The Navy plans to have an “exponential” improvement in the service’s space domain awareness (SDA) in the next several years with Aegis Weapon System upgrades planned for 30-40 ships, Rear Adm. Mike Bernacchi, the director of strategy, plans, and policy (J5) for U.S. Space Command, said on Aug. 26.
“The Navy absolutely is planning, as part of the upgrades to the ships’ systems, to have tremendous increase in space domain awareness capability,” Bernacchi told a forum at the Space Foundation’s Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Colo. “That’s inherent in the upgrades to the Aegis system and the Block [Baseline] 9. Over the next couple of years, both our ships and Aegis Ashore are gonna have those upgrades which allow for independent space domain capability tracking of objects in the background, which doesn’t take away from any of its other capabilities. That is a huge upgrade.”
Lockheed Martin [LMT] builds the Aegis Weapon System. The USS Jack H. Lucas (DDG-125) is to be the first ship with Aegis Baseline 10, which will incorporate a Raytheon Technologies [RTX] SPY-6 radar.
The Aegis upgrades for Navy ships to allow SDA are to occur across the combatant commands. “Right now, there’s one ship,” Bernacchi said. “In a couple of years, there’s gonna be 30-plus. You think about just an exponential growth in Navy capability for space.”
The Navy may also want to pursue reversible and non-reversible space control capabilities. “Imagine putting space control capabilities–jammers; etc.–on a submarine or a UUV [unmanned undersea vehicle], and then the adversary trying to figure out where that’s coming from,” said Bernacchi, a veteran of the Navy attack and ballistic missile submarine force. “The capabilities or possibilities that the Navy can bring to bear to confuse and make the adversary’s calculus just that much harder where they say, ‘Today is not the day,’ is just immeasurable.”
Last September, Lockheed Martin won contracts for Aegis ballistic missile defense modifications and upgrades for DDG-51 Arleigh Burke-class destroyers (Defense Daily, Sept. 4, 2020).
The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) is considering Aegis Ashore to aid in the defense of Guam. MDA has said that its delayed fielding of an Aegis Ashore site in Poland will provide lessons learned for future efforts (Defense Daily, Aug. 12).
“Aegis Baseline 9 provides the Navy the ability to conduct Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD) as well as contribute to Space Domain Awareness, which is vital to support joint and multi-domain integration,” Bernacchi stated in a Sept. 1 email provided by USSPACECOM public affairs. “USSPACECOM is working with our Navy counterparts to determine how best to integrate Aegis Baseline 9 radars into our collective network of sensors for Space Domain Awareness.”