US most lethal destroyer will fire missiles flying around 5 mi/s

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Having recently navigated its way to its new home port in Pascagoula, Mississippi, the esteemed guided-missile destroyer Zumwalt is currently in the hands of American shipbuilding powerhouse, HII. The firm is diligently working on equipping this naval marvel with a state-of-the-art hypersonic missile system.

On August 19, the Zumwalt, having returned to San Diego due to a concealed maintenance system issue, reached its destination in Pascagoula, Mississippi. Presently, the ship is undergoing a rigorous phase of modernization. This includes the integration of the Navy’s Conventional Prompt Strike hypersonic missile system, a state-of-the-art military technology.

In a statement to Navy Times earlier this month, Cmdr. Arlo Abrahamson, a spokesperson for the Naval Surface Force, elucidated that the impending enhancements will indubitably maintain the position of Zumwalt as one of the most technologically sophisticated and deadly vessels within the U.S. Navy’s formidable arsenal.

Flight trials in 2024

With an ambitious objective set for 2025, the service is diligently striving to deploy hypersonic armaments on the Zumwalt. In an announcement made in February, it was revealed that Lockheed Martin is actively preparing a ship-based hypersonic missile launcher, which is slated for flight trials in 2024. The development of this launcher, alongside the weapon control system and other integral components of the missile, is being spearheaded by Lockheed.

In conjunction with the Navy, the Army has been diligently engaged in the development of the missile. It is anticipated that, by the conclusion of this year, the weapon system will be fully operational and ready for deployment.

Photo by Seaman Darren Cordoviz

In a recent development, the US Navy has granted a hefty contract modification worth $154.8 million to Huntington Ingalls Industries [HII]. This allocation, announced on Tuesday, is intended for the significant upgrade of the technologically advanced Zumwalt. It’s important to note that this sizable contract follows a preceding allocation of $10.5 million, which was awarded in January. The earlier contract was aimed at the planning phase for the modernization of not only the Zumwalt but also the guided-missile destroyer, Michael Monsoor.

Zumwalt demonstrated its capabilities

In a future phase of modernization, the Monsoor is set to be equipped with the Conventional Prompt Strike hypersonic missile system, as disclosed by Huntington Ingalls Industries [HII] in an official press statement.

“The privilege of serving the esteemed sailors of Zumwalt and welcoming them into our community is one we hold in high regard,” articulated Bruce Knowles, the DDG 1000 ship construction manager at Ingalls Shipbuilding, in a recent press statement. “Rest assured, the dedicated team at Ingalls stands prepared to lend their expertise in facilitating the completion of this momentous task,” he further added.

Photo credit: @cjr1321 in Twitter

Concluding its three-month tenure in the Western Pacific during the previous autumn, the Zumwalt demonstrated its capabilities through the execution of a series of joint and bilateral operations. This marked the vessel’s inaugural operational employment.

As per the anticipated schedule, the inaugural full-scale deployment of the Zumwalt is projected to occur in the waning months of the year 2026 or early in the year 2027. This crucial operation will be overseen by the U.S. 7th Fleet and the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, asserting their leadership in this strategic move.

About USS Zumwalt

The USS Zumwalt [DDG-1000], a guided missile destroyer, represents a significant component of the United States Navy’s formidable arsenal. This vessel merits distinction as the inaugural ship of the Zumwalt class, a fleet named in honor of the renowned Admiral Elmo Zumwalt.  

Photo credit: @cjr1321 in Twitter

The Zumwalt, with its impressive stealth capabilities, boasts a radar cross-section akin to a modest fishing boat, an impressive feat given its substantial size. This remarkable vessel embarked on her preparatory sea trial on the 7th of December, 2015, a significant step before her assimilation into the esteemed Pacific Fleet. The commissioning of this naval marvel took place in the historic city of Baltimore on the 15th of October, 2016. Presently, she calls the bustling port of San Diego, California, her home.

USS Zumwalt’s armament

The USS Zumwalt is equipped with a variety of advanced weapons systems, including the Mark 57 vertical launch system [VLS], which can accommodate a mix of missiles, including the Tomahawk, Evolved Sea Sparrow, and Standard Missile families.

Another key armament of the USS Zumwalt is the Advanced Gun System [AGS], which consists of two 155mm guns capable of firing long-range projectiles up to 63 nautical miles. The AGS also features an automated magazine system that can store up to 920 rounds of ammunition.

Photo credit: Reddit

In addition to these primary weapons, the USS Zumwalt is also equipped with a range of defensive systems, including the AN/SPY-3 Multi-Function Radar and the AN/SPY-4 Volume Search Radar, which can detect and track incoming threats from the air and sea.

The ship also features a suite of electronic warfare systems, including the AN/SLQ-32(V)3 electronic warfare system and the AN/SLQ-25 Nixie torpedo countermeasures system, which are designed to protect the ship from a range of threats.

Overall, the armament of the USS Zumwalt is designed to provide the ship with a high degree of offensive and defensive capability, allowing it to operate effectively in a range of environments and mission scenarios.

Lockheed’s ship-based hypersonic missile

The Lockheed Martin ship-based hypersonic missile launcher is a cutting-edge technology that allows the US Navy to launch hypersonic missiles from ships. Hypersonic missiles are missiles that travel at speeds of Mach 5 or higher, making them extremely difficult to intercept. The launcher is designed to be mounted on a ship, allowing the Navy to deploy hypersonic missiles in various locations around the world.

The launcher works by using a hydraulic system to lift the missile from its storage container and position it on the launcher. Once the missile is in position, the launcher uses an electromagnetic railgun to launch the missile at hypersonic speeds. The railgun uses a powerful magnetic field to accelerate the missile to hypersonic speeds, allowing it to travel at speeds of Mach 5 or higher.

Photo bu MC3 Jason Amadi

The Lockheed’s hypersonic launcher is made of a combination of materials, including steel, aluminum, and composite materials. The launcher’s frame is made of steel, which provides the necessary strength to withstand the forces generated during launch. The launcher’s storage container is made of aluminum, which is lightweight and durable. The Lockheed’s railgun is made of composite materials, which are strong and lightweight, allowing the launcher to be mounted on a ship without adding too much weight.


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