Report to Congress on Navy’s Next-Generation Destroyer

The following is the Nov. 28, 2022, Congressional Research Service In Focus report, Navy DDG(X) Next-Generation Destroyer Program: Background and Issues for Congress. From the report The Navy’s DDG(X) program envisages procuring a class of next-generation guided-missile destroyers (DDGs) to replace the Navy’s Ticonderoga (CG-47) class Aegis cruisers and older Arleigh Burke (DDG-51) class Aegis […]

The following is the Nov. 28, 2022, Congressional Research Service In Focus report, Navy DDG(X) Next-Generation Destroyer Program: Background and Issues for Congress.

From the report

The Navy’s DDG(X) program envisages procuring a class of next-generation guided-missile destroyers (DDGs) to replace the Navy’s Ticonderoga (CG-47) class Aegis cruisers and older Arleigh Burke (DDG-51) class Aegis destroyers. The Navy wants to procure the first DDG(X) in FY2030. The Navy’s proposed FY2023 budget requests $195.5 million in research and development funding for the program.

Navy Large Surface Combatants (LSCs)

Force-Level Goal

The Navy refers to its cruisers and destroyers collectively as large surface combatants (LSCs).The Navy’s current 355-ship force-level goal, released in December 2016, calls for achieving and maintaining a force of 104 LSCs. The Navy’s FY2023 30-year (FY2023-FY2052) shipbuilding plan, released on April 20, 2022, summarizes Navy and OSD studies outlining potential successor Navy force-level goals that include 63 to 96 LSCs.

Existing LSCs

The Navy’s CG-47s and DDG-51s are commonly called Aegis cruisers and destroyers because they are equipped with the Aegis combat system, an integrated collection of sensors and weapons named for the mythical shield that defended Zeus. The Navy procured 27 CG-47s between FY1978 and FY1988. The ships entered service between 1983 and 1994. The first five, which were built to an earlier technical standard, were judged by the Navy to be too expensive to modernize and were removed from service in 2004-2005. Of the remaining 22 ships, the Navy’s FY2023 budget submission proposes retiring 5 in FY2023, another 12 in FY2024-FY2027, and the final 5 in years after FY2027.

The first DDG-51 was procured in FY1985 and entered service in 1991. The version of the DDG-51 that the Navy is currently procuring is called the Flight III version. The Navy also has three Zumwalt (DDG-1000) class destroyers that were procured in FY2007-FY2009 and are equipped with a combat system that is different than the Aegis system. (For more on the DDG-51 and DDG-1000 programs, see CRS Report RL32109, Navy DDG-51 and DDG-1000 Destroyer Programs: Background and Issues for Congress, by Ronald O’Rourke.)

LSC Industrial Base

All LSCs procured for the Navy since FY1985 have been built at General Dynamics/Bath Iron Works (GD/BIW) of Bath, ME, and Huntington Ingalls Industries/Ingalls Shipbuilding (HII/Ingalls) of Pascagoula, MS. Lockheed Martin and Raytheon are major contractors for Navy surface ship combat system equipment. The surface combatant industrial base also includes hundreds of additional component and material supplier firms.

DDG(X) Program

Program Designation

In the program designation DDG(X), the X means the precise design for the ship has not yet been determined.

Procurement Date for Lead Ship

As mentioned earlier, the Navy wants to procure the first DDG(X) in FY2030, though the date for procuring the first ship has changed before and could change again. Procurement of DDG-51s—the type of LSC currently being procured by the Navy—would end sometime after procurement of DDG(X)s begins.

Navy’s General Concept for the Ship

Figure 1 shows a Navy rendering of a notional DDG(X) design concept. The Navy approved the DDG(X)’s top-level requirements (i.e., its major required features) in December 2020. A November 2022 Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report on the Navy’s FY2023 30-year shipbuilding plan states that “the Navy has indicated that the initial [DDG(X)] design prescribes a displacement of 13,500 tons,” which would be about 39% greater than the 9,700-ton Flight III DDG-51 design.

