Air and Water

October 19, 2012

Dear Members and Friends,

The United States Fleet Forces Command out of Norfolk, Virginia provides the world’s only platforms and weapons system capable of shooting down Iranian ballistic missiles in space for the protection of Israel. These platforms are the Aegis ballistic missile defense ships which have three major weapon systems that enable them to search, track, and shoot down ballistic missiles in space; the SPY Band Radar, the Standard Missile 3 Block 1A Interceptors, and the Aegis processing and configuration. These United States mobile sea based platforms are stationed off the coast of Israel, in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea, today defending the entire country of Israel with their unique capability to track and destroy incoming ballistic missiles from Iran first and in space, before the lower tier non- hit to kill fragmentation proximity missile defense systems inside Israel can engage them.

The United States Fleet Forces Command, under its mission to implement the European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA) that provides ballistic missile defense for Europe, now deploys continuous rotating Aegis BMD ships on station in the Eastern Mediterranean for the protection of Israel and to defend where the threat of ballistic missiles use is most likely to occur in this region. This is a tremendous responsibility for a captain and crew of roughly 250 sailors and 15 officers that man these Aegis BMD ships. This considerable priority is a challenge for the United States Navy with the reduction of ships, reduction of manpower on these ships, lack of inventory of SM-3 interceptors, and limited BMD capable Aegis ships available to support the growing EPAA as well as the Pacific and the Persian Gulf where threats of magnitude from ballistic missile are of equal magnitude and relevance.

Aegis BMD ships are sought after and their demand is far greater than their supply for this critical mission around the world. The most valuable asset of these ships, besides the men and women on board, is the SPY-1 radar which has four panels of phased array radar powered by four to six megawatts. The SPY-1 radar has 360 degrees of coverage and can search/track/target objects in space as well as constantly search an area inside the atmosphere of a few hundred miles for any and all air breathing objects. On today’s Aegis BMD ships there are five sailors out of the ship’s crew that are SPY-1 radar expert technicians that also have dual duty in maintaining the SPY-1 radar as well as monitoring. The four panels of the radar are located in the upper front and back of the boat house with power coming from the gas turbine generators below decks through a variety of amplifiers in mid deck that start with 10 kilowatts and end up with 32 modules projecting four to six megawatts of phased power. This is all integrated with computers and a processing system that converges on a one person monitoring the display board in the Combat Information Communications (CIC) section of the ship. Once objects are identified by the sailor operating the display board in the CIC they can proceed to track as well as to create a firing solution that provides key intercept data to the SM-3 Block IA missiles before they are fired, as well as during their flight, and all the way up to the release of the kill vehicle in space. In order for the SPY-1 radar to best use its limited power resources, queuing information of where to look it leverages communication links from outside of the ship such as satellites, sister BMD ships and ground based sensors. Specifically for the defense of Israel and Europe, the U.S. forward based AN/TYP-2 radars located in Israel and Turkey provide this important queuing data to the U.S. Aegis BMD Ships enabling their most efficient use of the SPY-1 radar in tracking/targeting the ballistic missile. These forward based radars can also provide Aegis BMD Ships early launch capability that allows a further earlier shot providing more battle space and time. The AN/TYP-2 radars in synchronization with Aegis BMD Ships will provide a future capability of engaging ballistic missiles outside of the ship’s SPY-1 radar range further extending the defended area in magnitude as much of the future phases of EPAA will be looking towards both launch and engage on remote to defend the vast area of Europe from short and medium range missiles.

MDAA had the honor and privilege to be aboard the USS Mahan (DDG-72) Aegis BMD Destroyer from Fleet Forces Command as we left Norfolk yesterday and steamed up to Annapolis with the 280 men and women aboard who serve our nation selflessly on this powerful platform that preserves peace and deters against war.

As we step back to view one of the greatest weapon platforms ever created by the United States Congress, propelled by four gas turbine jet engines totaling 100,000 horsepower, displacing 8,600 tons of water, with 16 different war fighting missions, and 280 men and women on board to operate, it is a wonder that the most vital part of this ship is the engineering of creating air and water to start the power and create cooling for all of the technology to function.

It is all about air and water and that is the essence of the mission of Aegis BMD Ships.

Resource Library


Curtis Stiles - Chief of Staff