UPDATED: Navy Can Install Hypersonic Missiles Aboard Zumwalt Destroyers Without Removing Gun Mounts

March 14, 2022 6:11 PM - Updated: March 16, 2022 7:06 PM
Zumwalt-class guided-missile destroyer USS Michael Monsoor (DDG-1001) gets underway in Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Feb. 21, 2022. US Navy Photo

Following an earlier version of this post, the Navy provided USNI News an update on the Zumwalt-class that included the latest plan to install hypersonic weapons on the ship. The headline of this post has been updated. The latest story can be found here.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — There’s enough space and weight margin aboard the Zumwalt-class destroyers to install two tubes for hypersonic missiles without removing the ship’s 155mm gun mounts, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday told USNI News last month.

By 2025, the first 16,000-ton Zumwalt-class destroyer will have at least two sets of missile tubes inserted on the port and starboard sides of the ship without having to remove the guns mounts, he said.

“There’s plenty of room right now for those modules,” Gilday told USNI News during a visit to General Dynamics Electric Boat.

The trio of guided-missile destroyers will be the first Navy platforms to field the Conventional Prompt Strike weapons as part of the Zumwalts refocus as a blue-water strike platform.

Zumwalt gave us an opportunity to get [hypersonics] out faster and to be honest with you I need a solid mission for Zumwalt,” Gilday said.

The weapon is the Common Hypersonic Glide Body (C-HGB) developed for the Army, Air Force and the Navy.

A common hypersonic glide body (C-HGB) launches from Pacific Missile Range Facility, Kauai, Hawaii, at approximately 10:30 p.m. local time on March 19, 2020. US Navy Photo

“With respect to the weapon, we’re hand in glove with the Army so it’s going to be the same weapon,” Gilday said last week during the McAleese Conference.

The Army is set to field the C-HGB next year, ahead of the Zumwalts in 2025 and the Virginia-class Block V nuclear attack boats in 2028.

The three-ship Zumwalt-class — USS Zumwalt (DDG-1000), USS Michael Monsoor (DDG-1001) and Lyndon B. Johnson (DDG-1002) – were designed around two large 155mm gun mounts that would launch rocket-assisted projectiles more than 70 nautical miles to support forces ashore. However, the Navy canceled plans to buy the specialized ammunition over cost.

In 2017, the Navy decided to place an emphasis on turning the ships into a strike platform and leaving the guns aboard.

The hypersonic weapons on the ships will be fielded in a variant of the Multiple All-up-round Canisters (MAC) system. MAC tubes were for the Ohio-class nuclear guided-missile submarines

Rendering of Block V Virginia-class submarine with Virginia Payload Module. General Dynamics Electric Boat Image

The MAC tubes on the four SSGNs put seven Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles (TLAM) in the same space of a Trident-II D5 nuclear ballistic missile. The Navy will put three of the larger C-HGBs larger in the same space, USNI News understands.

The same hypersonic missile configuration will be used on the Block V Virginia-class attack submarines

The third Zumwalt, Johnson, left General Dynamics Bath Iron Works in January to transit to Huntington Ingalls Industries for its combat system activation.

Zumwalt and Monsoor are stationed in San Diego as part of Surface Development Squadron One (SURFDEVRON).

Sam LaGrone

Sam LaGrone

Sam LaGrone is the editor of USNI News. He has covered legislation, acquisition and operations for the Sea Services since 2009 and spent time underway with the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and the Canadian Navy.
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