Aegis Combat System (ACS)

Aegis, which means shield, is the Navy's most modern surface combat system. Aegis was designed and developed as a complete system, integrating state-of-the-art radar and missile systems. The AEGIS Combat System is highly integrated and capable of simultaneous warfare on several fronts -- air, surface, subsurface, and strike. Shipboard torpedo and naval gunnery systems are also integrated. Anti-Air Warfare elements of the AEGIS Weapon System MK-7, a component of the AEGIS Combat System, include the Radar System AN/SPY-1B/D, Command and Decision System, and Weapons Control System. 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 (ACS), which is the center of the Arleigh Burke-class destroyers and Ticonderoga-class cruisers, relies on a separate sonar system to track undersea threats like mines, torpedoes, and submarines. The complete package can simultaneously follow land, air, and undersea threats and attacks. The SPY-1A and -1B radar classes are designed for the cruisers, while the -1D class is for the destroyers. The letter "V" in SPY-1D(V) means variant. The ACS integrates and controls the following elements:

  1. Harpoon weapons system
  2. Gun weapon system
  3. LAMPS helicopter
  4. Electronic warfare system
  5. Sonar
  6. Air and Surface Search Radars
  7. Navigation Systems
The complete integration of all these systems serves to enhance the capability of a ship to engage and defeat numerous multiwarfare threats simultaneously. 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 operation against almost all kinds of threats. The Aegis system is being enhanced to act in a Theater Missile Defense role, to counter short- and medium-range ballistic missiles of the variety typically employed by rogue states.

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 multi-mission threat: anti-air, anti-surface and anti-submarine warfare.

There are six ship classes contained within the AEGIS "class" of ships:

  • United States Ticonderoga-class cruisers
  • United States Arleigh Burke-class destroyers
  • Japanese Kongo-class destroyers
  • Spanish F-100 frigates
  • Norweigan Fridtjof Nansen frigates
  • Australian Hobart Air Warfare Destroyer (AWD)

After studying several shipboard applications, the decision was made to construct the first AEGIS ships based on the hull and machinery designs of Spruance class destroyers. Originally identified as a guided missile destroyer, DDG-47 class, the class was re-designated a guided missile cruiser. The first ship of the class, USS Ticonderoga (CG 47), was christened by Mrs. Nancy Reagan on Armed Forces Day 1981, and commissioned on January 23, 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. Because of advanced technology in relevant fields, was possible to build an AEGIS system compatible with a smaller ship while maintaining multi-mission 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 on the Fourth of July, 1991. The DDG 51 class was named after a living person, the legendary Adm. Arleigh Burke, the most famous destroyerman of World War II. DDG 51s were constructed in flights, allowing technological advances during construction. Flight II, introduced in FY 1992, incorporates improvements to the SPY radar and the Standard missile, active electronic countermeasures and communications. Flight IIA, introduced in fiscal year 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 $30 million.

AEGIS Combat Systems are upgraded in baselines.

