DDG(X) $122M Land-Based Test Site Opens in Philadelphia

March 22, 2023 4:21 PM
Notional Navy DDG(X) hull design. PEO Ships Image

Program Executive Officer Ships opened the land-based test facility for its next-generation guided-missile destroyer propulsion system in Philadelphia, the Navy announced this week.

The site at the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Philadelphia Division will host a $122 million full-scale complete integrated propulsion system for the DDG(X), according to a budget summary of the site reviewed by USNI News.

As part of the Fiscal Year 2020 and 2022 National Defense Authorization Acts, Congress directed the Navy to create a land-based test site to prove out the propulsion system of the future guided-missile destroyer and other ship types like the Constellation-clas guided-missile frigate and the Large Unmanned Surface Vehicle.

The Navy set aside $145.8 million for the DDG(X) program in the FY 2023 budget request. The bulk of that funding was for the land-based demo.

Unlike the current Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers, the DDG(X)’s IPS will not have a direct mechanical connection to the ship’s props. Instead, the IPS will power an extensive ship-wide electrical grid that gives the future warship an extra margin for power for directed energy weapons and high-powered sensors.

The original IPS was developed for the Zumwalt-class guided-missile destroyers that generate 75 megawatts of power via a pair of Rolls Royce MT-30 gas turbines and smaller MT-5 gas turbines. Development and installation of the system was a prime reason the trio of Zumwalt-class ships were delayed in their entrance to the fleet.

The service did not say in its statement whether the land-based test site would feature the same power plant as the Zumwalts.

The announcement is the latest in the development process for what will be the Navy’s first new clean-sheet ship design in more than 20 years.

The service announced the plan for the ship early last year during the Surface Navy Association symposium. The Navy wants to take the existing Aegis Combat System, AN/SPY-6 air and missile defense radar and combine them in a new hull with directed energy weapons and hypersonic weapons.

“We would use a proven combat system on that ship. But we need a ship that has more space and allows for more weight and for capability growth over time. An example might be hypersonic missiles, just based on the size of those missiles. We couldn’t fit those in a current Arleigh Burke, or even a Flight III. [DDG(X) is] a deeper ship, if you will, from that standpoint,” Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday said in September.

The Navy will be the lead design agent for the destroyers, with support from General Dynamics Bath Iron Works and HII’s Ingalls Shipbuilding, USNI News reported. 

The 13,500-ton DDG(X) could cost up to $3.4 billion a hull, according to a November estimate from the Congressional Budget Office.

As of January, the Navy estimated it would award the contract for the first hull in 2030.

“We’re in preliminary design. So, we have about … seven years to iterate on this, as we go from preliminary design to a more detailed design later in this decade,” Rear Adm. Fred Pyle, the director of surface warfare on the chief of naval operations’ staff (OPNAV N96), told USNI News at the time.

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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