Saturday, September 10, 2005

Now this is government waste I can support

Michael Goldfarb writes in the Weekly Standard about the new U.S Navy Destroyer DD(Rex) stealth destroyer - the next generation of naval warfare (artist's rendition on the right). Goldfarb discusses the key features:

DD(X) is designed to be the quietest surface ship in the fleet. The ship will be quieter even than the Los Angeles class submarines. More remarkable, however, is the ship's unique design, which will greatly enhance its ability to remain invisible to electronic surveillance. To reduce the ship's radar signature, the ship's designers have eliminated right angles from the deck. In addition, the ship's superstructure is built out of a composite material of wood and plastic--the effect of which is both to absorb radar and lessen the overall weight of the ship (leaving room for future, weight-intensive improvements).

Perhaps the most visibly striking feature of the DD(X) is its wave-piercing, tumblehome hull form. The tumblehome hull has a twofold effect. By having the hull slope inward from the waterline, the hull's exposure to waves is reduced, which in turn reduces the rocking motion of the ship, making it less easily detected by enemy radar. In addition, the tumblehome hull will make the DD(X) far more survivable than its predecessors in the event of an underwater explosion from a torpedo or mine. The Navy has already tested a quarter scale model at the Aberdeen Test Center in Maryland and achieved impressive results.
DD(X) will be less vulnerable to attacks above the waterline as well. Unlike the DDG's, DD(X) will employ a first of its kind Peripheral Vertical Launch System (PVLS). Missiles are typically stored in clusters at the center of a ship. PVLS, by moving those clusters to the hull, will provide the ship with something reminiscent of the reactive armor fitted to the M1A2 Abrams main battle tank. The PVLS concept has already been successfully tested, and will make this ship significantly less vulnerable to sea-skimming missiles like the French Exocet employed by Argentina against the British in the Falklands and those developed over the last decade by China.

The DD(X) will sail with a state of the art, dual band radar, which is one of the signature features of the new ship--and one of the primary reasons the Navy decided to invest in the DD(X) instead of upgrading their existing fleet of DDG's. The Spy-3 Multi-Function Radar has proven vastly superior to its antecedents in land-based testing. It offers 15-times greater detection against sea-skimming targets, 20 percent greater firm-track range against all antiship cruise missiles (which improves survivability), a 10-times increase in maximum track capacity, and dramatic improvements of performance in jamming environments.

DESPITE ALL THIS, the most intriguing element of DD(X) is its guns. Each 155mm gun will fire a Long Range Land Attack Projectile (LRLAP). The LRLAP has already been successfully tested to 83 nautical miles. Though it only carries 24 lbs of high explosives, the Advanced Gun System (AGS) is fully automated and holds a magazine of 300 rounds. With a rate of fire of 10 rounds a minute, the AGS should be able to provide the volume fire capability the Navy so desperately needs, and with GPS-guidance the LRLAP will be extremely accurate.
Now I hope the Navy builds a fleet of these, and then some. In light of developments by the Chinese navy - it should be the goal of the U.S. Navy to be generations ahead of all other powers in terms of technology and warfighting ability.


No Display Name said...

Hey Mitch:

That is one good-looking destroyer. I'll take your word for it being an excellent piece of military hardware...I'm no expert, and my eyes tend to glaze over when Tom Clancy gets into technical details about the latest tank. I agree though - China could be a problem.

Hey, if you're a fan of the Trailer Park Boys, take a look at my blog:

Pietr said...

The gun probably uses the 'external-burning' self-fueled projectile.
A mate of mine was working on Mainframe simulations of these back in '83.
As for the hull, this was developed in the nineties in the UK.The British Government did sod all except try to sit on it(and the inventor).
Looks good.