Modernizing the Aegis System for Surface Warfare
By Rear Admiral James McManamon and Captain Brian Eckerle, U.S. Navy
Often lost in mainstream news coverage are the Navy’s quiet efforts to upgrade and modernize existing warships, aircraft, and other platforms. The service’s goal is to expand its surface fleet to meet joint task-force commanders’ increasing demands, but with new ships costing billions of dollars each and a fleet that has shrunk to about 285 ships, the Navy must stretch its budget. The 84 Aegis cruisers and destroyers currently in service or being built are at the heart of the surface force. They are the main battery for air, surface, and undersea warfare; they sail with U.S. Navy carrier strike groups and expeditionary strike groups; they protect other battle-force ships from a multidimensional threat. A 20-year plan was unveiled several years ago to upgrade the 22 Ticonderoga-class Aegis guided-missile cruisers and 62 Arleigh Burke-class Aegis guided-missile destroyers.