Congress Wants To Load Up Zumwalt-Class Destroyers With Hypersonic Weapons
Photo credit: U.S. Navy photo by Liz Wolter
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The destroyers of the Zumwalt class are undershot thanks to expensive ammunition.
Congress wants the Navy to increase its firepower with hypersonic weapons.
Currently under development, Conventional Prompt Global Strike would give destroyers the ability to destroy targets thousands of miles away in a matter of seconds.
Congress is ready to order the U.S. Navy to add a new key weapon system to their troubled class of destroyers. The House of Representatives plans to mandate the Navy to add the new Conventional Prompt Global Strike hypersonic missile to the Zumwalt-class destroyers. The order would increase the firepower of a class of destroyers hampered by a lack of ammunition for their high-tech weapons.
According to news from the US Naval Institute, the House’s defense budget for 2021 will include a provision that calls on the Navy to begin integrating CPS (Conventional Prompt Global Strike) into Zumwalt-class destroyers by 2021. CPS is a hypersonic weapon system that can travel at speeds above Mach 5 - nobody really knows how fast - to destroy time-critical targets on the ground. CPS was originally developed for use on board U.S. Navy submarines.
The U.S. Navy originally intended to use the clandestine lawyers as a land attack destroyer to sneak onto an opponent's coast and then bombard targets with the ship's new 155-millimeter Advanced Gun systems on land. The Navy reduced the number of destroyers from 32 to just three, raising the price of the AGS precision guided grenade from $ 50,000 each to an unaffordable $ 566,000. As a result, the U.S. Navy is reusing the three remaining lawyers for ship killers and plans to add new anti-ship missiles to the destroyers' vertical launch silos.
Photo credit: Elizabeth A Wolter
It is not clear how Zumwalts will add new CPS missiles. CPS is too big to fit in Zumwalts' 80 Mk. 57 vertical missile silos. If the Navy doesn't remove the two AGS cannons, the service will likely need to add the large missiles to the destroyer's deck, which could compromise the ship's carefully designed, secret anti-radar profile. Screwing onto the deck can also affect the flight operations of helicopters and drones of the ship, since the flight deck takes up almost a third of the warship.
The combination of hypersonic weapons and Zumwalt destroyers always sounds like peanut butter and chocolate, but the reality is more complicated. Unless the Navy's new hypersonic missile has some sort of anti-ship capability, CPS will shift the Zumwalts' mission away from ship killing and back to land attack. This ping-ponging of the role of the ship at sea will only further delay the introduction of the three ships into the fleet. The first in the class, Zumwalt, should now ideally be ready for use.
Source: US Naval Institute News
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