By Geoff Fein

While much of the focus on DDG-1000 has been on the program’s cost, not to be overlooked are the number of new systems and technologies that will be brought into the fleet, a Navy official said.

When it hits the fleet in the coming decade, DDG-1000 will introduce new advanced radar and weapon systems that will make the Zumwalt-class ships a significant improvement over today’s surface combatants, Capt. Jim Syring, DDG-1000 program manager, told Defense Daily in a recent interview.

The Navy is final stages of high powered testing of the S-band radar at Naval Surface Warfare Center Port Hueneme, Calif. Once completed, the system will then be shipped to Surface Combat Systems Center Wallops Island, Va. for integration with the Multi Function Radar (MFR), which has finished its testing, Syring said.

“I will say the MFR is by far the most powerful radar in terms of total capability we have ever built in the Navy… by far,” he said. “All that is in a special compartment in terms of what it is able to do against cruise missile targets. It will revolutionize what we do with ships like this in the future.”

Additionally, the radar suite will also go on aircraft carriers to give them an improved self defense capability, Syring added.

Because DDG-1000 will be equipped with new high powered radar, the Navy had to conduct interference testing. A lot of that testing has been completed, Syring said.

“That was the purpose of the China Lake deck house EDM (engineering design model). We actually put many of the EDM arrays into the deck house, full scale, and powered them up and tested them for EMI (electro magnetic interference),” he said.

General Dynamics‘ [GD] Bath Iron Works is building DDG-1000. Northrop Grumman [NOC] will build DDG-1001 at its Pascagoula, Miss., facility. Bath will deliver the USS Zumwalt to the Navy in 2013 and it will go through a combat systems acceptance period in late 2013 or early 2014, Syring noted. Initial Operational Capability is scheduled for 2015, he added.

The Navy is currently looking at how to structure the acquisition plan for ships three through seven. “It won’t be a winner take all,” Syring said.

The next competition will likely be a quantity competition, which Syring said is what he believes Navy Secretary Donald Winter announced last month. The competition could end up being three-two-two-three for the seven-ship class.

Under the current acquisition plan, the Navy is building one DDG-1000 a year. Lawmakers, concerned about maintaining the shipbuilding industrial base, required the Navy to go with a dual lead-ship acquisition strategy. Syring said there isn’t much he can do about the plan. “I’ve got an industrial base consideration here that I have to take into account.”

“Certainly the industrial base capacity is there to build more than one a year,” he added.

The Navy would have to do a design maturity and change assessment to make sure changes are out of the system, Syring said, before any consideration to ramping up production might occur. “But from an affordability standpoint it would absolutely make a big difference. This is not the most affordable way to buy these at one per year, at every other year, but it is what it is.”

Although the Zumwalt-class will be 50 percent larger than an Arleigh-Burke-class destroyer, it will have a lower radar cross section, an order of magnitude lower than DDG-51 Flight IIA, Syring added. “That is significant.”

DDG-1000’s radio room will be net ready–able to accept satellite communications, and unmanned, Syring said.

“I can have operators within the ship mission center configure and patch antennas together…all that can be done through displays,” he said.

Sailors won’t have to plug cables in or do any other manual work, Syring added. That is a big driver toward trimming the crew size to 148, he said.

DDG-1000 will be equipped with the Close In Gun System (CIGS) that will be combined with Electro Optical/Infrared sensors. The system will be able to defend against 10 times more swarming small boat threats at three times the range of the Close In Weapons System, Syring said.

The ship will also have reserved space for anti-terrorism force protection systems, such as high energy weapons that can be non-lethal or lethal, he added.

The new class of multi-mission combat ships also has an acoustic signature requirement that at low speed and at certain frequencies has to be as quiet as a Los Angeles– class submarine, Syring noted. “I don’t do it for why they do it. I do it to not activate mines. It increase the area the ship can operate in terms of being safe or not safe with both magnetic and acoustic, and both activated types of mines.”

That enables DDG-1000 to come much closer to a mine at much increased depth, he added. “It enables us to be safe in areas where other combatants can’t operate at any significant speed if there is a mine threat.”

And because of the added capability, DDG-1000 can conduct anti-submarine warfare (ASW) with five watch standers in the ship’s mission center as opposed to 10 watch standers currently used on DDG-51, Syring said.

“The ASW capability is significant in terms of us doing much better against the littoral ASW threats…a Kilo-class sub… in terms of having the sonar designed and built [for] those environments coupled with both active and passive [sonar] up forward and passive back aft,” Syring explained. “The testing we have done and analysis shows we have significantly improved capability over what DDG-51 brings, because we were designed for the littorals.”

Additionally, DDG-1000 will do very well against wake homing torpedoes because the way the ship was designed, he added.

On the weapons side, DDG-1000 will be equipped with BAE Systems‘ 57mm gun as well as two Advanced Gun Systems (AGS) that will fire Lockheed Martin‘s [LMT] Long Range Land Attack Projectile (LRLAP).

LRLAP will have a range of 74 nautical miles (nmi). In testing it has flown to 63 nmi three times. AGS can fire 20 rounds per minute at 10 rounds per gun, Syring said. “That gives me a volume fire of 1,200 pounds per minute up to 74 miles. It enables me to cover 500 square miles. I can put 14,500 pounds of explosive on target in 30 minutes, against 600 targets.

“It triples fires support coverage in terms of square miles…five times the rate of fire increase and all done unmanned,” he said.

Already one potential upgrade being considered for LRLAP is laser designation for those rounds, he added.

The Navy has also done some feasibility work on the Electromagnetic Rail Gun, Syring said. The work showed the gun would fit into the ship. “I don’t know if you could fit one or two,” he added.