A Navy official said the service’s next large surface combatant (LSC) will likely look more like the Zumwalt-class (DDG-1000) destroyers rather than the Arleigh Burke-class (DDG-51) it will succeed.

On Tuesday, Rear Adm. William Galinis, Program Executive Officer for Ships, said while industry and Navy designers are going to account for a larger new hull and increased flexibility to allow future upgrades, they will also look into radar signature issues.

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 signature aspect of it, what does that do to the shaping of the deck house and the hull form. I will tell you, not to predispose anything, but I think in the end, you know, it’s probably going to look a lot more like a DDG-1000 than a DDG-51 if I had so say so,” Galinis said at the American Society of Naval Engineer’s annual Technology, Systems, and Ships symposium.

Galinis noted a fundamental part of the Navy’s plan for LSC is using mature technologies and evolutionary design.

Last October, Rear Adm. Ron Boxall, Director of Surface Warfare (N96), said the Navy plans to design an LSC that can take the DDG-51 Flight III capabilities and outfit them in a new hull that has more margin for growth and adaptation. He also first raised the idea the Navy is looking at if the DDG-1000 integrated power system (Defense Daily, Oct. 29, 2018).

While the Navy originally planned to have the first LSCs on contract by the mid-2020s, the Navy’s FY 2020 budget request delayed that timeline. The Navy now plans to release a request for proposals (RFP) for the vessel by 2024, with the first ship bought no earlier than 2025 (Defense Daily, March 19).

Budget documents said the initial LSCs will leverage DDG-51 Flight III combat systems as well as increased flexibility and adaptability features like expanded space, weight, power, and cooling service life allowances. This strategy aims to allow faster and more affordable upgrades over the life of the ship.

The Navy also expects the ship to include capabilities like a Vertical Launch System that can accommodate longer and larger diameter missiles and directed energy weapons coverage.

Galinis said by pushing back that timeline the Navy can better refine the requirements and incorporate more feedback from industry and Navy programs to improve costs.

For example, Galinis noted the Navy is still learning acquisition and production lessons from the Zumwalt-class program, which it is also incorporating into the Columbia-class ballistic missile submarine program.

While two of the three DDG-1000 ships are built, Galinis said they “learn more every day.”

He also said a “key element” in the LSC process will be developing and using surface-based testing for new naval capabilities installed on the LSC.