The US Navy just put its newest destroyer, the USS Zumwalt, into the sea.
Constructed by General Dynamics with weapons systems and software from other companies, the Zumwalt “DDG-1000” Guided Missile Destroyer is like the iPhone 6 of naval ships.
Its “tumblehome” hull avoids enemy radar while composite armour absorbs it; advanced weaponry strikes from more than 100 miles off shore; linux-based networking in the bridge allows for purchase and implementation of off-the-shelf software; and an all-electric drive system keeps her purring, quiet like a well-fed tiger.
Lucky for the America’s rivals, at about 87 per cent completion, the Zumwalt is not quite ready to start making the rest of the globe flinch yet.
The Zumwalt was originally estimated to cost about $US3.8 billion, but so much technology was crammed on board that its cost has nearly doubled, and after the first three are built, production will stop.
With all the new weapons systems the Navy wants aboard the Zumwalt, planners installed a power plant that could provide power to 78,000 homes (around 78 megawatts).
Such power could enable the first uses of the Navy's magnetic rail gun project, which combines magnetic currents and electric fields to fire projectiles at 7 times the speed of sound.
Computers and automation have reduced the crew to a bare bones 158. (By comparison, the USS Barry Arleigh-Burke Class requires 210 sailors.)
Sean Gallagher of Arstechnica referred to the linux-powered bridge as a 'floating data center' and wrote that it was akin to the bridge on Star Trek's Starship Enterprise.
On the outside, the USS Zumwalt not only looks cool (rule #1), but it's a full 100 feet longer than existing classes of destroyer.
According to the Navy's press release, 'The shape of the superstructure and the arrangement of its antennas significantly reduce the ship's radar cross section, making the ship less visible to enemy radar at sea.'
Construction of the ship required General Dynamics to build a special $US40 million 'Ultra Hall' to hold the pieces.
The Zumwalt's weaponry is tailored for land attack and close-to-coast dominance and will also have a sensor and weapons suite optimised for littoral warfare and for network-centric warfare.
BAE Systems Land and Armaments developed the ship's advanced gun system (AGS), which will be able to fire advanced munitions and the Zumwalt Class vessels have two landing spots for helicopters.
Zumwalt has a peripheral vertical launch system (PVLS), which consists of 20 four-cell PVLS situated round the perimeter of the deck.
And finally, the new Long Range Attack Projectile (LRAP) -- The DDG 1000 will be armed with tactical tomahawks, standard missile SM-3s, and the evolved SeaSparrow missile.
With the 'tumblehome' hull reducing drag and radar detection, along with such advanced weapons, it's like the Zumwalt is the Navy SEAL of ships -- always operating under cover of night, a ninja of the sea.
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