The most recent plan to add hypersonic weapons to the Zumwalt-class guided missile will involve removing the two massive 155mm advanced gun systems aboard the trio of destroyers, the Zumwalt program manager told USNI News on Wednesday.
In October of next year, the USS Zumwalt (DDG-1000) is scheduled to enter a maintenance readiness that will include the removal of the 16,000 ton destroyer’s two AGSs and the gun and ammunition support systems around which the destroyers were built.
“We are removing the cannons, the upper and lower weapons rooms. This includes the loading system, transfer carts, ammunition, etc. Capt. Matthew Schroeder, DDG 1000 program manager, Program Executive (PEO) Ships told USNI News in an interview Wednesday. “[We’re] descend about five platforms to accommodate the height of the missile, which is significantly taller than other missiles in inventory.
When availability is complete in 2025, Zumwalt will be armed with the Common Hypersonic Glide Body (C-HGB) – developed for the Army, Air Force and Navy – according to the Navy plan. The Conventional Rapid Strike (CPS) concept expands a long-range strike capability for the United States
Last month, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday presented USNI News with an older version of the hypersonic missile installation plan that planned to leave the AGS in place. This has been superseded by the new plan, USNI News has learned.
Replacing the two racks with the tubes that will hold the hypersonic weapons will leave the ship’s room for growth about the same as if the guns had remained on board, Schroeder said.
“There are small changes to the overall stability of the rig, but it’s mostly neutral. The weight of the AGS mounts and the distribution of that weight is very similar to what we’re going to experience with [conventional prompt strike] in the future,” he said.
The AGS was developed in concert with the Special Long Range Rocket Assisted Land Attack Projectiles which would provide forces ashore with naval surface fire support at a range of over 60 miles. Both systems tested well, but when the Navy reduced the 28-ship program to three, the service lost the savings gained from buying cartridges in bulk.
Zumwalt is set to be the first ship to receive the missile tubes – a variation of the Multiple All-up Round Canisters (MAC) system developed when the Navy converted four Ohio-class nuclear ballistic missile submarines into launch boats -missiles. MAC tubes place seven Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles (TLAMs) in the same space as a Trident-II D5 nuclear ballistic missile. The Navy will put three of the largest C-HGBs in the same space, according to USNI News.
Schroeder would not tell USNI News how many tubes would be installed on Zumwalt when asked.
However, the Navy intends to put four tubes aboard the Virginia Block V-class nuclear attack boats in the extension of the 84-foot Virginia payload module. With the removal of the AGS, the Navy could put at least three tubes aboard the destroyer.
The next two Zumwalt, USS Michael Monsoor (DDG-1001) and Lyndon B. Johnson (DDG-1002) will also see the AGS removed.
“We plan to do this on all three platforms during their original select restricted availabilities, which are planned for the next few years,” Schroeder said.
He said that Johnsoncurrently undergoing combat system activation at Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, Miss., will not have her AGS retired as part of the yard period.
“The focus of combat system availability at Huntington Ingalls is to install the basic program check-in combat system for the ship, navigate the ship, train the crew, find out how to operate the systems and then put it in the fleet for a few years of employment,” Schroeder said.