Home » Budget Industry » Raytheon Excalibur Round Set to Replace LRLAP on Zumwalts


Raytheon Excalibur Round Set to Replace LRLAP on Zumwalts

Artist's concept of an Advanced Gun System Firing a Long Range Land Attack Projectile (LRLAP).

Artist’s concept of an Advanced Gun System Firing a Long Range Land Attack Projectile (LRLAP).

CORRECTION: A previous version of this post misstated the cost of an Excalibur 155mm guided round. A round plus the container is sold to the U.S. Army at about $70,000 per round.

THE PENTAGON — The Navy is looking to Raytheon’s Excalibur guided artillery round to replace the effective but expensive Long Range Land Attack Projectile for the Zumwalt-class of guided missile destroyers, defense officials confirmed to USNI News.

The decision to move ahead with the guided rounds for the 155mm Zumwalts’ BAE Systems-built Advanced Gun Systems is codified in the Navy’s Fiscal Year 2018 budget submission, a defense official familiar with the move told USNI News.

The Navy would not confirm any details of the change saying the change was, “predecisional.”

“The Navy continuously monitors the gun and ammunition industry capability and capacities. To address evolving threats and mission requirements, the Navy is evaluating industry projectile solutions (including conventional and hyper-velocity projectiles) that can also meet the DDG 1000 deployment schedule and could potentially be used as an alternative to LRLAP for DDG 1000,” Navy Capt. Thurraya Kent told USNI News on Monday in a written statement.

While a guided hyper velocity projectile – being developed for the Navy’s electromagnetic railgun program – is being proposed for the Navy’s existing deck guns, the development needed to use HVPs operationally in the service would take 10 to 15 years, USNI News understands.

The benefit of Excalibur is the munition is ready now. The GPS-guided round – developed by Raytheon and BAE-Systems Bofors – has about half the range of the 60-mile LRLAP and costs about $70,000 a round.

Marines prepare an Excalibur 155 mm projectile round on Fire Base Bell, Iraq, while conducting fire missions on March 18, 2016. US Marine Corps

Marines prepare an Excalibur 155 mm projectile round on Fire Base Bell, Iraq, while conducting fire missions on March 18, 2016. US Marine Corps

Though LRLAP performed well in testing, the Navy balked at the price tag. To outfit all three ships in the class with a buy of 2,000 rounds would have cost the service the cost equivalent of an Arleigh Burke guided missile destroyer — $1.8 to 2 billion on the high end of the estimate, service officials told USNI News last month.

What remains now is how much additional engineering work it will take to modify the existing AGS to accommodate the Excalibur. The AGS barrel and the accompanying automatic ammunition handling system were specifically designed to handle the LRLAP.

“It’s a unique barrel for this ammunition. It’s a six-inch round designed with the turnings to allow the LRLAP to fly out of that barrel. There’s been some studies over the year that [indicate] that you could but you’d have to undertake a modification of the system,” then DDG-1000 program manager Rear Adm. Jim Downey told USNI News in May.
“It’s not impossible but you can’t directly fire [hyper velocity projectiles] out of that barrel without modifications.”

One defense official told USNI News it might take up to $250 million in engineering costs to modify the three ship class for Excalibur

 

  • dpaul

    This eye-watering ammunition is so expensive that if Navy did use it in any protracted conflict it could bankrupt the nation.

    • Ctrot

      The trillion dollar a year welfare state is already doing that, we could never fire enough of these rounds to hope to match that.

      • dpaul

        No argument but add this ammo on top of everything else and wow the ship of state just might sink.

      • deafndumb

        We don’t spend anything near trillion dollars on welfare unless you include social security, Medicare, the VA and cost of federal civilians and consultants. I doubt that those of you drinking at the federal trough would want to see those programs scaled back.

        • Ctrot

          Wrong. There are about 80 federal “means tested” (ie not SS) welfare programs with a total cost of over One Trillion dollars per year. Throw in what states spend and the total is closer to $1.5 trillion.

          • madskills

            The health care insurance monster is stealing about $800 billion a year from the people but that’s okay……………….. And the military budget is around $1.2 trillion if you count all the things being done to fight Russia with a $65 billion budget.

          • Ctrot

            Utter nonsense. The defense budget is nowhere near a Trillion $. Your “madskills” certainly don’t include math or reasoning.

          • Secundius

            According to “Sputnik International” the GPD of Russia for 2017 is ~$221.4-Billion USD with a Projected Spending of ~$266.7-Billion USD with a Deficit of ~$45.3-Billion of “Burrowed” Oversea’s Money. Projected Defense Budget is ~17.5% of GPD. with a Population based of ~143,431,950 or ~44.1% of the US’s ~325,206,541 Population. the US Medicare, Medicaid and ACA is ~$709.4-Billion USD for 2017. And Defense Budget is ~$582.0-Billion USD for 2017…

          • madskills

            Russia GDP is 12th, after South Korea, about $1.3 trillion. 35% of economy held by 110 people. Russian defense budget, $65 billion. Dept of defense budget is $590 billion, real defense spending is over a trillion. Nukes themselves come from Energy Dept, VA is $140 billion by itself.

