The US Navy has decided to stick with HII’s Ingalls Shipbuilding for the installation of hypersonic weapons on Zumwalt-class destroyers USS Zumwalt (DDG-1000) and USS Michael Monsoor (DDG-1001) during their dry-dock periods at the shipbuilder’s Florida yard.
The navy revealed the decision as it issued a pre-solicitation saying it would award the contract directly to HII.
“The modernization scope of the effort will require specialized yard cranes for greater lift capacity, dry-dock facilities, covered assembly areas, and dedicated fabrication shops, the navy notice said.
“Additionally, extensive facilities (i.e., pre-outfit areas and large paint and blast facilities), special tooling and test equipment, trained workforces, and extensive material bases necessary to construct, maintain and modernize DDG 1000/1001 will be required.”
“Use of an alternative source, other than HII, would result in unacceptable ship and program schedule delays and would produce adverse impacts to the DDG 1000/1001 operational requirements.”
The navy did not reveal financial details, nor did it say when the work would take place but according to earlier reports, the navy plans to begin upgrading the Zumwalts with hypersonic weapons in October 2023.
In order for the destroyers to be fitted with the new systems, their current two 155mm Advanced Gun System mounts will have to be taken out and the vertical launch system for the common hypersonic glide body (C-HGB) installed. The navy will use C-HGB to launch Conventional Prompt Strike (CPS) missiles.
According to an USNI News interview with Capt. Matthew Schroeder, DDG-1000 program manager with Program Executive Office, Ships, from March this year, the guns, the upper and lower gun rooms will have to be removed. “We’re going down about five platforms to accommodate the height of the missile, which is significantly larger than other missiles in the inventory.”
The US Navy has two out three of the 16,000-ton Zumwalt-class destroyers in service. The third, future USS Lyndon B. Johnson (DDG 1002), was built by General Dynamics Bath Iron Works and sailed away from Bath in January this year. It is now set to undergo the combat systems activation process at Ingalls Shipbuilding and is expected to enter service in 2024.
The US Navy is now experimenting with hypersonic weapons on the ships after abandoning rocket-launched Long Range Land Attack Projectile for the ships’ AGS in 2016.