Arleigh Burke Flight III: the US Navy’s ultimate warship?


Of course, the US Navy now sports some very impressive stealth destroyers and some of the most powerful aircraft carriers on the planet. But the Arleigh Burke Flight III can clearly hold its own and is in discussion as one of the Navy’s most powerful warships: This ship is built to fight. You better know how.” This quotation comes from US Navy Admiral Arleigh Burke, Chief of Naval Operations from 1955-1961, and long before this assignment, one of the baddest dudes to ever wear the uniform of a naval officer in World War II. Its nautical namesake, the Arleigh Burke-class of destroyers, especially the new Flight III version, is certainly worthy of the name of the old sea dog.

Flight Arleigh Burke III – “Flight” of a surface ship?

As odd as the terminology may seem when describing a surface warship, especially for naval aviation enthusiasts (channeling the Top Gun: Maverick Movie here the Arleigh Burke the class of “tin cans” are classified in four distinct variants or “Flights”. DDGs 51-71 represent the original design and are designated as Flight I; DDG 72-78 are Flight II ships; and DDG 79-124 and DDG 127 are Flight IIA ships. The Flight III baseline will begin with DDG 125-126 and continue with DDG-128 and onwards. The Burke-classbeginning with DDG-51 and the in-service date of July 4, 1991, replaced the Charles F. Adams class (DDG-2) which had been in service since 1957.

The burks were designed with an all-new all-steel hull form, incorporating much of the Spruce the Destroyer-class Propulsion and Machinery Plant (DD-963), and the field-proven Aegis Integrated Weapons System (AWS) Kidd class destroyers (DD 993) and installed on the larger Ticonderoga class cruisers. AWS is comprised of a multi-function phased array radar, advanced AAW and ASW systems, a VLS, and the Tomahawk weapon system. For good old-fashioned ship-to-ship engagements and shore bombing missions, these destroyers also retain the 5 inch Mk45 gun.

Regardless of the specific flight variant, the burk-class is considered a multi-mission guided missile destroyer designed to operate offensively and defensively, independently or as units of Carrier groups, expeditionary strike groups and surface action groups in multi-threat environments including air, surface and subterranean threats. These state-of-the-art warships will respond to low-intensity conflict/coastal and coastal warfare scenarios, as well as high-seas conflict, providing or augmenting power projection, forward presence requirements, and escort operations at sea. .

What separates the Flight III variant from the rest of the pack is that this upgrade centers around the AN/SPY-6(V)1 Air and Missile Defense Radar (AMDR) system which offers a significantly increased capability over to DDG 51 Flight IIA ships. AMDR allows Flight III ships to simultaneously conduct anti-aircraft warfare (AAW) and Ballistic missile defense (BMD), which addresses the Navy’s critical need for an enhanced surface combatant Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD) capability. Given the shockwaves sent to naval communities around the world by the Successful sinking of the Ukrainians of the flagship of the Russian Black Sea Fleet MoscowBMD capability enhancements certainly couldn’t have come at a better time for the US Navy!

Arleigh Burke Flight III is officially launched

The first of the Flight III warships, the USS Jack H. Lucas (DDG-125), was launched successfully at Huntington Ingalls Industries, Ingalls Shipbuilding Division, in Pascagoula, Mississippi on June 4, 2021. As DDG-51 Arleigh BurkeClass 1 program manager Captain Seth Miller said: “Flight III ships will provide state-of-the-art integrated air and missile defense capability to include significantly greater detection range and tracking capability. The launch of the first Vol III ship, the future Jack H. Lucas, is another milestone in the delivery of Vol III to the Navy.

Meanwhile, there are two other DDG-51 Flight III class ships currently under construction, namely the future Ted Stevens (DDG-128) and Jeremiah Denton (DDG-129) as the ships of Flight III. There are a total of 20 DDG 51-class ships under contract at the two new shipyards, all of which promise to allow the US Navy’s arsenal to pack an even more formidable punch.

Specifications and general characteristics

Builder: Bath Iron Works, Huntington Ingalls Industries

combat system integrator: Lockheed Martin

Propulsion: Four General Electric LM 2500-30 gas turbines; two shafts, 100,000 total horsepower

Length: 509 1/2 feet (155.29 meters)

Beam: 59 feet (18 meters)

Shift: 8,230 – 9,700 long tons

The rapidity: More than 30 knots

Crew: 329 Total (32 Officers, 27 CPO, 270 Enlisted)

Armament: Standard missile (SM-2MR); ASROC Vertical Launch Missiles (VLA); Tomahawk; six MK-46 torpedoes (from two triple-tube mounts); Close-In Weapon System (CIWS), 5 in. MK 45 gun, Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM)

Plane: (Flight IIA and III (DDG 79 AF)) Two LAMPS MK III MH-60 B/R helicopters with Penguin/Hellfire missiles and MK 46/MK 50 torpedoes

Christian D. Orr is a former Air Force officer, federal law enforcement officer, and private military contractor (with assignments in Iraq, United Arab Emirates, Kosovo, Japan, Germany and the Pentagon). Chris holds a BA in International Relations from the University of Southern California (USC) and an MA in Intelligence Studies (Terrorism Studies Concentration) from the American Military University (AMU). It was also published in The Daily Torch and The Journal of Intelligence and Cybersecurity.


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