          • allbuss84

            Ok, so we now add $590 plus the entire Energy Dept’s budget of $20 bil and the entire VA budget and we are still no where near your $1.2 trillion. That’s more than the entire discretionary budget.

          • madskills

            Check this out:http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/02/the-real-defense-budget/253327/
            If you want check “real costs of defense budget” and see several articles….. I say it’s a game we’re losing. Lots of stuff out there.

          • allbuss84

            In FY 2015:
            Total spending is $3.8 trillion. $2.70 trillion is mandatory spending on entitlements and interest on debt. $1.1 trillion is all discretionary spending.

            Of discretionary spending:
            Total defense spending is $609 bil. Under 16% of all money spent.

            60% of all spending goes to Social Security and Medicare.

          • madskills

            You and I pay FICA tax separate from everything else for medicare and SS. It comes from payroll income. Most rich don’t get payroll income or pay FICA, they get medicare for free. I call ss and medicare annuity programs not entitlements, we pay in and take out later. The only reason it doesn’t work as well is a cap on ss payments, that cap was eliminated in 1996 for medicare. If eliminated today for ss, 70% of shortfall covered. If all income, including from stocks, bonds, bonuses other perks(87% of the rich get their money that way), FICA tax would dive for everyone and ss and medicare would be fully funded. Rich like the free medicare too much. We blow $4 trillion on Iraq, blow that on ss and medicare and forget it for the next 100 years. It’s about choices………….

          • allbuss84

            Actually when you pay FICA, it goes into the general fund and is spent in that same fiscal year. The “Trust Funds” are nothing more than accumulated IOU’s invested in special issue Treasury bonds that pay virtually zero interest. Now that all entitlement programs are running catastrophic deficits, we are needing to issue new debt to cover the redemption costs of the IOU’s from the Trust Funds. There is no money.

            The unfunded liabilities on Medicare & Social Security are in the mid to high 14 figures. If you believe the actual government’s own rosy numbers, the Trustee report says the unfunded liabilities are $47.50 trillion. Liabilities so high, they exceed multiple years worth of GDP. Decades worth of total tax revenues. There is no fixing these programs. The Medicare Trust Fund of IOU’s is empty in 9 years. Social Security is bankrupt in 17 years. Cuts will come. I hope we gut these programs or they let me opt out.

            Stealing 15.3% or more of all income I earn for programs I will get a negative ROI on is unjust. It’s not my generations fault your generation decided not to save anything. If we need to spread the wealth, we also need to spread the pain.

          • madskills

            You need to move to Nigeria, fits your financial sense. You’re probably a scammer for the Rs. It would be easy to fix but the rich will finally have to pay. The current funding means 78% of the benefits for ever. Not worth arguing.

          • allbuss84

            You just said those programs were not entitlements, but you want “the rich” to pay even more money without an increase in future benefits? That’s the entire definition of an entitlement welfare program. Clock’s ticking. Running out of Other Peoples’ Money soon. You need to move to Venezuela, everything’s free! Free government health care!

            Noticed you still haven’t explained your fantasy $1.2 trillion defense spending.

          • deafndumb

            I believe FICA is for SS, not Medicare. Up until now, neither program has been self sustaining. Medicare will go bankrupt before SS. The deficits are entitlements. As for the rich free loading, that isn’t the case unless they never worked for pay. In any case even if they paid on their total income, it currently would not cover the deficit although agree that the law should be changed to do just that for everyone. As for blowing trillions in the Mideast adventures, I am with you all the way. Bush Lite blundered, just like the Crusaders did a thousand years ago.

          • madskills

            FICA is 15.3% on all payroll income, even from the poorest worker. 12.4 for ss and 2.9 for medicare. Half comes from employer. If we had removed the cap on ss same time as medicare(1996), no problem with funding both programs… The average worker will not get as much as he put(plus interest) in if he dies at the averages. So it can’t be an entitlement for most of us, maybe for the minimal worker or none worker. Because some don’t work or not fully, makes a large part of the deficit. Damn politicians screwed it up and now bribed by the rich.

          • Zigeunerbaron

            Now. Now boys. Remember that if our politicians could have found honest work I’m sure they would have.

        • madskills

          I paid for my social security and medicare, and I served 4 years in the military for $78.00 per month and it went to $265.. Today I have bladder cancer from Agent Orange and that’s been “fun”. Stop trying to think you can steal the $3-4 trillion put in by the people to pay off debt rung up by politicians or provide low taxes for the rich.

          • Matthew Schilling

            We CANNOT let SS bet lumped in with “welfare”! I say no cuts to SS until AFTER the last square mile of Federal land has been turned over to the SSA. Can’t pay your bills Fed Govt? Sell some assets!

