Jul 2, 2020
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The Pentagon equips its marine white elephants with ballistic missiles

The project of the American stealth destroyer as an “absolute disaster”

U.S. Navy officials say they plan to integrate an intercontinental ballistic missile with a non-nuclear warhead into their heavy class stealth destroyers Zumwalt as part of the program KPS (Normal quick punch - non-nuclear fast hit).

KPS - this is the concept of the Pentagon, implying a strike with conventional weapons (ordinary war) anywhere in the world within one hour. Armament KPS they do not replace nuclear weapons, but complement the capabilities of the United States in the class of conventional weapons.

In January 2019, the US Congressional Research Service produced a report entitled “A Fast Global Non-Nuclear Weapon Strike and Long-Range Ballistic Missiles: Background and Problems.” It draws attention to the ambiguity of the concept. KPS: adversary “May misinterpret the launch of a missile with conventional warheads and conclude that the missiles carry nuclear weapons”. This increases the risk of a nuclear response to an American attack with conventional weapons.

Despite doubts about the adequacy of the concept KPS, which poses a threat to the United States itself, the US Congress decided to strengthen the striking power of forces designed to deliver a “quick global strike” with non-nuclear weapons at the expense of three giant stealth class destroyers Zumwalt. Their length is almost 190 meters, and a displacement of about 16 thousand tons. A significant role in this decision was played by the fact that these fabulously expensive ships, put into operation in the amount of three units, did not find their battle niche.


The idea of ​​building class ships Zumwalt appeared after the events of September 11, 2001. These ships were intended to destroy militant bases and training camps, as well as to support the marines. Their main weapon is 80 Tomahawk missiles.

At first, the Americans planned to build 32 ships of this class. Then 24. Then 7. Finally, we stopped at three. And not only because of their high cost: the cost of one such ship ($ 4.4 billion) is almost equal to the cost of an aircraft carrier. Active rockets LRLAP for automatic 155 mm gun mounts AGS (Advanced Weapon System) these destroyers will cost $ 1 million per shell - like Tomahawk cruise missiles, and taking into account the cost of servicing the gun mounts is twice as expensive. A total of 100 shells were purchased for three destroyers LRLAP, after which the concept was decided to radically change. At a congressional hearing, Vice Admiral William Merz stated that AGS became a brake that holds back the development of the platform Zumwalt. As a result, the Navy abandoned the guns AGS and focused on integration with other anti-ship missiles.

Destroyer propulsion system Zumwalt consists of two gas turbine engines Rolls-Royce MT30 and two auxiliary turbogenerators. The installation is designed with the possibility of using a rail electromagnetic gun. During firing from such a weapon, it is necessary to completely turn off all other ship systems. However, firing from a completely deaf, blind and motionless ship is so similar to suicide that this idea is unlikely to be implemented.

The destroyer Zumwalt integrated architecture of the hull-superstructure, which significantly reduces radar visibility. As a result, with dimensions one and a half times larger than that of classical destroyers of the type Arly burkeeffective dispersion area Zumwalt same as submarine type Angelslocated in the water position, that is, negligible. The superstructure of the first two ships of this type is made of a composite radio-absorbing material - a balsa base and cork-wood panels with three-millimeter Kevlar armor, which even a heavy machine gun can penetrate.

The detection range of these ships in comparison with the classic class destroyers Arly burke decreased by 4-4.5 times: it is about 70 km. This does not guarantee ships at all Zumwalt full concealment from the Novella-P-38 search and sighting systems of the Russian Il-38N anti-submarine aircraft capable of detecting US stealth destroyers at a distance of more than 80-100 km, even along a weak wake track. A direction finding Zumwalt with the help of passive sonar stations of Russian multi-purpose submarines, the very concept of an expensive stealth ship is called into question.

Russian anti-submarine aircraft IL-38N

Russian anti-submarine aircraft "IL-38N"

However, not only the high cost and errors in weapons systems have caused the lack of demand for these ships. By the time the first ship of this class was launched, its ground support mission had lost its relevance. Now that the Navy of China and Russia is on the rise, the US Navy is forced to focus on naval warfare, where anti-ship missiles and aircraft carriers dominate.

American military experts even before putting into operation giant destroyers pointed out, to put it mildly, the problematic nature of this project. National interest published an article by military expert Michael Peck in 2015 Battle cruisers: crashed glass ship ("Line cruisers: glass-jawed warships as failure.") The Glass Jaw is from boxing slang; such a nickname was given to boxers who do not hold well.

Michael Peck tells the story of the creation of the class of so-called battlecruisers (Cruiser)whose godfather was the famous English admiral John Fisher. His idea was to combine the firepower of the battleship with the speed of the cruiser due to the weakened armor. As a result, Lion class ships were born. Three of the seven English battle cruisers were sunk in the main naval battle of World War I, the Battle of Jutland. In World War II, the English battlecruiser Hood exploded after a direct hit by the 15-inch shell of the German battleship Bismarck, which pierced the thin deck armor.

"The concept of battlecruisers was vicious already in the bud ... Battlecruisers were eggshells, armed with hammers, which exactly fits the description of modern warships ... which have powerful weapons and defenses, but what will happen if at least one gets into them rocket? They will be sunk or badly damaged. ” - writes Michael Peck.

Commenting on the numerous breakdowns of launched class ships Zumwalt, president and founder of the Adam Smith Institute in San Diego, Mike Fredenburg writes in National review: “From the very beginning, the Zamvolt program suffered from unrealistic goals and an erroneous concept of operations ... If the Zamvolt sustains serious damage and holes in the hull, its chances of survival are much less than other warships of a similar size; he simply does not have enough crew members to do what is necessary to save the ship. Even if he is able to hide himself from prying eyes and is not noticed by enemy radars as soon as he starts to shoot from his guns, his secrecy will be seriously compromised, that is, stable missions to maintain fire from a sea cannon and stealth status are mutually exclusive. In addition, the Navy considers Zumwalt very vulnerable to submarines. As soon as Zumwalt becomes part of a battle group, most of its stealth advantage disappears, because other, less secretive ships appear on the enemy’s radar. Zumwalt is an absolute disaster ”,

After three destroyers Zumwalt finally became "white elephants" (white elephants; the Russian counterpart - the “suitcase without a handle”) of the US Navy, the command of the US Navy and decided to give them at least some sense, equipped with intercontinental ballistic missiles instead of “tomahawks”. However, the meaning of creating such ships has already been lost.

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