  • Baseline 1 (CG 47-51) consists of the Vertical Launching System.
  • Baseline 2 (CG 52-58) consists of the Vertical Launching System, TOMAHAWK Weapon System, and Anti-Submarine Warfare upgrades.
  • Baseline 3 (CG 59-64) introduced the AN/SPY-1B radar, and includes AN/UYQ-21 consoles, and UYK-43 "low boy" computers.
  • Baseline 4 (CG 65-73) introduced the production of AN/UYK-43/44 computers with superset computer programs developed for the DDG 51. B/L 4 is the base Combat System for DDG 51-67.
  • Baseline 5 was introduced in FY 1992 DDGs and includes the Joint Tactical Information Distribution System (JTIDS) Tactical Data Information Link (TADIL) 16, Command and Control Processor (C2P), 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 initially to be developed in three steps (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 color display Tactical Graphics Capability into the AEGIS Combat System. B/L 5 was actually developed in two steps (Phases): Phase 1 integrated AEGIS ER and supported the missile Initial Operational Capability; Phase 3 integrated system upgrades including Defensive Electronic Attack, Track Load Control Algorithms, and Track Initiation Processor (integrated on 5.3, DDGs 68+); JTIDS and the OJ-663 color display Tactical Graphics capability into the ACS. By 2008 B/L 5 Phase 3 was resident on baseline 3 & 4 CGs and DDG 51-78.
  • Baseline 6 was developed in two phases [initially planned to be three]. Baseline 6 Phase I was planned for the last DDG-51 in FY 1994, and Phase III began with the first DDG-51 in FY 1997. In addition, early in 1998 Hue City (CG-66), and USS Vicksburg (CG-69) received Baseline 6 and the production installation of CEC to conduct operational tests of the system. Baseline 6 Phase I introduced COTS, Fiber Distributed Data Interface (FDDI) Local Area Network (LAN), UYQ-70 consoles, Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC) for CGs, and an adjunct COTS computer for AEGIS Display System (ADS). It supported OPEVAL of CEC in CGs 66 and 69 and was introduced in the DDG 51 class beginning with DDG 79. As of 2008 B/L 6 Phase 1 was resident on CGs 59, 65, 66, 68, 69 and 71.
  • 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 Defense (TBMD) and Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC) in in-service ships. B/L 6 Phase 3 upgrades included embarked helicopters, Fiber Optics as applied to Data Multiplexing (FODMS), implementation of affordability initiatives, adjunct computers for all AWS elements, CEC for DDGs, and Battle Force Tactical Trainer (BFTT), Advanced Display System, Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM) Identification (ID) upgrades Phase 1, Advanced TOMAHAWK Weapon System (ATWCS) Phase II, Fire Control System Upgrades, and the Joint Maritime Command Information System (JMCIS). B/L 6 Phase 3 was introduced on DDG 85-90 and as of 2008 was being backfit onto DDGs 79-84.
  • Baseline 7 was developed in two phases. Baseline 7 Phase I was planned for the last ship in FY 1998 and Phase II was planned for the last ship in FY 2002. A demonstration test of the first all COTS AEGIS Baseline, 7 Phase 1 was completed in August 2003. AEGIS Baseline 7 Phase 1C, the first AEGIS baseline to implement AEGIS Open Architecture, conducted demonstration testing in 2005. The Three ARLEIGH BURKE Class destroyers procured in FY 2001 were Flight IIA ships configured with Baseline 7 Aegis Combat System. This baseline incorporates new integrated mission capability and makes these ships more capable in the littoral than any other combatant in the world. Major Baseline 7 upgrades include but are not limited to: AN/SPY-1D(V) radar upgrade, integration of Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC) and Tactical Ballistic Missile Defense (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), Mark 50 torpedo with Periscope Depth Attack, AN/SQQ-89(V)15, and the Remote Mine Hunting System.
  • B/L 7P1R (DDG 103-112) upgrades the computer infrastructure, Close In Weapon System (CIWS), Air Control, and introduced Open Architecture (OA) products into the main development line.
  • The Cruiser Modernization Baseline (CGM CR2) upgrades the computing infrastructure in a Technical Insertion (TI 08) and provides for computer program enhancements via Advanced Capability Build 08 (ACB 08) which will modernize CG 52-58 with new computing architecture and upgraded displays. This effort will leverage the AEGIS Open Architecture (AOA) development work. The enhancements will include Open Architected components, improve air dominance, gun weapon system capabilities, and force protection. The Cruiser Modernization Baseline (TI 08/ACB 08) will be introduced on USS BUNKER HILL CG 52 in FY08.
  • The AEGIS Modernization Baseline (AMOD CR3) will modernize CG 59-73 and DDG 51-78 with a new computing architecture through technical insertion (TI 12), upgraded display consoles, computer program enhancements and introduce increased weapon capabilities into the AEGIS Combat System through Advanced Capability Build 12 (ACB 12). The AEGIS Modernization Baseline will include all enhancements identified for Cruiser Modernization and increase Underwater capabilities. New Capabilities introduced into AEGIS for Destroyers (DDG 51-78) will include Multi-Mission Signal Processor (MMSP), Single Sensor Naval Integrated Fire Control - Common Air (NIFC-CA), Standard Missile - 6 (SM-6), and Ballistic Missile capability (BMD). New capabilities introduced into the AEGIS Modernization Baseline for Cruiser (CG 59-73) will include Naval Integrated Fire Control - Common Air (NIFC-CA) and Standard Missile - 6 (SM-6) integration. The AMOD Baseline (TI 12/ACB 12) will be introduced in FY11 for the lead Cruiser and FY12 for the lead Destroyer. These baselines are essential for establishing a foundation for the rapid capability insertion. This process will allow rapid implementation of new capabilities into the fleet to counter threat gaps identified.

