US Zumwalt Destroyers Getting Anti-ship Missiles Now and Railguns and Lasers Later

The three planned Zumwalt-class ships each have eighty Mk 54 Vertical Launch System cells capable of firing a variety of long-range anti-ship missiles.

They will fire

* the Tomahawk Land Attack Missile, which is being modified to hit ships at sea;
* the anti-air Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM);
* the Standard Missile family — including the SM-3 for ballistic missile defense and the multi-purpose SM-6, capable of hitting aircraft, both cruise and ballistic missiles, or even ships;
* Future upgrades might add the new Long-Range Anti-Ship Missile as well.

The ship has enough space, weight, power and communications ability to enable easy addition of any advanced weapon system that is developed.

The Zumwalt has 14,798 tons of displacement and 78 megawatts of electrical power. The newest version of the Arleigh Burke destroyer has 9800 tons of displacement and 7.5 megawatts of electrical power.

In the longer run, the Navy is looking at an all-new destroyer or cruiser design built around the massive electrical requirements of future laser weapons, railguns, and other power-hungry systems such as radars.

The Navy has a plan to build Future Surface Combat ships. Those are still being designed but should start deployment in the 2030s. The Future Surface Combat ships will use a lot of Zumwalt technology.

11 thoughts on “US Zumwalt Destroyers Getting Anti-ship Missiles Now and Railguns and Lasers Later”

  1. Zumwalt destroyers’ most important strength in battle is the ships’ stealth, almost impossible to detect by radar beyond visual range over the horizon like 30 km away, then the unseen sea dragon fires volley of missiles on unsuspecting enemy Russian, Chinese or Iranian warships, killing the enemy without being hurt by any adversary

  2. Funny you should mention throwing…

    There has been some work on an EMALS like payload thrower to launch/boost/throw missiles.

  3. It’s absurd this doesn’t even have rail-guns, it was supposed to have them, but they didn’t push hard enough. I knew it wouldn’t have any lasers…that’s still several years off, before we have powerful enough solid state lasers to be useful on a ship.

  4. Apart from the insane cost, yes they got it right.

    Stealth, reduced crew, electrical grid, they got it right. Cost… not so much.

  5. They are trying to lay a foundation for electrically powered weapons. Its a good foundation and the weapons (laser in particular) are coming.

    Unfortunately the ship costs a fortune to build.

  6. I would demur, this sounds more like “future proofing” to me. If lasers and railguns look to be “the next big thing”, but are not yet ready for prime time, doesn’t it seem more sensible to build a new class of ships which can easily be retrofitted when these weapons are deemed available, than to build ships which can’t accept them without a ground-up rebuild? It does to me. I am by no means someone who believes we have the most rational military procurement system, but this time I think they got it right.

  7. Yeah I was looking forward to this ship being less of a bungle than it turned out to be. However, it still offers a learning experience (both designing/building it as well as sailing) for future vessels. Couple that with 3D printing (is that even a thing for ships, actually?), and you could save both time and money for a potentially even more capable vessel in the future, when, you know…it can actually mount lasers because they too will be out of the prototype stage.

  8. Dumb ship. 78 MW and no electrical weapons – throwing Tomahawks like every other platform. Maybe if you get in really close you can shoot taser leads into the enemy vessel… JK

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