WASHINGTON --- With the DDG-1000's high-technology guns turning into the world's most expensive pieces of ballast, the US Navy is asking Congress to fund a conversion of the Zumwalt class from primarily a land attack ship to an anti-surface, offensive strike platform.
The service’s 2019 budget request includes a request for $89.7 million to integrate the long-range SM-6 missile, which can dual hat as both an anti-air and anti-surface missile and add the Maritime Strike variant of the Tomahawk missile.
The money also funds a combat systems refresh, a datalink upgrade and some new signals intelligence collection equipment. It also goes after some cyber-security hardening and replacing components of the ship’s computing systems that are becoming obsolete.
The 155mm Advanced Gun System which once was the subject of great hopes, will be retained "only in an inactive status for future use, when a gun round that can affordably meet the desired capability is developed and fielded," the funding documents read. No plans to develop such a round currently exist.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: The U.S. Navy initially sold the DDG-1000 concept as that of a stealthy destroyer capable of hitting shore targets at long ranges and with great accuracy thanks to its laser-guided artillery shells.
These, however, proved to be so expensive that they cannot be used operationally, so the Navy was stuck with three ships each costing over $1.5 billion for which it had no use.
This is why the three ships (only one has been commissioned to date) have been re-roled for surface and ASW combat, although this will require substantial modifications costing hundreds of millions of dollars.)