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CNO: Navy Will Lead DDG(X) Design Effort, Wargames Call for Fewer Large Surface Warships

The design of the next American guided-missile destroyer will be led by the Navy in move that Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday says will reduce technical risk in the program. The service brought in Ingalls Shipbuilding and General Dynamics Bath Iron Works to jointly develop DDG(X), the planned follow-on to the Arleigh Burke Flight […]

Notional Navy DDG(X) hull design. PEO Ships Image

The design of the next American guided-missile destroyer will be led by the Navy in move that Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday says will reduce technical risk in the program.

The service brought in Ingalls Shipbuilding and General Dynamics Bath Iron Works to jointly develop DDG(X), the planned follow-on to the Arleigh Burke Flight III, but the Navy will firmly be driving the design, Gilday said speaking at the DefenseOne State of Defense conference on Wednesday.

“What we’ve done with DDG X is we brought in private shipbuilders, so that they can help inform the effort. It’s a team, but it’s Navy led. And so, both of the companies that produce DDGs are involved in that initial design. Our intent is to go into build with a mature design,” he said.
“I think it’s important that the Navy maintain the lead on design.”

The move for the Navy to take the lead in design is in response to the technical risk the sea service has endured in other ship classes. He cited success with the detailed design of the Columbia-class nuclear ballistic missile submarine being 80 percent complete before fabrication began on lead ship District of Columbia (SSBN-826).

“Technical risk has been a challenge for us, whether it’s Zumwalt, [Littoral Combat Ships] or [Gerald Ford-class carrier], in particular. [In] those three builds, we’ve accepted technical risks and it’s cost us in terms of keeping those ships, not only within budget, but also on schedule,” Gilday said.

The Navy is set on having the next destroyer, planned to start fabrication in 2028, be a new hull wrapped around existing systems as a further risk reduction.

“An example might be the shift from the Ticonderoga cruiser to the Arleigh Burke destroyer, where we use where we essentially use the same combat system, the same weapon system but the hull is different,” Gilday said.
“Our intent for DDG(X) would be much the same, that 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.”

The Navy is pushing for future surface ships to be armed with hypersonic missiles for offense and directed energy for defense — both require more power and more space than is possible with the current Burke hulls — even the 10,000-ton Flight IIIs, Gilday said.

Jack Lucas (DDG-125) launched on June 5, 2021. HII Photo

It’s unclear how many of the new ships the Navy needs and how it would feather in with the existing Flight III ships underway at both Ingalls and HII.

Gilday said ongoing wargames that are testing out the Navy’s developing distributed maritime operations concept are pushing the service to field less large combatants like DDG(X) and more smaller ones like the Constellation-class guided-missile frigate (FFG-62) along with more nuclear attack submarines.

“The trends that we’re seeing — as we take a look at distributed maritime operations and as we take a look at a number of for structure assessments going back to 2016 — are more submarines, definitely more supply ships. In terms of the surface force, we’re seeing a rebalancing. The demand as we war game, as we exercise as we do more analysis is the trend for surface ships is all less larger surface combatants and more smaller surface combatants.

In the short term, Congress is pushing the Navy to buy more Flight IIIs with House pending defense policy bills calling for an up to 15-hull, five-year contract that would extend the class to a total of 104 ships.

At that rate, the shipyards would need to produce three hulls a year, a number Gilday said the industrial base couldn’t meet now.

“Right now, we’re not at a point where the industrial base can support three destroyers a year. They’re somewhere at two, two and a half,” he said.
“We want to make sure if we’re going to put that money down against shipbuilding, that the capacity is actually there. So that money is well spent… sending them a clear signal.”

Gilday pointed to an overall strain in the industrial base for shipbuilding as the limiting factor.

“It’s across the board,” he said.
“We’ve seen challenges with the industrial base, producing submarines on time, on schedule, and within budget. Same thing with aircraft carriers — destroyers are coming around but we still have some work to do. We’re seeing challenges… whether it’s shipbuilding, whether it’s aircraft production, the defense industrial base right now is strained. And a lot of that has to do with the workforce, as we recover from COVID.”

