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Author Topic: Navy May Need Bigger Aegis BMD Fleet  (Read 4794 times)

Offline tigershark

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Navy May Need Bigger Aegis BMD Fleet
« on: August 04, 2008, 01:54:18 AM »
Navy May Need Bigger Aegis BMD Fleet
Jul 31, 2008

Michael Bruno

The U.S. Navy may eventually need as many as 90 Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense ships – far more than the 18 planned by the end of this year – especially if worldwide missile defense requirements help drive shipbuilding needs, a key three-star admiral said July 30.

Vice Adm. Barry McCullough, deputy chief of naval operations for integration of capabilities and resources, said combatant commanders (COCOMS) in areas like Europe and the Pacific would need far more Aegis BMD ships to meet continuous coverage needs. Officials in those locations, which watch Iran and North Korea among other countries, increasingly eye the naval system’s regional missile defense capabilities.

“The combatant commanders, the fleet commanders, want more of it; they want it all the time,” McCullough told a National Defense University Foundation breakfast audience. “That will drive our force structure requirements even higher.”

Currently, there are 15 Aegis ships that are capable of launching Standard Missile-3 interceptors, of which 30 have been delivered. Three Aegis BMD ships remain to be finished by the end of 2008 (three Aegis cruisers and 15 destroyers) while the Missile Defense Agency expects four additional interceptors too, MDA’s director said in mid-July. Some Japanese ships also feature the system and other nations are interested as well, Air Force Lt. Gen Trey Obering further said.

Already, MDA plans to double the missile production rate for the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) and Aegis BMD systems between 2010 and 2015 (Aerospace DAILY, April 18). Obering demurred when briefing Pentagon reporters July 15 on how the Defense Department would budget for the increased demands under the next program objective memorandum (POM), but he noted that MDA was working with COCOMS.

“We work closely with StratCom,” Obering said of the Strategic Command. “They work closely with the other combatant commanders to gather together their desired capabilities that we can fulfill. And so we are taking that into the POM deliberations and we’re working that up through the building, through the department here, in terms of, OK, we prioritize this, and then where can we take additional risk is what it boils down to, to be able to satisfy that.”

Nevertheless, McCullough echoed longstanding concerns within the Navy of ceding command and control of its ships to the missile defense mission – although he stressed that the Navy will follow orders and meet national security needs. Asked about deploying Aegis BMD ships for homeland missile defense, such as against an airborne electromagnetic pulse attack, the vice admiral said the Navy is best used defending the United States around the globe – not 50 miles offshore. Still, he acknowledged, missile defense like Aegis BMD will only grow more popular and demanding.

“Right now, this is a growth industry and we see it as a growth industry for years to come,” he said. “Congress has been generous in the money they’ve given us – but things are expensive.”

Photo: MDA



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