    • deafndumb

      In a protracted general war, money loses its relevance. No one in 1939 could imagine what WW II was going to cost us, but we did it regardless and the economy flourished. Remember, the vast majority of defense dollars do not leave the US, except when you (I refuse to) shop at the likes of Walmart.

      • dpaul

        Really, a protracted general war in the age of nuclear weapons it seems unlikely.

        • deafndumb

          As in WW II, both sides had biological and chemical weapons in plentiful supply but both sides realized that as in WW I, retaliation was certain so no one used them. I suspect the same will apply in WW III should that come to pass.
          I agree that had Obama succumbed to his urge to reduce our arsenal to only 900 weapons, the temptation would be great to strike us without a prior diplomatic escalation, let alone a military confrontation.

          • dpaul

            If there is a WWIII, there will be no winners only losers.

          • deafndumb

            Only time will tell. Clearly the US came out of WW I and II as winners.

  • 1coolguy

    So, apparently they figured the cost of these rounds AFTER the guns were spec’d? Ugh, government. As a taxpayer, this pisses me off. It should piss off a lot of people at the pentagon and heads should roll, but they won’t, because there is no accountability. Who knows, maybe Trump can change this thinking.

    • Ctrot

      No the cost of the rounds skyrocketed when the number of ships that would use the round dropped from ~30 to 3.

    • deafndumb

      No, the cost increased dramatically because instead of 32 ships we are only getting three and the number of rounds per ship was also reduced. Actually, although the Zumwalt seems to be snake bitten, we need to build more fire support ships for our Marines. Think of what they could do in the Persian Gulf or in the Yellow Sea against North Korea.
      Sorry Ctrot, I didn’t see your comment until I had posted mine. Did not mean to steal your thunder!

      • allbuss84

        Actually the costs haven’t changed at all. It’s just BS accounting that changes. The R&D is a sunk cost and should be irrelevant at this point, since now that the round is canceled, the money is still just gone. The cost to manufacture is roughly the same whether you build 2000 or 20000 or 200000. With economies of scale, there are some savings for actual production, but nothing compared to splitting R&D costs per round.

        Every time we do this, we just end up wasting all the R&D money because the program looks like it is more expensive to build stuff when there’s little difference, and everything just gets canceled.

        We need to fire all of the government accountants and use GAAP instead of BS government math. We fake numbers to make military equipment appear more expensive, and fake numbers to make our welfare programs appear to be solvent when they’re not.

        How is this ship supposed to do shore bombardment when the maximum gun range is now 25 miles instead of 100?

        • deafndumb

          I partially agree with you but two points: programming CNC machines and setting up the production line is, like R&D a one time cost, which has to be amortized over the production run, so the more you build, the lower that cost per round. Second, similarly the R&D cost must be amortized per round . I imagine that it is the major item in the exorbitant $ 800K final cost.

  • delta9991

    Glad to see AGS and the Zumwalts will still have some teeth aside from just the VLS. Probably means the Navy will opt for the Excalibur N5 for its Guided 5in Round program as well. Nearly identical hardware and software between classes can drive down the cost for both the Navy and the Army. Great decisions here. Who knows, maybe a large procurement run could also fund additional developments like laser, radar, or IR seeker heads to expand the flexibility of the magazines.

    • Curtis Conway

      AMEN, should have been a DoD programmatic decision a decade ago. Drain the Swamp!

      • delta9991

        I see what they were trying to do with it, considering LRLAP’s range compared to the Exalibur, but i’m right there with you on “drain the swamp”. As soon as this hull got cut down to 3 ships, we shoulda been looking for other solutions rather than a new purpose built round. There’s merit in keeping a competitor in the game, but this isn’t some newfangled technology and Lockheed is hardly hurting for resources in their missile department.

        • @USS_Fallujah

          Agreed, They needed to be more proactive on this and had the new ammo selected in time to make needed design modifications before installation & commissioning. Also going from $1,000,000 a shot to $250,000 shouldn’t count as savings, it’s like saying you’ve “saved” blood by cutting your femoral artery instead of the jugular.

          • delta9991

            Army paid about 65-70K for each Excalibur it bought in FY17. I bet we’ll see some modifications to the basic design so I wouldn’t expect the Navy to pay more than 80K for each round. 250K is if you include all R&D costs, which isn’t reflective of the purchase price of each round.

          • allbuss84

            How is this ship supposed to do shore bombardment when the maximum gun range is now 25 miles instead of 100 mi?

            This round is useless for the job the gun was supposed to do.

          • delta9991

            How do we ever do it now when our guns can only a 5in, unguided shell 15 miles? When the navy was buying 30 of the zumwalts, a new round made decent sense. No longer with only 3 ships. It’s not the original round no, but it’s good money by the navy to buy a good system that provides increased capabilities over its current inventory of rounds and keeps its tech demo ships armed. You sound like you need something to complain about though, since the “expensive, new, unproven” round was taken away from you, so keep going hog wild about sensible decisions.

