The Navy’s Next Warship Will Look a Lot Like the USS Zumwalt

Kyle Mizokami
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From Popular Mechanics

The U.S. Navys’ next surface warship will look a lot like the current Zumwalt-class of stealth destroyers. The future Large Surface Combatant, scheduled to enter service in the late 2020s, will retain the spaceship-like appearance of the Zumwalts, with weapons and sensors hidden under the flat surfaces of a radar-evading hull.

U.S. Naval Institute News quotes Rear Adm. William Galinis, the Navy’s program executive officer for ships, as stating that the Large Surface Combatant, or LSC, is “probably going to look a lot more like a DDG-1000 than a DDG-51.” The DDG-51 or Arleigh Burke-class of guided missile destroyers has been in almost continuous construction since the 1980s. DDG-1000, or the Zumwalt class of destroyers, is a three destroyer class nearing completion.

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The Zumwalt class of destroyers introduced a new-old hull form to the Navy, the tumblehome hull. The hull, which has a bow that angles upward instead of downward, was originally used in the 1900s and reintroduced in the 2010s with the Zumwalt class. The Zumwalts are 610 feet long and displace nearly 16,000 tons-almost as much as a World War I battleship. They are armed with two 155-millimeter Advanced Gun Systems, 80 vertical launch missile silos, two 30-millimeter guns, and a pair of MH-60R helicopters. At $22.5 billion for three ships, the three Zumwalts are the most expensive surface combatants ever built.

The U.S. Navy’s 22 Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruisers are the main air defense platform protecting the fleet’s eleven aircraft carriers. Built during the 1980s, the Ticonderogas are starting to age out and need replacing. The Navy, which will continue to build Burke-class destroyers through the early 2020s, has pointedly refused to classify LSC as either a cruiser or destroyer, but it’s clear once in service the ships will take over the job of quarterbacking the defense of carriers from aerial threats.

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It’s unknown what kind of weaponry LSC might pack, but current Ticonderogas are equipped with two 5-inch guns and 122 vertical launch missile silos. LSC would probably need just as many silos, if not more, in order to protect a battle group from large-scale missile barrages. It would also need the ability to protect against anti-ballistic missiles such as the Chinese DF-21D. It could also be equipped with offensive railguns and defensive, anti-air lasers, depending on whether or not either technology is mature enough to go to sea in the 2020s.

Source: USNI News.

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