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The first Navy warships to carry hypersonic missiles will be the Zumwalt destroyers.
Initial expectations were that the weapon’s deployment would begin with Virginia-class submarines.
The Navy is expected to start equipping it aboard its ships in 2025, the senior naval officer said.
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The first U.S. Navy warships to be armed with hypersonic missiles will be the Zumwalt-class stealth destroyers, the service’s senior admiral said, according to USNI News.
Although the navy was to first deploy hypersonic weapons on its cruise missile submarines, the chief of naval operations, adm. Mike Gilday said at a Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments event on Tuesday that the service intended to start with the Zumwalts.
“Our biggest [research and development] the effort is hypersonic – to provide this capacity in 2025 on a surface ship, then on the V block [Virginia-class] submarines, ”Gilday said, adding that the commissioning of hypersonic weapons aboard the Zumwalt-class destroyers will be an“ important step ”towards transforming these ships into strike platforms.
Zumwalt-class destroyers were designed to fight in coastal waters, performing land attack and naval fire support missions. Their primary weapon was to be the Advanced Gun System, consisting of a pair of 155mm cannons.
But a reduction in the class size from a few dozen ships to just three pushed the cost of the long-range land attack projectile to nearly $ 1 million per turn, forcing the Navy to re-evaluate its armaments and his missions.
The Navy’s three Zumwalt-class destroyers – the USS Zumwalt, the USS Michael Monsoor and the future USS Lyndon B. Johnson – should instead be surface warfare and naval strike platforms in blue waters.
The hypersonic missile that the Navy is developing is the conventional rapid strike weapon, which uses the common hypersonic glider body that the Army and Navy are working together to develop.
The military successfully flight tested the glider body in March 2020.
A hypersonic glide body is the part of a hypersonic weapon that carries the warhead. Launched using a conventional rocket thruster, the glide body will eventually separate from the rocket and continue towards the target.
After separation, the sliding body is no longer able to accelerate, but retains the ability to maneuver.
While hypersonic weapons have the ability to fly at speeds of at least Mach 5, it is their maneuverability that makes them particularly dangerous. Modern air and missile defense systems are not designed to deal with this type of threat.
Because these weapons are difficult to defeat, hypersonic missiles have become a key area of strategic competition between the United States and its rivals China and Russia.
Before the Navy can arm its Zumwalt-class destroyers with these weapons, it must not only complete weapon development, but also understand how to integrate them with destroyers, which currently do not have sufficient vertical launch system cells. great for them. .
The Navy sent out a solicitation in mid-March asking industry partners for solutions on how the Zumwalts could be reconfigured to carry the larger hypersonic missiles. The sources sought advice examines an advanced payload module capable of carrying hypersonic missiles in a “three-pack configuration.”
Speaking on Tuesday, Gilday also expressed interest in using the substantial power generation capabilities of Zumwalt-class destroyers to support directed energy weapons in defense against emerging threats.
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