          • allbuss84

            How do we do it now…? We don’t. We don’t have the capability this ship was supposed to deliver. That was the entire point of the platform. I’m not sure how survivable this DD would have been if it actually tried to bombard the shore at 100 miles, but I know it’s a lost cause getting within 25 miles.

            “I know you can’t complete the mission for which this ship was designed with your new excaliber round because the range is too short, but cheer up, you can fire a little farther than the other ships that couldn’t do the job either… Then again, those other ships carry a lot more missiles than you do”

            We just made a $3 bil platform useless because of paper R&D costs that are now completely wasted.

          • the great kazoo

            Especially on a lightly armored aluminum ship.

        • Curtis Conway

          Common Excalibur technology in multiple formats, with rocket assist, coming out of a lot of different tubes. Now there is an idea that it took . . . what to dream up? Drain The Swamp!

  • Corporatski Kittenbot 2.0

    a couple hundred grand for an artillery round is still stunningly expensive.

    • Donald Carey

      Not to mention that it is dependent on having functioning GPS satellites.

    • allbuss84

      The LRLAP was not an artillery round, it was a guided rocket fired out of a cannon. It also had 4 times the range of this Excalibur round. The Zumwalt is useless if it needs to get within 25 miles of the target. Regular artillery will sink the damn ship.

      • Burnerjack

        So, its a hyper velocity solid propellant guided missile?

  • michaelNYCUSA

    Does anyone know whether the modifications to the barrel will also allow the firing of ordinary rounds as well? That should help costs as well

  • KillerClownfromOuterspace

    Creeping decrements in capability. So the DDG1000 was envisioned as something that could get close to shore and fire rounds miles inland. Now she will be too close to shore to risk in anything but a low threat environment.

    • allbuss84

      This whole ship is now ridiculous. They cut VLS to save money. They cut CWIS to save money. Now they cut the shore bombardment gun that the ship was built around. What is the purpose of this ship now? Not enough VLS to compete with a Burke and less radar capability too.

      • KillerClownfromOuterspace

        It’s the machine that goes “bing”.

  • John B. Morgen

    Maybe they could come up with a new 16-inch shell that could be laser guided, and build a new generation of battleships. A new warship class that makes a lot sense than the Admiral Zumwalts.

    • Secundius

      Or Maybe there a “Method to the Madness” in the Classification of “Destroyer”, instead of “Cruiser”. Consider the ‘Admiral Kuznetsov’ class “Large Aircraft-Carrying Missile Cruiser”, instead of “Aircraft Carrier”. Get’s you in Places where the Other CAN’T…

      • John B. Morgen

        The Zumwalts should have been classified as CLGHs and not as DDGs. As for the Russia’s only aircraft carrier, it’s a CV—period.

        • Secundius

          I’m not Disputing the Logic? ONLY the Method that Lead to the Logic…

          • John B. Morgen

            The United States Navy has thrown away the book, when it comes down to classifying warships. The Navy has lost its mind and logic; which destroyed the old method of classifying warships. I am referring to the Washington/London Naval Treaties from last century, which brought a clear method and logic of classifying warships.

          • Secundius

            The Washington/London Naval Treaty was Largely Ignored after 1942. Japan was the First country to Formally Drop-Out of the Treaty in 29 December 1934, followed by Italy in 1936. The Current Naval Treaty, called the “United Nations Law Convention on the Law of the Sea” or simply “LOST” (Law Of the Sea Treaty). Was first signed in 1994, with the Last Ratification of that Treaty by the US Senate in 2013. BLAME the US Senate…

          • John B. Morgen

            Both the Washington and London Naval Treaties were cancelled at the out break of World War II, and not in 1942.

          • Secundius

            Follow-up! The LOST was included into the UNLOS III Treaty, which the US Senate has “YET” to Ratify…

          • John B. Morgen

            The UNLOS III is not needed; especially, when the EEZ concept has already been established, and has been accepted as part of international law.

          • Secundius

            Ironically BOTH the PRC, the Russian Federation (or at Least Moscow’s part) Did and Parts of NATO “DID”.

            Oh, Yeah. Almost forgot, UK Defense Journal dated 16 December 2016. Announced that the USMC will be Supplementing the Air Wing Complement of BOTH “QE” and “POW”. But NO Numbers are Given…

          • John B. Morgen

            I did read something about the USMC will be embarking some F-35Bs for duty missions on board the British aircraft carriers, and yes, the article did not state how many aircraft. I guess, a full air wing until the British get their act together. Or the two aircraft carriers will be jointly operated by both the British and Americans, with the British manning the carriers. This is possible because I think the Royal Navy is in motion of fading away, caused by British government served cuts in the Royal Navy’s budgets. The British government is sinking the Royal Navy!

