The U.S. Navy developed AEGIS in the 1970s in response to the Soviet threat of saturation missile attacks against American carrier forces. Conventional rotating radars cannot rapidly track and process multiple targets, but AEGIS planar arrays are able to track an unlimited number of targets and relay the data instantaneously to a main computer in the ship's combat information center. The system then rapidly prioritizes the target data received from its SPY‐1 phased array radars and assigns targets to the ship's weapons systems. Superior to more conventional radar systems and highly resistant to electronic countermeasures, AEGIS has also enhanced the target collection and processing capability of Ticonderoga‐class cruisers serving as flagships for battle groups.
Budget limitations prompted the navy, which originally intended AEGIS for nuclear‐powered escorts, to substitute the less expensive, but proven, oil‐fired Spruance‐class design for its new guided missile cruisers In 1988, the first of an AEGIS‐equipped class of fleet escorts, USS Arleigh Burke (DDG 51), was launched, and to date twenty‐eight have been completed.
To support joint and coalition operations against adversaries in littoral areas, the U.S. Navy has offered the AEGIS system to allied navies. Japan already has a significant AEGIS capability and Spain plans to install the lighter, more compact SPY‐1F arrays in its new F‐100 class frigates.
[See also Radar.]
David Miller and and Chris Miller , Modern Naval Combat, 1986.
Dennis M. Bailey , Aegis Guided Missile Cruiser, 1991.
Robert Gardner, ed., Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1947–1995, 1995.
John Jordan , An Illustrated Guide to the Modern U.S. Navy, 1992.
Dr. Robin Laird , The Challenges of Internationalization, Seapower (September 1997).
Barbara Brooks Tomblin
ae·gis / ˈējis/ • n. [in sing.] the protection, backing, or support of a particular person or organization: negotiations conducted under the aegis of the UN. ∎ (in classical art and mythology) an attribute of Zeus (Jupiter) and Athena (Minerva) usually represented as a goatskin shield.
aegis (ē´jĬs), in Greek mythology, weapon of Zeus and Athena. It possessed the power to terrify and disperse the enemy or to protect friends. The aegis was usually described as a garment made of goatskin slung over the shoulder or as a piece of armor. The aegis of Athena was a breastplate covered with goatskin and bordered with snakes, bearing in the center the head of the Gorgon Medusa.