The Zumwalt destroyers, or the Floating Appendix to the old report
A few months ago, in late spring of this year, it became known that the US Congress was not entirely satisfied with the promising project of the Zumwalt destroyers. The main claims are caused by the financial side of the development and construction of these ships. The adoption of the parent DDG-1000 Zumwalt is planned only in 2014, and no less than 10-12 billion dollars have already been spent on the development and implementation of the program. In the light of recent American trends regarding budgetary spending cuts, such expenditures for the construction of new equipment for fleet look, at least ambiguous. Moreover, a number of congressmen are now demanding that the Zamvolt project be closed due to its economic inefficiency. As for the three ships of this project under construction, they are still offered to complete and, so be it, accept them into the fleet. However, the same congressmen are against paying special attention to these destroyers - it can also lead to increased costs.
It is quite obvious that the Pentagon began to save on new projects only relatively recently. A few decades ago, he applied a technique that can be called “make-pay”. In the end, this led to some unpleasant consequences, but now it's not about them. The traditional post-war approach of the US military to the creation of new weapons and equipment implied the achievement of the required characteristics at any or almost any price. By initiating the development of the Zumwalt project, the Pentagon hoped to get a new warship with low visibility for tracking the enemy and solid weapons with the possibility of its modular deployment. As a result, engineers Northrop Grumman, Bath Iron Works, Raytheon and BAE Systems managed to create a project that completely suits the customer. However, the result was dubious in financial terms. In addition, the hull lines and prerequisites for them became the object of criticism almost immediately.
Externally, the destroyers "Zamvolt" to some extent resemble the famous stealth aircraft Lockheed Martin F-117A. The same flat panels, the same clear edges and the same unusual look. In principle, a similar dubious fate can be added here, but further events around destroyers, unlike airplanes, still remain in question. A certain similarity of the concept of external contours of the ship and the aircraft is associated with the requirements of the military regarding the radar stealth. According to reports, the new destroyers were designed to participate in amphibious operations and should be able to covertly approach the enemy coast, followed by a strike from the receiver and rocket armament. However, this method of application raises certain questions. The fact is that the draft of the Zumwalt destroyers is only a meter less than that of the ships of the Arleigh Burke project. Of course, the Zamvolt has a significantly longer body length and is wider than the destroyers Arly Burk, but it does not have a noticeable advantage in the depth necessary for the passage. However, Zumwalt is equipped with the AN / SQS-60, AN / SQS-61 and AN / SQR-20 sonars, primarily designed to track objects at shallow depths.
It turns out that the equipment of new destroyers is still more "sharpened" for work in the coastal zone. Strictly speaking, this was one of the reasons for using stealth technology. The characteristic contours of the ship's hull, as stated, provide sufficient efficiency for dispersing radar radiation. According to official information, the Zamvolt with a hull length of more than 180 meters on the radar screen looks just like a Los Angeles submarine. The noise of the propulsion system of the ship and its propulsion units is approximately at the same level as the boats of this project. Finally, to reduce the probability of detection along the wake, Zumwalt has a special hull, which significantly reduces the outgoing waves from the ship. True, for the special shape of the hull and superstructure had to pay driving performance. For example, the nose of a ship of a specific form does not allow to go at high speed with an excitement above four or five points. Beveling the front of the nose in such conditions leads to "burrowing", which is clearly not a good feature. However, for the sake of stealth, it was decided to make the hull of the bow of the hull just such. Apparently, the calculations showed that at a maximum speed of about 30 nodes the destroyer will not have big problems with lowering the nose.
Another controversial topic is the ship’s energy system. Two gas turbine units manufactured by Rolls Royce provide the total power in 78 MW. Power transmission systems are designed in such a way that, if necessary, you can redirect a certain part of the current to any unit, whether it is a running engine or a weapon system. It is argued that the equipment and armament of the ship may require power up to 55-58 megawatts, but the remaining resources of the electrical system will be enough to move at a speed of about twenty knots. Such colossal indicators of the allocated power are explained by the groundwork for the future. In the future, Zumwalt, instead of artillery towers, should receive promising rail cannons, which are just being developed. To achieve the combat characteristics in which this weapon will noticeably exceed the traditional barrel systems, enormous power will be required, and it is for this purpose that the Zamvolts power system has been provided with such high rates. At the same time, the whole complex of electrical systems turned out to be bulky and heavy. In addition, its cost "ate" a large part of the total project budget. In light of the Congress’s desire to save on everything, the desire of the military right now to ensure the possibility of applying the not yet created weapons became the object of serious criticism. Perhaps one of the congressmen has already made inquiries and found out how much money could be saved on equipping the Zamvolts with their usual power plants and electricity distribution systems.
As for the rest of the weapons of the project Zumwalt destroyers, it is unlikely to cause such a harsh reaction of officials and other fans to save on defense. The armament complex of these ships is based on the Mk.57 modular launchers with which you can use a wide range of guided weapons, from anti-aircraft to anti-submarine and cruise missiles. The maximum ammunition launchers - 80 missiles. The Mk.57 system is a further development of the already operated Mk.19, therefore it should not cause any special complaints.
Yet a far bigger question is the practical use of Zamvoltov, including in battles. In this regard, a promising project falls into economic and practical "ticks". When operating near the coast, supporting, for example, the landing of the landing force, the destroyer still risks being detected and attacked. Given the cost of building just one such ship, we can assume the "interest" of the enemy and its activity in the detection and destruction of Zumwalt destroyers. In addition, a solid stock of weapons and its diversity is also capable of spurring active operations - it is unlikely that any country will want to see a floating missile base from its shores. Thus, coastal work for the destroyers "Zamvolt" is to some extent suitable, but rather risky. An alternative to attacks on ground objects can be the escort of trade caravans or participation in carrier strike groups as a ship of escort. However, in this case, the whole point disappears in stealth technology, because the invisibility of destroyers will be more than compensated by the characteristic forms of the aircraft carrier.
In general, upon careful consideration of the new project of the “destroyers of the future,” it becomes clear why the congressmen are so opposed to it. In general, a successful and interesting project turned out to be too expensive and, perhaps, too new to give out a large amount of money to it. Therefore, the three ships under construction will be assembled and will be commissioned. Unlike other 29, which were in the plans of the Pentagon. Most likely, they will not even be laid - the disputes around the project have reached the point of no return, when military officials should prepare for a “battle” for ships on the stocks that supporters of savings from Congress may soon pay attention to. Thus, the destroyers Zumwalt became another proof of the existence of an unpleasant phenomenon, described thirty years ago. It seems that someone in the American military leadership should brush the dust from the old report of Mr. Spinnay and familiarize himself with it more closely.
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