AEGIS BMD Combat System

Product Type:

Sea-Based Missile Defense System

Using Service (US):

JOINT - Missile Defense Agency (MDA)

Program Status:

In Production (SM-3 Block IB)

Prime Contractor:

AEGIS Weapon System: Lockheed Martin
SM-3 Missile: Raytheon Company

AEGIS Cruiser firing an SM-3 Missile

About the AEGIS BMD System:

AEGIS Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) is the primary component of the sea-based element of the United States Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS). The program is managed by the Missile Defense Agency (MDA), and is building upon the existing U.S. Navy AEGIS weapons system and Standard Missile infrastructures. The AEGIS BMD System integrates the AN/SPY-1 radar, the Mk 41 Vertical Launching System, the RIM-161 SM-3 missile and the AEGIS BMD command and control system.

AEGIS BMD ships on Ballistic Missile Defense patrol, detect and track ballistic missiles of all ranges, including Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBM), and report tracking data to the BMDS. This tracking capability shares data to cue other missile defense sensors and provides fire control data to Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) interceptors located at Fort Greely in Alaska and Vandenberg Air Force Base in California and other elements of the BMDS including land-based firing units such as THAAD and the Patriot Missile System. Also, the AEGIS Combat System will be able to obtain fire control data from the Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor (JLENS) System once the latter enters service.

AEGIS provides a forward-deployable, mobile capability to detect and track ballistic missiles of all ranges, and the ability to destroy short- medium-, intermediate-range ballistic missiles, and selected long-range class threats in the midcourse phase of flight. Spiral upgrades to both the AEGIS BMD Weapon System and the SM-3 configurations enable AEGIS BMD to provide effective, supportable defensive capability against more difficult threats, including Long-Range Ballistic Missiles, and expand the capability to counter limited engagements in the terminal phase of flight (the terminal phase is very short and begins once the missile reenters earth's atmosphere).

As of July 2013, there are 28 AEGIS BMD naval combatants, including 5 Ticonderoga Class cruisers (CG 47) and 23 DDG 51 destroyers. Of these ships, 16 are assigned to the Pacific Fleet and 12 to the Atlantic Fleet. The MDA and the Navy plan to increase the number of BMD capable ships. Also, four Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force KONGO Class Destroyers have been upgraded with BMD operational capabilities.

The Lockheed Martin AN/SPY-1 naval radar system is a key component of the AEGIS Combat System. The passive electronically scanned system is computer controlled and uses four complementary antennas to provide 360 degree coverage. The AN/SPY-1 has a range of more than 115 miles (185 km).

On October 25, 2012, the AEGIS BMDS, the Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) missile, and THAAD (incl. two AN/TPY-2 radars) engaged in the first-ever test of all three systems working together to detect, track, engage, and eliminate two ballistic missile targets (out of three) and one cruise missile target (out of two). The SM-3 Block IA missile employed by the AEGIS BMDS failed to engage two of the missile threats. The live-fire flight test, Flight Test Integrated-01 (FTI-01), was conducted by the MDA at the Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site in the South Pacific.

About the SM-3 Missile:

The Raytheon RIM-161B SM-3 Block IA provides increased capability to engage short- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles as compared to the SM-2 Block IV and SM-3 Block I. The SM-3 Block IA incorporates rocket motor upgrades and computer program modifications to improve sensor performance and missile guidance and control. SM-3 Block IA also comes at a lower cost. The MDA purchased the SM-3 Block IA missile until FY 2011.

The Raytheon RIM-161C SM-3 Block IB incorporates a two-color, all reflective infrared seeker, thus enabling longer range acquisition and increased threat discrimination. A Throttleable Divert Altitude Control System (TDACS) provides a more flexible and lower cost alternative to the Solid Divert Altitude Control System (SDACS). Currently, the MDA is only purchasing the SM-3 Block IB missile.

The MDA is currently working on developing the SM-3 Block IIA missile, a joint program between the United States and Japan. In FY 2006, the two countries signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the co-development of an upgraded, 21-inch diameter SM-3 missile (SM-3 Block IIA). The objective of the project is the development and initial flight test of the SM-3 Block IIA. The missile will increase the area that can be defended by the AEGIS BMD and increase the probability of kill against a larger set of threats. The SM-3 Block IIA missile development will build upon established joint research investments by both the U.S. and Japan. The U.S. and Japan will equally share both work and costs. Key technology improvements planned for the SM-3 Block IIA missile include: an increase in velocity; an increase in range provided by a 21-inch diameter rocket motor propulsion stack; more than double the seeker sensitivity of the SM-3 Block IB; and increased divert capability incorporated in an advanced kinetic warhead. Key component technologies to be developed under the program include a lightweight nosecone, the advanced kinetic warhead, a 21-inch second stage rocket motor, and a 21-inch third stage rocket motor. Purchases of the SM-3 Block IIA begins in FY 2017.

Also, the MDA plans to develop the SM-3 Block IIB "Next Generation AEGIS Missile" which - when developed - will expand the battle space by adding an additional layer to the defense against Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBM). The goals of the program are to develop an operational hit-to-kill missile to counter first generation ICBMs targeted at the U.S. homeland early in their flight. The Next Generation AEGIS Missile will serve as the first tier of the layered defense of the United States and will also provide a large defended area against regional, intermediate range ballistic missiles. The SM-3 Block IIB will be integrated into the AEGIS BMD 5.1 Weapon System. SM-3 Block IIB development began in FY 2013 but has since been postponed to FY 2022 or later due to budget cuts.

