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Intelligence


Cobra King
USNS Howard O. Lorenzen
(Missile Range Instrumentation Ship T-AGM-25)
Cobra Judy Replacement (CJR)

Cobra King is a new, state-of-the-art mobile radar system consisting of S- and X-band phased radars that AFTAC employs to provide worldwide, high quality, high resolution, multi-wavelength radar data to the Department of Defense's strategic community, the Missile Defense Agency and other government agencies. The radar and ship are the sea component of DoD's Cobra program that monitors missile and space launches. Other Cobra platforms include the Cobra Ball (airborne tracker) Cobra Dane (stationary array), Cobra Shoe (overseas antenna site) and AFTAC's recently decommissioned maritime vessel, Cobra Judy (USNS Observation Island).

The COBRA JUDY REPLACEMENT (CJR) program replaced the capability of the current United States Naval Ship (USNS) Observation Island (OBIS), its COBRA JUDY radar suite, and other mission essential systems. CJR fulfilled the same mission as the current COBRA JUDY/OBIS. CJR collected foreign ballistic missile data in support of international treaty verification.

CJR represented an integrated mission solution: ship, radar suite, and other Mission Equipment (ME). CJR consisted of a radar suite including active S-Band and X-Band Phased Array Radars (PARs), weather equipment, and a Mission Communications Suite (MCS). The radar suite was capable of autonomous volume search and acquisition. The S-Band PAR served as the primary search and acquisition sensor and was capable of tracking and collecting data on a large number of objects in a multi-target complex. The X-Band PAR provided very high-resolution data on particular objects of interest.

The OBIS replacement platform, USNS Howard O. Lorenzen (Missile Range Instrumentation Ship (T-AGM) 25), is a commercially designed and constructed ship, classed to American Bureau of Shipping standards, certified by the U.S. Coast Guard in accordance with Safety of Life at Sea, and in compliance with other commercial regulatory body rules and regulations, and other Military Sealift Command (MSC) standards. The ship is U.S. flagged, operated by a Merchant Marine or MSC Civilian Mariner crew, with a minimum of military specifications. The ship is projected to have a 30-year operating system life-cycle.

Ship delivery followed completion of acceptance trials in November 2011. The ship was initially at Kiewit Offshore Services in Corpus Christi, Texas, for planned radar installation, integration, and testing. The government-provided communications suite was complete.

The 12,575-ton, 534-foot ship was initially crewed and operated by Military Sealift Command (MSC). Currently crewed by civil service mariners, Lorenzen is expected to transition to a crew of commercial mariners working for private companies under contract to MSC when the ship achieves initial operational capability in 2013.

The Cobra Judy Replacement program replaced the U.S. Naval Ship (USNS) Observation Island which had become unsustainable and was due to leave service no later than 2012. This program funded the development of a single ship-based radar suite for world wide technical data collection against ballistic missiles in flight. Prior funding provided instrumentation of quality radar data and imaging, detailing threat assessment of ballistic missile development, testing and range augmentation and monitored or verified specific aspects of United States treaties with other countries. To avoid vulnerabilities in US national security it was imperative that the Navy replace the current capability of Cobra Judy in a timely manner to prevent any potential gap in coverage. Prior studies have indicated that a ship-based radar replacement is the most timely and cost effective solution.

The acquisition strategy called for leveraging ongoing Navy Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) radar development, updating existing user interface/communications/data handling equipment designs from a similar operational unit, and purchasing and integrating the mission equipment aboard an appropriate merchant-class hull. System design will be accomplished using in-hand technologies and commercial standards to lower schedule risk and produce a product with the lowest possible life-cycle cost.

Raytheon combined a unique knowledge and experience of the Cobra Judy mission with proven expertise in mission systems integration to achieve customer success on this vital national program. Raytheon leveraged existing technology from its open architecture- based family of radars, which includes the DD(X) dual-band radar, the sea- based High-Power Discrimination radar, and the Theater High-Altitude Area Defense radar. The acquisition strategy calls for leveraging ongoing Navy Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) radar development, updating existing user interface/communications/data handling equipment designs from a similar operational unit, and purchasing and integrating the mission equipment aboard an appropriate merchant-class hull. System design was accomplished using in-hand technologies and commercial standards to lower schedule risk and produce a product with the lowest possible life-cycle cost.

