Indian Defence

India With Aegis Combat System?

The Aegis Combat System is an American advanced command and control system using powerful computers and radars to datalink the various weapons in inventory to track enemy bogeys/aircrafts/missiles and destroy those enemy targets along with the additional capability of intercept and thwart incoming enemy short-intermediate ballistic missiles with the aid of the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System. It has been designed as a complete system: the missile launching element, the computer programs, the radar and the displays are fully integrated to work together. AEGIS Weapon System is a centralized, automated, command-and-control (C2) and weapons control system designed as a total weapon system, from detection to kill and the Aegis BMD is made up of three basic components: sensors, interceptors, and command and control. This whole meganetwork has made its name as the first fully integrated combat system built to defend against advanced air and surface threats.

Features of AEGIS

Aegis employs a sophisticated sensor suite, including the AN/SPY-1 phased-array radar – a passive electronically scanned US Navy 3D Radar System manufactured by Lockheed Martin which gives a long range enemy detection and tracking, high situational awareness and complete 360-degree coverage with its computer controlled four complementary antenna. This radar is basically the heart of ACS which keeps in its connected link the various domains of offensive and defensive weapons the whole network possesses. Its advanced auto detect-and-track, multi-functional 3D radar capability helps in tracking more than 100 targets at more than 100 nautical miles (190km).

The AN/SPG-32 is a continuous wave fire-control radar provides target illumination for the offensive weapon systems and uses a very narrow beam of radiofrequency (RF) radiation for extremely precise target-tracking and aids the AN/SPY-1 in high radar resolution and determining the cardinal numerics of enemy contacts. It is an important component of the Aegis’ Mk99 fire-control system (FCS) and is present aboard the Arleigh-Burke destroyers and Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruisers.

The MK-99 Fire Control System (FCS) functions as the interface between the Aegis AN/SPY-1 and the its ship-launched anti-air missiles, and communicates with the missile-control station to mark and illuminate the missiles’ targets. Its solid-state transmitter has been slated for an upgrade and the contract as been given to Raytheon to improve performance and reduces its mean time failures.

Phalanx CIWS

The Phalanx CIWS is responsible for Aegis’ close-range defence as it is meant to defend the military ships against incoming enemy aircrafts/drones/missiles/small boats etc. Designed and manufactured by General Dynamic, this Close-In Weapon System features a 20mm 6-barrel M61 Vulcan Gatling Gun mounted on a swiveling base. It is known for its armor-piercing tungsten penetrator rounds with discarding sabots and offers exceptional performance due to its 4500 rounds per minute rate of fire and a maximum firing range of 5500m. With the help of the Forward-Looking Infrared Camera (FLIR) and radar-guided assistance, the Phalanx is automates the speedy firing and has shown remarkable accuracy in its real-time aim-assist and rapid-fire weaponry to destroy incoming threats.

The Mark-41 Vertical Launching System is another integral part of the Aegis-connected defense system which provides rapid-fire launch capability of missiles against hostile threats starting from the RIM-66 Standard to the Tomahawk missiles. With each canister able to hold 4 missiles in its cell, the VLS works on the rapid sequential firing of the missiles where the ejection force pushes the missile out of the ship ensuring a safe launch trajectory after the system receives the target information from the Aegis Command and Control and the launch commands are enabled.

A Tomahawk missile being launched from the Mark 41 Vertical Launching System aboard the US Navy Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Farragut

The Aegis’ radars and fire control system also gets the help from the Naval Tactical Data System (NTDS) threat evaluation and weapons assignment (TEWA) function which is a computerized information processing system that takes data from the multiple sensors on different Aegis-linked ships and produces a single unified map of the battlespace with distinctly highlighted individual targets. A variety of water cooled, conformal coated, UNIVAC computers with 32K words of magnetic film memory, 30 bits wide 16 parallel I/O channels and various other completed logic circuits are embedded in the NTDS systems which make the real-time tracking and aim-assist as smooth as the system demands.

Connected with its Command and Control segment, the Aegis Combat System is completely capable to defend the various naval strike groups of the US Navy from immediate close and short range to medium-long range incoming threats. It is able to sequentially coordinate a barrage of missiles featuring the RIM 66 Standard MR SAM, RIM 67 Standard ER SAM, RIM 161 SM3, RIM 174 Standard ERAM, RIM 162 ESSM, Naval Joint Strike Missile, RUM 139 VL-ASROC anti-submarine missile and the feared, long-range, all-weather, jet-powered Tomahawk missiles. Paired with this ferocious missile package while the Phalanx meant to do close range demolition, the Aegis Combat System has become an exceptionally coordinated platform with insanely precise automated command and control coupled with the remarkably accurate real-time target tracking and enemy threat neutralisation.

The USS Ticonderoga, USS Bunker Hill, USS Port Royal and the subsequent ships of the Ticonderoga-class Guided Missile Cruisers, USS Mustin, USS John Finn, USS Thomas Hudner and the subsequent ships of the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyers, USS Zumwalt, USS Michael Monsoor, USS Lyndon B. Johnson (the three Zumwalt-class Guided Missile Destroyers) and the Ford-class Aircraft carriers – USS. Gerald R. Ford, (John F. Kennedy and Enterprise planned) are equipped with the Aegis Combat System.

