The Ticonderoga-class cruisers are among the most advanced warships in the world. They are equipped with the Aegis combat system, which can detect and track hundreds of targets simultaneously and launch missiles to intercept them. The Ticonderoga-class cruisers can perform a variety of missions, such as air defense, anti-submarine warfare, surface warfare, strike warfare, and ballistic missile defense.
The Ticonderoga-class cruisers were first ordered and authorized in 1978, and 27 ships were built between 1983 and 1994 by Ingalls Shipbuilding and Bath Iron Works. The first ship of the class, USS Ticonderoga (CG-47), was also the first U.S. Navy combatant to incorporate the Aegis combat system. The class was originally planned as a class of destroyers but was reclassified as cruisers shortly before construction began.
The Ticonderoga-class cruisers have a displacement of about 9,600 tons and a length of 567 feet. They are powered by four General Electric LM2500 gas turbine engines that drive two controllable-reversible pitch propellers. They can reach a speed of over 30 knots and have a range of 6,000 nautical miles at 20 knots.
The main armament of the Ticonderoga-class cruisers consists of two Mk 41 vertical launching systems (VLS) that can hold up to 122 missiles each. The VLS can launch Tomahawk cruise missiles for land attack, Standard SM-2/3/6 missiles for air and missile defense, ESSM missiles for point defense, VL-ASROC missiles for anti-submarine warfare, and SM-3 missiles for ballistic missile defense. The ships also carry eight Harpoon anti-ship missiles, two Mk 45 five-inch guns, two Phalanx close-in weapon systems (CIWS), two Mk 38 machine gun systems, four .50 caliber machine guns, and two Mk 32 triple torpedo tubes.
The Ticonderoga-class cruisers have a sophisticated sensor suite that includes an AN/SPY-1 passive phased-array radar that provides three-dimensional air and surface search capabilities; an AN/SPS-49 air search radar; an AN/SPG-62 fire control radar; an AN/SPS-73 surface search radar; an AN/SPQ-9 gun fire control radar; an AN/SQQ-89 sonar suite that includes an active sonar (AN/SQS-53), a passive sonar (AN/SQR-19), and a helicopter sonar system (AN/SQQ-28); an AN/SLQ-32 electronic warfare suite; a Mark 36 SRBOC decoy launcher; and an AN/SLQ-25 Nixie towed decoy.
The Ticonderoga-class cruisers can carry two Sikorsky SH-60B or MH-60R Seahawk helicopters for anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, search and rescue, medical evacuation, vertical replenishment, and special operations support. The helicopters are equipped with dipping sonar (AN/AQS-13), sonobuoys (AN/UYS), torpedoes (Mk 46 or Mk 50), Hellfire missiles (AGM-114), Penguin missiles (AGM-119), or machine guns (.50 caliber or M240).
This class have served in various conflicts and operations around the world since their commissioning. They have participated in Operation Desert Storm in 1991; Operation Deliberate Force in Bosnia in 1995; Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan since 2001; Operation Iraqi Freedom since 2003; Operation Odyssey Dawn in Libya in 2011; Operation Inherent Resolve against ISIS since 2014; Operation Freedom’s Sentinel in Afghanistan since 2015; Operation Pacific Eagle – Philippines since 2017; among others.
The Ticonderoga-class cruisers are expected to remain in service until at least the late 2020s or early 2030s, when they will be replaced by new guided-missile frigates or destroyers. Until then, they will continue to provide multi-mission capabilities and serve as flagships for carrier strike groups, amphibious ready groups, or surface action groups.