At SMD 2019 in Huntsville, MON US correspondent Marty Kauchak sat down with Jim Sheridan, ‘double-hatted’ as Vice President of Naval Combat and Missile Defense Systems and General Manager of the Moorestown, NJ site for Lockheed Martin. The wide-ranging discussion touched on a number of important issues for the ballistic missile defence (BMD) community.
MON: Thank you for taking time to speak with us. First, update us on the recent evolution of the AEGIS combat system for US Navy ships, in particular focusing on the capabilities the latest upgrades provide in terms of detection, tracking and engagement of a medium-range ballistic missile.
JS: You are welcome. This December will mark the 50th anniversary of the first contract award for AEGIS. As we continue to evolve the AEGIS system through our common source library (CSL), we’re very proud of our accomplishments and customers that we have, and the capabilities coming out of CSL that I’ll discuss more later on. Our latest successful missile tests included last October’s FTM (Flight Test Standard Missile)-45 against a target representing a medium-range ballistic missile using a [Raytheon] SM-3 Block IIA guided missile. Last December, we successfully conducted FTI (Flight Test Integrated)-03 from our AEGIS destroyer site at PRMF [Pacific Missile Range Facility at Kauai, HI] – a successful engagement of an intermediate-range ballistic missile using engage-on-remote for an SM-3 Block IIA. This year we have had a series of very successful anti-air warfare [AAW] and integrated air and missile defence [IAMD] events during Exercise Formidable Shield 2019. This was conducted with our NATO allies off the Hebrides Range in Scotland and demonstrated our Baseline 9.2.0 system, which includes BMD 5.1 and BMD 4.1. A noteworthy outcome was one of our newest Baseline 9 modernised destroyers, USS ROOSEVELT (DDG 80), conducted an IAMD engagement against a simulated ballistic missile and a cruise missile representative target – simultaneously.
MON: The Baseline 9.2.0 will continue to be the system fielded on Baseline 9-compatible ships?
JS: Yes, as well as in our AEGIS ASHORE Missile Defense System Romania, our operational ashore site, which will be upgraded this summer.
MON: The status of the AEGIS ASHORE site in Poland, please.
JS: We’re getting ready to do the INCO [installation and check-out] process in Poland. We’re waiting for the Poland facility to be completed – that is a military construction effort led by the US Missile Defense Agency. We are ready and willing to get in there and start installation. I think a lot of that will happen this summer – August-September – and we’ll be doing that over the next 12 months.
MON: We’ve read a lot about the two evolving Japanese AEGIS ASHORE sites. Are you able to provide an update?
JS: Yes, and very briefly, Lockheed Martin is very excited to have been selected in July 2018 by the Japanese Ministry of Defense, to utilize our solid-state radar for the two planned AEGIS ASHORE sites – one in the nation’s north, the other in the south. Japan's AEGIS ASHORE system combines our Long Range Discrimination Radar (LRDR) with the AEGIS weapon system, [giving] this system an unprecedented capability. LRDR works with AEGIS, and we're excited to deliver this capability to Japan. We certainly appreciate the partnership we have enjoyed with the Japanese MoD. We have a long-standing history with that department – our first international customer for AEGIS was the Japanese government. We have been working with them for more than 25 years, with the KONGO being the first AEGIS missile destroyer there. And the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force is continuing its ship-building programme, with MAYA [the first of two DDG-class destroyers] recently launched and the second one well on its way.
MON: Can you update us on the number of AEGIS-BMD capable ships in commission?
JS: At the end of fiscal year 2018 [30 September 2018] there were 38 BMD-capable US ships – 33 DDG-51-class destroyers and five CG-47-class cruisers. The number of cruisers will hold steady, as the Navy is not putting a BMD capability on other ships in this class. The 33 destroyers break down into three variants: 10 have the older BMD 3.6 system; 11 have BMD 4.0 (the second-generation system); and there are 12, soon to be 13, Baseline 9 with BMD 5.0-equipped ships. We’re looking to increase the number of BMD-capable ships to 41 by the end of FY2019, and as many as 60 by the end of FY2023 – if the Navy’s budget holds – and this includes the AEGIS Romania and Poland sites.
MON: You mentioned the JMSDF BMD-capable ships – it is obvious other nations’ ships continue to be initially equipped or even back-fitted with AEGIS.
JS: That is correct. There are two HOBART-class Air Warfare Destroyers, with one in process, in Australia, and an additional nine ships planned for the HUNTER-class frigates. When the HOBART- and HUNTER-classes are complete, the Royal Australian Navy will have 12 AEGIS-equipped ships – the second largest in the world, behind the US Navy. Spain has five ships and we’re well on our way towards five more – we’re just starting the F110 AEGIS combat system frigate class. Norway is a valued, reliable partner, with four frigates in commission with the SPY-1F radar. Korea has three destroyers with three new AEGIS-equipped SEJONG DAEWANG-class KDX-III destroyers on order.
MON: And we’ll also find Lockheed Martin’s CSL, or variants of it, on other ship classes?
JS: Yes, and as the Navy’s current Combat System Engineering Agent (CSEA), that’s the power of the CSL. While I don’t consider US Navy Littoral Combat Ships ‘AEGIS ships’, their combat system, COMBATSS-21, has the same DNA – it has the same source code as CSL. The CSL is a single repository of all our combat system software, which we then configure to deliver the needed capability of each unique platform. That works for variants of AEGIS ships, AEGIS ASHORE installations and non-AEGIS surface ships as well. The US Coast Guard National Security Cutter has a lot of its command and control software originating from the CSL. They all have the benefit of the pedigree of development, test, and updates that go into our CSL.
MON: Will the US Navy use CSL in its new FFG(X) Guided-Missile Frigate Programme?
JS: Yes, it will.
MON: To confirm, CSL also supports non-US AEGIS-equipped chips?
JS: Yes, the CSL is used for Japan, with the AEGIS Baseline J7 [Japanese equivalent for the current AEGIS Baseline 9/BMD 5.1 standard] going on the MAYA-class destroyers. Spain’s F110 AEGIS system comes from the CSL. The KDX-III Batch 2 shipbuilding programme for the Republic of Korea comes from the CSL, as well as the two Australian classes.
MON: Can you please provide an overview of Lockheed Martin’s key AEGIS industry team partners?
JS: Domestically, one of our key software providers is longtime partner Mission Solutions Engineering. In addition to being the Navy’s trusted partner as the CSEA, we work with a variety of small businesses through our Surface Navy Innovation Centre. Companies like Lakota Technical Solutions, Innovative Defence Technologies, In-Depth Engineering – and many others – bring innovative ideas and improvements to the CSL, and are a key part of what makes AEGIS successful. We also work with various international partners. For instance, in AEGIS shipbuilding, Korean companies provide ‘hotel systems’ – cooling and similar subsystems. We have had a lot of Spanish content – which has been excellent. Japan is co-producing with Raytheon some of the Standard Missile-3 Block IIA content. And we have always worked with Raytheon to integrate their missile systems, very successfully, for many, many years. We’ll continue to work very closely with Raytheon – especially as we work on the latest AEGIS Baseline 10, which will include BMD 6.0. AEGIS Baseline 10 will go on the US Navy’s Flight III DDG-51s, which will also have the new Raytheon AN/SPY-6 radar.
MON: Thank you for taking time to speak to MON. We look forward to meeting with you again.
JS: You are quite welcome.