Lockheed: Aegis getting even better, but limits in sight

Lockheed: Aegis getting even better, but limits in sight

Lockheed Martin’s newest edition of Aegis will be the best it’s ever been, a top company official said Friday, but there’s only so much more that software and other upgrades can do with the existing radars aboard U.S. Navy and international warships.

Jeff Bantle, the company’s vice president for naval combat and missile defense, told reporters that Aegis Baseline 9 will bring new levels of game-changery to cruisers and destroyers: It will be able to do air defense and ballistic missile defense simultaneously; use remote sensor data from tomorrow’s E-2D Advanced Hawkeye aircraft; give greater detail when tracking targets; and be simpler and easier for crews to maintain.

“I tell everybody: It’s really not your mother’s Aegis,” Bantle said.

Aegis has already demonstrated its ability to launch on remote in a missile defense test, he said — last year, a Navy ship launched an interceptor against a ballistic missile target with no sensor data of its own. Engineers hope to take advantage of that capability in air warfare as well. As part of the Navy’s plan for integrated fire control, a D-model Hawkeye could spot a threat and order a launch hundreds of miles beyond an Aegis ship’s own sensors, greatly increasing the range of safety for a carrier strike group.

Just like Leica lenses, Baseline 9 will be both backward– and forward-compatible, he said — the Navy can install it on its early model cruisers and destroyers and also put it to sea aboard its new run of Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, starting with the very first ship, the USS William S. Sims.

Baseline 9 will sail first aboard the cruiser USS Chancellorsville, which is getting its upgrade now, and then later aboard the destroyer USS John Paul Jones.

Bantle said the latest version of Aegis will be much simpler than the earlier mods, which packed otherwise brand-new ships with a Radio Shack hodgepodge of vacuum tubes, amplifiers and ENIAC-level computing equipment. That complexity — along with Big Navy rollbacks of training and manning — has meant that Aegis has become a maintenance challenge for the surface force. As such, Capability 9 includes a “readiness and supportability maintenance system,” Bantle said, which will help crews diagnose faults, deal with repairs and generally have an easier job running their systems.

So — another rejuvenation for the world’s greatest seagoing combat system. Built to defend carrier groups from Soviet missile attacks in World War III, now Aegis can launch on remote and shoot down intermediate-range ballistic missiles. But there’s only so much the SPY-1 radars on the cruisers and destroyers can do, which is why the Navy wants it future generations of ships to carry new ones.

“We’re now getting to the limits of how much energy that antenna can put out,” Bantle said of the SPY sets. Hence the Air and Missile Defense Radar, for which Bantle said he expects a request for proposals “real soon.”

That, however, is a whole different story.

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After seeing the way the F-35 program is going, I don’t trust Lockheed to replace our legacy equipment anymore. Never the less, an upgraded SPY-1 radar would be nice so long as it is compatible with the old and new systems.

Is there an expected date for fielding the AMDR? I believe that is supposed to be part of the DDG-1000 now.

I think we all just witnessed some of the new “capability” yesterday when the N Korean missile suddenly “failed” soon after launch.

It wouldn’t surprise me if we had a DDG or CG downrange of the launch, say 50–75 miles, and we simply microwaved it until it blew up.

Awesome comment Big Rick.

With the navy and air force successfully demonstrating laser weapons/jammers/etc. It’s not too far fetched to imagine they used some type of laser on it either.

It still early days on AMDR, yet to be developed for possible use on the Arleigh Burke (DDG-51) flight III.

The Zumwalt class (DDG-1000,1001,1002) and the Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) were supposed to get DBR dual band radar, including SPY-3 X-band and SPY-4 S-band radars, but SPY-4 was cancelled for the three Zumwalts as part of a program restructurng prompted by a Nunn-McCurdy breach announced in June 2010. SPY-4 is still being developed for use on the Ford, so not sure but I think that restructuring shifted some development costs to Ford.

that would explain a part of the cost increases on the USS Ford

yes the F-35 program as whole sucks (but not necessarily the aircraft itself)

but Aegis as been around for what 30+ years. It’s well understood by all parties so
it would be hard for Lockhead to pull the wool over the Navy’s eyes-at least that’s my theory

@ Black Owl

Yeah me neither, I don’t trust Lockheed Marin myself when the lemon (F-35) replaces all existing legacy fighters. Don’t ever believe and agree with the opinions and facts from the Pentagon, Defence Secretary Leon Panetta, Michael Donley, General Norton Schwartz, Lockheed Martin and pro-JSF advocates, they really don’t have a clue about air power with the recent endorsements of the F-35 programme both in the US and abroad underscore these convictions them, they are not trusted which in fact they should be kicked out and forgotten.

