When the first cruisers of the U.S. Navy’s Ticonderoga class entered service in the early 1980s they ranked as the world’s most capable surface combatants. These 9,500-ton warships were fitted with advanced antiaircraft, antiship, and antisubmarine weapons. Subsequently, the second, upgraded “flight” of 22 ships (CG-52 to -73)—fitted with vertical-launch missile cells—provided additional antiship and impressive land-attack capabilities with the Tomahawk cruise missile.
The Aegis weapons control and AN/SPY-1 radar system in the Ticonderoga class gave these ships the most advanced air/cruise missile defense system afloat—and probably ashore. Then, to demonstrate that even a good thing could be improved, the Aegis/SPY-1 system was further enhanced to provide a ballistic-missile defense (BMD) capability. As of late 2013, six Ticonderoga-class cruisers—as well as 22 Aegis destroyers—have BMD upgrades.