          • Secundius

            Sorry, Comment is being “Redacted” as I Speak…

          • John B. Morgen

            How can anyone have dialogue and exchange of ideas on naval subjects, if people like us are having our comments being redacted, and without being given any reason for such actions. Right now, the Russian Navy is making advent effort to reclaimed its former glory, and while the PLAN is increasing its Fleet up to a level that could challenge the securities of Taiwan, Japan and South Korea; plus, the nation-states in the South China Sea region….

          • Secundius

            New Name “NO-NO”, Not to be Spoken Of. Current Speaker of the House P**l R**n…

          • Secundius

            I’ll try to say it without “Naming Names”?/! Prime Minister of England (2010-2016) “Implemented” PR’s “Path to Prosperity Program” (aka Austerity Program), to the LETTER. Problem! It Didn’t Work, and Nearly Bankrupted the British Economy. Current PM of UK is Trying without much Success to Fix the Problem. Best “Guesstimate” is 25-years to One Generation (40-years) to FIX. One reason why RN Fleet Air Arm Folded it’s Wings and Shipbuilding is Limited to ~Six Shipyards (One Private and ~Five Royal Navy) and Two Tankers being Ordered and Built by Hyundai Heavy Industries Shipyards, SK…

          • John B. Morgen

            The wars in Iraq and Central Asia has bankrupted Britain. The solution is to return to the policies that were used during World War II. The British have to decide what is more important; fighting ISIS and Al Qaeda; or continue with their social programs. They cannot have it both ways because we found out the hard way during the Vietnam War.

    • Secundius

      Actually they do but it’s not Laser Guided, it’s GPS Guided? It’s called the M1156 PGK (Precision Guided Kit) for ~$10-Grand. Its like putting a J-DAM kit on a 500-pound Dumb Bomb, except a M549A1 155mm Dumb Projectile. Range is STILL the Same as a Regular Projectile, but with GPS Accuracy or within ~30-meters of Intended Target. Added Bonus being that the Guidance Unit can “Turn Off” if the Intended Target has Moved and Projectile can be “Recovered” for Later Usage…

      • John B. Morgen

        It is better than nothing….

  • Secundius

    BOTH Oto Melara pf Italy and Diehl of Germany have similar systems that will operate with the 155 AGS. Which is Actually a Navalized Version of the Panzerhaubitze (Armored Howitzer) PzH 2000 SPG…

    • Marauder 2048

      Uh..155/L52 + modular charges vs. 155/L62 + semi-fixed. How are they related?

      • Secundius

        The only difference between an L52 or L62 is the Length of the Gun Tube/Barrel. A 155/L52 is ~8,060mm in length (~26-feet 05.3-inches) and the 155/L62 is ~9,610mm in length (31-feet, 06.3-inches). The M777 Howitzer is Also a PzH.2000 Gun System…

        • Marauder 2048

          And the muzzle energy, and the cooling (rammed projectile in hot barrel) and the rifling.

          • Secundius

            The 155mm AGS fires the Same Projectile Types as the M777 155mm Howitzer. And ALL Naval Artillery Barrels require a Cooling Cycle to Prevent Warping of the Barrel…

          • Marauder 2048

            No it doesn’t. AGS fires rounds using a semi-fixed propelling charge. The M777 fires rounds using modular charges. Totally different. The AGS has liquid cooling to: sustain its firing rate and to prevent rammed rounds from cooking off.

          • Secundius

            The “AGS” and M777 are capable of using BOTH Bagged-Propellant Charges and Shell Casings. The AGS is Automated to M777 ISN’T. The Shell Charge is Olny used to Boost the LRLAP out of the Gun Barrel. At which time Internal Propulsion Motor is used to Sustain Flight. Think of it a Javelin, Dragon or TOW on “Steroids”…

          • Marauder 2048

            The AGS is not capable of using bagged propellants since that would violate the Navy’s IM requirements. There is one and only one propelling charge qualified for the AGS and it is incompatible with any shell other than LRLAP.

            A slew of changes need to be made to AGS to accommodate Excalibur and the Navy will likely have to secure IM waivers because Excalibur does not meet the same IM requirements that LRLAP does. I

            It has to be pointed out that the Navy’s exacting IM standards drove much of LRLAPs cost.

          • Secundius

            Each 6.1-inch 155mm/62-caliber AGS on the “Zumwalt” has THREE Magazines. One for ~600-rounds of LRBP (Long-Range Ballistic Projectiles, One for ~70-rounds of LRLAP’s and 6.555-caliber (~40-inches tall) Shell Casing and One for ~320-rounds of General Purpose Munitions, which are Manually Feed into the Gun System and use Gun Cotton Bag Charges…

          • Marauder 2048

            There is one magazine per gun that is designed to handle LRLAP pallets containing 8 propelling charges and 8 LRLAP rounds. That’s it. ~300 rounds per gun. Check the latest Selected Acquisition Report.

          • Secundius

            Have “YOU” ever heard of the word Redundancy? That why they Placed a Manual Feed System on the “AGS”. incase to Automated Systems GOES Down/Fails…

          • Marauder 2048

            There are backup generators for the automated magazine but it’s still moving around 8 x 330 lbs (LRLAP + propelling charge) pallets.

