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More Arleigh Burkes, Please

June 3, 2008

The Navy is having a tough time selling its $3-$5 billion Zumwalt class “destroyer” to Congress. From Defense News:

The Navy has never articulated a simple and forceful argument explaining the need for the Zumwalt-class ships, under development for more than a decade. Many officers remain confused about the destroyer’s abilities and intended use…

“I’ve never heard of a $3 billion destroyer,” (Sen. John) McCain has said on several occasions…

The Burkes are cheaper – $1.6 billion vs. $3 billion or more – and remain the world’s most advanced warships, with the exception of the DDG 1000s. Some suggest new Burkes could replace early Flight I and II models, which don’t have helicopter hangars, and could be built with open-architecture combat systems and extensive fiber-optic cabling and designed to be operated by smaller crews.

The Navy says no. Officials say the price tag for new Burkes could reach $2 billion apiece because the production line already has begun to close down. And at such prices, the Navy says, the Zumwalts would be better fighting value.

My own thought is, we have enough battleships in the fleet already, able to launch a combined fire power of near 10,000 missiles against any potential foe. No other nation on earth deploys ships such as these, save for Russia which has a handful of old Cold War types. A freeze on Big Ships is long overdue to build up the littoral capabilities of the Navy. If the Admirals wish for Congress to take their shipbuilding plans seriously, they need to start taking an interest in the wars we are fighting now.

That said, if we must have more super destroyers, keeping the Burkes in production for however long is the way to go. I sincerely believe that the type of platform we build isn’t as important as the weapons it carries. For instance, it doesn’t matter if a late model F-16 or a stealthy F-22 is armed with AMRAAM, both are equally potent. The missile just needs a ride to its target. So it is with the cruise missile, which I think will be the future decider in any major war at sea. If the Navy wants stealth, let them build submarines.

H/T to Noah Shachtman.

Galrahn has more.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. charbookguy permalink
    June 3, 2008 3:06 pm

    Thanks Mrs. D!

  2. Mrs. Davis permalink
    June 3, 2008 12:17 pm

    Not to mention the value of riding the learning curve.


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