On 08 May 1998 a new contract was signed, which with options is valued at $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 Theater Wide Tactical Ballistic Missile Defense upgrades to the fleet. This program provides for modifications to the AEGIS Weapon System MK-7 to counter the threat as articulated in ONI System Threat Assessment Report, ONI TA #046-93 dated May 1993 and subsequent updates. The modifications will be introduced into CG 47 Class and DDG 51 Class ships.

Two new efforts started in FY 1999. First, support for a Ballistic Missile Defense Organization (BMDO) Program which was developing a common, backfittable theater-wide radar upgrade signal processor to provide affordable theater-wide exoatmospheric discrimination capability. Second, integration of the AN/SPQ-9B radar into the AEGIS Weapon System to improve capability against the advanced low-altitude threat. Expanded common signal processor design for the AN/SPY-1 Radar includes advanced AAW functionality and features. The expanded signal processor design will add AAW functionality to and leverage the common signal processor's TBMD functionality design currently being pursued via TBMD funding. The advanced AAW functionality will implement adaptive digital signal processing to improve low altitude clutter rejection performance and ECCM capabilities. The installation and integration of the AN/SPQ-9B Radar (or its advanced variant) in the AEGIS Weapon System included remaining modification work for backfit in destroyers and cruisers.

Early in 1998 USS John F. Kennedy (CV-67), Hue City (CG-66), and USS Vicksburg (CG-69) received the production installation of CEC and conducted operational tests of the system. In 1999 Cooperative Engagement Capability provided the first at-sea developmental testing aboard the USS HUE CITY and USS VICKSBURG. The at-sea testing resulted in a large number of high priority issues. The limited time and resources that were available at this time were devoted to developing the tactical baseline code that was viewed as the highest priority. The significant interoperability problems identified during the Advanced Combat Direction System Block I operational evaluation and the introduction of the AEGIS Baseline 6 software program led to the removal of these two AEGIS cruisers from the deployment cycle and the re-baselining of the Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC) and AEGIS programs. Required combat systems integration efforts have therefore expanded to include development of a Distributed Engineering Plant (DEP) that will network existing individual software development and testing sites to support shore-based testing of the interoperability of systems to be fielded in specific battle groups. The effort will now include interoperability certification that uses the DEP to prototype the combat systems combination of the specific battle group to assess and correct any interoperability problems before units come together for pre-deployment training. An additional $30 million is required in FY 1999 to execute the continuing engineering and development efforts for the DEP and data collection and prototyping efforts to correct identified battle group interoperability deficiencies.

Additional funds were required to ensure the successful integration of Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC) into the AWS Baseline 6 Phase I, resolve battle group interoperability issues, and conduct additional operational and developmental testing for AWS Baseline 6, Phase III, and Baseline 7, Phase I. This 1999 reprogramming provided for additional testing in the AWS software development process to ensure complete CEC integration, while maintaining the software program delivery schedule to support ongoing DDG-51 Class ship construction. The ships which will receive Baseline 6, Phase III, and Baseline 7, Phase I were part of the DDG-51 Multiyear Procurement contract and will introduce Tactical Ballistic Missile Defense capability into the Navy.

The total cost for the AEGIS Weapon System is $42.7 billion. The predominant driver that can be influenced today is operations and support (O&) at $22.2 billion. Clearly there are opportunities for the production community to make some impact on their O& costs even if they appear trivial. For example, a one percent reduction in TOC today would buy a brand new ship in 10 years. Some areas that can be targeted by the production community include repair parts, spares, and in-service engineering reductions.

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