      • Secundius

        Are you confusing the LRLAP (Long-Range, Land Attack Projectile) with the LRBP (Long-Range Ballistic Projectile) which is ~14-inches “Shorter” in length and was also cancelled…

  • deafndumb

    While everyone seems to applaud canceling the LRLAP ammo, it would be best if the 6″ gun could fire both types of ammo interchangeably. Reducing the range to 30 miles means that it will only go 10 or so miles beyond the beach since the Zumwalt has to stay out of sight and range of conventional artillery. The artist’s depiction is incorrect. What is the point of being close to shore with a stealthy ship that costs billions. With the range of the LRLAP and staying 20 miles offshore, you can now target four times as far. This also relieves the vulnerable F-35 from close air support close to the Marine landing area. As far as the cost is concerned, I suspect that the real cost is not the reputed $800K but much lower, especially if we manufacture these rounds by the thousands, not hundreds.

    • Duane

      Actually, no, the F-35B is not “vulnerable” since it is not going to fly low and slow like a big fat vulnerable A-10, which can be taken down by virtually any SAM or manpad in existence today, and the F-35 (as well as other multi role attack aircraft) already has air launched or dropped munitions with stand off ranges exceeding that of the existing 155 mm round. The SDBII is good for taking out moving targets from over 45 mile range, and the warhead is much heavier (206 pound vs. 48 pound) than the 155mm Excaliber. And the cost of the SDB II is actually less at about $170K per round than the Excaliber.

      The Marines are extremely happy to have the F-35B – a vastly more capable and survivable manned platform than the aircraft the Marines never had or wanted, the A-10.

      • deafndumb

        Think of how many F-35 missions would be required, how vulnerable the supporting carrier task force would be and a host of other issues as well.
        The Marines are dying for the F-35 because right now they have very compromised, limited capability. Their early model F-18’s and even older Harriers are “hangar queens”. the Corps has always gotten short shrift when it comes to equipment. I hope that trump will end that sorry state of affairs.

        • Duane

          Bull-honkey. The Marines most certainly do NOT have compromised, limited capability. They have the most capable and most integrated air support capability in the entire world, by leaps and bounds. The US Army (and every other ground force in the world) can only be jealous of their Marine brethren with their collection of Hornets, Super Hornets, Harriers, and now F-35s to provide air support to their ground ops.

          The old Hornets are the opposite of “hangar queens” so you obviously don’t know the definition of the term. Hangar queens are seldom flown and allowed to just deteriorate. The Marine Hornets have all been used beyond their certified lifetime usage of 6,000 hours and quite a few are now in the process of undergoing “lifetime extension” to gain another 3,000 hours. The Marines had counted on getting the F-35s sooner which forced their hands on doing the lifetime extensions on the old Hornets.

          • deafndumb

            Check the availability of the Marine’s F-18’s. Most are not mission ready. As a former combat pilot when we faced real opposition, I do know what a hangar queen is. The Marines are stripping planes to keep others flying and the ones that fly require far more maintenance because they are so worn out.

          • Duane

            The availability of the old Hornets became an issue because they were so heavily used that we literally used up their life cycles. This came about because of the recent wars in the Middle East which were not part of the plan, and because of delays in fielding the F-35s. It was not because the Hornets were ever “hangar queens” – it was because the Hornets were the exact, 180 degree out opposite of “hangar queens”, being used far more than was contemplated.

            Since then the USMC depots have already done a ton of the life extensions on the Hornets to get them another 50% added on to their life cycles. They will be used for many more years, as it will take until the early 2030s before all of the Marines’ planned F-35 acquisitions are complete.

            Stuff happens … you make do with what you have until you can get replacements. That’s how real war in the real world works. Real war isn’t a video game.

  • Can we first get this thing to F-L-O-A-T?

    Oh and while we are at it adjust the Radar software to make sure it classifies TugBoats as the enemy.

  • madskills

    I can’t wait until they take out a Toyota pickup trunk with 2 bad guys and they did it with 3 rounds….. $750,000.00……………….. If you are going to try and hit something 30-100 miles a way, use a missile. If you want to soften up a beach, use regular artillery………… Wonderful.

    • Duane

      The apocryphal take down of 2 or three jihadis in a Toyota with a million dollar missile is not what our military does. Most likely, our guys will use their M-4s, mortars, and their new passel of ground launched drones to take out those threats.

      The high value munitions will be used primarily for high value targets.

      And by the way, in the “good old days” of World War Two “carpet bombing” many was the mission flown by hundreds, sometimes a thousand or more heavy bombers that resulted in little to no significant damage to their actual intended targets. And which resulted in 20% or higher casualties amongst our bomber crews. That was a time when defense spending accounted for way more than half of our national GDP, whereas today US defense spending is on the order of less than 4% of GDP, plus or minus.

