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25 April 2001
AEGIS weapon system MK-7

AEGIS was designed and developed as a complete system, integrating state-of-the-art radar and missile systems. The missile launching system, the computer programs, the radar and the displays are fully integrated to work together. This makes the AEGIS system the first fully integrated combat system built to defend against advanced air, surface and subsurface threats. The AEGIS combat system is highly integrated and capable of simultaneous warfare on several fronts -- air, surface, subsurface and strike. Anti-air warfare elements include the radar system AN/SPY-1B/D, command and decision system and weapons control system.

During the 1960's, advances in anti-ship missiles meant that reaction time, firepower and operational availability in all environments did not match the threat. To counter this, an operational requirement for an Advanced Surface Missile System (ASMS) was promulgated and a comprehensive engineering development programme was initiated. ASMS was renamed AEGIS in December 1969.

The sophistication and complexity of the AEGIS combat system were such that the combination of engineering with AEGIS/AEGIS equipped ship acquisition demanded a new approach, which was achieved by the establishment of the AEGIS shipbuilding project at Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA PMS-400) in 1977. This organisation combined hull mechanical and electrical systems, combat systems, computer programs, repair parts, personnel maintenance documentation and tactical operation documentation into one unified organisation to create the AEGIS cruisers and destroyers. This is underpinned by an organisation that has both the responsibility and authority to simultaneously manage development/acquisition, combat system integration and lifetime support.

The result of this activity was the AEGIS weapon system which can defeat an extremely wide range of targets from wave top to directly overhead. AEGIS is extremely capable against anti-ship cruise missiles and manned aircraft flying in all speed ranges from subsonic to supersonic. The AEGIS system is effective in all environmental conditions having both all-weather capability and demonstrated outstanding abilities in chaff and jamming environments. The AEGIS system was designed as a total weapon system, from detection to kill.

The heart of the AEGIS systems is an advanced, automatic detect and track, multifunctional phased-array radar, the AN/SPY-1. This high-powered (4 MW) radar is able to perform search, track and missile guidance functions simultaneously with a capability of over 100 targets. The first Engineering Development Model (EDM-1) was installed in the test ship, USS Norton Sound (AVM 1) in 1973. The system's computer-based command and decision element is the core of the AEGIS combat system. This interface makes the AEGIS combat system capable of simultaneous operation against a multimission threat: anti-air, anti-surface and anti-submarine warfare.

The first AEGIS ships were based on the hull and machinery designs of 'Spruance' class destroyers. Originally identified as a guided missile destroyer, DDG-47 class, the class was redesignated a guided missile cruiser. The first ship of the class, USS Ticonderoga (CG 47), was commissioned in January 1983. 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) introduced the AN/UYK-43/44 computers, which provide increased processing capabilities.

In 1980, the preliminary plans for a smaller ship with AEGIS capabilities were studied. Advances in technology allowed the building of an AEGIS system compatible with a smaller ship while maintaining multimission capabilities. A smaller ship was designed using an improved sea-keeping hull form, reduced infra-red and radar cross section and upgrades to the AEGIS Combat System. The first ship of the DDG 51 class, Arleigh Burke, was commissioned in 1991. DDG 51s were constructed in flights, allowing technological advances during construction. Flight II, introduced in 1992, incorporates improvements to the SPY radar and the Standard missile, active electronic countermeasures and communications. Flight IIA, introduced in 1994, added a helicopter hangar with one anti-submarine helicopter and one armed attack helicopter. The Aegis program has also projected reducing the cost of each Flight IIA ship by at least US$30 million.

AEGIS Combat Systems are upgraded in baselines as follows:
Baseline 2 (CG 52-58) consists of the Vertical Launching System, TOMAHAWK Weapon System and Anti-Submarine Warfare upgrades
Baseline 3 (CG 59-64) includes the AN/SPY-1B radar and AN/UYQ-21 consoles
Baseline 4 (CG 65-73) integrates the AN/UYK-43/44 computers with superset computer programs developed for the DDG 51. Baseline 4 is the base Combat System for DDG 51-67
Baseline 5 was introduced in FY 1992 ships and includes the Joint Tactical Information Distribution System (JTIDS) Command and Control Processor, Tactical Data Information Link (TADIL) 16, Combat Direction-Finding, Tactical Data Information Exchange System, AN/SLQ-32(V)3 Active Electronic Counter Countermeasures and AEGIS Extended Range (ER) Missile. Baseline 5 was developed in phases: Phase I integrated AEGIS ER and supports the missile Initial Operational Capability. Phase II integrated system upgrades including Deceptive Electronic Countermeasures, Track Load Control algorithms and Track Initiation Processor. Phase III integrated JTIDS and the OJ-663 colour display Tactical Graphics Capability into the AEGIS combat system
Baseline 6 Phase III is the designation for the computer suite resulting from consolidation of the previous Phase II baseline with variations designed to introduce Tactical Ballistic Missile Defence (TBMD) and Co-operative Engagement Capability (CEC) in in-service ships. Baseline 6 upgrades include embarked helicopters, fibre optics as applied to Data Multiplexing System (DMS), implementation of affordability initiatives, the Radar Set Controller Environmental Simulator (RSCES) and Battle Force Tactical Trainer (BFTT). Advanced Display System, Evolved SEASPARROW Missile (ESSM), Identification (ID) upgrades Phase I, Advanced TOMAHAWK Weapon Control System (ATWCS) Phase II, fire-control system upgrades and the Joint Maritime Command Information System (JMCIS)
Baseline 7 will be developed in two phases. Baseline 7 Phase I was planned for the last ship in FY 1998 and Phase II is planned for the last ship in FY 2002. Major Baseline 7 upgrades include, but are not limited to: AN/SPY-1D(V) radar upgrade, integration of Co-operative Engagement Capability (CEC) and TBMD capability (first forward fit implementation), advanced computer architecture, ID upgrades Phase II, Cueing Sensor, STANDARD Missile-2 Block IIIB full integration, Advanced Integrated Electronic Warfare System (AIEWS) Phase I and II, Light Airborne Multipurpose System (LAMPS) helicopter Mark III Block II, Advanced Tactical Support, integrated Naval Surface Fire Support (NSFS) and Mark 50 torpedo with Periscope Depth Attack.

In 1998, a new contract was signed, which with options is valued at US$1.97 billion, for the definition, design, development, integration, testing and delivery of advanced AEGIS Combat System computer program baselines. The work will convert the earliest AEGIS ships, the cruiser class, to more current computer program baseline capabilities and introducing Navy Area Wide and Theatre Wide (TBMD) upgrades to the fleet. The modifications will be introduced into 'CG 47' class and 'DDG 51' class ships.

The total cost for the AEGIS weapon system is US$42.7 billion.

Operational status
There are four ship classes contained within the AEGIS class of ships: Japanese 'Kongo' class destroyers, Spanish F-100 frigates, US 'Ticonderoga' class cruisers and 'Arleigh Burke' class destroyers.

The Aegis System involves some 600 contractors.

Aegis guided missile destroyer USS Arleigh Burke (1999)

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