The Aegis Weapon System has been at sea in U.S. Navy surface warships since the USS Ticonderoga (CG-47) guided-missile cruiser commissioned in 1983. Tico and her 26 sisters—as well as the Arleigh Burke–class guided-missile destroyers—ushered in a true revolution at sea, holding at risk U.S. adversaries’ antiship cruise missiles and aircraft, while bringing world-class multimission antisurface, antisubmarine, and land-attack/strike capabilities to the fleet.
Within just a few years, several U.S. allies and partners began to acquire the system, beginning with the first U.S.-Japanese Aegis foreign military sales in 1984. The keel of the Aegis global alliance had been laid.
The threat Aegis faces down has not stood still. Since the 1980s’ Iran-Iraq War, China, Russia, and regional powers have expanded weapon inventories, including ballistic missiles, some tailored to antiship missions.
“Fact Sheet: Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense,” (16-MDA-8777 28 July 2016)
Sea-Based Weapon System (SWBS), Solicitation MDA20A20ABRFI02, 20-MDA-10494, 29 May 2020
“Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (Aegis BMD) FY19 Ballistic Missile Defense System,” MDA Fact Sheet (undated)
Defense Primer: Ballistic Missile Defense (Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service, 7-9760, 9 October 2019)
“Fact Sheet: Ballistic Missile Defense Testing,” MDA, 16-MDA-8777 (28 July 16); “Fact Sheet: Ballistic Missile Defense Flight Test Record” (as of December 2018), MDA, 18-MDA-9879 (17 January 2019)
“Formidable Shield 2019,” European Security & Defence, 5 June 2019
“Allied Forces Begin Formidable Shield 2019,” 6th Fleet Public Affairs, 7 May 2019
“U.S. Successfully Conducts SM-3 Block IIA Intercept Test Against an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile Target,” U.S. Department of Defense, 17 November 2020
Lockheed Martin to Equip Spanish F-110 Frigates with New Radar System,” Naval Technology, 6 December 2019
Jeff Jeong, “South Korea to Build 3 More Aegis Destroyers Able to Thwart Ballistic Missiles,” DefenseNews, 2 May 2019.