The U.S. Navy’s first Aegis-equipped surface warship, the USS Ticonderoga (CG-47), joined the Fleet in January 1983, and all-but dared the Soviet Navy to take its best anti-ship cruise-missile shot.
The Navy’s newest Aegis guided-missile destroyer in the fall 2014, the USS Michael Murphy (DDG-112), was commissioned in December 2012. Murphy is the Navy’s 102nd Aegis warship. Another 10 Aegis DDGs are under construction, under contract or planned––a remarkable achievement!
Aegis surface warships were conceived during the height of the Cold War to defend U.S. aircraft carrier battle groups from massed Soviet aircraft and anti-ship cruise missile attacks. With the early retirements/layups of as many as 16 of 27 Aegis cruisers (beginning with Ticonderoga’s decommissioning in September 2004), some observers characterize the Aegis Weapon System (AWS) as an old, legacy program, whose time has passed.
The poster child for a successful procurement program, Aegis shows what tight programatic controls coupled with good engineering and a realistic objective can achieve. By beginning with a fundamentally sound foundation, the edifice that is the Aegis program can continue to build to greater heights.
Incremental improvements in hardware, software, and networking have steadily increased the capability of the Aegis system. And all this is possible because of the sound choices RADM Meyer made at the very beginning. A clear vision of the threat lead to a clear vision of the needed capability. A clear vision of the need, combined with a clear vision of the state of the art led to a program that has endured, and served well.