Tuesday, December 18, 2018

DDG-1000: Our Mark of Shame

As reported by Chris Cavas yesterday, the Chinese 13,000 ton Type 055 continues sea trials prior to her expected commissioning in 2019, with at least 5 sister ships already approved for follow on.

You can get the details of her here, but she represents exactly what we should have done two decades+ ago; evolutionary development of a cruiser that was in some way aligned with what the 055 brings to the fleet;

-1 130 mm dual-purpose naval gun
-1 24-cell short-range SAM
-112 VLS cells that can support SAM, ASCM, LACM, or ASROC
-2 helicopters

While we will continue to bring more slightly smaller FLT IIA and III DDG-51 in to the fleet over the next few years, we have lost a generation in warship development with the aborted CG(X) and the white elephant that is DDG-1000.

Speaking of which, what is the latest for that national disgrace?
“[The Zumwalt] is a very capable platform with or without that gun,” Merz said. “We will be developing either the round that goes with that gun or what we are going to do with that space if we decide to remove that gun in the future. The ship is doing fine, on track to be operational in 2021 in the fleet.”

Merz said the Zumwalt, built as a land-attack platform, has been “remissioned to a strike platform, whether sea targets or land targets. It takes advantage of its tremendous arsenal of VLS [vertical launching system] cells. Those VLS cells are larger than any other surface ship VLS cells so that opens up an aperture of more weapons options for that ship.”

He termed the projectile challenge “as a science and technology challenge, not an engineering problem. We just cannot get the thing to fly as far as we want.”

Asked by King if the Zumwalt would be a platform for a future directed-energy weapon, Merz said the ship had the “balance of SWAPC — space, weight, power and communications — that allows us to expand this ship over time. She is going to be a candidate for any advanced weapon system that we develop.”
We simply do not have a warfighting focus.

Like LCS, we are defining DDG-1000 success as simply being able to get underway. "...operational in 2021..." to do exactly what?

Pray for peace, because with each passing year more and more of our warships are only fit for operations at peace.

ZUMWALT was commissioned over two years ago. 2021 is 3 yrs from now. So, that gives us 5-years post-commissioning before our most modern design will even be able to join the fleet in any manner. It looks like it won't even be able to use the weapons she was designed around - the twin 155mm guns. Ramming has returned in the last few years as an effective way of taking out modern warships - and with that bow she should be able to at least perform that function with aplomb ... so we have that going for us.

What have we learned? What should we learn? What could we learn from the Chinese?

Yes, we need to keep picking this scab, and pick at in often and in public.

Why? What is the design we have to replace the TICO CG? What about the follow-on to the DDG-51 Class?

Have we learned anything from the train-wreck from the Age of Transformationalism? We will get our first hint with the selection of FFG(X).

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