The newest version of the Aegis Combat System recently completed its first live-fire testing following the first installation of the upgraded system aboard a Ticonderoga-class (CG-47) cruiser, prime contractor Lockheed Martin [LMT] said.

The ninth baseline version of the Aegis Combat System, installed on the USS Chancellorsville (CG-62), successfully detected, tracked and engaged a medium-altitude subsonic target.

The USS Chancellorsville was the first ship to receive the newest version of Aegis. Photo: U.S. Navy.

It sent tracking orders to the ship’s gun system, readied ammunition and fired five-inch projectiles, while striking the target with a Raytheon [RTN]-built SM-2 surface-to-air missile.

“Every day our customers face a growing number of threats from our adversaries, which requires a continuous evolution in capabilities,” said Jim Sheridan, Lockheed Martin’s director of Aegis programs.

“Baseline 9 as part of Aegis modernization ensures we stay one step ahead of each of those complex and sophisticated threats at a faster pace and with more technological advancements than ever before,” he added.

Lockheed Martin said four additional live-fire exercises are planned aboard the Chancellorsville before combat system qualification trials take place later this year.

The Navy in late March announced the completion of the installation of Aegis baseline 9 on the CG-62 in San Diego. The baseline 9 version for the first time fuses air theater defense and ballistic missile defense capabilities.

“With its newly enhanced air defense capability, USS Chancellorsville will be one of the most powerful warships operating in the fleet today,” Capt. Ted Zobel, the program manager for the cruiser modernization at Naval Sea Systems Command, said.

The modernization also included improvements to Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC), the AN/SPQ-9B radar integrated for anti-missile defense, AN/SQQ-89A(V)15 radar upgrades and a gun weapon system upgrade.

The ship is expected to rejoin the fleet in June 2014, NAVSEA said.

The key element of baseline 9 is the Multi-Mission Signal Processor (MMSP), which furnishes the power required to combine air theater and ballistic missile defense.

The next ships receiving the Aegis upgrades are the USS John Paul Jones (DDG-53), an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, and the USS Normandy (CG-60), also a Ticonderoga cruiser. The first newly constructed ship to get baseline 9 will be the USS John Finn (DDG-113).