Saturday, May 21, 2016

US Navy’s New Stealth Destroyer ‘Giant Washtub’

Russian military experts have been belittling the U.S. Navy’s next generation guided-missile destroyer USS Zumwalt, the largest and most technologically sophisticated destroyer in U.S. naval history, which will be handed over to the U.S. Navy tomorrow, in Russian state media.  Russian military analyst, critically examines the Zumwalt program and its high price tag:

With an annual defense budget of over $600 billion, the Pentagon can take the liberty of conducting various kinds of experiments, including spending $4.4 billion on a single destroyer. By comparison, one US [Virginia-class] nuclear submarine, the newest in the fleet, costs about $2.2 billion. In other words, they used the budget for two nuclear subs to build one Zumwalt. What can be said? Americans love grandiose projects which sometimes go beyond the scope of reason.

The total cost for the U.S. Navy’s most expensive destroyer program ever is now estimated at $22.5 billion, as I reported previously. In April, a U.S. Navy spokesperson detailed the total procurement costs for the Zumwalt-class vessels, including “$3.8 billion for DDG 1000 [USS Zumwalt], $2.8 billion for DDG 1001 [USS Michael Monsoor], and $2.4 billion for DDG 1002 [USS Lyndon B. Johnson].”  The spokesperson, however, notes that the “DDG 1000 remains well within the program baseline (…).”

The future guided-missile destroyer is allegedly 50 times harder to detect than current U.S. Navy destroyers. However, the Russian analyst is also taking issue with the destroyers’ stealth capabilities:

With regard to its stealth, this is just a fairy tale for fools. Imagine a colossus with a solid wall the height of a sixteen-story building. Given the capabilities of current weapons using space and aerial reconnaissance, in addition to those of UAVs, this giant washtub cannot remain an inconspicuous target on the sea surface.

Once inducted into the U.S. Navy, the USS Zumwalt will be one of the most heavily armed surface ships in the world, capable of striking its targets far inland. Yet, another Russian military expert speaking to Sputnik Radio says that the United States has been exaggerating the ships combat capabilities:

The Americans have presented the Zumwalt as the best warship in history; this of course is an exaggerated characterization. The ship really is interesting in terms of innovation, when looking at its power plant, the types of weapons installed, and its control system. All this really is a breakthrough. But taken altogether, this does not turn the destroyer into a super-menacing weapon. This is a floating supercomputer with missiles…It doesn’t alter the balance of forces.

The USS Zumwalt, the lead ship of the U.S. Navy’s new destroyer class is slated to achieve initial operational capability in October, 2016. One can expect disparaging remarks from Kremlin-influenced Russian media outlets about the U.S. Navy’s newest stealth warship to continue in the months ahead.

By for The Diplomat

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