SM-3 missiles (and SM-6 missiles) are assembled inside a 70,000 sq ft facility located at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama.

The Phased Adaptive Approach for Missile Defense in Europe:

The AEGIS BMD/SM-3 system also plays a key role in the Phased Adaptive Approach (PAA) for missile defense in Europe. Starting in Europe, the United States is pursuing a four phased approach which will provide a more effective missile defense capability for defense of NATO territories and enhance U.S. homeland defense.

In March 2011, the deployment of the European PAA Phase I capabilities began, when the AEGIS BMD cruiser USS Monterey (CG-61), armed with SM-3 Block IA missiles, deployed to Europe.

The Four Phases of PAA
Phase I of PAA (Complete): Focuses on the protection against short and medium-range ballistic missiles. As part of phase I, the United States has deployed multi-mission AEGIS ships with BMD capability and the SM-3 Block IA missile. Phase I also included establishing a separate forward-based AN/TPY-2 radar in Turkey to provide a cue to multi-mission AEGIS ships with BMD capability and to future AEGIS Ashore sites for launch on remote engagements.

Phase II of PAA (2015 timeframe - construction begun): Deploys the first land-based BMD configuration (AEGIS Ashore) at Deveselu Air Base in Romania, and deploys the SM-3 Block IB on land at the AEGIS Ashore site and at sea on multi-mission AEGIS ships with BMD capability. The deployment will use Aegis BMD 5.0.1 to provide ballistic missile coverage of Southern Europe.

Phase III of PAA (2018 timeframe): Deploys a second land-based AEGIS Ashore in Poland, and introduces an upgraded Standard Missile, the SM-3 Block IIA. This missile brings improved coverage against medium and intermediate range ballistic threats, and extends coverage to the bulk of the European continent. The deployment will use Aegis BMD 5.1 and SM-3 Block IB and IIA to support the defense of Northern Europe.

Phase IV of PAA (2025-30 timeframe): Deploys another upgraded missile, the SM-3 Block IIB, to provide region-wide coverage as well as limited capabilities against potential ICBM threats.

Price/Unit Cost:

The unit cost of the Raytheon RIM-161C SM-3 Block IB missile is $10.07 million (in FY 2014).


The AEGIS BMD is delivering an enduring, operationally effective and supportable BMDS capability on AEGIS cruisers and destroyers to defend the United States, deployed forces, and allies and to incrementally increase this capability by delivering evolutionary incremental improvements in the form of BMDS upgrades.

FY 2014 DoD Program:

FY 2014 supports the purchase of 52 SM-3 Block IB missiles for delivery in FY 2016. Also procures BMD upgrades for one AEGIS ship and installation onboard four AEGIS ships. Continues the development of the AEGIS BMD Weapon System 5.0 and 5.1.

FY 2015 DoD Program:

FY 2015 supports the purchase of 30 SM-3 Block IB missiles; procures BMD upgrades for three AEGIS ships and installation onboard five Aegis ships; and continues the development of the AEGIS BMD 5.0 and 5.1 Weapon Systems approved for FY 2014 low-rate initial production (LRIP) in January 2014 after completion of initial operational test and evaluation flight testing.

For more information, click to see the FY 2015 AEGIS BMD Budget.

Sources Used: U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), Missile Defense Agency (MDA),
and Lockheed Martin Corp.

Specifications SM-3 Missile DoD Spending FY2015 Budget

Last Update: August 28, 2014.

By Joakim Kasper Oestergaard /// (

External Resources:

Lockheed Martin: AEGIS Ballistic Missile Defense
Raytheon Company: RIM-161 SM-3 Interceptor

YouTube: AEGIS Ballistic Missile Defense | YouTube Videos

Fact Sheet: Lockheed Martin AEGIS BMD | Fact Sheet
Fact Sheet: MDA AEGIS BMD | Fact Sheet

Fact Sheet: MDA AEGIS Ashore | Fact Sheet
Fact Sheet: MDA EPAA | Fact Sheet

AEGIS BMD U.S. Defense Budget Charts:

DoD Spending on the AEGIS BMD Program in FY 2011, FY 2012, FY 2013, FY 2014 and FY 2015
DoD Purchases of SM-3 Block IA and IB in FY 2011, FY 2012, FY 2013, FY 2014 and FY 2015
Defense Budget Data

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DoD Spending, Procurement and RDT&E: FY 2011/12/13 + Budget for FYs 2014 + 2015

DoD Defense Spending, Procurement, Modifications, Spares, and RDT&E for the AEGIS BMD Program

Download Official U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) Budget Data:


Specifications: AEGIS BMD

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Specifications | Standard Missile SM-3 Block IB

Primary Function: Hit-to-kill missile
Prime Contractor: Raytheon Company
Aerojet (GenCorp) Mk 72 boost motor;
Aerojet (GenCorp) MK 104 second-stage rocket motor;
Alliant Techsystems (ATK) Mk 136 third-stage rocket motor
Length: 21 ft 6 in (6.55 m)
Weight: Unknown
Speed: 6,000 mph (9,600 km/h)
Range: 270+ nm/311+ miles (500+ km)
Ceiling: 100 miles (160 km)
Guidance System: GPS-aided midcourse guidance
Seeker: Two-color infrared
Warhead: Lightweight Exo-Atmospheric Projectile (LEAP) Kinetic Warhead
Platforms: AEGIS BMD capable CG 47 Ticonderoga Class guided missile cruisers and DDG 51 Class destroyers
Price/Unit Cost: $10.1 million (in FY 2014)
Deployed: To be decided.

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