Senate, Navy Pushing for Bath Iron Works, Ingalls DDG(X) Destroyer Team Up

The push to develop the Navy’s next-generation destroyer will be a team effort between General Dynamics Bath Iron Works and HII’s Ingalls Shipbuilding if the Navy and the Senate Armed Services Committee have their way. Instead of competing for the primary contract to build DDG(X), the service wants the two yards to take a page from […]

Notional Navy DDG(X) hull design. PEO Ships Image

The push to develop the Navy’s next-generation destroyer will be a team effort between General Dynamics Bath Iron Works and HII’s Ingalls Shipbuilding if the Navy and the Senate Armed Services Committee have their way.

Instead of competing for the primary contract to build DDG(X), the service wants the two yards to take a page from the teaming agreement between General Dynamics Electric Boat and HII’s Newport News Shipbuilding to design and construct the Columbia-class nuclear ballistic missile, several legislative and service officials told USNI News this week.

On Monday, the Senate Armed Services released its Fiscal Year 2023 authorization bill, which includes language that directs the Navy to pursue the teaming agreement for DDG(X) without naming Ingalls and Bath. But the Navy wants the arrangement for those two shipyards, USNI News understands.

Citing a string of problems with the Navy’s surface ship programs over the last 20 years, the bill’s report language directs the Navy to adopt a similar teaming plan to the submarine yards.

“The committee notes that many recent Navy shipbuilding programs, including the DDG-1000 and Littoral Combat Ship programs, experienced significant cost increases, program delays, and reliability issues due to flaws in the earliest acquisition strategies,” according to the report language paired with the bill that was filed on Monday.

“Accordingly, the committee believes it is critical that the Navy work closely with industry to ensure appropriate design and technical maturity in developing lead ship acquisition strategies. The committee further believes that the DDG(X) acquisition strategy should be modeled on and leverage the best practices of the Columbia-class Integrated Product and Process Development (IPPD) contract, with integrated lines of effort in design, technology maturation, and construction.”

For Columbia, the IPPD construct centers on a digital design tool that allows both yards and the Navy to work from the same set of plans simultaneously to increase the design efficiency and identify production problems ahead of fabrication. While in the submarine teaming agreement Newport News and Electric Boat build different sections of the same boat, in the DDG(X) arrangement, each yard would build a complete warship, USNI News understands.

The advantage would alleviate the growing pains of bringing a second yard in to build the same design after an original award, since all the yards would craft their fabrication plans at the same time. However, the arrangement would limit the work to the two yards and prevent a wider competition for other shipyards beyond Ingalls and Bath, USNI News understands. Some legislators are skeptical of the lack of a wider contest, Hill sources have told USNI News.

The House did not include a similar provision in its version of the NDAA that was approved earlier this month.

The next-generation destroyer is set to follow the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer and Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser, an effort the Navy has attempted since the 2000s.

At the time, the Burkes and Ticos were going to be superseded by the Zumwalt-class guided-missile destroyer and a massive 20,000-ton next-generation cruiser called CG(X). CG(X) was canceled for cost and the Zumwalts were trimmed to just three as part of the Fiscal Year 2010 defense budget.

Since then, the Navy has restarted the Burke line between Ingalls and Bath and adapted the hull to accommodate what would become the AN/SPY-6 air and missile radar in the Flight III configuration. Cementing a strategy for a Burke successor has been elusive.

The most recent strategy, unveiled in January, would take the combat system from the Flight III and the integrated propulsion system from the Zumwalts to create a combination that would be designed to field hypersonic missiles and high-powered directed energy weapons, Navy officials said at the time.

“When we upgraded the Flight III … we took up all of the service life allowance on that platform. All of the space, weight and power has all been allocated. There is not enough room on that ship to put a new combat capability that takes more power or a larger footprint within the ship,” deputy DDG(X) program manager Katherine Connelly said at the time.

“The first ship will focus on a new hull form and a new integrated power system. We will use the proven combat system from the Flight III ship so we are designing the ship with the flexibility and the margins to accommodate the future of the Navy and the needs for where we’re going.”