USS John S McCain, an Arleigh Burke class destroyer of US Navy

The Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System (Aegis BMD) is an expansion of the Aegis Combat System designed and is still in full-fledged development to intercept ballistic missiles in post-boost phase and prior to re-entry. It is equipped with US’ Standard Missile 3 mid-course interceptors and Standard Missile 2 and Standard Missile 6 terminal phase interceptors for its roles. Initially a part of US’ national defense programme and a NATO missile-defense system, Japan has also started taking considerable steps to integrate Aegis BMD with its ACS-equipped ships while newer blueprints of BMD-equipped cruisers/destroyers are at work too.

Aegis Command Information Centre Consoles abord Tinconderoga-class guided missile cruiser, USS Normandy

AEGIS for India?

Aegis Combat System is undeniably a very sophisticated yet brilliantly coordinated self-defense system and its not only USA that’s enjoying it. Royal Australian Navy’s Hunter-class frigates and Hobart-class destroyers, Royal Canadian Navy, Japan Maritime Self Defense Force’s destroyers, Spanish navy’s frigates, North Korea’s Sejong the Great class destroyer and the Royal Norwegian Navy’s frigates are equipped with the ACS. In case of India, numerous factors come into play.

Interoperability – Unlike the aforementioned countries which are largely US/NATO favoured, India doesn’t totally come into this group. Keeping very good ties with both US and Russia, India has managed to gain weapon systems and technology from the expertise of both these countries. Our Navy’s components do have a significant Russian touch in certain sectors, so its doubtful how well Aegis will be able to operate from Indian naval platforms.

Technology Acquisition – India would need to evaluate the feasibility of acquiring or developing the necessary technologies for the combat system. This may involve exploring collaborations with partner countries or defense contractors that possess expertise in Aegis and BMD systems. Taking the whole technological aspect of this system, numerous behemoth companies including Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, BAE Systems, General Dynamics etc. have considerable amount of contribution in making this self-defense system a success. So here comes the question of complete Transfer of Technology (ToT). Indigenously developing such a complex network is indeed a Herculean task and it would actually move towards a progressive stage if the Ministry of Defense collaborates with companies having such deep expertise in Aegis system or equivalent research. But unless some big bucks deals come forward, complete ToT and freedom over sophisticated data isn’t’ totally likely.

Cost – Buying Aegis like Japan and others did is obviously a quicker solution but the cost factor is mind-blowingly huge. Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics acting as the prime contractors, Japan inked the contract for two Aegis Weapon Systems and other associated equipment and logistics support for $2.15 billion where their 2 Maya-class, 2 Atago-class and 4-Kongo class destroyers have been networked. This is almost equivalent to our India’s indigenous mega-success in the INS Vikrant development and manufacturing which cost $2.9 billion. So such bearing this level of cost is not feasible for India as replacing existing weapon systems or sensor suites in our already-operationally fit frigates and destroyers isn’t a very good idea just to have an added advantage of highly precise automated self-defense capability. Now, in the case of indigenous development of such system as good as Aegis, research and development cost will be exponential times greater than buying Aegis directly. One day a similar system will obviously be in our inventory but the initial cost and time that will be invested in this megaprojects are immense.

Command and Control Architecture – India would need to establish a comprehensive command and control architecture capable of integrating data from multiple sensors, processing and fusing it in real-time, and facilitating effective decision-making and engagement.

System Scalability and Flexibility – The combat system should be scalable to fit different classes of naval vessels in the Indian Navy’s fleet. It should also allow for future technology upgrades and the integration of new capabilities as the threat landscape evolves.

Testing and Evaluation – Rigorous testing and evaluation of the developed system are essential to ensure its performance, reliability, and effectiveness. This includes simulated exercises, live-fire testing, and iterative refinements to enhance system capabilities.

Training and Skill Development – Developing a skilled workforce to operate, maintain, and manage the Aegis-like combat system is crucial. India would need to invest in specialized training programs, simulation facilities, and ongoing skill development to ensure proficient operation of the system.

Also Read, Chinese Navy: Mighty Dragon Boat or Paperboat?

Any Progress?

Countries which have bought Aegis are small in comparison to Indian Navy. As a Blue-Water Navy with a fleet of 150 ships and 300 naval aircrafts, buying Aegis or making an operational attempt as sophisticated as Aegis is a very hefty task with a fair amount of cost and research capability limitations. Yet there have been steps taken in smaller patches to make these firehouse vessels even more competent with an automated network of data and communication for complex combat management. With its own indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC) INS Vikrant, and indigenous Combat Management System (CMS), India has taken a quantum leap in naval warfare in coming decades. CMS fitted on IAC caters for the enhancement of Threat Evaluation & Resource Allocation (TERA) to effectively integrate the carrier borne MiG 29K’s mission planning in the offensive/defensive role. The government is now pushing for a rapid development in Artificial Intelligence (AI). The CMS uses automated decision mechanism via datalinked warfare algorithms to connect the onboard sensors and weapon systems into one. Considering the successful applications and where the world is going, Indian Navy is punching its way through AI. AI will be/is being implemented in the Indian Navy in information and network structure, sensor technologies, automation system, augmented intelligence, power and propulsion system, modelling and simulation, resource planning, cognitive process modelling, fabrication of dynamic mission planning etc. Application of these type of methods in war will be extensive and it addresses the battlefield challenges with more accuracy, flexibility and precisely insightful approach.


Subhodip Das

An Average Mechanical Engineering student from Jadavpur University, Kolkata who dreams of having a fully customized AR-15 draped on the wall....very childish ain't it ! Well apart from that, Art is the one absolute thing I practically live for.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Articles

Back to top button
Translate »