(Antfer) #1

16 September 2019


150-kilowatt class on the Zum-
walts. As some of the first ships
with an Integrated Power Sys-
tem that generates up to 78
megawatts—enough to power
thousands of homes—the destroy-
ers need a capacitor system to
store and then quickly surge
power to a laser.
Although not powerful enough
to meaningfully damage larger
ships, a 150-kilowatt laser could
be used against drones, incoming
missiles, and small, swarming
boats, like those favored by Iran’s
Revolutionary Guard Corps.
Lasers can burn holes in ship
hulls, torch f lying drones, slice
off control surfaces, and explode
the propellant or warhead in an
incoming missile.
Ultimately, the Zumwalts will
act as “bridge” ships between the
old Navy and a Navy equipped
with lasers, railguns, and other
energy-intensive weapons. The
ships will mix both chemical-
energy (gunpowder) and electri-
cal-energy weapons on the same
platform. In 20 or 30 years, the
Navy may not build ships with
chemical-energy weapons at all.
Meanwhile, the Navy is taking
a wait-and-see approach to the
two Advanced Gun Systems on
each ship. The service is waiting
for a “new bullet” that offers the
“longest range possible for land
attack strike and surface war-
fare,” per Navy officials. This
would likely be a rocket-propelled,
guided artillery shell capable of
engaging moving enemy ships at
very long ranges or fulfilling the
ships’ original mission.


What’s Inside a
Destroyer, Anyway?

As Chief of Naval Operations from 1970 to 1974, Elmo “Bud” Zumwalt introduced “Z-grams”:
Navy-wide messages that authorized facial hair, introduced beer-dispensing machines to
barracks, and established two destroyer squadrons that gave promising young officers the
opportunity to command sooner. Zumwalt also pushed for racial unity in the Navy and
advocated for expensive, high-tech ships to be supplemented with cheaper ships that could
take on lower-priority missions. His vision is reflected in today’s fleet of guided missile
destroyers and littoral combat ships.

The Zumwalt packs two 155-
millimeter Advanced Gun Sys-
tems, long-range cannons
designed to bombard targets on
land with precision at a rate of up
to 10 rounds a minute. The guns
live in covert mounts that con-
ceal the 31.5-foot-long howitzer
barrel from the probing beams of
enemy radars. Upon command,
doors open and the guns rise up,
ready to shell distant targets at
ranges of up to 83 nautical miles.

The hull-mounted, dual-frequency sonar can spot underwater
submarines, avoid mines, and paint a 3D, 360-degree view for
the Zumwalt’s defense systems.

The Integrated Power System (IPS)
powers the entire ship. The main power
is provided by two Rolls-Royce MT-
marine gas turbine engines—cousins of
the engine that makes the Boeing 777
sing—which together generate 104,
shaft horsepower. The IPS can deliver
a total of 78 megawatts for propulsion,
sensors, weapons, and ship services.

The ship is armed with 80 Mark
57 vertical launch systems:
armored missile silos capable
of launching SM-2 and SM-
surface-to-air missiles, Evolved
Sea Sparrow short-range air
defense missiles, Tomahawk
land-attack cruise missiles, and
the Vertical-Launch ASROC
anti-submarine rocket. It also
carries the Long-Range Anti-
Ship Missile.





The U.S. Navy is cur-
rently testing a railgun
that uses pulses of
electricity to sling pro-
jectiles at speeds of
4,500 to 5,600 mph.
A railgun could bom-
bard enemy forces
on shore as well as
target missiles, air-
craft, and even other
ships. Another option
is a shipboard laser: In
2016, the 30-kilowatt
Laser Weapon System
(LaWS), the first oper-
ational laser weapon,
went to sea on the
USS Ponce. Zumwalt
has megawatts to
play with, meaning it
could embark much
more powerful laser


Meet the man behind the machine.

The USS Zumwalt is built to take on
enemies at extreme ranges and has
the juice to power a new generation
of weaponry. Just look at its guts.