The Navy’s Billion Dollar Weapon System

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When it comes to missile-killing lasers, the US Navy is ready to burn its ships. Protecting the naval surface fleets requires specialized naval defense systems, which combine autonomous sensor technologies with weaponry to detect and destroy aerial threats. Naval air defense systems protect ships from missiles fired by enemy aircraft and surface craft. The latest generation of naval air defense systems are fully integrated with a ship’s electronic warfare defense system and some have autonomous targeting and firing capabilities.

DDG 1000 Zumwalt, the first vessel built under the US Department of Defense’s (DoD) DD(X) program, was delivered to the US Navy in May 2016. The ship was commissioned for service in October 2016. Many Congressional subcommittee members questioned that the Navy completed such a sweeping re-evaluation of the world threat picture in just a few weeks, after spending some 13 years and $10 billion on the development of the surface ship program known as DD-21, then DD(X), and finally DDG-1000. The Pentagon awarded a fixed-price contract with General Dynamics to build the three destroyers, replacing a cost-plus-fee contract that had been awarded to Northrop Grumman. At that time, the first DDG-1000 destroyer was expected to cost $3.5 billion, the second approximately $2.5 billion, and the third even less.

Make sure to stick around till the end of the video to find out, is the Navy’s Billion Dollar Weapon System is worth it price tag?

The US DoD renamed the DD 21 program as DD(X) in November 2001. The program is focused on a family of advanced technology surface combatants rather than a single ship class. A revised request for proposals was issued, and in April 2002, Northrop Grumman Ship Systems, Ingalls, was selected as the lead design agent for DD(X).

Northrop Grumman led the ‘gold team’, which included Raytheon Systems Company as the systems integrator.

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The ‘gold team’ proposal incorporates ‘blue team’ leader Bath Iron Works (a General Dynamics company) as a subcontractor for design and test activities. Other major subcontractors include Lockheed Martin, BAE Systems Land and Armaments (formerly United Defense) and Boeing.

Zumwalt class orders and deliveries

In November 2005, DD(X) was approved for system development and demonstration (SDD). In April 2006, the USN announced that the first ship of the class will be designated DDG 1000 Zumwalt.

The second ship was named Michael Monsoor (DDG 1001) in October 2008. The USN budget for the 2007 and 2008 financial year provided funding for the first two ships to be built by General Dynamics Bath Iron Works and Northrop Grumman Ship Systems rather than hold a competition as was previously anticipated. Bath Iron Works received a $250m contract to provide detailed design for the Zumwalt Class destroyers in 2007.

The US Navy awarded the contract for the construction of the first two ships to General Dynamics (DDG 1000) and Northrop Grumman (DDG 1001) in February 2008.

The construction of DDG 1000 began in February 2009 and that of DDG-1001 began in September 2009. The DDG 1000 was launched in October 2013.

The number of ships required was planned to be between eight and 12, but in July 2008, the US Navy announced that the DDG 1000 program would be cancelled after completion of the first two ships. The USN will instead continue with construction of further Arleigh Burke (DDG 51) destroyers. However, in August 2008, the USN announced its decision to provide funding for a third Zumwalt Class

destroyer. In April 2009, it was announced the DDG-1000 program would end with the third ship.

The DDG 1000 ship was delivered to the US Navy with the activated combat system in April 2020. It is the first full-electric power and propulsion ship in the US Navy. It features advanced critical technologies, including a communication and intelligence system, as well as an offensive strike missile.

In April 2012, DDG 1002 was named USS Lyndon B Johnson after the nation’s 36th president. The USS Lyndon B Johnson will be the third Zumwalt class destroyer. The vessel construction began in April 2012.

The DDG 1001 (USS Michael Monsoor) and DDG 1002 (Lyndon B Johnson) with advanced technologies are expected to be delivered in September 2020 and September 2022 respectively.

DDG 1000 Zumwalt class design

DDG 1000 has a ‘tumblehome’ hull form, a design in which hull slopes inward from above the waterline. This significantly reduces the radar cross-section since such a slope returns a much less defined radar image rather than a more hard-angled hull form.

