When the guided missile cruiser USS Monterey entered the Mediterranean Sea this month, it began a new era for sea-based missile defense. After decades of only modest involvement in the nation’s efforts to defend against ballistic missiles, the Navy is beginning to take a leading role in that mission area thanks to Lockheed Martin’s Aegis combat system and the Raytheon SM-3 Standard Missile. Those systems are being upgraded to serve as the centerpiece of plans for the defense of European and Middle Eastern allies against Iranian missiles. The USS Monterey’s deployment in the Med is the first operational manifestation of those plans — officially known as the Phased Adaptive Approach — and will be followed by deployment of increasingly capable versions of Aegis both on land and at sea in the years ahead. By the end of the decade, Aegis and the SM-3 may become core elements in protection of the U.S. homeland against attacks from Iran and North Korea. I have written an essay on how this all came about for forbes.com that can be found here.
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