    • Secundius

      So what’s the Alternative Then? Let the Missile Equipped Toyota Pickup Truck SINK the Ship with the Possibility of KILLING “ITS” Crew?/!

      • madskills

        More likely a .50 cal not a missile…. Stay 1500 yards away from the damn coast. And the only ship they can sink are the LCSs at $460 million a copy….

        • Secundius

          a typical Mitsubishi A6M Zero “Kamikaze” less Pilot of WW2 cost ~$65,000.00 USD. Care to Venture a “Guesstimate” the Cost of Ammunition USED to Shoot Down “ONE” Kamikaze…

  • Duane

    I don’t see the utility of the Zumwalt, and apparently the Navy lost its appetite for it which is why the class is now limited to 3 hulls. You don’t field a billion plus dollar “stealth” ship just offshore, where it is most vulnerable to visual detection (even if it supposedly has the radar return of a small boat), to lob quarter million dollar shells (let alone the planned million dollar rounds) just a few miles inland. Far better to place your LHAs a couple hundred miles or more offshore and batter the enemy with F-35s and Harriers (until they’re finally retired) with cheaper munitions, much more stealthy, and with stand off munitions that are much cheaper.

    Or, as we can and have done, fire our million-dollar plus Tomahawks from totally stealthy Virginia class and the remaining Los Angeles class attack subs from up to 500 or more miles offshore and underwater.

    I expect it is mainly pride and unwillingness to admit that the Zumwalt is a pink elephant of retired naval planners that keeps it in the fleet today.

  • RTColorado

    Boy-oh-Boy…having us some fun now. Although all of this is “predecisional” reading the statements in the article is akin to playing poker with your kids…you pretty much know what cards everyone has in their hands. We all know too painfully well all of the problems with the Zumwalt up till now (the Russians are hoping we build another 10 or 12). Now, the main purpose and primary mission of the USS Zumwalt, naval gunfire support, is not only being downgraded…but it sounds like the Zumwalt will be going back into the dockyards for a re-fit of new barrels and other gun mechanisms. Zulu-Bravo

    • deafndumb

      what we really need is updated battle cruisers like the Alaska with 11″ guns and lots of defensive armament

      • RTColorado

        There are two types of ships…Submarines and targets. Large capital ships require too much in the way of ASW protection, otherwise they become the next General Belgrano. As much as the Marines would love to have a few heavy cruisers or even battlehips the Navy can not afford to devote the resources and manpower. Something like the Zumwalt is the best answer, a ship that can cruise with a modern task force, appear on radar and sonar just like everyone else, yet deliver concentrated naval gunfire to support the Marines. The Zumwalt is a good idea done poorly. The idea of naval gunfire is predicated on timely delivery of accurate and heavy caliber munitions. The projectile has to have enough “umphf” to collapse bunkers and literally scare the “bejesus” out of the enemy. Unfortunately, the Japanese in the Pacific demonstrated that naval gunfire is a good supporting arm, but it is not the be all and end all many hoped for. “Smart” munitions are the way forward. although extremely expensive, they are accurate. The development of artillery rounds that are relatively accurate is proving to be both difficult and expensive…then couple that with a hull and systems too complex for sailors to operate and a command structure that is a wreck….and viola…the USS Zumwalt..

  • Andre

    Sigh. So basically the Zumwalt can work in the Persian Gulf only, but not the Pacific or Atlantic, against the Chinese and Russians?

    • Secundius

      And why is that? Unless they (the USN) put the Zumwalt on a “Ro-Ro Ship” and Transport “Her” to the Persian Gulf. It STILL has to Cross a “Bluewater” Ocean…

      • Andre

        I was referring to the range of her main gun given the longer range of the LRLAP rounds…

        The Persian Gulf is a rather confined space with much shorter ranges than the Murmansk or Southeast Chinese littorals…

        • Secundius

          Using Bleed-based Ammunition, range is ~71.5-kilometers. Half again as much if using “Fragmentation Munitions” plus between 80 to 160 missiles, depending on Mission Requirements…

          • allbuss84

            LRLAP range was 190 km

          • Secundius

            As I recall, the LRLAP is a Ballistic Glide Projectile. That can be Guided to its intended target. The Round I was referring about IS also a Bleed-based Projectile. But its a None-Guidance Ballistic Trajectory Projectile…

          • 338Lapua

            And how far do Tomahawks go? 1000 km?

    • Duane

      The Persian Gulf is a terrible place to operate any ship – the waters are too narrow and too vulnerable to attacks from land, air and sea at very short ranges.

      We wouldn’t want to put our billion dollar plus Zumwalt there unless we already had full control of air, sea, and the shoreline.

      • Andre

        Exactly my point…

  • john

    The DOD should just wait until MW lasers and the rail gun are deployed before sending those DDG-1000s into combat.

  • 338Lapua

    ‘Turnings’ is that the brave new gayspeak for rifling?