The CJR team replaced the existing Cobra Judy and USNS Observation Island, fielded by Raytheon in the early 1980s, to provide the strategic community, the Missile Defense Agency, and related communities with a long- loiter, foreign ballistic missile data collection capability in support of international treaty verification.

The Raytheon-led team designed, fabricated, integrated and tested the dual band radar suite and provide engineering and management support for procurement of the CJR ship. As the principal teammate, Northrop Grumman Corporation was responsible for the design, fabrication, integration and test of the S-band array antenna for the CJR Mission Equipment suite. The S-band active phased array radar is a directed $350 million subcontract to Northrop Grumman Systems Corporation, Electronic Systems.

The cost of the project, which was awarded to primary contractor Raytheon, was valued more than $1.74 billion. Northrup Grumman, General Dynamics, IBM and Kiewit Offshore Services were involved in the project. Work on the CJR Mission Equipment was performed at Raytheon facilities in New England, San Diego, Calif., and at Northrop Grumman facilities in Baltimore, Md. The facility in Sudbury performed 30 percent of the work; the facility in Andover performed 20 percent of the work; the facility in Bedford performed 5 percent of the work; and, the facility in Tewksbury performed 5 percent of the work.

The Navy accepted the delivery of missile range instrumentation ship USNS Howard O. Lorenzen (T-AGM 25) 10 January 2012. Constructed by VT Halter Marine in Pascagoula, Miss., T-AGM 25 was the replacement for the existing USNS Observation Island, which was launched in 1953. The ship would provide worldwide, high-quality, dual-band radar data in support of ballistic missile treaty verification. Accepting delivery of this ship represented the official transfer of T-AGM 25 from the shipbuilder to the Navy and is a major milestone in the ship's transition to operational status.

The ship was christened in June 2010 by the ship's sponsor, Susan Lorenzen Black, daughter of ship's namesake, the late Dr. Howard O. Lorenzen, a distinguished Naval Research Laboratory scientist. Considered to be the "Father of Electronic Warfare," Howard O. Lorenzen was an electrical engineer for the Naval Research Laboratory who was instrumental in the creation of the U.S.'s electronic intelligence capabilities.

In a career that spanned 33 years at the Washington, D.C., based Naval Research Laboratory, Howard Otto Lorenzen developed the distinction as the "Father of Electronic Warfare" for his development of radio countermeasures that could exploit detected or interrupted electromagnetic transmissions for military purposes, intelligence gathering and electronic countermeasures a pioneering concept that was the genesis of modern day electronic warfare.

"Lorenzen understood and the Navy realized the value and relevance of not only detecting enemy radio and electronic transmissions, but that recording, analyzing and deciphering these transmissions and developing intuitive countermeasures would prove to be an integral and vital function to the future of national security," said Pete Wilhelm, Director, NRL Naval Center for Space Technology.

Beginning his NRL career in 1940 as a radio engineer under the leadership of radar pioneer, Albert Hoyt Taylor, Lorenzen got his first taste of electronic countermeasures when he unintentionally jammed the signal of radar being tested at the lab's Radar Division. As the U.S. entered World War II with the attack on Pearl Harbor, Lorenzen's research focused on developing electronic means to detect, locate, jam and otherwise deceive enemy radar and other electronic locating equipment, ushering in a new era of warfare to benefit U.S. military countermeasures.

In 1970, Deputy of Defense Secretary David Packard aligned space system acquisition responsibilities with those for weapon systems acquisitions and authorized the military departments to pursue departmental need for space systems. NRL turned to Lorenzen to repeat in space what he had accomplished in EW - design total systems for military operational support and in 1971 named Lorenzen superintendent of NRL Space Systems. Lorenzen served as superintendent of NRL space systems until his retirement from NRL in June 1973.

USNS Howard O. Lorenzen (T-AGM 25). USNS Howard O. Lorenzen (T-AGM 25). USNS Howard O. Lorenzen (T-AGM 25). USNS Howard O. Lorenzen (T-AGM 25). USNS Howard O. Lorenzen (T-AGM 25). USNS Howard O. Lorenzen (T-AGM 25).

