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Bath Iron Works lays keel for its 1st Flight III Arleigh Burke for the US Navy

General Dynamics Bath Iron Works (BIW) officially started construction work on its first Flight III Arleigh-Burke guided-missile destroyer by laying its inaugural keel on May 17.

The ceremonial event took place at BIW where the keel was symbolically laid for the upcoming USS Louis H. Wilson Jr. (DDG 126), a guided-missile destroyer belonging to the Flight III variant of the Arleigh Burke-class.

The ship is named for General Louis Hugh Wilson Jr., a veteran of World War II and the Vietnam War who served as the Marine Corps Commandant.

General Wilson Jr. received the Medal of Honor for his bravery during the Battle of Guam. After his service in Vietnam, he assumed the role of the 26th Commandant of the Marine Corps, serving from 1975 to 1979.

The Flight III upgrade focuses on integrating the AN/SPY-6(V)1 Air and Missile Defense Radar, which serves as the centerpiece of the enhancements.

During the last year, US Navy awarded $651 million contract to Raytheon Missiles & Defense for full-rate production of the AN/SPY-6(V) radar family. The five-year contract aims to equip up to 31 US Navy ships with SPY-6 radars including the Arleigh Burke class Flight III destroyers, aircraft carriers, and amphibious ships.

SPY-6 radar installation is complete on the Navy’s inaugural Flight III destroyer, USS Jack H. Lucas (DDG 125), scheduled to be operational in 2024.

The upgrades also involve improving the electrical power and cooling capacity, along with implementing additional associated modifications, resulting in enhanced warfighting capabilities for the fleet.

BIW is currently constructing 10 Flight IIA destroyers, including the future John Basilone (DDG 122), Harvey C. Barnum Jr. (DDG 124), Patrick Gallagher (DDG 127), William Charette (DDG 130), and Quentin Walsh (DDG 132).