This Ship Could Save the Navy
As a replacement for the USN’s canceled Zumwalt super-destroyer, we would suggest the 88 ft. long Stiletto stealth craft. Advantages are obvious, specifically the cost. For one $5 billion DDG-1000 destroyer the Navy could purchase over 800 of the $6 million each stealth boats. For one $2 billion Arleigh Burke DDG, the planned replacement for the Zumwalt, over 300 of the 51 knot swift boats can be bought, significantly increasing the size and fighting capability of our fleet.
We think such small and difficult to spot warships are a more than adequate substitute for larger missile battleships. Today, Big Ships can only survive in the age of supersonic missiles and nearly undetectable submarines by equipping themselves with highly advanced and complicated anti-missile systems like Aegis. Ironically, such sophisticated defenses greatly magnify the radar signature of surface warships, increasing rather than reducing their vulnerability to modern weapons.
Stiletto would take the opposite strategy. Smooth sides, while riding low in the water, plus high speed and maneuverability would give the tiny attack craft an edge which giant battleships can’t match. With the ability to fire most of the same weaponry, such as cruise missiles, SAMs, rockets, and UAVs, they would be formidable in their own right in a sea fight.
Great strength would come in numbers, something the present stretched-thin navy lacks. Utilizing swarming tactics, scores of the missile boats could converge against the smaller number of Big Ships, overwhelming the latter’s’ defenses with a mass weapons strike.
If my theory of the demise of the heavy surface combatant proves premature, this in no way negates the worth of the Stiletto. Such craft are desperately needed in the littorals, with the small vessel able to perform much of the same functions of the new 1/2 billion dollar USS Freedom class littoral combat ship (LCS). Like the larger 3000 ton LCS, she can sail into shallow seas to flush out terrorist pirates. She can also launch SEAL teams from a well deck in the rear of the boat. In an amphibious role, a flotilla of Stilettos would have the ability to launch a Marine regiment on a hostile shore,
Other functions would include mine laying/sweeping, reconnaissance, anti-sub warfare, and almost any role currently relegated to expensive and vulnerable Big Ships. To compensate for the small craft’s short range (500 nautical miles), they would operate with “motherships“, whether a converted merchantman, amphibious ships, or even the newer LCS, which could at least keep up with Stiletto in a littoral environment.