Lockheed is a great company making IE P-38 U-2 SR-71 and the F-16 when it bought out General Dynamics airplane division. Yes the F-35 is a disaster but that’s more of the Pentagons and Congresses fault than the plane itself. I bet this will go smoothly and help keep Lockheed afloat amid the F-35 debacle.

AEGIS is a disaster. I was an ACNT tech (NEC 1318) and had nothing but problems on board the Momsen. Computers would lock at any and all random times. The COTS parts were not built to withstand the shipboard environment. Some of the COTS parts for our switches were so “old” as far as the maker was concerned we could not get parts. Even though that switch was only 3 years old by the time it became operational on the boat. Our known fault book from Lockheed started out in a 3-ring binder about an inch thick. After 3 years of different updates we had 2 binders each 4 inch thick of known problems with the software that lockheed would never fix. The only drones they would allow us to shoot at were highly scripted scenarios, slow moving, and flew straight parallel to the ship. Sometimes it would take 45 minutes to reload the system completely and other times for unknown reasons the system would take all night long to get going. Lockheed came on board to load some software updates before a missile shoot in 2005 and we nothing but problems with the system afterwards. After the shoot Lockheed and some LCDR came on board to do an investigation as to why we had the problems. After spending just a few hours investigating the techs found that Lockheed did not reset the switches on the CPU boards for regular operation after their software update. The techs left mysteriously in secret and the LCDR blamed the chips crew for the mistake. The report blaming the crew went all the way up DOD as far as we were told making us look like idiots. Keep in mind were not given the procedure on how the switches were to be set so we could not inadvertently change them during operation. Lockheed techs were the only ones with that procedure. The Navy was more interested in keeping Lockheed in good standing and using Sailors as blame for something we could not have caused. Parts of AEGIS can be very good. The SPY radar is very good but also has its problems. Other systems linked up to the AEGIS computers had a lot of interoperability issues. It was a crap shoot on whether or not CEC would even be able to send data to AEGIS on any given day. Some days the link between two would need to be reset several times and other days none at all. I am not bitter at all with my time in the Navy. I thoroughly enjoyed the Navy. I have problems with people that try to say AEGIS “works”. Lets just say it kinda works on some days. Lets not get into the problems we had with the fiber cables.

red2429, you seem well aware of the situation on Aegis. So its probably no surprise that back in October 2011 the Navy was in process of assuming the role of systems integrator on Aegis, trimming back L-Mart’s involvement.

Its also in direct contrast to the very reliable system used on submarines, AN/BYG-1.

How can Lockheed’s involvement of AEGIS be trimmed back when they design, produce, install, and provide tech support for all baselines? Since win has any service started designing, producing, installing and providing all it’s own tech support for the weapons they buy? Sorry but I do not drink the Cool Aid very often. Your article is a horrible example of refuting my point. I was not referring to the MK-41 VLS but more along the lines of software, computer, and some hardware issues inherent in the baseline 7 version of AEGIS. Even the earlier systems on ships that are supposed to be “upgraded” usually turn out to be bastardized versions of the new system and the old. Causing all kinds of problems for techs on board ships. Some of that fault lies on the Navy brass buying it that way. Probably not understanding what they were buying, drinking the Cool-Aid from Lockheed about neat things that while cool are not really reliable in the real world. I do not know your background and you do not know mine. Please bring something more relevant then an article that says Lockheed had nothing to do with besides being the go between guy and how the Navy is trying to save money. Granted I am no longer in AEGIS and would very much like to hear an opinion from an FC that is currently working on one of the newer baselines. It would be interesting to hear if reliability is better in the newer baselines or been improved any on the older versions. Even with all the problems that AEGIS may or may not still have, it amazingly gives us the most capable ships in the world. FC’s do a great job operating, maintaining and repairing it.

Please tell me if I am wrong but a quick internet search for AN/BYG-1 shows that Raytheon is the maker. I did not dig real hard but I am not sure what a Raytheon product has to do with AEGIS. Last I knew CEC was a great Raytheon product. Worked well when the tech knew how to set it up correctly. The problem I had with it was maintaining the link with AEGIS. I am not a software engineer. If you would like to change the subject and talk about other systems I guess we could. I held the NEC’s for 1318, 1335, 1325, and 1121. Other then that I would be no good.

