Important decisions regarding technology, operational requirements and the industrial base impact of the U.S. Navy’s Zumwalt-Class lead destroyer are worth reviewing and learning from, according to Potomac Institute’s Board of Regent Member and Senior Fellow, John Young.
Young’s commentary appeared in Defense News, where he says many concerns and sensational projections about the technical risk and cost of the new destroyer have been wrong.
According to Young, the destroyer program has had its share of critics, but the Zumwalt-class destroyer shows success in several areas:
Technology: The DDG 1000 relies on many new technologies but didn’t have cost growth like other DoD programs and is delivering those new technologies. Just as importantly, the program confirms “the importance of technology maturation and prototyping.” The program was well-structured and relied on models for key systems.
Operational Requirement: Critics said there wasn’t a need for a gunship in today’s warfare. But the DDG 1000 gives defensive support to the littoral combat ship, which has no defensive capability. Importantly, Young adds, the hull for this destroyer would evolve into a future cruiser.
Industrial Base: Critics derailed the Navy's "coherent and carefully considered strategy," which was geared toward giving the Navy the ability to perform missions in the littorals, to evolve to a fleet of cruisers with more capability and survivability, and to sustain a stable industrial base. When reviewing the changes and restarts to the shipbuilding and planning efforts, the projections about the new destroyers technical risk and cost have been shown to be inaccurate.
Young finishes the piece stating that decisions the Navy made in the context of the DDG 1000 program are worth reviewing, because what is being delivered is a very capable destroyer.
Before his current association with the Potomac Institute, Young previously served as the U.S. Navy's assistant secretary for research, development and acquisition. He is the principal in JY Strategies LLC.