Report on Navy Laser, Railgun and Gun-Launched Guided Projectile

The following is the April 1, 2022, Congressional Research Service report, Navy Lasers, Railgun, and Gun-Launched Guided Projectile: Background and Issues for Congress. From the report This report provides background information and issues for Congress on three potential new ship-based self-defense weapons for the Navy—solid state lasers (SSLs), the electromagnetic railgun (EMRG), and the gun-launched […]

The following is the April 1, 2022, Congressional Research Service report, Navy Lasers, Railgun, and Gun-Launched Guided Projectile: Background and Issues for Congress.

From the report

This report provides background information and issues for Congress on three potential new ship-based self-defense weapons for the Navy—solid state lasers (SSLs), the electromagnetic railgun (EMRG), and the gun-launched guided projectile (GLGP), also known as the hypervelocity projectile (HVP).

The Navy’s proposed FY2022 budget requested research and development funding for continued work on SSLs, but proposed suspending further work on the EMRG and GLGP programs and requested no research and development funding for them.

The Navy installed its first prototype SSL capable of countering surface craft and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) on a Navy ship in 2014. The Navy since then has been developing and installing additional SSL prototypes with improved capability for countering surface craft and UAVs. Higher-power SSLs being developed by the Navy are to have a capability for countering anti-ship cruise missiles (ASCMs). Current Navy efforts to develop SSLs include

  • the Solid State Laser Technology Maturation (SSL-TM) effort;
  • the Optical Dazzling Interdictor, Navy (ODIN);
  • the Surface Navy Laser Weapon System (SNLWS) Increment 1, also known as the high-energy laser with integrated optical dazzler and surveillance (HELIOS); and
  • the High Energy Laser Counter-ASCM Program (HELCAP).

The first three SSL efforts listed above are included in what the Navy calls the Navy Laser Family of Systems (NFLoS).

The Navy had been developing EMRG since 2005. It was originally conceived as a naval surface fire support (NSFS) weapon for supporting Marines and other friendly forces ashore. Subsequently, it was determined that EMRG could also be used for air and missile defense, which for a time strengthened Navy interest in EMRG development.

As the Navy was developing EMRG, it realized that the guided projectile being developed for EMRG could also be fired from powder guns, including 5-inch guns on Navy cruisers and destroyers and 155 mm artillery guns operated by the Army and Marine Corps. The concept of firing the projectile from powder guns is referred to as GLGP and HVP.

Download the document here.

CNO Gilday: Navy Balancing New SSN(X) Attack Submarine Design Against Need For NGAD, DDG(X)

ABOARD THE NUCLEAR ATTACK SUBMARINE USS SOUTH DAKOTA – A banner over the sonar operators in the control room of one of the Navy’s most technologically advanced submarines declares the attack boat is the service’s “Apex Predator.” The sign – complete with a portrait of the alien from the 1987 sci-fi adventure film “The Predator” […]

USS South Dakota (SSN-790) stand at parade rest during a change-of-command ceremony onboard Naval Submarine Base New London in Groton, Conn., Sept. 27, 2022. US Navy Photo

ABOARD THE NUCLEAR ATTACK SUBMARINE USS SOUTH DAKOTA – A banner over the sonar operators in the control room of one of the Navy’s most technologically advanced submarines declares the attack boat is the service’s “Apex Predator.”

The sign – complete with a portrait of the alien from the 1987 sci-fi adventure film “The Predator” – refers to a package of sensors and quieting technology the service installed for testing aboard USS South Dakota (SSN-790). Commissioned in 2019 as one of the last Block III Virginia-class attack boats, five years ago the Navy chose South Dakota to be the service’s acoustic superiority test ship.

“Stealth is the cover charge, stealth is the price of admission,” then-director of undersea warfare, now U.S. Strategic Command head, Adm. Charles Richard told USNI News at the time.

The boat received coatings that keep the ship quieter, a quieter water jet propulsor and additional sonars mounted on the sides of the hull to increase the crew’s ability to detect enemy ships and submarines, USNI News reported in 2016.

On Monday, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday toured the boat as part of a day-long trip to Naval Submarine Base New London, Conn., and submarine builder General Dynamics Electric Boat.

Overview of USS South Dakota (SSN-790) upgrades for teh XXX program. US Navy Image

Speaking to USNI News en route to the submarine, Gilday said the trip would help him assess the progress in building the Columbia-class ballistic missile submarine and the Virginia-class attack boat, as the Navy weighs the direction of its next crop of attack boats.

