Image: 030313_WAPP_Aegis
Combat information technicans monitor air traffic in the AEGIS Command Information Control Center on the cruiser USS Cowpens, now deployed in the Persian Gulf.
By
msnbc.com

One of the most sophisticated weapons systems in the world, the Aegis radar on some American cruisers and destroyers gives commanders an unprecedented view of all the activity raging on the battlefield, whether on land, in the air or at sea.

Aegis radar systems, developed during the 1970s, remain the most sophisticated battlefield radars at sea. The cruisers and destroyers equipped with Aegis can detect and quickly respond to attacks on the fleet. More importantly, they are capable of integrating all the complex systems in a naval flotilla, including carrier aviation, into an overall battlefield view that includes ground and air forces.

Aegis is a three-tiered system — radar, weapons control and command. They are the eyes and ears of battlefield commanders, giving American military chiefs the fullest view possible of all combat raging before them.

“The Aegis cruiser is the command in control of the battle group,” said David Caskey at the Naval Sea Systems Command. “It is a unique electronic system that acts like a shield for all the ships.”The U.S. Navy generally has 13 Aegis ships in its Atlantic fleet and 14 in the Pacific. The heart of the system is an advanced, automatic detect and track, multi-function phased-array radar. This high powered radar is able to perform search, track and missile guidance functions simultaneously with a track capacity of over 100 targets.

A number of Ticonderoga-class cruisers were deployed during the Gulf crisis in 1991. Aegis-controlled Tomahawk missiles were deployed in 1993 against targets in Iraq for enforcing the “no fly zone.” The cruiser ships also coordinated the deployment of missiles during the operations related to ethnic conflict in Bosnia during the conflict 1995.

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