This 9 January, Jim Sheridan, Lockheed Martin’s Vice President and General Manager of Naval Combat and Missile Defence Systems, participated in a media availability at the company’s Arlington, VA’s offices. The industry executive’s topic: His company’s quickly evolving AEGIS programme. US correspondent Marty Kauchak provides highlights from the media event.
Lockheed’s Martin’s Sheridan reflected on the AEGIS programme’s advancements in 2016 and those forecast for 2017 from two perspectives – technology baseline advancements and an expanding international customer base – and declared this flagship programme is “one of continuous evolution.”
2016 was a banner year for AEGIS, as the US Navy and the Lockheed Martin-led industry team continued the transition of the system from an anti-air warfare system to one that supports air and integrated air and missile defence (IAMD) system for the maritime and land warfare domains.
The AEGIS technology baseline continues to expand in sea-based ballistic defence and other missions.
This past December, USS JOHN PAUL JONES (DDG-53), successfully fired a salvo of new Raytheon Standard Missiles (SM)-6 against an unspecified, medium range, ballistic missile target demonstrating the sea-based, terminal endo-atmosphere defensive capability. “This test again indicated Aegis can successfully execute complicated missions,” Sheridan commented and pointed out another US Navy-supported AEGIS test will occur late this month.
Also in December, the Navy accepted delivery of future guided-missile destroyer USS JOHN FINN (DDG 113) from shipbuilder Huntington Ingalls Industries. The JOHN FINN, the 63rd AEGIS-equipped, ARLEIGH BURKE (DDG 51)-class destroyer, is the first service AEGIS ship built from the keel up, with an IAMD capability.
AEGIS is prominently figuring into evolving maritime tactics and procedures. Last September a Lockheed Martin F-35B LIGHTNING II and AEGIS Weapon System, worked together for the first time during a live fire exercise, successfully demonstrating the integration of the F-35 to support Naval Integrated Fire Control-Counter Air (NIFC-CA). Typically a carrier-based, Northrop Grumman E-2D figures prominently as the sensor in a NIFC-CA scenario.
At the top of Sheridan’s list of international developments is the rapid maturation of Aegis Ashore. Last May the Navy and US Missile Defense Agency (MDA) declared the Lockheed Martin-built AEGIS Defense ballistic missile defence site in Deveselu, Romania operational. “We’re well into construction on the Aegis site in Poland,” Sheridan added.
The AEGIS Ashore site is built around a SPY-1D(V) air-search radar linked to three 8-cell Mark-41 Vertical Launch Systems armed with Raytheon SM-3 interceptors.
Elsewhere in its international portfolio, Lockheed Martin’s Integrated Test Team continues AEGIS combat system integration and testing aboard the Royal Australian Navy’s first AEGIS-equipped Air Warfare Destroyer Hobart. The HOBART-class destroyers are being built under Australia’s SEA 4000 programme, which will ultimately deliver three advanced multirole ships. These ships will be Australia’s first ships to be equipped with Lockheed Martin’s AEGIS Weapon System including the SPY-1D(V) radar.
“HOBART marks the 21st international ship and the sixth allied nation [Australia, Japan, Spain, Norway, Republic of Korea and the US] to benefit from these capabilities,” Sheridan pointed out.
With respect to Spain, Indra and Lockheed Martin are collaborating on the integration of new a solid state S-band radar system being developed for the future Spanish F-110 Frigate. The F-110 Frigate is the Spanish Navy’s next generation of multi-mission surface vessel, due to see operation in the next decade. The Spanish Navy operates five AEGIS-equipped ÁLVARO DE BAZÁN-class (F-100) frigates, which are equipped with the Lockheed Martin-developed AEGIS Combat System and SPY-1 radar.
With respect to the US future fleet, Sheridan noted Lockheed Martin is watching the Navy’s Surface Ship Self Defense Competition programme, for which a request for proposal is expected this year. An Aegis IAMD solution would be a “low-risk” weapons system opportunity for the embryonic service programme, according to Sheridan.