Home » Aviation » Lockheed Martin Examining Anti-Air Warfare Capability for Aegis Ashore


Lockheed Martin Examining Anti-Air Warfare Capability for Aegis Ashore

An artist's conception of an Aegis Ashore battery. Lockheed-Martin Photo

An artist’s conception of an Aegis Ashore battery. Lockheed-Martin Photo

Since the following story was posted, Lockheed Martin has said it was not currently studying adding an anti-air warfare (AAW) capability to Aegis Ashore ballistic missile defense (BMD) sites for the Missile Defense Agency. Read the follow-on story here.

Lockheed Martin is studying adding an anti-air warfare (AAW) capability to Aegis Ashore ballistic missile defense (BMD) sites, company officials told reporters on Friday.

The studies are not in advance of a new program of record for modifications of the installations and are at the behest of the Missile Defense Agency, said Jim Sheridan, Director of AEGIS development for Lockheed Martin in a briefing to reporters ahead of the Navy League Sea-Air-Space Exposition 2015.

“There’s been some discussion over the past couple of years about the possibility of reconstituting or adding an AAW capability to the Aegis Ashore configuration,” he said.
“We’ve been turned on to do some studies on what it would take to do that going forward in the future.”

Aegis Ashore — created in conjunction with MDA and the Navy — uses the SPY-1D radar and the MK 41 vertical launch system tubes native to the Navy’s Arleigh Burke guided missile destroyers (DDG) to detect and launch Standard Missile 3 interceptors to counter ballistic missile threats.

Since most of the hardware is the same, Sheridan said it would not be difficult to reconfigure the installations in Poland and Romania.

“There is no program of record to reconstitute or add AAW capabilities to the Aegis Ashore configuration, but they’re just asking in the event in the future … what it would take to do that,” he said.
“We think it wouldn’t not be tremendously difficult because that’s the same configuration we’re delivering to destroyers today.”

 The deckhouse for the Aegis Ashore system at the Pacific Missile Range Facility. This is the test asset for the Aegis Ashore system on Jan. 8, 2014. US Navy Photo

The deckhouse for the Aegis Ashore system at the Pacific Missile Range Facility. This is the test asset for the Aegis Ashore system on Jan. 8, 2014. US Navy Photo

Aegis Ashore are configured to the Navy’s Baseline 9 construct the service is including in new build ships and back fitting into older DDGs. Baseline 9 version in the DDGs allows the destroyers to simultaneously fend off ballistic missiles and defend against traditional air defense threats.

Some in Congress have raised the possibility of including the AAW capability in the installations.

However the likelihood of the Navy and MDA including the capability is low.

Defending against a BMD threat specifically versus a traditional AAW threat is very different. Its easier to figure out the probable direction of a BMD threat and the initial notification of a launch seldom comes from a ship’s own radar systems.

In an AAW configuration, the radar is constantly on searching for threats that could come from any direction pumping out electrical magnetic energy that could interfere with other military or civilian frequencies without prior coordination.

There are also political considerations.

Navy Capt. Jeff Weston, the Aegis Ashore program manager for the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) told USNI News in 2013 while Aegis Ashore could perform AAW, “we’re not going to do anti-air warfare in someone else’s country,” he said.

The first Aegis Ashore site in Romania is set to go online later this year.

  • We do need something like this in the US as well. Like the Nike Hercules we had before for Air defense. This would be perfect to protect key cities and vital areas of the country.

  • J_kies

    Ok; perhaps the current AN/SPY-1 faces could be useful for something more than a radio to uplink to SM3 in flight. (Per the DSB and NAS/NRC studies on the topic the AN/SPY has no other roles in Aegis Ashore). In any case the AA site is a very attractive target for foreign HARMs and GNSS guided cruise missiles so it would be appropriate to give them a couple of SM2s or SM6 to let them pretend to be survivable past the opener. It would be pretty wasteful to assign a Patriot battery to defend the AA site.

    • Sam Riddle

      Though I don’t know jack about Aegis, it does seem to me that these systems would be highly susceptible to being targeted for destruction prior to any enemy attack especially since they aren’t mobile. Sorry, just thinking out loud, just how survivable are they to a first strike capability?

      • Secundius

        @ Sam Riddle.

        There’s the Raytheon AN’TPY-2 system, which is a completely Mobile Version of the Aegis ststem…

      • J_kies

        Depends on the construction standards and redundancies. Since the facilities are described as the Aegis Ashore ‘deckhouse’ I suspect that similar protection applies. We don’t armor ships against anything larger than small arms fire (survivability is about not getting hit or damage control teams if hit) so I expect the facility is pretty soft against most munitions. The US Army and the Marines have some appropriate experience about protection of facilities to assure continued operations and we can hope the MDA and the USN were properly advised.

  • Secundius

    Am I missing something, or did I just “Fall of the Turnip Cart”. I thought a system like this already existed since at least 1954. So why are you making it sound like a Novel Idea, that’s NEVER been done before.

    Sliding between Parallel Universes can Such A Bitch…

  • Curtis Conway

    This is something I do know something about. I would be highly surprised if the software did not already exist to perform the task described in the configuration discussed. This is a software build and some VLS cells populated with ESSM & SM-2s. It’s not that hard. Anyone who makes it so is just trying to sell products.