  • drjon4u2

    I’m sure the Chinese ships will hold their fire until they are 30 miles away, just to keep things fair. Decreasing the effective range of the main armament by 1/2 really will limit the capacity of these ships.

  • SierraSierraQuebec

    So let me get this straight, the AGS goes from vertical only to turreted so it can fire standard 155mm types, but then gets modified further so it can only fire LRLAP, and will now be modified back to fire a standard form Excalibur? Will the modifications allow standard projectiles again, or just an Excalibur round?

    How about the ability to fire anything based on a standard form factor, 100km LRLAP, 50km Excalibur, 40km Base Bleed, 30km conventional. Wasn’t that the original point, a bigger gun and the whole of a standard pool of ammunition? Then start the long term conversion to the 155mm caliber used by the Army and Marines with RAVEN breech vented replacements for the 5″ guns (effectively doubling the muzzle energy for a given projectile with the same recoil load) with the requisite change to a 10 round loader in the Mk45 turret, and from there any number of improvements or outright new developments.

    And please, stop this fantasy that an HPV will cost only $25,000, even if the can be made to work they will cost a similar amount to any other anti-air weapon and likely with restricted modes of use. Didn’t they originally claim AGS’s guided rounds would cost X tens of thousands each? Isn’t this sounding like a broken record? They could easily cost twice that of a LRLAP, since the specs would be much more difficult to achieve. Spend the money to get lasers and small caliber electromagnetic (or conventional) guns with non-sensored course corrected projectiles to work.

  • SierraSierraQuebec

    If you really want land strike and exploit the real potential of firing a weapon out of a gun, you really need a long barrelled cannon in the same class as the Paris/V3/HARP/Babylon type weapons firing a minimally useful 100lb projectile to the upper atmosphere out of a 12″ equivalent muzzle energy gun. In glide shell form the projectile could economically reach continental ranges of 2500km, way beyond aircraft carrier or cruise missile ranges and putting everything but hardened targets in even the largest countries at risk, potentially a deep air battle added to a deep land strike. This is the gun the DDG-1000’s needed and still need, the 155mm caliber is better suited to frigate, corvette, gunboat type ships operating with amphibious ships.

    The big gun also could fire 250-500 lb Excalibur/LRLAP type projectiles costing the same as the 155mm versions, or for that matter, a boosted hard target penetrator, up to 100-200kms depending on specs.

  • Andrew Doolittle

    60 miles says “tactical nuke” to me…and a great many of them.

    If hyper-velocity is added the fallout could be limited as well via deep penetration.

    All from a “plain old surface combatant with a canon.”

    Good luck defending your entire surface fleet from just one Zumwalt armed with airburst nukes.

    Plus you have an emp weapon as a “kicker”.

    Too bad the Navy has only 3.

  • Burnerjack

    One question I have to ask: If the Zumwalt is dependent on the LRLAP to be effective, was this cost known before the first keel was laid? “There’s something rotten in the state of Denmark”.
    Goes against my every instinct, but sometimes I have to wonder if it would be better if the development and production of such things were nationalized and were made wholly internal to the DoD.

    • Secundius

      The “Keel” of the “Zumwalt” was laid in 2011 and Commissioned in October 2016. Appropriations Budget for the LRLAP was good through 2015. The 2013 Sequester KILLED the 2016-2017 Appropriations Budget for the LRLAP, 150 LRLAP’s were suppose to be manufactured at the 2015 Appropriations Budget of ~$113-Million USD. But Cost Overruns reduced the purchase to only 90, approximately 15 per Gun…

      • Burnerjack

        I guess I have to ask a basic, glaring question: HTF can a projectile, even a sophisticated guided type cost so damned much?! I realize the whole distributed cost thing, but geez Louise! after R&D and manufacturing is set up, aren’t you just knocking off copies? If its a no-go, does the contractor eat the development costs? Doesn’t seem possible. So if those costs have already been covered, how can bangin’ out copies cost so much? Did the contractor assume there was too much on the table for the DoD to walk away from the pot. Thinking of the F-35, is this the general thinking? If so, kinda lends credibility to the out of control MIC Eisenhower warned about.

        • Secundius

          Who “Else” was the US Navy going to buy from. The “Buy America” Act of 1933, favors American Vendors before Foreign Vendors. The British Cancelled their Program and Italy only had one in the 5-inch diameter size…

          • Burnerjack

            I totally get that. A defacto monopoly.
            Again, “Should the program be taken over and produced completely internally by the DoD? A total departure from the system framed by capitalism, sure, but would the national interest be better served?”
            That’s the question I think needs serious consideration at this point.

          • Secundius

            Senator John McCain has been trying from at least 1995, to Modifiy if not Completely Get Ride of both the “Buy America” Act of 1933 and the “Jones” Act of 1920. His Current Wife Mary-Lou Harris McCain, among other things being Rich “Dabbles” in the Arms Trade. She also Own’s “Anheuser-Bush”…