While the Navy is finishing DDG-1000 Zumwalt-class destroyer mission systems installation, it is looking at options to develop a new round for the Advanced Gun System (AGS) or remove it altogether, a top admiral said on Tuesday.

The Zumwalt-class ships were originally planned to have a precision-guided 155mm Long Range Land Attack projectile (LRLAP) developed by Lockheed Martin [LMT] fired by the AGS to support shore-based personnel. The AGS was built by BAE Systems.

The U.S. Navy accepted delivery of DDG 1000, the future USS Zumwalt destroyer May 20.  (Photo: U.S. Navy)
The U.S. Navy accepted delivery of DDG 1000, the future USS Zumwalt destroyer May 20. (Photo: U.S. Navy)

However, the LRLAP was canceled in 2016 due to technology issues in achieving the desired range and an increased cost per round after the DDG-1000 class was reduced to only three ships.

Deputy Chief Vice Adm. William Merz told the Senate Armed Services Seapower Subcommittee that “it’s a science and technology challenge, it’s not an engineering problem. We just cannot get the thing to fly as far as we want.”

Otherwise, he said the Zumwalt-class is a “very capable platform with or without that gun. And we will be developing either that round that goes with that gun or what we’ll do with the space if we decide to remove that gun in the future.”

During the January 2018 Surface Navy Association symposium, a Navy official said the service was watching industry on AGS replacement round options, such as the BAE-developed hypervelocity projectile  (Defense Daily, Jan. 11).

Merz reiterated the Zumwalt-class’s 80 Vertical Launching System (VLS) cells are larger than those on any other ship, allowing it to feature more weapon options and its “tremendous arsenal” will be used in its new role as a strike platform.

Almost a year ago, the Navy said it was shifting the Zumwalt’s mission to offensive surface strike (Defense Daily, Dec. 4).

Merz said DDG-1000 is still on track to be operational for the fleet in 2021.

The Zumwalt ships are built by General Dynamics [GD] Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine.