This configuration, known as Aegis BMD 4.0.1, enables the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) and the Navy to defeat more complex ballistic missile threats and also introduces the BMD signal processor, which improves target identification.
Aegis BMD 4.0.1 marks the beginning of the transition to the Navy's open architecture - a transition that will be complete with software upgrades, known as Advanced Capability Build 12, scheduled for 2012.
"This milestone represents the continuing evolution of Aegis that will lead to the merger of Aegis open architecture and Aegis BMD in 2012," said Nick Bucci, Lockheed Martin director of BMD development programs. "This next-generation signal processor upgrade provides a leap-ahead capability that improves system effectiveness against expanding enemy threats."
This upgrade is enhanced by the Aegis system's ability to incorporate commercial off-the-shelf computing technology and open architecture standards. Further testing - a tracking exercise this fall and an at sea intercept test in March 2011 - will result in certification and deployment in September 2011.
The MDA and the Navy are jointly developing and fielding Aegis BMD as part of the United States' BMD system. Recently the Navy's independent operational test agent assessed the first generation Aegis BMD and SM-3 Block IA system to be operationally effective and operationally suitable.
Currently, a total of 23 Aegis BMD-equipped warships - 20 in the Navy and three in the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force - have the certified capability to engage ballistic missiles and perform long-range surveillance and tracking missions. Twelve additional ships have been identified for modification to perform ballistic missile defense in the next 36 months.