U.S. NAVY ILLUSTRATION
How the Navy proceeds in 2009 with the planned Zumwalt-class DDG 1000 destroyer program will determine the future
of a number of other shipbuilding programs, as well as the production rate for Virginia-class submarines.
on the planned Zumwalt destroyers, while Lockheed’s
stake is on the proven Arleigh Burke-class platform.
It is yet unclear how the Navy would restart production on the DDG 51, which was slated to end in 2012.
According to July 31 written testimony by O’Rourke,
the new DDG 51s could be outfitted with the 155mm
Advanced Gun System (AGS) that the DDG 1000 is to
carry. With a range of 63 nautical miles, and highly precise guided ammunition, the AGS is a much deadlier
and longer-range gun than the 5-inch gun carried
aboard today’s DDG 51s.
Based on Navy studies, O’Rourke said, the DDG 51
could carry an AGS forward of its superstructure, but
only if its existing gun and missile tubes were
removed. But the 120 rounds the gun on the DDG 51
would carry are far fewer than the 600 on a DDG 1000.
However, the fire-support mission can be carried
out without the AGS. Instead, the Tactical Tomahawk
cruise missiles and precision air strikes could handle
that task, he said.
The Navy also is looking into ways to provide more
fire support from the new Littoral Combat Ships.
At press time, House defense appropriators allocated $500.9 million for advance procurement for the
third DDG 1000, and said the Navy could benefit from
a “skip year” in the production of the destroyer. They
are not opposed to a third one, however.
But the House will have to iron out differences with
the Senate appropriators, who fully funded the Navy’s
$2.5 billion request for the third Zumwalt destroyer and
added $50 million for advance procurement.
Senate appropriators also added more than $300
million for advance procurement of items for future
Meanwhile, already facing a looming shortfall in
strike fighters, the Department of the Navy finds itself
in a more difficult position after problems were uncovered during the summer with plans to extend the service life of Navy and Marine F/A- 18 Hornets.
A Navy review found that keeping A- through D-model Hornets flying longer will require additional
inspections, modifications and a longer time out of
service for the aircraft. To minimize the size of the
overall shortfall — which is projected to peak at 69 in
2017 — the Navy hopes to squeeze 10,000 flight hours
out of each Hornet, instead of the 8,000 hours under
an earlier plan.
But the Navy’s calculations for the shortfall were
based on being able to get 10,000 hours out of the
Hornets and keeping the new F-35C Lightning II Joint
Strike Fighter program on time. That procurement is
slated to end in 2025.
According to a Congressional Research Service
report, entitled “Navy-Marine Corps Strike-Fighter
Shortfall: Background and Options for Congress,” the
strike fighter shortage “could lead to a reduction in the
number of strike fighter squadrons available for service, a reduction in the number of strike fighters in each
squadron, or both.”
To address the gap, Boeing, the producer of the
Hornets and Super Hornets, has pushed for a third
multiyear contract for newer F/A-18E/F Super Hornets