Lockheed Martin (NYSE:LMT) is incorporating the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense Signal Processor (Aegis BSP) into the AN/SPY-1 radar. The company received about $979 million from the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) to continue the development program of the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) Weapon System. Aegis BSP provides the target discrimination capability to defeat more complex ballistic missile threats. The Aegis BSP is scheduled to be installed on all Aegis BMD ships beginning in 2010.
The MDA and the U.S. Navy are jointly developing Aegis BMD as part of the nation’s Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS). Capability improvements planned in the next phase of Aegis BMD include the system migration into an open architecture environment. This approach will allow for quick and affordable upgrades as signal processor technology evolves. As the US Navy migrate its non BMD Aegis ships to open systems, Aegis BMD will be aligned with this trend. BMD capability is expected to be included in modernized, open architecture combat systems in Aegis cruisers and destroyers starting in 2012.
Ultimately, 15 Aegis destroyers and three Aegis cruisers will be outfitted with the ability to engage short to intermediate range ballistic missile threats and support other BMDS engagements using the Aegis BMD Weapon System and the SM-3 missile. Currently, six Aegis-equipped warships have the ability to engage ballistic missiles, while another 10 Aegis warships are equipped with Aegis BMD Long Range Surveillance & Track capability.
During at-sea tests, the Aegis BMD Weapon System has achieved eight successful missile intercepts in 10 attempts. In addition to its intercepts, Aegis BMD has successfully completed more than 15 successful ballistic missile defense system tracking tests since June 2004. Aegis BMD went to sea with its initial operating capability in October 2004 and the latest version, Aegis BMD 3.6, was certified for tactical deployment by the U.S. Navy and MDA in September 2006.
The Aegis Weapon System is currently deployed on 81 ships around the globe with more than 25 additional ships planned or under contract. In addition to the United States, Aegis is the maritime weapon system of choice for Japan, South Korea, Norway, Spain and Australia. Japan will begin installation of Aegis BMD in its Kongo-class Aegis destroyers in 2007, and is a partner in developing a larger, faster variant of the SM-3 missile. The Aegis BMD Weapon System seamlessly integrates the SPY-1 radar, the MK 41 Vertical Launching System, the SM-3 missile and the weapon system’s command and control system. The Aegis BMD Weapon System also integrates with the BMDS, receiving cues from and providing cueing information to other BMDS elements.