The Navy’s fiscal year 2023 budget request documents confirm the service is seeking authority for another multi-year buy of nine to 10 Arleigh Burke-class (DDG-51) destroyers and outlines work that will occur in preparation for transitioning to DDG(X), the next large surface combatant.

“The Navy is requesting authority to award Multi-Year Procurement (MYP) contracts for FY 2023 – FY 2027 for 9 ships. The FY2023 budget also includes one option ship for a total procurement profile of 10 ships in FY 2023 – FY 2027. The FY 2023 budget request reflects estimated savings for 9 firm ships associated with [economic order quantity] procurement and a MYP strategy,” the shipbuilding justification documents said.

The ships under this potential MYP deal include DDG-140 to -149. According to budget justification documents, the Navy plans to award the single contract in June 2023 and the ships will be delivered from 2029 to 2032.

Budget documents said the Navy is planning to procure two destroyers every year over the next five years from FY ‘23 to ’27 and another two after 2027 for a complete count of 101 destroyers procured.

The DDG-51 ships are built by both General Dynamics’s Bath Iron Works (BIW) [GD] in Bath, Maine and HII’s Ingalls Shipbuilding [HII] in Pascagoula, Miss.

Last fall, Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro said he was confident there would be more DDG-51 multi-year procurements “that will support a continued stable workforce at Bath and also at Pascagoula” (Defense Daily, Nov. 4, 2021).

Last year, then-Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Harker told the Senate Appropriations Defense subcommittee the Navy planned to sign another DDG-51 Flight II multi-year procurement contract running from FY 2023 to 2027 (Defense Daily, June 25).

In February, Rear Adm. Paul Schlise, director of the Surface Warfare Division (OPNAV N96), said one of his priorities is having the budget to build at least two large surface combatants per year as the Navy transitions from DDG-51 Flight III ships to the next large surface combatant ship, the DDG(X) (Defense Daily, Feb. 3).

The Navy’s FY ‘23 budget documents also request $50 million in research and development funds for DDG(X) concept development.

The Navy’s draft next large surface combatant DDG(X) design concept diagram from a NAVSEA presentation at the Surface Navy Association’s annual symposium on Jan. 12, 2022 . (Image: U.S. Navy, Program Executive Office Ships)
The Navy’s draft next large surface combatant DDG(X) design concept diagram from a NAVSEA presentation at the Surface Navy Association’s annual symposium on Jan. 12, 2022. (Image: U.S. Navy, Program Executive Office Ships).

The document reiterated that DDG(X) is the service’s future guided missile destroyer program set to follow the DDG-51 class. 

“DDG(X) will integrate non-developmental systems into a new hull design that incorporates platform flexibility and the space, weight, power and cooling (SWAP-C) to meet future combatant force capability/system requirements that are not achievable without the new hull design. The DDG(X) platform will have the flexibility to rapidly and affordably upgrade to future warfighting systems when they become available as well as have improved range and fuel efficiency for increased operational flexibility and decreased demand on the logistics force,” the documents said.

The Navy noted DDG(X) will have an Integrated Power System to help field high demand electric weapons, computing resources and sensors. The Navy has said it expects DDG(X) to eventually field directed energy laser weapons akin to those being tested on current vessels.

“To decouple ship development risk from technology risk, accommodation of additional future capabilities will be pre-planned; these future capabilities may include: missile launchers capable of larger weapons to exceed adversary capabilities, high power lasers, or other systems that can be efficiently incorporated when developed and demonstrated,” the documents added.

The Navy is also requesting $177 million in FY ‘23 to create the Integrated Power and Energy Test Facility at Naval Surface Warfare Center Philadelphia Division for use as a land-based testing site for DDG(X) propulsion system. The FY ‘22 defense authorization act requires the Navy to use a land-based test program for the engineering plant before DDG(X) construction starts.

The budget documents said in FY ‘22 the DDG(X) work is focused on concept formulation and planning for the preliminary design phase slated for FY ‘23. A Navy-Industry team that includes BIW and Ingalls Shipbuilding was established “at a small scale and is focusing on overarching program planning.”

In FY ‘23, the Navy plans to focus on finalizing Concept Formulation, conduct a System Requirements Review (SRR) and start preliminary design work.

“The collaborative Navy/Industry team will continue to conduct cost and capability trades to complete Concept Formulation and refine design solutions where appropriate to ensure ship design meets acquisition and life cycle cost goals,” the budget documents say.

After the Navy completes the SRR it will then start the preliminary design phase to develop two- and three-dimensional designs of DDG(X) “traceable to an initial ship specification that supports a Functional Baseline Technical Data Package (TDP) in FY 2026. “

“Validation of specifications and Draft [capability development document] requirements will be executed with Navy stakeholders to support Joint staffing in FY 2024,” the documents added.

The Navy said while the formal acquisition strategy for DDG(X) is still being developed, “the Navy’s intent is to ensure a smooth transition between Arleigh Burke (DDG 51) Class and DDG(X). As maturity of the design increases, it is expected that the shipbuilders will take on an increasing level of responsibility for the design.”