ARLINGTON (Va.) – According to the Navy’s most recent outlook on the DDG(X), the next-generation warship, the Navy plans to launch hypersonic missiles, lasers, and other weapons that are ten times stronger than its existing laser weapons.
The warship, the largest the Navy’s attempted in more than 20 years, is designed to provide the service with the power to drive a new generation of directed energy weapons and high-power sensors that will follow the Navy’s current fleet of Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers. The warship is estimated to start construction in 2028, the Navy told USNI News last year.
“Capabilities that we’re going to need for the 21st century to continue combating the threat are increased missile capability sensor growth, directed energy weapons, which actually require a lot of power, increased survivability and increased power availability,” deputy program manager Katherine Connelly said at a Wednesday briefing at the Surface Navy Association symposium.
The Navy is developing the DDG(X) using the combat system developed from the Flight III Arleigh Burkes that incorporated the new SPY-6 air search radar and the Baseline 10 Aegis combat system.
“To understand DDG(X), and why it is necessary, one must talk about the large-surface combatant in its entirety,” Connelly stated.
“Flight III will be in the fleet through [2060s]. The threat will continue to evolve. There will always be new threats. The Navy will continue to improve its combat capabilities and other capabilities in order to counter the threat. And we will need a platform that can accommodate those new technologies.”
The ship will swap the conventional gas-turbine propulsion system in favor of an Integrated Power System, which is found on the Zumwalt class guided missile destroyers.
On the three Zumwalt-class DDGs, the ship’s gas turbines drive a ship-wide electrical grid that generates more than 75 megawatts of power – enough to light a small town. This technology will be crucial for the DDG(X), which will generate power for directed energy as well as new sensors.
Notionally, the new ship could power up to 600-kilowatt lasers that would be powerful enough to interdict hostile guided missiles.
Initially, the ship would feature a 32-cell Mk-41 Vertical Launch System forward of the superstructure that could be swapped for 12 larger missile cells capable of fielding the Pentagon’s emerging hypersonic weapons being developed for the Navy, Army and the Air Force.
The current DDG-51s field 96 MK-41 VLS cells and USNI News understands that Navy requirements keep the VLS cells for DDG(X) about the same.
The SPY-6 air search radar could expand from a 14-foot aperture to an 18-foot aperture that would increase the sensitivity of the sensor. For future missions, the Navy plans to build a modular payload area.
The Navy is also calling for a ship that can travel 50 percent farther and spend 120 times longer time on station. The plan also calls for a 25 percent reduction in fuel usage compared to the DDG-51 and reduced requirement for the Navy combat logistics fleet. DDG(X), aims to improve seakeeping and Arctic operations. Arleigh Burke destroyers were built to operate in the tropics.
The combat system for the Flight III destroyers has been wrapped in a new shell that will allow it to adapt to evolving weapon systems, Connelly stated.
” When we upgraded Flight III… we used all of the allowance for service life on that platform. All space, weight, and power have been allotted. 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,” she said