Last updated: 25 May 2021
The DDG 51 class guided missile destroyers are warships that provide multi-mission offensive and defensive capabilities. Destroyers can operate independently or as part of Carrier Strike Groups, Surface Action Groups, and Expeditionary Strike Groups.
Guided-missile destroyers are multi-mission surface combatants capable of conducting Anti-Air Warfare (AAW), Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW), and Anti-Surface Warfare (ASuW). The destroyer's armament has greatly expanded the role of the ship in strike warfare utilizing the MK-41 Vertical Launching System (VLS), and beginning with ships equipped with Aegis Baseline 9, Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD).
The Arleigh Burke class (DDG 51) destroyers replaced the Charles F. Adams class (DDG 2). The Arleigh Burke class was designed with an all-new hull form, incorporating much of the Spruance class (DD 963) destroyer propulsion and machinery plant, and the integrated Aegis Weapons System (AWS) proven on the Kidd class (DD 993) destroyers and installed on the larger Ticonderoga class cruisers. AWS is composed of a multi-function phased array radar, advanced AAW and ASW systems, VLS, and the Tomahawk Weapon System.
DDG 51 was commissioned on July 4, 1991, and the class is still in production. The class has been continuously upgraded with advanced sensors and weapons and improved support systems.
The Arleigh Burke class employs all-steel construction and comprises four separate variants or "Flights." DDGs 51-71 represent the original design and are designated as Flight I; DDGs 72-78 are Flight II ships; and DDGs 79-124 and DDG 127 are Flight IIA ships. The Flight III baseline will begin with DDGs 125-126 and continue with DDG 128 and follow.
The DDG 51 Flight III upgrade is centered on the AN/SPY-6(V)1 Air and Missile Defense Radar (AMDR) system that provides vastly increased capability over DDG 51 Flight IIA ships. The AMDR enables Flight III ships to simultaneously perform AAW and BMD, which satisfies the Navy's critical need for an enhanced surface combatant Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD) capability.
The first Flight III ship, DDG 125, started fabrication May 07, 2018 and the keel was ceremonially laid down at Huntington Ingalls Industries, Ingalls Shipbuilding November 07, 2019. The second Flight III ship, DDG 126, started fabrication March 03, 2020 at General Dynamics – Bath Iron Works. There are now five Flight III ships under construction with nine more under contract.
Sixty-nine DDG 51 class ships have been delivered to the fleet (DDGs 51 - 119), with 20 more on contract and 11 ships in various stages of construction.
A DDG modernization program is underway to provide a comprehensive mid-life upgrade that will ensure the DDG 51 class will maintain mission relevance and remain an integral part of the Navy's Sea Power 21 Plan. The modernization changes are also being introduced to new construction ships to increase the baseline capabilities of the newest ships in the class, and to provide commonality between new construction ships and modernized in-service ships. The goal of the DDG modernization effort is to reduce workload requirements and increase war fighting capabilities while reducing total ownership cost to the Navy.
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