The Deputy Chief of Naval operations for warfare systems told a Senate panel last week the Navy has separated the DDG-1000 Zumwalt-class gun and overall ship efforts from each other to prevent Advanced Gun System (AGS) projectile work from dragging down deployment of the overall ship.

Vice Adm. William Merz said, “what we found was the advanced gun system has become a particularly hard challenge to get through. Not so much the gun but the projectile.”

The USS Zumwalt (DDG-1000) at the start of its journey from Bath, Maine to its homeport of San Diego, Calif. (Photo: U.S. Navy)
The USS Zumwalt (DDG-1000) at the start of its journey from Bath, Maine to its homeport of San Diego, Calif. (Photo: U.S. Navy)

The Zumwalt-class was originally planned to feature a precision-guided 155mm Long Range Land Attack Projectile (LRLAP) on its AGS to support shore-based Marines from littoral waters at a range of 80 nautical miles. However, the service canceled the LRLAP in 2016 and started looking for alternatives because it became too expensive per round when the DDG-1000 class was reduced from 28 ships to just three (Defense Daily, Nov. 9, 2016).

The LRLAP was developed by Lockheed Martin [LMT] while BAE Systems built the AGS.

Merz told the Senate Armed Services subcommittee on seapower that not only was the LRLAP too expensive but “they were not meeting the range. So even at the high cost we still weren’t really getting what we had asked for. So what we’ve elected to do is to separate the gun effort from the ship effort because we really got to the point where now we’re holding back the ship.”

Merz said the DDG-1000 is “very capable with or without the gun” and noted the ship does have 80 Mk 57 Vertical Launch System (VLS) cells. These “are the larger variety cells, so that opens up opportunities for advanced development on our weapons side also,” Merz said.

The VLS could feature weapons like Raytheon’s [RTN] SM-6, the maritime strike variant of the Tomahawk missile, and the Evolved SeaSparrow Missile (ESSM).

Last December, Rear Adm. Ronald Boxall, director of Surface Warfare, said the Navy was now changing the ship’s requirements to use the DDG-1000 for offensive surface strike missions (Defense Daily, Dec. 4).

“We think this ship is very well built, ready to join the fleet. We’re very excited to get her, and we’ll continue to develop the rounds for the gun in parallel,” Merz added.

During the Surface Navy Association symposium in January, Capt. James Kirk at the Pentagon’s resource sponsor shop said the Navy was watching industry to find new options for the AGS, including the hypervelocity projectile (HVP) (Defense Daily, Jan. 11).

Under development by BAE, the HVP is being developed for use on Navy 5-inch guns, 155mm systems, and electromagnetic railguns.

The Zumwalt-class destroyers are built by General Dynamics [GD] Bath Iron Works (BIW).