After three years in service, Navy's USS Zumwalt mission changes from land-attack to surface warfare

Zumwalt-class destroyers, originally meant for fire support to forces far inland, are switching to the traditional ship-killer role in surface warfare.

May 20th, 2019
Zumwalt Class Destroyer 20 May 2019

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Navy's three Zumwalt-class destroyers are undergoing a dramatic change of mission just three years after the first ship was commissioned. The destroyers, originally meant to provide naval gunfire support for the Marines and bombard targets far inland, are now being switched to a ship-killer role. Popular Mechanics reports. Continue reading original article

The Military & Aerospace Electronics take:

20 May 2019 -- The Zumwalt-class of destroyers was meant to boost the fleet’s gun firepower dramatically. After the retirement of the four Iowa-class battleships in the early 1990s, the service studied several solutions before deciding on the Zumwalts. Each ship would be equipped with two 155-millimeter Advanced Gun Systems, each firing a precision-guided long range land attack projectile (LRLAP) to ranges as far as 83 miles.

The U.S. Navy originally planned to buy 32 destroyers, a number that was cut to seven ships, and then finally to just three. The cost of the LRLAP projectile, originally pegged at $50,000 each, ballooned to $800,000 each making them unaffordable to even the mighty U.S. Navy. Without enough ships and guns, the Zumwalts were in danger of becoming the white elephants of the fleet.

Now, less than three years after lead ship Zumwalt joined the fleet, the service is changing the ships’ mission from land attack to surface warfare -- or sinking other ships. In addition to the two guns, each ship has eighty Mk. 57 vertical launch armored missile silos capable of carrying a mix of offensive and defensive weaponry.

Related: Navy pours millions of dollars more into Zumwalt surface warships; is this really a good idea?

Related: Blog: Navy's newest destroyers evolve to fill traditional battleship roles

Related: Navy consideration of scrapping third ship of Zumwalt-class destroyer doesn't come as a surprise

John Keller, chief editor
Military & Aerospace Electronics

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