You really probably shouldn’t be shooting your mouth off. Nobody thinks you’re important, just not very wise.

We need to install MTHEL on all our combatant ship and boats. It is proven and very effective on thwarting incoming missiles, etc. say 4 Mthel on each Destroyers, carriers , LTC’s, frigates, cutters etc.

I mean LTS.…

BYG-1 has nothing to do with Aegis, except that it is the combat control system for submarines, as Aegis is for some surface ships. Most everything that is non-propulsion and non-strategic are rolled up into BYG-1 integrated combat system. http://​www​.raytheon​.com/​b​u​s​i​n​e​s​s​e​s​/​r​t​n​w​c​m​/​g​r​o​u​ps/

red2429, re-read what I wrote. I was not refuting your point. The Navy is assuming systems integrator role on Aegis, taking that away from L-Mart. Would Navy do that if they were pleased with the current situation on Aegis?

When it blew up in the boost phase, I ws wondering if one of those boeing jets with the lasers in the nose had anything to do with it.

sferrin, Not trying to be important. But if I stated something that you think is wrong or somehow overstated something, make your argument. That is what a blog is for. I was never on Subs so I can not give an opinion on systems on subs. The article is on AEGIS not AN/BYG-1.

I can not speculate on why Navy leadership will or will not do what it does. The article states nothing about how happy the Navy leadership is with Lockheed. The article states that the Navy taking over integration is a “natural progression” quoted by Kelly Golden. Since that article is about the Navy trying to save money on contracts, taking over the integration of systems makes since. Will it work, I do not know.

“Yes the F-35 is a disaster but that’s more of the Pentagons and Congresses fault than the plane itself…”

That’s odd.
I wasn’t aware that Congress and the Pentagon had the engineers (hardware AND software) on THEIR payroll, and LM obviously only had the PR/Marketing department and Excuse-Making Division on theirs.

Reality check: LM can hide behind blaming the DoD for changing specs every time another setback befalls the program, but the problem is their engineering and build departments just aren’t/weren’t up to the job to do what the marketing execs sold the government that they COULD do.
Blame that on LM’s executives, for not having their marketing team first consult with the knowledgeable engineers on what was near-term reality, and what was pie-in-the-sky tech that wasn’t going to happen anytime soon (next couple decades, obviously).

All those various high energy laser systems have worked well enough in arid climates such as White Sands.
Getting them to work in thicker, more humid atmosphere at sea level environments obviously hasn’t proven as successful, or else you’d think we’d have seen more of them in various trials by now.

Even small laser weapons like the counter-IED Zeus have yet to migrate to standard shipborne use: if they’ll cook off those IEDs with the thick shells of artillery rounds,
then disabling thin-skinned small surface raiders and their crews and sensors should be easy.
So why haven’t we seen greater interest?

How much will the Navy get into integration? Are they going to design the systems so they actually work when put together? I doubt it. The article only talks about who is going to actually source systems from one maker or another. Please explain further. I am not trying to sound important as per sferrin or be disrespectful to you. I just hate seeing people talk up AEGIS when chances are they never worked on it or had to put up with it on a deployment. In my opinion Navy and Lockheed are trying to make one system do to much. The tech reps and engineers told us that when I was still on the Momsen. The VME backplanes were not even strong enough for the power supplies to removed and reinserted into the slots. The COTS VME card cages were so weak that when a power supply was reinserted into the back-plane it flexed in such a way not allowing the connectors to properly seat. Causing the power supplies to draw more current and burn themselves out. The fix was to not remove the power supplies. In the beginning the tech reps from Lockheed told us that a few power supplies going out was ok because of redundancy. The Navy could not source enough power supplies because the maker did not make them any more. In the end they came back a few months later and said that any power supply going out is bad. There was no redundancy built into the system for power supplies for the switches. It amazed me that the people that designed it had no real idea how it all worked together. Could things have changed in the last couple of years? May be they have but I doubt it.


you mean “friken lazers” LOL

that beast is retired greensboro, they found out that it really didn’t work very well-poor range

Really? I swear it was part of Sec. Def. Gates “budget constraints”, the last few test were all successful, without any “range” issues.

He seemed to cut/cancel the successful programs (F-22) and put his eggs in the baskets of unproven programs (F-35), that turned out to be a big mistake, under performing, and hugely over budget.

Excuse me Lockheed Martin.