While the upgrades over the baseline Block III boat make South Dakota among the most dangerous submarines in the fleet in 2022, its basic design and mission set is more than 20 years old.

The Virginia attack boats were a post-Cold War departure for the Navy to develop multi-mission submarines that had an expanded land-attack capability and special operations and signals intelligence capacity to operate closer to shore. The class was a departure from the bigger, faster and more heavily armed Seawolf-class boats that are still widely considered to be the most dangerous submarines in the world.

Now, with Russia and China both expanding their submarine forces, the Navy is again looking to build an attack boat that looks more like USS Seawolf (SSN-21) than South Dakota.  The service wants larger hull diameter and more horizontal weapons like torpedoes to take on ships and submarines, rather than vertically launched land-strike weapons like Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles.
“We don’t know the specific characteristics that will be in SSN(X). But we do believe that the next submarine will have a large horizontal payload capacity. You can read that as it’s going to carry a lot of torpedoes,” Rear Adm. Doug Perry, the current director of the undersea warfare division on the chief of naval operations staff (OPNAV N97) said in November.
“The heavyweight torpedo will remain the weapon of choice for the submarine for this for the foreseeable future, primarily due to its inherent stealth, its destructive effects in the battlespace, and [it’s] pretty difficult to defend against and it also [preserves] the stealth of launch platform.”

Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. Mike Gilday departs from the Virginia Class submarine USS South Dakota (SSN-790), after a tour of the submarine on Feb. 28, 2022. US Navy Photo

“Submarines are for the foreseeable future going to continue to be our most survivable, lethal strike platform. We’ve taken great pains during constrained budgets in the past several years to eliminate that divot in attack boats that we’re going to see in the late 2020s,” Gilday told USNI News.

EB and Huntington Ingalls Industries’ Newport News Shipbuilding are now working through the Block IV Virginia attack boats that have suffered months-long delays in delivery due to complications from the COVID-19 pandemic and other shortfalls. There was more than a two-year gap between the delivery of the first Block IV Virginia – USS Vermont (SSN-792) on April 17, 2020 – to USS Oregon (SSN-793), two weeks ago.

While the Block IVs are still under construction, EB and Newport News have started the construction of the Block V Virginias that will push the limits of the existing Virginia design by including the Virginia Payload Module, which installs an 84-foot-long extension that will have the capacity for the submarines to field more Tomahawks and eventually hypersonic weapons.

“We go from 12 tubes to 40, which is a significant increase and we start bringing those online in 2025-2026. The third hull will be configured for hypersonics,” Gilday said.

But like the Flight III Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, the Navy is pushing the limits of Virginia’s 1990s-era design and has to decide when it will need to develop a new hull.

“There’s the possibility that this Virginia line gets extended beyond the Block V and the planned 10 Block V submarines. There’s the possibility we continue that line,” Gilday said.
“We’re also looking at SSN(X). That would be a mid-2030s [start]. In the Fiscal Year 2022 budget proposal to Congress, we had [$98] million in [research and development] requested for SSN(X). That’s with respect to advanced propulsion, plant machinery, acoustic superiority that we want to maintain. We need to stay ahead of China and Russia and we sure we can’t lag them. So that’s an important effort, the exact timing when we start building those boats is yet to be determined.”

Notional Navy DDG(X) hull design. PEO Ships Image

However, development of SSN(X) comes at the same time the Navy is looking to design the new DDG(X) guided-missile destroyer to succeed the Arleigh Burkes and the aging Ticonderoga-class cruisers, and develop the Next Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) program, the service’s sixth-generation fighter meant to replace the F/A-18E/F Super Hornets in the next decade.

“That [SSN(X)] aim point is important for the bigger picture as we take a look at other lethality upgrades, Gilday said.
“We’re working our way through the late 20s with respect to NGAD and DDG(X), but there needs to be progress in both of those. In terms of priority, they’re both important. I think what we’ll come down to is the pace that we move through both of those programs.”

While there is a chance the Navy could get more money to develop the new programs as a result of a recently reported budget expansion for Fiscal Year 2023, last year’s assessment from then-acting Navy Secretary Thomas Harker was bleak.