Requirements for the integrated deckhouse EDM is that it is fully electromagnetic compatibility (EMC)-shielded with reduced infrared and radar signatures. Measures to fulfil these conditions include an all-composite superstructure, low-signature electronically steered arrays, an integrated multifunction mast, and low radar and infrared signatures. Other measures to reduce the vessel’s infrared signature include the development of an exhaust suppressor.

Harris Corporation has been awarded a contract for the development of the common data link (CDL) X/Ku-band phased array antenna systems, which are integrated into the integrated deckhouse assembly. The multi-beam electronically steered antenna allows connectivity with up to eight CDL terminals.

Zumwalt measures 100ft longer and 13ft wider in size than Arleigh Burke class ship. The DDG 1000 has a displacement of 15,761t with a sustained speed of 30k.

Zumwalt class command and control

In November 2007, Raytheon IDS was awarded the contract as the prime mission systems integrator for all electronic and combat systems. Raytheon delivered the first electronic modular enclosure (EME) for the Zumwalt class destroyer (DDG 1000) in May 2010.

The combat system is based on the total ship computing environment (TSCE), utilizing open architecture, standardized software and commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware. Raytheon delivered more than six million lines of software for the DDG 1000 Zumwalt class destroyer program in January 2013.

General Dynamics is responsible for the common enterprise display system (CEDS).

Crew on board the Multi-mission destroyer

DDG 1000 has a crew of 158, including the aviation detachment. This represented major theoretical cost saving compared to crew levels of 330 on Spruance destroyers and 200 on Oliver Hazard Perry frigates.

DDG1000 weaponry

DDG 1000 features a sensor and weapons suite optimized for littoral warfare and for network-centric warfare. Northrop Grumman has proposed a solution based on a peripheral vertical launch system (PVLS). The solution consists of 20 four-cell PVLS situated around the perimeter of the deck, rather than the usual centrally located VLS. This would reduce the ship’s vulnerability to a single hit.

The advanced vertical launch system (AVLS) that forms the basis of the PVLS was developed by BAE Systems Land and Armaments and Raytheon and has been designated the mk57 VLS. Missile systems

include tactical tomahawk (intended to succeed Tomahawk TLAM), standard missile SM-3 and the evolved Sea Sparrow missile (ESSM) for air defense.

BAE Systems Land and Armaments was awarded the contract to develop the EDM for the ship’s advanced gun system (AGS), building on development work carried out for DD-21. It is equipped with a fully automated weapon handling and storage system and a family of advanced munitions and propelling charges, including the GPS-guided long-range land-attack projectile (LRLAP). Up to 900 rounds of LRAP ammunition is carried.

Lockheed Martin was awarded the contract for the LRAP EDM.

The family of munitions includes land attack and ballistic projectiles. Technologies derived from the US Navy’s extended-range guided munition (ERGM), the US Army 155mm XM-982 projectiles and the DTRA 5in projectile are being studied for incorporation into the projectile suite.

BAE Systems Land and Armaments developed advanced gun barrel technologies for the new AGS with improvements to barrel life, overall system performance and lifecycle costs. The ship’s close-in gun system (CIGS) is the BAE Systems Land and Armaments 57mm mk110 naval gun. The gun has a firing rate of 220 rounds a minute and range of 14km (nine miles). Raytheon IDS is supplying the ship’s electro-optical / infrared suite, which has five Lockheed Martin sensors and provides 360° surveillance and gunfire control.

Contractors involved in Zumwalt class

Temeku Technologies received a contract from the US Navy in August 2009, for the procurement of the flight deck lights (FDL) on Zumwalt Class destroyer. In April 2010, Colfax Corporation received a contract from the US Navy to supply SMART technology systems to the first two DDG-1000 Zumwalt Class destroyers. Raytheon received a $72m

contract in January 2019 to provide engineering and logistics support for DDG 1000.


By its use of the sea, which covers nearly three-quarters of the earth, a navy can do things that land-based forces cannot. It can provide extraordinary access to points of interest around the globe, patrolling vital waterways and maneuvering to distant shores and population centers.

The United States is a maritime superpower because its heavily armed warships can travel thousands of miles in a matter of days and linger around points of interest without imposing on another country’s sovereignty and, if desired, without provoking much attention. This makes the navy an incredibly powerful tool, especially for responding to international crises. At the same time, the navy’s superior lift capability allows for the transport of firepower, fuel, food, and other cargo needed to sustain distant combat operations.

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