The Navy is planning to replace the gun system on each Zumwalt-class (DDG-1000) destroyer with the capability to field up to 12 hypersonic weapons as a “compelling strike platform,” according to the Navy’s fiscal year 2022 budget request.

In the FY ‘22 request, the Navy is seeking $112.6 million on DDG-1000 development efforts, with a portion used to start work to integrate the Conventional Prompt Strike (CPS) hypersonic weapon system on all three DDG-1000 ships. 

“When combined with the low observable characteristics of the Zumwalt platform, the funds provide a compelling strike capability from a platform designed to complicate an adversaries targeting problem. Funding enables ship modifications for installation of a cold launch system common to the Ohio-class SSGN and future Virginia Payload Module, with the capacity to carry up to 12 All-Up-Rounds (AUR) per ship,” budget documents say.

The Defense Department is developing a Common Hypersonic Glide Body (C-HGB) to be used by all three services for the CPS mission, with the Navy managing development while the Army oversees production. The Army and Navy will share an AUR that encapsulates and launches the weapon while the Air Force will use a separate launching mechanism.

In April, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday confirmed the Navy intends to field these hypersonic missiles aboard the DDG-1000s by 2025, reversing previous plans to first install the weapon on submarines (Defense Daily, April 29).

In March, the Navy published a sources sought notice requesting white papers from potential contractors on capabilities to install hypersonic weapons on the Zumwalt-class destroyers. That notice said the service was looking for production of large-diameter (over 30 inches) AUR and canisters to support these platforms (Defense Daily, March 29).

According to the budget documents, in FY ‘21 CPS will begin developing and executing a phased approach to integrate with the DDG-1000 class “to allow ship impact design work to commence, and allowed a window for the launcher Interface Controls Documents to mature.”

The first phase will involve removing the unused Advanced Gun System to account for CPS space and weight requirements; the second phase will install the CPS magazine, including launch tube shock isolation and hatch and deck interface design; and the final phase will be CPS weapon control system design and integration.

During FY ‘22,  the Navy plans to conduct tech manual and drawing reviews and shipboard installation validations, conduct a Manpower Analysis study, critical engineering design efforts, complete critical hardware and software changes necessary for integrating CPS in the existed Total Ship Computing Environment, and develop a model simulator to train crew members on console operations and weapon system employment.

If approved by Congress, this project would end consideration of the BAE Systems-built AGS, which has never had ammunition in place. 

The DDG-1000 ships originally planned to use the 155mm Long Range Land Attack Projectile (LRAP) fired from the AGS to support shore-based Marines at up to 80 nautical miles away. However, by 2016 the Navy cancelled the munition as it was too expensive per round when the ship class was reduced from 28 to three (Defense Daily, Nov. 9, 2016).

As recently as 2019, Navy officials said the service was still looking for options to use on the AGS, like the Mark 45 5-inch tube hypervelocity projectile, also built by BAE (Defense Daily, Jan. 22, 2019).

That same year, the Navy and BAE conducted a series of tests on the company’s 5-inch Vulcano precision-guided munition, firing it from an Mk 45 naval gun. When BAE and Vulcano partner Leonardo first announced their collaboration on the weapon, they underscored it as an option for the DDG-1000 AGS (Defense Daily, May 20, 2019).

Previously in 2018, then-Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for warfare systems Vice Adm. William Merz told a Senate panel part of the problem with AGS was the previously planned LRAP was not only too expensive but also not reaching range requirements (Defense Daily, April 20, 2018).