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AEGIS Weapon System

Last updated: 20 Sep 2021

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, 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) of the SPY-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.

Ticonderoga Class guided-missile cruisers (CGs) provide multi-mission offensive and defensive capabilities and can operate independently or as part of aircraft carrier strike groups and surface action groups in support of global operations. Ticonderoga Class cruisers have a combat system centered on the AEGIS Weapon System and the SPY-1 multi-function, phased-array radar. The combat system includes the Mk 41 Vertical Launching System that employs Standard Missile surface-to-air missiles, Tomahawk land-attack cruise missiles, advanced undersea and surface warfare systems, embarked sea-control helicopters, and robust command, control, and communications systems in a potent, multi-mission warship. The oldest 11 cruisers have been extensively modernized, including hull, mechanical, and electrical (HM&E) upgrades as well as improved quality of life, mission-life extension, integrated ship's control, all-electric auxiliaries, and weight and moment modifications. Combat systems upgrades for CG 52-60 and 62 include an open-architecture computing environment. Specific improvements to Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC) and SPY radar, maritime force-protection with the Mk 15 Close-In Weapon System Block 1B, Evolved SeaSparrow Missile (ESSM), Nulka decoy, and SPQ-9B radar, and the SQQ-89A(V)15 anti-submarine warfare suite address capability upgrades. Open architecture cruiser modernization warfighting improvements will extend the AEGIS Weapon System's capabilities against projected threats well into the 21st Century. The Navy has commenced a modernization plan of the fleet's 11 newest cruisers, which will update the ships' combat systems and HM&E systems. This updated modernization plan provides the added benefit of extending the service lives of these ships from 35 to 40 years, ensuring relevant and capable purpose-built Air Defense Commander platforms for carrier strike groups into the mid-2030s.

Combat systems modernization commenced in FY 2008 with the USS BUNKER HILL (CG 52). As of early FY 2017, seven CGs have completed Advanced Capability Build (ACB) 08 combat systems modernization, and three CGs have completed ACB-12 combat systems modernization.

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.

The Arleigh Burke Class guided-missile destroyer combat system is also centered on the AEGIS Weapon System and an upgraded SPY-1 multi-function, phased-array radar. The combat system includes the Mk 41 Vertical Launching System, an advanced anti-submarine warfare system, advanced anti-air warfare missiles, and Tomahawk land-attack cruise missiles. Incorporating all-steel construction and gas-turbine propulsion, DDG 51 destroyers provide multi-mission offensive and defensive capability, operating independently or as part of an aircraft carrier strike group or surface action group. Flight IIA variants incorporate facilities to support two embarked helicopters, significantly enhancing the ship's sea-control capability. A Flight III variant, which will incorporate the SPY-6 advanced Air and Missile Defense Radar (AMDR), is in development.

The USS MICHAEL MURPHY (DDG 112), commissioned in October 2012, completed the original DDG 51 acquisition program. DDG 112 is fitted with AEGIS Weapon System Baseline 7.2B.1.0 , which incorporates Cooperative Engagement Capability, Evolved Sea sparrow Missile, improved SPY-1D(V) radar, and an open architecture combat system using commercially developed processors and display equipment. The DDG 51 line was restarted in FY 2010 to continue production of this highly capable platform. Contracts for four Flight IIA ships were awarded from FY 2010 through FY 2012. In June 2013, the Navy awarded a multi-year contract for Flight IIA DDG 51s in FY 2013 through FY 2017. In late 2014, the Navy was modifying these contracts via Engineering Change Proposals to the DDG Flight III configuration starting with the second ship procured in FY 2016. The Flight III configuration will include the SPY-6 AMDR, power and cooling enhancements to support AMDR, and additional technology insertions to improve capability and life cycle costs in other warfare area missions. Initial operational capability is scheduled for FY 2023 after delivery of the first ship in FY 2021. An updated AEGIS Weapon System, Baseline 10, is being developed to integrate the new SPY-6 radar and provide improved warfighting capabilities across mission areas. The first Baseline 10 ship will be DDG 125 USS JACK H. LUCAS.

Arleigh Burke Class guided-missile destroyers commenced mid-life modernization in FY 2010 with DDGs 51 and 53. A complete open-architecture computing environment is the foundation for warfighting improvements in AEGIS modernization for each ship. The AEGIS upgrade plan consists of an improved Multi-Mission Signal Processor, which integrates air and ballistic missile defense capabilities, and enhancements improving radar performance in the littoral regions. Upon the completion of the AEGIS modernization program, the ships will have the following weapons and sensors: Cooperative Engagement Capability; ESSM; Mk 15 Close-In Weapon System Block 1B; Surface Electronic Warfare Improvement Program (SEWIP); and Nulka decoys. The Mk 41 Vertical Launching System is upgraded to support SM-3 and newer variants of the Standard Missile family. Modernized DDG 51-class guided-missile de-stroyers will continue to provide multi-mission offensive and defensive capabilities with the added benefit of sea-based ballistic missile defense (BMD).

Six Flight I DDGs have completed the Advanced Capability Build (ACB-12/BMD 5.0) process of providing software upgrades for combat systems modernization. DDG modernization initially concentrates on the Flight I and II ships (hulls 51-78), but is intended as a modernization program for the entire class. The Flight IIA modernization as a single combined HM&E and combat system modernization is scheduled to begin in FY 2017.

There are currently 84 U.S. Navy ships in service with the AEGIS Weapons System installed: 22 Cruisers and 62 Destroyers. There are an additional three new construction Destroyers with the AEGIS Weapon System installed that will enter service in FY 2018.

Point of Contact
Naval Sea Systems Command (OOD)
Office of Corporate Communications

Washington, D.C. 20376

(202) 781-4123


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