The USA’s DDG-1000 Zumwalt Class Program: Dead Aim, Or Dead End?
September 15/15: The final Zumwalt-class destroyer undergoing construction by General Dynamics Bath Ironworks – the future USS Lyndon B. Johnson (DDG 1002) – is facing the chop by an independent team of Pentagon cost assessors, with the third-in-class vessel already under construction. Estimated to cost $3.5 billion, the destroyer was originally supposed to be the third of 32 destroyers, with numbers revised down to first eight then three ships. Cancelling the third ship would effectively cancel the most cost-efficient of the three, as the line becomes more streamlined through each iteration of construction.
DID’s FOCUS Article for the DDG-1000 Zumwalt Class “destroyer” program covers the new ships’ capabilities and technologies, key controversies, associated contracts and costs, and related background resources.
The ship’s prime missions are to provide naval gunfire support, and next-generation air defense, in near-shore areas where other large ships hesitate to tread. There has even been talk of using it as an anchor for action groups of stealthy Littoral Combat Ships and submarines, owing to its design for very low radar, infrared, and acoustic signatures. The estimated 14,500t (battlecruiser size) Zumwalt Class will be fully multi-role, however, with undersea warfare, anti-ship, and long-range attack roles. That makes the DDG-1000 suitable for another role – as a “hidden ace card,” using its overall stealth to create uncertainty for enemy forces.
At over $3 billion per ship for construction alone, however, the program faced significant obstacles if it wanted to avoid fulfilling former Secretary of the Navy Donald Winter’s fears for the fleet. From the outset, DID has noted that the Zumwalt Class might face the same fate as the ultra-sophisticated, ultra-expensive SSN-21 Seawolf Class submarines. That appears to have come true, with news of the program’s truncation to just 3 ships. Meanwhile, production continues.
Zumwalt Class: Program and Participants
Program History: The Long and Winding Road
DDG-1000 Key Technologies and Features
DDG-1000 Issues and Controversies
Zumwalt Class: Contracts and Key Events
FY 2014 – 2015
FY 1998 – 2004
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