The Navy is expected to award a contract as early as this summer to develop a more capable radar for its DDG-51 Arleigh Burke-class destroyers.

The Air and Missile Defense Radar (AMDR) will replace the SPY-1 radar to improve detection and tracking of increasingly sophisticated, hostile ballistic missiles and anti-ship cruise missiles.

“The AMDR program office is currently conducting proposal evaluations and plans to award the [engineering and manufacturing development (EMD)] contract once the evaluation process is complete,” a spokesman for Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) said.

Three companies – Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Raytheon – performed AMDR concept studies and technology development for the Navy from 2009 to 2012 and are now competing for the EMD contract. The Navy has budgeted $823 million for the radar system’s development over the next five years.

According to a March 2013 report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the Navy’s AMDR program office indicated that all four of the radar’s critical technologies were approaching maturity and that prototype radars were tested in the summer of 2012. A major task ahead is software development, including a series of software builds with 1 million lines of code.

The 14-foot-diameter AMDR is scheduled to be installed on DDG-51s starting in 2019. In early June, the Navy awarded contracts worth more than $6 billion to General Dynamics’ Bath Iron Works and Huntington Ingalls Industries’ Ingalls Shipbuilding division to build at least nine more DDG-51s, and it said most of the new ships will be equipped with AMDR. The radar could eventually be placed on other classes of ships, too.

“According to draft AMDR documents, a 14-foot radar is needed to meet threshold requirements, but an over 20-foot radar is required to fully meet the Navy’s desired integrated air and missile defense needs,” the GAO wrote. “However, the shipyards and the Navy have determined that a 14-foot active radar is the largest that can be accommodated within the existing DDG 51 deckhouse. Navy officials stated that AMDR is being developed as a scalable design but a new ship would be required to host a larger version of AMDR.”

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Marc Selinger is a journalist based in the Washington, D.C., area. He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter at @marcselinger.