The AEGIS RCS is already aboard every U.S. Navy Arleigh Burke DDG-51 class destroyer through DDG 124, including the USS Ralph Johnson (DDG-114). Photo credit: U.S. Navy
For nearly four decades, BAE Systems engineers and integration experts have worked side-by-side with their U.S. Navy counterparts ensuring the sailors who protect us have secure, reliable, and high-quality shipboard communications. On January 26, 2021, BAE Systems proudly joined the U.S. Navy’s Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD) Webster Outlying Field (WOLF) in celebrating the milestone delivery of the 100th AEGIS Radio Communication System (RCS).
The ceremony was held in the early morning hours of January 26, 2021 to ensure the system would reach its destination. In keeping with the U.S. Navy’s COVID-19 Standardized Operational Guidance, the ceremony and delivery of the 100th AEGIS RCS adhered to strict COVID-19 safety and social distancing guidelines.
(Left to Right) Fred Bailey, Business Development Director, BAE Systems Integrated Defense Solutions; Christian Utara, Executive Director, NAWCAD Webster Outlying Field (WOLF); Leslie D. Taylor, Executive Director, NAWCAD; Rear Admiral John S. Lemmon, Commander, NAWCAD; Lisa Hand, VP/GM, BAE Systems Integrated Defense Solutions; Roger Bazzarre, Maritime Solutions Director, BAE Systems Integrated Defense Solutions; Captain Joseph Hornbuckle, Vice Commander, NAWCAD
Systems Integration and Fleet Readiness
As the primary industry partner to the U.S. Navy for the AEGIS RCS program, BAE Systems supports NAWCAD WOLF with systems integration services. NAWCAD WOLF, located at St. Inigoes, a small farming, fishing, and crabbing community in southern Maryland, provides integration, service engineering, and lifecycle engineering support to the AEGIS class ships of the U.S. Navy, Joint, and coalition forces around the globe.
A mission-critical shipboard communication system, the RCS is made up of more than 50 six-foot high shipboard environmental cabinets in addition to its above deck antenna sets. The AEGIS turnkey process developed by NAWCAD WOLF allows for the integration of new Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Combat Systems, and Intelligence (C5I) Developments later in the process, enabling newer and more effective communications once a ship is christened. At the NAWCAD WOLF facility more than 150 U.S. Navy and BAE Systems personnel comprise the AEGIS program team. These communication engineers, technicians, mechanics, and logistics personnel design, assemble, integrate, and test the AEGIS RCS. To ensure the system integrates perfectly onboard and performs exactly as expected, the dedicated test bed located on shore at the NAWCAD WOLF facility is a precise replica of the AEGIS class ship radio room where the RCS will eventually be installed.
“The AEGIS test beds managed by the BAE Systems technical leaders are the most advanced facilities available today,” notes Roger Bazzarre, Senior Director for Maritime Solutions. “The combination of the facilities, the expert personnel, and the AEGIS turnkey processes, produces these highly advanced and capable RCS systems to the fleet.”
From Testbed to Shipyard
Once a system successfully completes all testing and quality assurance, the RCS system is transported to the U.S. Navy ship where it will be loaded onboard and installed. It takes no less than six tractor trailers carefully packed with the components of the AEGIS RCS system to deliver the system to the ship. Throughout the AEGIS program, RCS deliveries have been made to shipyards in Pascagoula, Mississippi or Bath, Maine. Whether it’s a new build or an existing ship, supporting and maintaining the operational readiness of the AEGIS RCS system extends beyond delivery and installation. During a ship’s deployment at sea, BAE Systems is responsible for the in-service and life cycle engineering for these complex systems. BAE Systems also performs updates to the systems, modernizing existing RCS systems around the globe for fleet cruisers and destroyers as they come into shipyards to undergo overhaul.
This month’s 100th RCS system will be delivered to the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Jack H. Lucas (DDG-125), scheduled for completion in 2023 and located at Huntington-Ingalls Industries in Pascagoula, Mississippi. The ship is named after Captain Jacklyn “Jack” H. Lucas (1928-2008), recipient of the Medal of Honor. A U.S. Marine, and later U.S. Army Airborne Officer, Captain Lucas received the Medal of Honor for his actions at the Battle of Iwo Jima at the age of 17, making him the youngest Marine and serviceman in World War II to be awarded the United States' highest military decoration for valor.
The AEGIS RCS is one of the last systems to be delivered to a DDG ship under construction ensuring the latest communications equipment is integrated into the system. Once the 100th RCS is delivered to the USS Jack H. Lucas, shipyard personnel will cut a hole in the side of the ship and carefully load the equipment. BAE Systems’ AEGIS Test Team is present during the loading to observe and assist as needed. Once loaded, the hole is welded close.
Partnering to advance our customer’s mission
The delivery of the 100th AEGIS RCS reflects the longstanding partnership between BAE Systems, as the major systems integrator for RCS; NAWCAD WOLF; Naval Information Warfare Systems Command’s Program Executive Office for Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence; and Naval Systems Command’s Program Executive Office for Ships. Since 1981, when the first AEGIS RCS was delivered to the USS Ticonderoga (CG-47), the system has been installed onboard 27 AEGIS class cruisers and 73 destroyers, accounting for nearly a third of the U.S. Navy’s active surface fleet.
The success of the program is due in large part to the close collaboration across the program’s government and industry partners. Since the program’s start, BAE Systems has delivered every AEGIS RCS system to the U.S. Navy on schedule and within budget.
BAE Systems’ on-site program manager at NAWCAD WOLF is Darren Orourke. Darren oversees a more than 55-person team of seasoned experts providing the integration, testing, and monitoring capabilities required to deliver each AEGIS RCS system. What unites the team is their commitment to ensuring the fleet’s sailors have reliable external communications no matter where their mission takes them.
“Our commitment to the Navy’s mission is what drives us to successfully deliver these crucial systems for over 40 years to multiple shipyards”, explains Lisa Hand, Vice President and General Manager of Integrated Defense Solutions Systems. “We are an integral part of a total organic Lead Systems Integrator team that performs in a true production environment.”