US Navy Begins Upgrading Zumwalt Destroyer With Hypersonic Weapons

The guided-missile destroyer USS Zumwalt arrived at Ingalls Shipbuilding, Mississippi, last week to be upgraded with hypersonic weapons.

The 16,000-ton warship will be outfitted with the Conventional Prompt Strike (CPS) weapon system as part of a two-year modernization process, USNI News reported, citing the US Navy.

Deployment of the upgraded destroyer is expected to begin in 2025.

The upgrade will see the ship’s existing twin 155mm advanced gun systems being replaced with four 87-inch missile tubes, the outlet added.

Each tube will hold three Common Hypersonic Glide Body (C-HGB) missiles — the common hypersonic munition being developed for US Navy and US Army hypersonic weapon programs.

The navy also plans to arm the other Zumwalt-class warships — USS Michael Monsoor and Lyndon B. Johnson — with the weapon.

Transition From Littoral to Blue Water Warship

The warship was initially built for littoral combat, supporting soldiers ashore with its Long-Range Land Attack Projectiles.

The 155mm precision-guided naval artillery shells were to have a range of 60 nautical miles (69 miles/111 kilometers), costing about $1.8 to 2 billion to buy 2,000 rounds for the three ships.

However, cost overruns forced the navy to reduce the class from 32 to three and drop the expensive advanced gun systems for the CPS.

Conventional Prompt Strike 

The CPS system will be able to deliver a non-nuclear projectile from a sea and under-sea platform over 2,775 kilometers (1,724 miles) away.

The CPS and the US Army’s Long Range Hypersonic Weapon share the common projectile, the C-HGB, which consists of a 34.5-inch two-stage booster and a thermal protection system.

Following the Zumwalt deployment, the navy plans to install the CPS on Virginia-class submarines in 2028.

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