MDA Invests in AEGIS Ashore

by: Matthew Potter
September 23, 2011

Category: Business Line, Companies, Contract Additions, Contract Awards, Department of Defense, development program, Events, Lockheed Martin, MDA, missile defense, Proposal, S&T, Services, U.S. Army, U.S. Navy | RSS 2.0

The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) is charged with developing different systems to provide anti-ballistic missile capability for the United States and its military services. It has spent billions over the last thirty years looking at a variety of sensors as well as interceptors. Right now several different Army and Navy programs are in production as well as development. These include a variant of the PATRIOT air defense system, the THAAD land based system used by the Army and the Navy’s AEGIS Weapon System modified to engage ballistic missiles rather then aircraft.

The AEGIS system has already been installed on several cruisers and destroyers and uses a missile built by Raytheon, STANDARD Missile (SM) -3, that is a version of an air defense system. It has been tested several times in Hawaii and was also used to engage a satellite that was falling from space and posed a threat due to toxic materials.

Now MDA is spending money to look at making a version of the AEGIS Weapon System and SM-3 missile that could be land based. Earlier this month the Agency awarded Lockheed Martin (LMT), the manufacturer and developer of the system, a contract modification to continue work on Aegis Ashore Combat System adaption efforts.

The contract is worth a little over $100 million.

While it would seem fairly easy to take a radar and a missile in a box off of a ship and install it on land it is not as easy as it makes out. The THAAD and PATRIOT have been designed from the start to fit in a small footprint able to be placed on vehicles. The AEGIS Weapon System has been placed on ships with decent volume of space, large amounts of power and that are designed around placing the radars in optimum locations. Any AEGIS ashore system might be “transportable” but not really “mobile” without serious efforts to shrink their footprints.

It does show though that the U.S. is interested in placing one of their more successful missile defense capabilities in places that a ship cannot reach. The idea will probably take a few years and an investment of several hundred million dollars to come to fruition.

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