24 July 2008
As predicted by The Nav Log, the Navy has finally admitted that the new, gigantic (14,000 ton) DDG-1000 guided missile destroyer and CGN-X new guided missile cruiser are just too expensive and technically problematic to build as replacements for the existing Burke DDGs and Ticonderoga CGs. The Navy is reportedly in the process of dropping both programs. Latest estimates per copy of the DDG-1000 are $5 billion + each per the Congressional Budget Office. Ouch.
A dozen Spruance-class destroyers – built in the 70s and 80s and dogged by a reputation as being difficult to sail and maintain – were all decommissioned early during the 90s and then promptly destroyed in a move that strongly suggests proponents of the Zumwalt didn’t want them around as a possible reason for not building the Zumwalt.
A refurb of the Burkes and Ticinderogas is estimated to be $200 million per hull (which, based upon previous Navy estimate history, is probably $200 million low). Such refurbs may include some of the new technology that was to be part of the Zumwalts.
Currently, Zumwalt backers are still seeking about $2.5 billion in fiscal 2009 to buy a third DDG-1000. However, according to reports, top Navy leadership wants to cut its losses on the program, which may already cost as much as $10 billion for just two ships. Instead, leadership is said to want to, instead, buy an additional eleven Burkes with the latest mods and updates. The cost of eleven new Burkes wouold cost approximately $ 14.5 billion, or, eleven new ships for less than 50% more than two Zumwalts. Until this news, Navy planners wanted to build a total of seven DDG-1000's in pursuit of numerous technical advances over the DDG-51.
What this move means for new programs such as the problem-plagued Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), P-8 Maritime Patrol Aircraft , and the CVN-21 new technology aircraft carrier remains to be seen. What is certain is that the warfare of the early 21st century has made most past Navy planning obsolete and new military technology increasingly unaffordable.
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