The Air Force Technical Applications Center has a welcome addition to its treaty monitoring capabilities - the Cobra King radar system aboard the USNS Howard O. Lorenzen. Cobra King is a new, state-of-the-art mobile radar system consisting of S- and X-band phased radars that AFTAC employs to provide worldwide, high quality, high resolution, multi-wavelength radar data to the Department of Defense's strategic community, the Missile Defense Agency and other government agencies.

The radar and ship are the sea component of DoD's Cobra program that monitors missile and space launches. Other Cobra platforms include the Cobra Ball (airborne tracker) Cobra Dane (stationary array), Cobra Shoe (overseas antenna site) and AFTAC's recently decommissioned maritime vessel, Cobra Judy (USNS Observation Island).

The vessel is operated by Military Sealift Command under a support agreement with AFTAC. The ship operates with a combined crew of civilian mariners who are responsible for operating and navigating the ship, as well as military technicians and civilian contractors who operate and maintain the radar and communications equipment.

The vessel was specified to meet the IMO A.468 noise criteria rather than that of Mil-Std 1474D. For noise control, the diesel generators were placed on very low frequency isolation mounts. Recommendations were also made to install additional acoustic insulation beyond that which was originally specified. Furthermore, it was found that damping applied to the underside of the after compartments would be a cost effective treatment. The Plan implemented on this vessel insured the noise criteria were met with only two exceptions; these exceptions, as noted below, were due to implementation problems rather than design flaws. Other naval vessels built without the full benefit of a Noise Control Plan, easily have 10%20% of the spaces with noise excesses.

Considered to be the "Father of Electronic Warfare," Howard O. Lorenzen was an electrical engineer for the Naval Research Laboratory who was instrumental in the creation of the U.S.'s electronic intelligence capabilities.

"This is an extremely exciting time for AFTAC," said Col Chris Worley, AFTAC commander. "As Cobra Judy was decommissioned, Cobra King quickly transitioned to ensure our mission of foreign ballistic missile detection was virtually uninterrupted, and we were able to continuously execute our international treaty monitoring responsibilities."

The Lorenzen underwent final contract trials off the coast of California in November 2013, which exercised all aspects of the vessel and its systems, including main propulsion, damage control, supply, deck, navigation, habitability, electrical systems and operation. The trials proved to be 100 percent successful, both in port and at sea.

The cost of the project, which was awarded to primary contractor Raytheon, was valued more than $1.74 billion. Northrup Grumman, General Dynamics, IBM and Kiewit Offshore Services are also involved in the project.

"The mission commander aboard Cobra King is a member of my operations team," said Col. Jonathan R. VanNoord, AFTAC's Director of Operations. "His or her ultimate responsibility is to ensure the platform team members are able to successfully collect mission data. In addition to daily mission taskings, the MC works closely with experts from MSC to develop a prioritized listing of necessary ship-related items whenever the vessel is in port or at the shipyard."

Raytheon Intelligence & Space, Dulles, Virginia, was awarded 26 October 2021 a $340,000,000 firm-fixed-price, cost-reimbursable, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for mobile sensors operations and maintenance services of the Cobra King radar system. Work will be performed at Patrick Space Force Base, Florida, and outside continental U.S. locations, and is expected to be completed by Oct. 31, 2031. This award is the result of a competitive acquisition in which one offer was received. Fiscal 2022 operations and maintenance funds in the amount of $17,699,700 are being obligated at the time of award. Acquisition Management and Integration Center, Patrick Space Force Base, Florida, is the contracting activity (FA7022-22-D-0001).

Award Date 09/26/2006
Keel Date 08/13/2008
Launch Date 06/30/2010
Delivery Date 01/10/2012
In-Service Date 01/10/2012
Commission Date
Inactivation Date
Decommission Date
Overall Length 534 ft
Waterline Length
Extreme Beam 89 ft
Waterline Beam
Max Navigational Draft 21 ft
Draft Limit
Light Displacement 9543 tons
Full Displacement 12642 tons
Dead Weight 3099 tons
Hull Material
No. of Propellers 1
No. of Waterjets
Propulsion Type Diesel Electric
Accommodations Officers:
Enlisted:

USNS Howard O. Lorenzen (T-AGM 25).




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Page last modified: 09-11-2021 16:53:51 ZULU