Source: U.S. Navy
The AEGIS Weapon System (AWS) is a centralized, automated, command-and-control (C2) and weapons control system that was designed as a total weapon system, from detection to kill. The heart of the system is the AN/SPY-1, an advanced, automatic detect and track, multi-function phased-array radar. This high-powered radar is able to perform search, track, and missile guidance functions simultaneously, with a track capacity of more than 100 targets. The first Engineering Development Model (EDM-1) was installed in the test ship USS Norton Sound (AVM 1) in 1973.
The computer-based command and decision element is the core of the AEGIS combat system. This interface makes the AEGIS combat system capable of simultaneous operations against multi-mission threats: anti-air, anti-surface and anti-submarine warfare. The first AEGIS ship, USS Ticonderoga (CG 47), was commissioned in 1983 and deployed six months after commissioning.
The Navy built the AEGIS cruisers using the hull and machinery designs of Spruance class destroyers. The commissioning of USS Bunker Hill (CG 52) opened a new era in surface warfare as the first AEGIS ship outfitted with the Vertical Launching System (VLS), allowing greater missile selection, firepower and survivability. The improved AN/SPY-1B radar went to sea in USS Princeton (CG 59), ushering in another advance in AEGIS capabilities. USS Chosin (CG 65) was the first ship installed with the AN/UYK-43 computers, which provide increased processing capacity.
A smaller ship was designed using an improved sea-keeping hull form, reduced infrared and radar cross section and upgrades to the AEGIS Combat System. The first ship of the DDG 51 class, USS Arleigh Burke (DDG 51), was commissioned on the Fourth of July, 1991. The DDG 51 class was named after the legendary Adm. Arleigh Burke, the most famous destroyerman of World War II.
DDG 51s are constructed in flights, allowing technological advances during construction. The first 21 destroyers (DDG 51 through DDG 71) were identified as Flight I DDGs. Flight II, introduced in fiscal year 1992 (FY 92), incorporated improvements to the AN/SPY-1D radar, active electronic countermeasures and communications. Flight IIA, introduced in FY 94, consisted of DDG 79 and follow-on destroyers, which added a helicopter hangar with space for two multi-mission helicopters. AN/SPY-1D(V) introduced more radar improvements for improved performance in littoral environments, starting with USS Pinckney (DDG 91).
The Navy has restarted construction of a new flight of DDG 51 class ships. The AWS in these new ships will use networked-based, commercial off-the-shelf computing system infrastructures. These new AEGIS destroyers will incorporate the same new technologies as the modernized AEGIS destroyers such as the Multi-Mission Signal Processor (MMSP), the Surface Electronic Warfare Improvement Program (SEWIP), Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) 5.0 Capability Upgrade (CU), and the AN/SQQ-89A(V) Anti-Submarine Warfare/Undersea Warfare Combat System (ASWCS/USWCS). In addition to this new construction effort, the Navy is currently making plans for a follow-on version of the DDG 51 class that will be called DDG Flight III.
In an effort to incorporate advances in technology into in-service ships, and to keep pace with emerging threats, the AEGIS Modernization (AMOD) program was introduced. AMOD introduces computing system upgrades via the Advanced Capability Build (ACB) and Technology Insertion (TI) process for both cruisers and destroyers. The first iteration of this process, ACB-08 / TI-08, brought increased warfighting capabilities to CG 52 through CG 58. This cruiser modernization program ran from 2009 through 2011. ACB-08 uses COTS computer processors, and re-uses elements of the AEGIS Baseline 7.1R computer program code, while integrating improved system capabilities. The second iteration of this modernization process is ACB-12 / TI-12. This has now been renamed AEGIS Baseline 9 (BL 9) and brings increased warfighting capabilities such as simultaneous Anti-Air Warfare (AAW) and BMD, called Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD), Naval Integrated Fire Control-Counter Air (NIFC-CA). The follow-on to ACB-12/TI-12 is ACB-16/TI-16, which integrates additional capabilities such as BMD 5.1; SPQ-9B integration into the AWS Fire Control Loop (FCL); MH-60R integration; improved Electronic Warfare via the Surface Electronic Warfare Improvement Program (SEWIP); improved Interoperability via expanded Tactical Data Link (TDL) capability with Link 22; and improved shipboard training capability via implementation of Total Ship Training Capability (TSTC).
AEGIS BL 9 development efforts established the AEGIS Common Source Library (CSL), which enables software reuse and commonality across all modern AEGIS Combat System configurations. Specifically, the AEGIS CSL allows for the use of common tactical software across four different AWS configurations, including Air Defense Cruisers, Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD) Destroyers, New Construction IAMD Destroyers, and AEGIS Ashore (AA).
The next effort to modernize the AEGIS fleet is named AEGIS ACB 20. This will integrate new capabilities into the BL 9 CSL in a phased approach. The first phase will introduce the new AN/SPY-6 radar, BMD 6 Phase 0, ESSM BLK 2, MK 160 GFCS, CIWS sensor data integration, and a link 16 J3.4 message, but will continue to use the TI-16 hardware suite. The second phase will include SEWIP BLK 3, BMD 6 Phase 1, and the next TI hardware suite. The new phased array radar, AN/SPY-6, formerly known as Air and Missile Defense Radar (AMDR) brings a functional replacement to the legacy AN/SPY-1 radar that enhances AAW and BMD capabilities. This development effort is planned for fielding on new construction AEGIS DDG 51 Flight III ships that will enter service in 2023.
There are currently 84 U.S. Navy ships in service with the AEGIS Weapons System installed: 22 Cruisers and 62 Destroyers.