6/2/2011 - BMD-Enhanced Aegis Cruiser Meets Expectations
The enhanced Aegis system for the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Monterey – the first U.S. Navy ship deployed in the Mediterranean as part of the nation’s Phased Adaptive Approach for ballistic missile defense (BMD) – is operating as expected, the ship’s commanding officer tells Aviation Week.
“The radar’s been working great,” Capt. Jim Kilby said in a telephone interview during a recent deployment break.
The mission-planning expectations for radar resource usage have been right on the mark, Kilby says. “That’s been pretty accurate,” he declares. “We’ve seen exactly what they predicted we’d be using.”
The enhanced BMD upgrades will lead ship and fleet commanders to rethink how those Aegis-equipped ships will be deployed, Kilby says. “Do I think tactics and procedures are going to change? I absolutely think they are. It’s like how the Tomahawk [missile] was when it first rolled out into the fleet.”
The new mission mind-set has already prompted Aegis ship sailors to operate the system with more care and diligence.
“It’s caused everyone to tighten up their game,” he says. ”The crew is more aware of [the] material condition of the radar. They’re treating the radar a little [differently].”
The new mission training has made the crew more sensitive to certain radar data points, such as the operational test systems outputs, instead of just looking to see if the system is passing or failing.
“We’re really looking at the data coming out of it,” Kilby says, “being a little more circumspect.”
For example, the Aegis BMD planning computer connected to the combat system requires an input that is an extrapolation of the radar’s “power out” performance, Kilby says. “The crew has become more sensitive to that and it drives them to try to maintain the radar at the highest condition possible. We now look at the output of those tests very carefully because we know it’s so critical to execute this mission.”
Others eyeing the enhanced Aegis equipment during the ship’s deployment are officials from NATO countries expecting to participate in the system’s BMD protective network.
“I think their takeaway was: It’s a complicated thing,” Kilby says. “We don’t all have to buy interceptors and ships; maybe we just want to buy radars, so we’ll purchase the radar. Maybe we’ll provide logistics support or maybe we’ll provide some of our surface combatants to provide air defense.”