An F/A-18E Super Hornet attached to the ‘Gladiators’ of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 106 approaches USS Gerald R. Ford’s (CVN -8) flight deck on Nov. 1, 2020. US Navy Photo

“The Navy cannot afford to simultaneously develop the next generation of air, surface, and subsurface platforms and must prioritize these programs balancing the cost of developing next-generation capabilities against maintaining current capabilities,” a June 2021 memo from Harker reads. “As part of the POM23 budget, the Navy should prioritize one of the following capabilities and re-phase the other two after an assessment of operational, financial, and technical risk.”

Faced with three major acquisition projects, in addition to the introduction of new unmanned systems into the surface, air and undersea domains, Gilday said he’s committed to a measured approach to the new programs.

“We’re not looking for consecutive miracles here like we’ve done in the past. It’s just too much,” Gilday said. “We’ve seen it from Zumwalt, Ford, even [Littoral Combat Ships], obviously LCS. I’m trying to avoid that with unmanned. I just prefer to get it right, rather than rushing,”

Report to Congress on DDG(X)

The following is the Dec. 9, 2021, Congressional Research Service In Focus report, Navy DDG(X) Future Large Surface Combatant Program: Background and Issues for Congress. From the report The Navy’s DDG(X) program envisages procuring a class of next-generation guided-missile destroyers (DDGs) to replace the Navy’s Ticonderoga (CG-47) class Aegis cruisers and its older Arleigh Burke […]

The following is the Dec. 9, 2021, Congressional Research Service In Focus report, Navy DDG(X) Future Large Surface Combatant Program: Background and Issues for Congress.

From the report

The Navy’s DDG(X) program envisages procuring a class of next-generation guided-missile destroyers (DDGs) to replace the Navy’s Ticonderoga (CG-47) class Aegis cruisers and its older Arleigh Burke (DDG-51) class Aegis destroyers. The Navy wants to procure the first DDG(X) in FY2028. The Navy’s proposed FY2022 budget requests $121.8 million in research and development funding for the program.

Terminology 

Since the 1980s, there has been substantial overlap in the size and capability of Navy cruisers and destroyers. In part for this reason, the Navy now refers to its cruisers and destroyers collectively as large surface combatants (LSCs).

Surface Combatant Industrial Base 

All LSCs procured for the Navy since FY1985 have been built at General Dynamics/Bath Iron Works (GD/BIW) of Bath, ME, and Huntington Ingalls Industries/Ingalls Shipbuilding (HII/Ingalls) of Pascagoula, MS. Lockheed Martin and Raytheon are major contractors for Navy surface ship combat system equipment. The surface combatant base also includes hundreds of additional component and material supplier firms.

Existing Aegis Cruisers and Destroyers 

The Navy’s CG-47s and DDG-51s are commonly called Aegis cruisers and destroyers because they are equipped with the Aegis combat system, an integrated collection of sensors and weapons named for the mythical shield that defended Zeus. The Navy procured 27 CG-47s between FY1978 and FY1988. The ships entered service between 1983 and 1994. The first five, which were built to an earlier technical standard, were judged by the Navy to be too expensive to modernize and were removed from service in 2004-2005. The Navy’s FY2020 30-year shipbuilding plan projected that the remaining 22 CG-47s would be retired between FY2021 and FY2038.

The first DDG-51 class destroyer was procured in FY1985 and entered service in 1991. The Navy’s older DDG-51s, known as the Flight I/II DDG-51s, have an expected service life of 35 years. The Navy also operates three Zumwalt (DDG-1000) class destroyers that are equipped with a combat system that is different than the Aegis system.

DDG(X) Program 

Program Designation

In the program designation DDG(X), the X means the precise design for the ship has not yet been determined.

Procurement Date for Lead Ship

As mentioned earlier, the Navy wants to procure the first DDG(X) in FY2028, though the date for procuring the first ship has changed before and could change again. Procurement of DDG-51s—the type of LSC currently being procured by the Navy—would end at about the time that DDG(X) procurement would begin.

