world’s most advanced radar development facility uses a radio frequency scanner to calibrate and measure each array’s 5328 radiating elements, essentially like little antennas. 

Testing an array of this complexity typically takes 6 to 12 months, but the company’s advanced automation process reduces that timeline to two months. 

The company will produce 36 of such radar arrays in the next three years for US Navy as a part of low-rate initial production. 


The development of advanced radars which can also track and destroy the incoming ballistic missiles threat provides US Navy’s destroyer ships fleet with increased survivability chances and enhances situational awareness in the modern era.


  1. Raytheon Missiles & Defense

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