On June 4 the Navy stood up a new program office to develop and build the next class of Guided Missile Destroyers (DDG(X)), called PMS 460, under Program Executive Office Ships, and said it aims to start building the new ship by fiscal year 2028.

The service said acting Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition Jay Stefany approved the establishment of the new program office in April and has assigned Capt. David Hart as its Major Program Manager and Katherine Connelly as the Deputy Program Manager. According to a statement, the office is tasked with “developing an acquisition strategy, design/technical data package and ship construction, testing, fleet introduction and sustainment plans.”

While a formal acquisition strategy for DDG(X) is still being developed, the Navy plans for preliminary detail design work to occur via a multi-disciplinary Navy-industry effort composed of surface combatant shipbuilders, suppliers, ship design agents and other subject matter experts.

In the statement, the Navy said it has been working on conceptual design efforts for DDG(X) through FY ‘21 and began collaborations with Arleigh Burke-class DDG-51 shipyards “to achieve the Chief of Naval Operations cost, schedule and performance targets.  These collaborative efforts will continue into FY22 with the start of Preliminary Design.”

The current DDG-51 destroyers are built by both General Dynamics’ [GD] Bath Iron Works and Huntington Ingalls Industries [HII].

Last January, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday said he approved redesignating the next large surface combatant destroyer as DDG(X) and it is intended to have the space, weight and power to incorporate future capabilities to be useful over its entire lifetime. The Navy is seeking a new destroyer because the DDG-51s do not have enough space to accommodate future warfighting capabilities the Navy wants (Defense Daily, Jan. 12).

The same month, Vice Adm. James Kilby, deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Warfighting Requirements and Capabilities, N9, said DDG(X) aims to give the Navy the the capability to field new laser weapons, hypersonic and other larger missiles, sophisticated radars and other future upgrades (Defense Daily, Jan. 13).

The Navy reiterated the FFG(X) aims to provide the amount of flexibility and margins needed to both succeed the DDG-51 class destroyers by combining the DDG-51 Flight III combat systems with a new hull form, an Integrated Power System (IPS) like the Zumwalt-class (DDG-1000), and greater endurance.

The Navy’s FY ‘22 budget request is seeking $79.7 million in concept development funds for DDG(X). The request funds the program’s transition from conceptual design to preliminary design work, brings industry teams onboard, and continues both IPS and hull form land-based test activities “to ensure program risk reduction.”

In the PMS 460 announcement, the service said it aims for the FY ‘22 preliminary design to lead to an FY ’26 detail design and then start construction in FY ’28.

Budget documents said in order 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 budget request also said the engineering efforts will be executed in four phases consisting of concept design and preliminary design in FY ‘22, contract design in FY ‘24, and detail design in FY ‘26.

For FY ‘22, with approved top level requirements, a draft capability development document (CCD), and the DDG-51 shipyards integrated into the design team, the Navy plans to transition work into the preliminary design phase. This includes developing a functional baseline design to achieve the draft CCD warfighting requirements and execute critical systems risk mitigation efforts.

The Navy also plans to use the integrated team to complete cost and capability trades under concept design, begin refining design solutions where appropriate, develop ship configuration and arrangements, begin selection of major system components for the functional baseline, select vendors of some key DDG(X) systems, establish flexibility features for future systems and energy storage, and incorporate results of power and propulsion prototyping.

Separately, concurrent with the establishment of PMS 460, the Navy said PEO Ships’ Electric Ships program office (PMS 320) will transition into the new DDG(X) program office. 

The Electric Ships office was originally established “to generate and execute an integrated power system development and transition plan. DDG(X) is the embodiment of that vision.  This integration will further utilize the expertise that has been cultivated within the Electric Ships portfolio,” the Navy said in a statement.

The service underscored PMS 320’s expertise and previous development efforts on the IPS are “critical to the success of the DDG(X) program in realizing an Integrated Power System” and IPS is a “key foundation” of the new destroyer concept.

The Navy said other mission areas of PMS-320, like power and energy systems, naval power technology development, and platform integration and transition are “vital to the future of our Navy” and will continue under PMS 460.