Can it be done?
Forget Stealth Destroyers. Turn the Navy's New Warships Into Pocket Battleships.
The Zumwalt could locate and track an enemy task group by proxy, setting up an ambush when conditions are favorable, without even turning on its radar or sending out drones of its own.
The three new Zumwalt-class destroyers are in trouble.
Originally envisioned as a fleet of more nearly three dozen destroyers, and the weapons that justified them, the Zumwalts have faced delays, cuts and staggering cost increases. As the ships teeter on the verge of white elephant status, could they become relevant again by taking on a new role, that of a stealthy ship killer?
(This first appeared last year.)
The Zumwalt-class destroyers were originally envisioned as a fleet of thirty-two destroyers designed to attack targets far inland with precision-guided howitzer shells. Designed in part to support amphibious landings by the U.S. Marine Corps, the Zumwalts were meant to make up for the lack of big-gun firepower caused by the retirement of the Iowa-class destroyers.
Unfortunately, cost overruns and technical problems caused the Pentagon to trim the number of Zumwalts to just three ships. Even worse, the service has decided the long-range attack-projectile shells that justified the ships are too expensive to purchase. This puts the remaining fleet in a poor position to support future naval landings, as only one ship is likely to be at sea at any given time.