U.S. Continues Investment in AEGIS Ashore

by: Matthew Potter
April 17, 2012

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The AEGIS system is the primary ship based anti-air warfare weapon used by the U.S. Navy and some allied Navies. It consists of radars, fire control software, vertical and rail launchers and version of Raytheon’s (RTN) STANDARD missile. It has been in use since the 1970’s and consistently upgraded.

Using modified software and the SM-3 missile it provides ballistic missile defense. The SM-3 has the ability to engage targets at high altitude. More advanced models of the SM-3 are being developed with a new plant being constructed in Huntsville, AL at Redstone Arsenal.

A few years ago the Obama Administration decided to end deployment of the Ground Based Mid-course system in Europe. That Army operated ballistic missile defense program now has interceptors based in Alaska and sensors across the globe. A similar installation of interceptors was planned for Eastern Europe but it was decided to pursue other ways to provide the defense for NATO allies.

Part of this is to take an AEGIS system and base it on the land. This “AEGIS Ashore” will make the majority of the ship installed components and make them transportable. This includes radars, fire control installations, the SM-3 and a version of the Mk 41 Vertical Launch System.

BAE Systems (BAE:LSE) is the manufacturer of the Mk 41 through the acquisition of a U.S. defense contractor several years ago. The just received a further contract for Mk 41 components for both AEGIS ashore and new DDG-51 class destroyers. This contract has a value of about $23 million.

The contract will see Mk 41 components for DDG-116 and parts of the AEGIS Ashore installation. The use of the Navy’s missile system to provide land based missile defense is rather innovative and combined with ship based systems as well as the Army’s shorter ranged PATRIOT and THAAD provide some layer of defense for an area.

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