Try again, please.
If you’d offered this link, maybe… http://​www​.youtube​.com/​w​a​t​c​h​?​v​=​v​q​L​k​p​c​H​a​v​Z​E​&​a​m​p​;fe

or this one… http://​www​.naval​-technology​.com/​n​e​w​s​/​n​e​w​s​5​8​0​1​9​.ht

or.. http://​www​.defensereview​.com/​r​a​y​t​h​e​o​n​-​l​a​s​e​r​-​w​e​apo

Point being, a land-based system could actually be out-the-door (production ready) in a year, based on all the current research and successful components (although its power requirements and mainentance concerns would shackle its fielding to defense of fixed bases, not as part of mobile convoy protection, even though Zeus works).

But why isn’t USN appearing to be getting all super-hyped about these weapons being mounted on LCS, Burkes, or slated for the Zumwalt and Ford?
Any solid mention of it anywhere, if these weapons are supposed to be so game-changing…?
We seem more concerned with a plethora of guns and missile systems, and decoys, to perform all our fighting needs.
No mention of Navy installing these on ships ANYWHERE in the near-term (not within 5 years,…anything in 10? 15?).
So why is that?

And add 4 CIWS, 2 on the each sides per unit.

sferrin is just one of our contractor trolls you can hear the contempt they have for the services every day


Lockheed gives you exactly what you apparently want. You pay them more if they screw you than you do if they come up with a good weapon on time and on budget, so they screw you. Whose fault is that?

The Navy intergration controll has been going on for a while now on numerous upgrades. What it means is that rather than a contractor coming in and saying we are going to splice in this system — The Navy has to review the upgrade plans and approve it in detail identifying exactly what power sources they can tie into off what pannel, cooling and ventilation systems and so on. This is because contractors would come in and do an install and later it would be found out that because of where they tied in the system would loose power during reduced electrical or not come from emergency power sources/ the systems would overheat because they were not on primary cooling and so on, not a good thing to find out during sea trials. The Navy just has more required oversight and approval via NAVSEA CRANE/SUPSHIP and ships crew, but the contractor will still do the majority of the work.

“The Navy could not source enough power supplies because the maker did not make them any more.”

As a tangent, this is a problem all across the aerospace industry. The fourth through sixth AEHF vehicles are going to cost as much as the first three, even though they’ve presumably “worked the bugs out”, because they had to rebuild the 1997-era computer factory that made the processors.

The problem is that for ~45 years we lived in a world where US military R&D drove the Western electronics industry’s technological development, so the DoD could always be certain that whatever it bought would be in production for a long time as it filtered out to the civilian market. But now the civilian market is driving things, and it operates on a one-year cycle and not a five– or ten-year cycle–and yet the DoD still insists that everything be built custom, just for them. That’s why upgraded systems turn into such mishmashes of vacuum tubes right next to 45-nanometer ICs; because redesigning and retesting the older parts wasn’t in the budget for the uprade.

Your post is exactly what I was looking for. An explanation. Thanks.

Not a problem — this was an easy one considering I was a shipyard work control supervisor overseeing and approving all contractor operations prior to my retirement from the Navy, so I knew exactly what this article was talking about.

I can’t believe this LMCO. AEGIS has become a rolling cash-cow for MS-82. Old engineers, specifying the replacement or podged together repair of equipment built by companies absorbed, bankrupted or disappeared over the last 30 years. I am completely burned out on LMCO, NGC and the few remaining others over the ra-ra of cash for upgrades and maintenance. The F-35 is a miserable failure already having sucked up over $50B in DEVELOPMENT, no wonder the Canucks are freaking out about what they commited versus what they will actually pay, it is time we did the same. The whole tanker debacle is a quick snapshot: buy a corrupt purchaser or two and pray for the best. Who would dare say that the Airbus option doesn’t actually make sense, but please try to forget the pork for a minute. Just because Boeing is going to build a new plant in SC does not automatically make it the right or best tanker and please give me a break regarding which fueling wand is actually the best, we have been over that for years, either vendor can modify an existing jet to replace C-130’s.

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The problem I saw with AEGIS during my time in was the redundancy, instead of giving you a backup system, was needed by the mainframes. If one UYH 3 went down the system would freak. Theoretically you had a primary and secondary for redundancy. But the system needed both going at the same time or all kinds of issues would crop up. Unfortunately we got a new Captain that decided he was not going to tell us when we were about to lose power during a drill. The frequent drops to the UYH-3s corrupted the system and caused all of our diskpacks to break gradually over a period of weeks. I really wish I had had the UYH-16s. I replaced tons of read/write heads in those things.

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