In looking back on the success that the U.S. Navy has had in the Pacific over the past 25 years, specifically dealing with the evolving threat from China, our list of Greatest of All Time (GOAT) performers, have to include the platforms and capabilities to deter and defend against missile threats to our Aircraft Carrier Battle Groups — the Aegis multi-mission Air and Ballistic Missile Defense ships. Aegis destroyers and cruisers have played a central role in enabling the U.S. Navy to protect Freedom of the Seas and the free and open movement of people and commerce that has enabled the development of the region and the global economy.
These integrated air and defense sea-based platforms developed by Admiral Wayne Meyer have as many as 19 missions. Its critical four-faced 360 degree SPY radar, its slew of VLS interceptors, and the layered on-ship effectors from SeaRAM to Sea Sparrow, all come together to engage, destroy and negate all types of rockets and missiles from ballistic to cruise missiles. The system will soon have the ability to defend against hypersonic missiles, giving it the ability to defend against threats from sea-level, to those in the air, to those emanating from space that threaten the Battle Group from 360 degrees around these formations. These GOATs integrate together to multiply their defended area using capabilities for “Launch on Remote” and “Engage on Remote.”
Aegis ships leverage sensors to cue effectors to negate air and missile threats, thus providing vital coverage for wide areas that they patrol. The GOATs integrate with the Navy cross-domain Combined Engagement Capability (CEC) to bring in both tactical and strategic assets to best leverage its capabilities to defend and negate threats. The Aegis Combat System continues to adapt, upgrade, evolve and stay ahead, making it highly effective for both land and sea defense. The U.S. Navy continues to monitor international situations, as it has never taken its eye off the ever evolving Chinese missile threats to its Carriers and U.S. Navy 7thth and Pacific Fleets.
Today, due to the shortage of land-based Ballistic Missile Defense capacity, some of our GOATS are not always performing their 19 missions maneuvering in open seas, preserving Freedom of the Pacific. Some of our GOATs are in rotation to tether off the island of Guam to defend its 170,000 American citizens, and may later have to be tethered for the in-depth defense of Hawaii and the continental United States, on both coasts if the emerging ballistic hypersonic glide missile threats warrants it. Moreover, to maintain continuous tethering at sea, it takes 3 ships worth $4-5 billion and close to 1,000 sailors and officers to keep one on tether. That is one on tether, one in maintenance, and one in training for deployment. While on tether, they are subject to undersea, surface, air and space threats in a confined known area that takes them from the advantage of maneuvering to evade the threats, to now potentially being easily located, targeted and negated.
Defense of the U.S. Territory of Guam is a strategic imperative and critical mission for Homeland Defense, since those who live in Guam are United States citizens and the westernmost operating base to project peace within the United States of America’s jurisdiction. Its proximity to China on the second Island chain provides critical capabilities to the U.S. and its allies in deterring and countering their threat. Its geography requires application of current and emerging technologies in new ways to provide robust, layered IAMD defense with long-range offensive strike capabilities against the Chinese platforms that are capable of launching and negating the threats of Land Attack Cruise Missiles, Hypersonic high-altitude threats, and Ballistic Missiles. Today, the GOAT has proven ballistic and cruise missile interceptors in its VLS inventory, some of which were tested with success last year. To put the GOAT missile defense capabilities on land in a disaggregated way and distributed in considerable capacity without the confined limits of a ship at sea throughout the terrain of the Island, is the most capable, quickest and efficient solution to the defense of Guam.
By building on the work done in recent years, a land-based Aegis System in Guam with distributed elements, incorporation of solid-state phased array radars, and the ability to centrally control geographically-separated VLS launching systems, would serve as a major contribution to Guam’s defense. This capability could be built upon with integrated space-based sensors, integration of the IBCS command and control system, NASAMs and PAC-3 and missile defense systems, and emerging directed energy systems to create an effective layered defense of the Island. This investment will allow for the GOATs to be untethered and released to the wide range of their 19 missions that they are designed to execute, survive, and dominate.
It is of significant concern that Guam is not currently adequately defended against the current and growing Chinese ballistic missile threat, as well as from the emerging hypersonic missile threat to the upgraded complex ballistic missiles that stems from mainland China’s strategic rocket force. The Chinese have recently grown and developed new capabilities that are challenging current U.S missile defense technology. China’s submarine fleet is the first cause of concern, as their ability to approach Guam to strike with YJ-18 anti-ship missiles or CJ-10 cruise missiles is real. Though China’s evolving H-6K bomber fleet can be easily defeated by the U.S. Air Force, as well as the Chinese Naval Surface Fleet, they both have the capability of attacking Guam from standoff range if they can defend and get to those areas to launch from which are heavily contested by U.S. capabilities.
Tethering our GOAT with an unbalanced operational design will guarantee its consumption by predators, whereas letting the GOATs free to graze and roam in the open will allow them to prosper. The time is now to pursue the tough task of defending Guam against increasingly sophisticated threats and put in place a distributed land-based Aegis architecture to get the job done by freeing up our GOATs to do what they do best, working in the open ocean.