The Zumwalt-class destroyer will be the first US naval platform to feature hypersonic weapons, USNI News revealed, citing Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday.
The first of the three 16-ton destroyers will have “at least two sets of [hypersonic] missile tubes inserted on the port and starboard sides of the ship,” by 2025, the outlet wrote.
The tubes will be in the shape of the Multiple All-up-round Canisters (MAC) system installed on four Ohio-class nuclear guided-cruise missile submarines.
Three Missiles in Each Tube
The Ohio MAC carries seven Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles, while the Zumwalt will have three Common Hypersonic Glide Body (C-HGB) missiles in each tube.
The C-HGB is the standard munition for the army’s Long Range Hypersonic Weapon and the navy’s Conventional Prompt Strike hypersonic system. The army is set to field the Lockheed Martin system next year, while the naval variant of the system will be installed on Virginia-class Block V nuclear attack boats in six years, according to USNI News.
‘Blue-water Strike Platform’
Equipping the Zumwalt with the C-HGB launchers is part of the navy’s refocused strategy to make the stealth vessel a “blue-water strike platform.”
The vessel was originally built around two large 155 mm gun mounts to launch rocket-assisted projectiles up to 70 miles (112.7 kilometers) in support of forces ashore. However, the navy abandoned the plan to buy the “specialized ammunition” over cost, the outlet added.
The USS Zumwalt and Michael Monsoor were commissioned in 2016 and 2019, while the third vessel of the class, the Lyndon B. Johnson, is currently undergoing combat system activation. The ship’s hypersonic missile launchers will be built without dismantling the gun mounts.