MONS Correspondent Marty Kauchak files this end-of-the-day report from the Space and Missile Defense (SMD) Symposium, Von Braun Center in Huntsville, Alabama.
The AEGIS Weapon System (AWS) is the centralised, automated, command-and-control and weapons control system that was designed as a total weapon system, from detection to kill. As this article is published there were 84 US Navy ships in service with the AWS 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 fiscal year 2018.
An oft-overlooked aspect of AEGIS is its expansion into international navies. This reporter thought he had an accurate list of AEGIS systems on non-US combatants: four KONGO-class destroyers and two ATAGO-class destroyers in the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force; five AEGIS FRIDTJOF NANSEN-class of frigate for the Royal Norwegian Navy; the Royal Australian Navy's new fleet of three HOBART-class Air Warfare Destroyers; three Republic of Korea Navy KDX-III AEGIS equipped ships (KING SEJONG THE GREAT-class); and the Spanish Navy’s four F-100 ALVARO DE BAZAN-class frigates with two more in build. Fortunately, Mary Keifer, director of AEGIS international programmes, Lockheed Martin, provided an update to the above “baseline” – and in doing so, confirmed the AEGIS programme’s growth in non-US navies. “Japan has an additional two destroyers in build. Korea has an additional three destroyers in build. Spain has five AEGIS frigates. Also in Spain, there are no more currently in build, but discussions ongoing for a new class of frigate with some AEGIS content.”
The corporate programme leader also highlighted several milestones on the AEGIS non-US roadmap in the next 12 months. At the top of the list was Australia’s new Air Warfare Destroyer, HOBART, which marks the 21st international ship and the sixth allied nation (Australia, Japan, Spain, Norway, Republic of Korea and US) to have the benefit of AEGIS capabilities. “Two additional ships are in construction for the RAN. HOBART is expected to commission this fall,” Keifer pointed out. “This year is a milestone year for the Spanish Navy. Twenty years ago, they embarked on a journey with Spanish industry, Lockheed Martin and the US Navy that has become one of history’s most successful transatlantic partnerships both at sea and ashore. Today, Spain operates five of the world’s most capable frigates in defence of global peace and freedom.”
Three key international companies on the Lockheed Martin AEGIS team include AWD Alliance, Navantia, Indra, among many others within each country. Keifer remarked, “At Lockheed Martin we are committed to working with local industry to shape best-value solutions that deliver low-risk, proven capability with high levels of local content, technology transfer and workshare.”
Asked how AEGIS on a Spanish frigate may differ from that on a ROK KDX-III AEGIS, or other navy’s ship, Keifer responded: “Each nation’s combat systems are tailored to their specific needs/requirements. This traditionally involves integration with their national selection of certain weapons and sensors. Some examples of this would be in the choice of the gun, electronic warfare, and/or the anti-submarine warfare systems. AEGIS has shown its versatility in being able to integrate with a variety of systems across international AEGIS fleets.”