The Transatlantic Aegis Partnership
The story of Aegis opened an important new chapter in 2009 with the decision of the U.S. Administration to deploy Aegis, both at-sea and ashore, in defense of Europe. For more than two years the U.S. Navy has deployed its ships to the Mediterranean with a primary mission to provide Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) of Europe. When Aegis-equipped Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, USS Donald Cook (DDG 75) arrived at Naval Station Rota, Spain on February 11, Spain again stepped onto the world stage as it began its initial contribution to the European ballistic defense mission, in support of the U.S. European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA). Donald Cook is the first of four U.S. destroyers that will be home ported in Rota over the next two years.
This month’s arrival of Donald Cook however, is not the beginning of the Aegis experience in Spain. Aegis has been the shield of the Spanish F-100 fleet since 2002, when F-101 Álvaro de Bazán, the lead ship of Spain’s five AAW frigates, was commissioned into service. While not BMD-capable today, with Aegis at their core, Spain’s F-100 frigates represent the most capable ships in NATO outside the U.S. that can perform this critical mission in defense of Europe. The addition of five Spanish frigates to the four U.S. forward deployed DDGs would significantly increase the operational BMD capability and flexibility of the NATO fleet in Europe.
Aegis is the most deployed combat system in the world, and the only system capable of tracking and engaging ballistic missile targets. Its performance is unmatched and five Allied Nations along with the U.S. rely on it to protect their interests at-sea. But the world is not standing still and neither is Aegis. The proven system continues to evolve to remain relevant and its latest capability evolution, Baseline 9, moves toward a single combat system configuration, increases the number of BMD-capable ships and provides the most advanced air defense capability ever – Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD). As Combat Systems Engineering Agent (CSEA), Lockheed Martin is also adapting Aegis to more flexibly meet the needs of current and future customers in both the combat system and radar. Those adaptations will open up new possibilities for cooperation between navies and industries, and when combined with new technologies will enable affordable and very capable Aegis ships.
In Spain, the transatlantic Aegis cooperation lives on aboard the F-100 frigates, the U.S. destroyers in Rota, and potentially aboard the future F-110 frigates. Lockheed Martin is committed to partner with the U.S. Navy and its allies to rapidly field capability to the warfighter as well as with local industries to expand international cooperation. The future of Aegis is bright.