A Broader Role for Aegis BMD Ships

Navy plans to use four ships scheduled to be deployed to Spain for more than just ballistic missile defense



The USS Carney, above, is one of four Aegis BMD-equipped Arleigh Burke destroyers scheduled for deployment to Spain in the coming years to support the Phased Adaptive Approach to missile defense in Europe and other missions in the region.

The U.S. Navy plans to deploy four Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD)-equipped Arleigh Burke destroyers to Spain over the next several years as part of NATO’s Phased Adaptive Approach to missile defense in Europe.

But that’s not all they’ll be doing.

Supreme Allied Commander in Europe U.S. Navy Adm. James Stavrdis recently told the House Armed Services Committee, the Navy plans to use the ships for a wide range of missions in Europe and Africa. In addition to their missile defense role, the ships will conduct maritime security operations, humanitarian missions, and bilateral and multilateral exercises.

“These are ships you’ll see off the Gulf of Guinea, they’ll be operating in counterpiracy on the east coast of Africa, they’ll be in the Mediterranean, they’ll be up north. … So I think their homeporting overseas reflects the ongoing engagement — not only in Europe but also in the African theater, as well,” Stavridis was quoted as telling the committee in a March 5 Navy Times article. “And I think it’s a very powerful statement of that.”

The Navy plans to deploy the USS Ross and Donald Cook to Rota, Spain in fiscal 2014, with the Porter and Carney joining them the following year. The multi-mission Aegis BMD Arleigh Burke destroyers are a key component of the four-part Phased Adaptive Approach.

Initially, the approach calls for deploying the proven Aegis BMD-equipped ships in the Mediterranean Sea to counter regional ballistic missile threats to Europe. Phase Two will use the same sea-based Aegis BMD capabilities in a ground-based Aegis Ashore configuration by 2015. By the end of the decade, the final two phases will employ SM-3 variants currently in development against future threats.

Developed by Lockheed Martin, Aegis BMD integrates the SPY-1 radar, MK 41 Vertical Launching System and SM-3 missile using an advanced command and control system to engage ballistic missiles and perform long-range surveillance and tracking missions.