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September 14, 2018

PROCUREMENT BLUES: Navy’s Revamped Stealth Destroyer Looks Less Stealthy As It Leaves San Diego For Trials.

It’s even worse than the headline promises:

After much fanfare among the mainstream press, the truth about the [Zumwalt’s] watered-down design, tiny fleet size, useless deck guns, and the implications of these factors, among others, became much more clear. As we reported two years ago, in yet another cost-cutting move, the Navy decided to forego the ship’s very stealth concept—which is the major reason the ships look the way they do, cost as much as they do, and have certain design tradeoffs for doing so—and bolt on communications systems and some sensors in a very unstealthy manner. These corner-cutting measures even included the addition of a rickety looking mast above the ship’s deckhouse. Now we are getting our first glimpses of this disappointing configuration.

There are EHF and UHF satellite communications systems (ball like structures) tacked onto either side of the ship’s deckhouse. Atop it, towards the forward edge of the deckhouse are two Tactical Common Data Link communications systems. Between them is the new mast, and no it isn’t a temporary structure. To the rear of the ship, above the hangar, we see the cupolas for the 30mm Bushmaster cannons. These were also downgraded from the far more capable 57mm guns as another late-in-the-game cost-saving move.

So it’s less stealthy and less well-armed than promised, years late, and costs more than anything afloat short of a Nimitz– or Ford-class aircraft carrier.

What a mess.