Navy’s General Concept for the Ship

The Navy approved the top-level requirements (i.e., major required features) for the DDG(X) in December 2020. The Navy envisages the DDG(X) as having

  • a new hull design evolved from the DDG-51 and Zumwalt (DDG-1000) class destroyer hull designs;
  • a next-generation integrated propulsion system (IPS) that incorporates lessons from the DDG-1000 IPS and the Navy’s new Columbia-class ballistic missile submarine;
  • initially, combat system equipment similar to that installed on the Flight III version of the DDG-51 destroyer—the DDG-51 variant that the Navy is currently procuring; and
  • more weapon capacity than the DDG-51.

Download the document here.

Report on Navy Laser, Railgun and Gun-Launched Guided Projectiles

The following is the Dec. 23, 2020, Congressional Research Service report, Navy Lasers, Railgun, and Gun-Launched Guided Projectile: Background and Issues for Congress. Three new ship-based weapons being developed by the Navy—solid state lasers (SSLs), the electromagnetic railgun (EMRG), and the gun-launched guided projectile (GLGP), also known as the hypervelocity projectile (HVP)—could substantially improve the […]

The following is the Dec. 23, 2020, Congressional Research Service report, Navy Lasers, Railgun, and Gun-Launched Guided Projectile: Background and Issues for Congress.

Three new ship-based weapons being developed by the Navy—solid state lasers (SSLs), the electromagnetic railgun (EMRG), and the gun-launched guided projectile (GLGP), also known as the hypervelocity projectile (HVP)—could substantially improve the ability of Navy surface ships to defend themselves against surface craft, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), and eventually anti-ship cruise missiles (ASCMs).

The Navy has been developing SSLs for several years, and in 2014 installed on a Navy ship its first prototype SSL capable of countering surface craft and UAVs. The Navy since then has been developing and installing additional SSL prototypes with improved capability for countering surface craft and UAVs. Higher-power SSLs being developed by the Navy are to have a capability for countering ASCMs. Current Navy efforts to develop SSLs include:

  • the Solid State Laser Technology Maturation (SSL-TM) effort;
  • the Optical Dazzling Interdictor, Navy (ODIN);
  • the Surface Navy Laser Weapon System (SNLWS) Increment 1, also known as the high-energy laser with integrated optical dazzler and surveillance (HELIOS); and
  • the High Energy Laser Counter-ASCM Program (HELCAP).

The first three efforts above are included in what the Navy calls the Navy Laser Family of Systems (NFLoS) effort. NFLOS and HELCAP, along with technologies developed by other parts of DOD, are to support the development of future, more capable shipboard lasers.

The Navy has been developing EMRG for several years. It was originally conceived as a naval surface fire support (NSFS) weapon for supporting Marines and other friendly forces ashore. Subsequently, it was determined that EMRG could also be used for air and missile defense, which strengthened Navy interest in EMRG development. The Navy is continuing development work on EMRG, but it is unclear when production-model EMRGs will be installed on Navy ships. The Navy’s FY2021 budget submission requests $9.5 million in FY2021 for continued development of EMRG, but does not appear to program any additional development funding for EMRG in FY2022-FY2025.

As the Navy was developing EMRG, it realized that the guided projectile being developed for EMRG could also be fired from powder guns, including 5-inch guns on Navy cruisers and destroyers and 155 mm artillery guns operated by the Army and Marine Corps. The concept of firing the projectile from powder guns is referred to as GLGP and HVP. One potential advantage of HVP/GLGP is that, once developed, it can be rapidly deployed on Navy cruisers and destroyers and in Army and Marine Corps artillery units, because the powder guns in question already exist.

In addition to the question of whether to approve, reject, or modify the Navy’s FY2021 funding requests for SSLs, EMRG, and HVP/GLGP, issues for Congress include the following:

  • whether the Navy is moving too quickly, too slowly, or at about the right speed in its efforts to develop these weapons;
  • the Navy’s plans for transitioning these weapons from development to procurement and fielding of production models aboard Navy ships; and
  • whether Navy the Navy’s shipbuilding plans include ships with appropriate amounts of space, weight, electrical power, and cooling capacity to accommodate these weapons.

Download document here.