The Origins of Aegis

Eli T. Reich, Wayne Meyer, and the Creation of a Revolutionary Naval Weapons System

  • Subject: Spring 2024 Catalog | Cold War | Weapons
  • Format:
  • Pages:
  • Illustrations:
    17 B/W Photos, 3 Tables/Graphs/Charts, 7 Figures
  • Published:
    May 15, 2024
  • ISBN-10:
  • ISBN-13:
  • Product Dimensions:
    9 × 6 × 1 in
  • Product Weight:
    18 oz
Hardcover $39.95
Member Price $23.97 Save 40%
Book: Cover Type


This book provides readers with an in-depth understanding of the professional development of two notable and highly accomplished naval officers and their contributions to the development of the Aegis Weapons System. The main argument is that there was no single career path or set of formal qualifications for achieving excellence in the naval profession as characterized by selection for Flag rank. One of the major points is the revelation that a combination of essential personal traits and qualities and important operational and technical experiences fundamental to the nature of naval warfare are critical to developing highly competent and confident officers. Such officers are needed to lead major acquisition programs capable of delivering innovative weapons systems for a twenty-first t century Navy facing new age threats.

About the Author

Editorial Reviews

"The AEGIS weapons system—including its SPY series of radars and ever-evolving combat system and missiles—represents a clear distinction between capability of the U.S. Navy and every other navy in the world, except for those fortunate enough to have it aboard their own ships. Thomas Wildenberg has produced a fascinating description of how two flag officers with very different backgrounds overcame extraordinary technical and bureaucratic challenges to bring this vital system to life.  For anyone who believes excellence is based in part on a deep understanding of the history of one’s profession, this volume should be required reading."—Adm. Sandy Winnefeld, USN (Ret.), former Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and author of Sailing Upwind
"The Origins of Aegis is the long overdue account of two of the U.S. Navy’s most courageous, resolute, and brilliant ordnance experts who stood in the service of their country against both the forces of evil and the forces of the status quo at great professional risk when the nation needed them most. Hopefully, this story will spark a renaissance in how ships and their combat systems are designed, constructed, and put to sea in this era of Great Power competition. Undoubtedly, it will inspire many to follow in their wake."—John Hammerer, Chair, Integrated Air and Missile Defense at the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School
"Aegis…shield of the Fleet! Historian Thomas Wildenberg takes a hard look at the early years of the Aegis Shipbuilding project to produce a long-range, guided, supersonic surface-to-air weapon, in response to the global emergence of a modernized anti-ship Soviet Navy. Particularly valuable is Wildenberg’s deep life-examination of two key Aegis “players,” Admiral Eli T. Reich and Rear Admiral Wayne E. Meyer, the “father” of Aegis (FOE). This book is an important contribution to understanding the technologies, systems, and people that shared the experience of producing anti-ship surface warfare systems at the height of the Cold war. Thirty years on, Aegis is the core of U.S. Navy Sea-Based ballistic missiles. Vice Admiral Reich and Rear Admiral Meyer were keystones for SUW warfighting in the 21st Century. Aegis…Don’t leave homeports without it!"—Scott C Truver, PhD, former Director of the Center for Security Strate­gies and Operations and author of Weapons that Wait
"This is far more than a history of the origin of a radar system.  It is an insightful look at the U.S. Navy culturally "from the middle" using two fascinating naval officers--Wayne E. Meyer and Eli T. Reich.  It is also a gripping account of guided missile development in the U.S. Navy during the Cold War.  Wildenberg is one of our finest naval scholars."—John T. Kuehn, PhD, former FADM E.J. King Professor of Maritime History, U.S. Naval War College and author of Strategy in Crisis