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Navy's New Stealth Destroyer to Test Fire Missiles Next Year

stealthy design. That is precisely the intent of the ship – it seeks to penetrate enemy areas, delivery lethal attack while remaining undetected by enemy radar. Lower observability can also reduce risk to the ship in open, deep water as it will make it less vulnerable to detection by enemy aircraft or anti-ship guided missiles.

USS Zumwalt Fires First Missile - 2019

As part of the combat activation process, the USS Zumwalt will fire its first missile next year, Smith said.

Smith said first weapons to fire from the Mk 57 vertical launch tubes will be the ship defensive weapons called the Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile and the Standard Missile 2, or SM-2.

Smith said many of the weapons systems are being assessed and refined on board a specially configured unmanned test ship.

The remote- controlled vessel continues to be involved in integration testing with the SM-2 and other weapons. In fact, Smith acknowledged that the Navy is currently evaluating potential SM-6 integration for the USS Zumwalt.

The SM-6 has been a fast-evolving weapon for the Navy – as it has expanded its mission envelope to include air-defense, ballistic missile defense and even offensive use as an anti-ship surface attack weapon. In addition, utilizing its active seeker, the SM-6 is a key part of Naval Integrated Fire Control – Counter Air, or NIFC-CA; NIFC-CA uses fire-control technology to link Aegis radar with an airborne relay sensor to detect and destroy approaching enemy threats from beyond the horizon. With an active, dual-mode seeker able to send an electromagnetic “ping” forward from the missile itself, the SM-6 is able to better adjust to moving targets. Giving commanders more decision-making time to effectively utilize layered ship defenses when under attack is an integral part of the rationale for NIFC-CA.

The ship also fires Vertical Launch Anti-Submarine Rockets, or ASROCs. ASROCs are 16-feet long with a 14-inch diameter; a rocket delivers the torpedo at very high speeds to a specific point in the water at which point it turns on its sensors and searches for an enemy submarine. Wade Knudson, DDG 100o program manager, Raytheon, told Warrior in an interview last year.

The ship is also built with Mk 57 a vertical launch tubes which are engineered into the hull near the perimeter of the ship.

Called Peripheral Vertical Launch System, the tubes are integrated with the hull around the ship’s periphery in order to ensure that weapons can keep firing in the event of damage. Instead of having all of the launch tubes in succession or near one another, the DDG 1000 has spread them out in order to mitigate risk in the event attack, developers said.

In total, there are 80 launch tubes built into the hull of the DDG 1000; the Peripheral Vertical Launch System involves a collaborative effort between Raytheon and BAE Systems.

Also, the launchers are especially designed with software such that it can accommodate a wide range of weapons; the launchers can house one SM-2, SM-3 or SM-6, ASROCs and up to four ESSMs due to the missile’s smaller diameter, Knudson added.

The USS Zumwalt is built with a high-tech, long-range, BAE-built Advanced Gun System designed to find and hit targets with precision from much farther ranges than existing deck-mounted ship guns.

Most deck mounted 5-inch guns currently on Navy ships are limited to firing roughly 8-to-10 miles at targets within the horizon or what’s called line of sight. The Advanced Gun System, however, is being developed to fire rounds beyond-the-horizon at targets more than three times that distance.

The Navy had been planning to have the gun fire a Long-Range Land Attack Projectile, but is now exploring different ammunition options for, among other things, cost issues, Smith said.

“We are looking at high-velocity projectiles to get the ranges we want. We are watching industry to see what they come up with. We are looking hard at what is the best technology to give to the guns,” Smith said.

In 2016, the new ship was formally delivered to the Navy at Bath Iron Works in Portland, Maine. The ship was formally commissioned in October of that year.

This first appeared in Warrior Maven here.