DDG(X): The US Navy’s New Plan for a Warship Armed With Lasers?
DDG(X): The Future of the America’s Fighting Force At Sea? On Thursday, the U.S. Navy came out with more details on its new surface warship and the weapons it wants to put on it. Hypersonic missiles, lasers, and advanced sensors are just some of the new systems and features the Navy wants for the fleet of new warships.
DDG(X): The Future of the Navy?
Envisioned to be “lethal, affordable, upgradable, and sustainable,” the DDG(X) is designed as the ultimate testing ground for a new generation of weapons systems and sensors that if are found to effective, they could proliferate in the fleet and replace legacy systems found today on the Navy’s Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers.
“In order to understand DDG(X) and the need for it, you really need to talk about the large surface combatant as a whole. Flight III is going to be in the fleet through the [2060s]. So, the threat is going to continue to evolve. And there will be new threats out there. We on the Navy side will continue to evolve our combat and other capabilities to deter the threat. And we will need a platform that can accommodate those new technologies,” Katherine Connelly, the deputy program manager of the DDG(X) Next Generation Ship, said during a briefing at the Surface Navy Association symposium, according to the USNI.
The Navy is looking for capabilities that are going to be needed on the battlefield of the 21st century, such as increased missile capability sensor growth, directed energy weapons, increased survivability, and increased power availability, Navy officials said. But new frontiers present new challenges. For example, directed energy weapons, or lasers, require a lot of power to operate and sustain. A way to solve that problem would be to make the weapons more efficient so that they require less power. Another way would be to increase the power output on warships by installing nuclear reactors. Which path the Navy takes is still unknown.
“The first ship will focus on a new hull form and a new integrated power system. We will use the proven combat system from the Flight III ship so we are designing the ship with the flexibility and the margins to accommodate the future of the Navy and the needs for where we’re going,” Connelly added.
DDG(X) Faster and Farther
Besides the new advanced weaponry and sensors, it wants to put on the DDG(X) warships, the Navy wants them to be faster and more effective than ever.
According to the new information, the new warship should be able to travel 50 percent farther and remain in station 120 times longer. To achieve that, the Navy is seeking to cut fuel usage by 25 percent compared to its current fleet of destroyers. As far as operational environments, the Navy is looking to build a vessel that would be as effective in the arctic and open ocean as it would be in littoral and tropic waters.
1945’s New Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a defense journalist specializing in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate.