Huntington Ingalls Industries’ Ingalls Shipbuilding division has launched the US Navy’s first Arleigh Burke-class Flight III guided missile destroyer, the future USS Jack H Lucas (DDG 125).

The Flight III baseline begins with DDGs 125-126 and will proceed with DDG 128 and follow-on ships.

Frank E Peterson Jr (DDG 121), Lenah H Sutcliffe Higbee (DDG 123), Ted Stevens (DDG 128) and Jeremiah Denton (DDG 129) are the four other Arleigh Burke-class destroyers that are currently under construction by HII.

DDG 51 Arleigh Burke-class programme manager captain Seth Miller said: “Flight III ships will provide cutting edge Integrated Air and Missile Defense capability to include significantly greater detection range and tracking capacity.

“Launching the first Flight III ship, the future Jack H Lucas, is another important step to delivering Flight III to the Navy.”

According to the US Navy, there are a total of 20 ships under the DDG 51 programme that are currently under construction or contract.

In 2018, Ingalls won a $5.1bn fixed-price incentive, multiyear contract. Under the contract, the shipbuilding division is building six Arleigh Burke-class Flight III destroyers for the US Navy.

The DDG 51 Arleigh Burke-class destroyers can be deployed to perform various operations including peacetime missions, crisis management, sea control and power projection.

The multi-mission ships are also capable of simultaneously fighting air, surface, and subsurface battles.

In May last year, HII’s Ingalls Shipbuilding division lifted the aft deckhouse onto Jack H Lucas (DDG 125) in Pascagoula, Mississippi.