The Navy's Aegis program office in the program executive office for integrated warfare systems and Lockheed Martin's maritime systems and sensors unit in Moorestown, New Jersey, are collaborating with the Naval Surface Warfare Center's Dahlgren Division to complete certification of the latest version of the Aegis combat system, designated baseline 7 phase 1, for service at sea starting on board the Arleigh Burke (DDG-51)-class Aegis destroyer Pinckney (DDG-91).
The new baseline represents completion of the broad shift for the Aegis combat system, now in service on all Arleigh Burke destroyers and Ticonderoga (CG-47)-class cruisers in varying levels of capability, from obsolescent militaryspecification, Navy-unique "UYK" computer hardware and software to a more flexible and open architecture of commercial processors and interfaces.
The Navy and the company, the long-time Aegis prime contractor, started the move to commercially developed technology for Aegis in the late 1990s, when they recognized that continued reliance on military-specification components not only had become unaffordable but also would require extensive systems engineering to incorporate new applications for new surface warfare missions, such as ballistic missile defense. Navy and industry officials point out that the hierarchical, tightly coupled Aegis software architecture, frequently upgraded over the years, resembles "spaghetti code" that cannot be modified without producing unwanted perturbations throughout the system.
The shift to commercial technology also puts the program on the path to compliance with the integrated warfare systems office's mandate to move to an open architecture computing environment for the combat systems for surface combatants, carriers, amphibious assault ships, and the DD(X) land-attack destroyer now in development.
Jamie Durbin, Lockheed Martin's technical director for Aegis open architecture, says the company's initiative borrows considerably from the Lockheed Martin-Navy acoustic rapid commercial insertion (ARCI) process conceived in the mid-1990s as a means of introducing new systems and processing capabilities for the attack submarine fleet. The ARCI process identified emerging technologies for insertion at designated intervals. To help make systems more open, the ARCI team sought participation from capable smaller companies, such as DRS (now part of General Dynamics), which developed innovative "middleware" that, by isolating core system functions, permits easy up-grades to combat systems.
The surface community has established a rapid capability insertion process (RCIP) that exploits the ARCI principles. Lockheed Martin is applying the RCIP approach for its open architecture efforts, Durbin says, to provide a "landing zone" for the new technology insertions.
Orlando Carvalho, Lockheed Martin's vice president for surface systems, says the Navy and the company started inserting commercial technology for Aegis with baseline 6, the combat system installed on DDGs 79 through 90. That effort introduced, among other things, "adjunct" processors that ported Aegis functions from the older UYK-43 computers to newer processor hardware.
Baseline 7 phase 1 incorporates fiber-based local area networks, commercial routers and switches, and, for the Aegis command-and-decision component, new software modules written in the commercial C++programming language, which eliminates the tight coupling of system functions.
Carvalho says the company is pursuing a three-spiral program to migrate the full combat system-the command-and-decision component, weapons control, and SPY-1 phased-array radar-to open architecture by 2007.
For the next step in the open architecture evolution, the company is developing a new baseline, designated baseline 7 phase 1 refresh, to be fielded first on board the Truxton (DDG-103), which will be built by Northrop Grumman Ship Systems. The new baseline, through the spiral process, will introduce new display technology and replace older routers with new switch technology developed by Cisco Systems.
The refresh baseline development will dovetail with an effort to upgrade 23 Ticonderoga-class cruisers to the open architecture configuration, depending on available funding. The Navy currently is restructuring its planned cruiser conversion program, which originally was conceived in the late 1990s to add new capabilities to the cruisers, ranging from hull, mechanical, and electrical enhancements to significant combat systems upgrades. In the new plan, which the Navy hopes to fund for fiscal year 2006, the Bunker Hill (CG-52), the first of the class equipped with a vertical launch system, is expected to be the first configured for the open architecture combat system by 2008.