The Aegis integrated weapons system currently on board more than 70 U.S. Navy cruisers and destroyers is a lineal descendant of the service’s original antiaircraft missile system, which featured a huge weapon named after a bronze giant from Greek mythology: Talos. Rear Admiral Wayne Meyer Jr., the “father of Aegis,” received his introduction to the world of air-defense missiles through the Talos system, and its successes and failures helped teach him what Aegis needed to become the success that it is today.
The Talos story began in 1944, as the U.S. Navy sought an answer to the new threat presented by German glide bombs. These guided weapons were too small and fast to be hit by antiaircraft fire and were generally launched from outside antiaircraft range. The Navy had enjoyed considerable success with proximity fuzes, developed by the Johns Hopkins University war-research organization’s Division T, which soon would be renamed the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory.