Military.com News website has an article (1) about the Zumwalt. It’s just a sales brochure fluff piece but it did mention an interesting point.
Wade Knudson, Raytheon DDG 1000 program manager, had this to say about the Zumwalt’s Mk57 Peripheral VLS system.
“The ship is also built with a new kind of vertical launch tubes that are engineered into the hull near the perimeter of the ship. Called the Peripheral Vertical Launch System, the tubes are integrated with the hull around the ship's periphery in order to ensure that weapons can keep firing should the ship be damaged. Instead of having all of the launch tubes in succession or near one another, the DDG 1000 has spread them out in order to mitigate risk in the event [of] attack, Knudson said.
‘This divides the weapons up so if you take a hit, you don't lose all your weapons. This is a survivability enhancement,’ he added.”
I’m not at all sure that the Mk57’s placement was a survivability issue but let’s assume it was. That begs the question why would the Navy consider moving forward with the Burke Flt III which will form the backbone of the fleet for the next four decades and carries the traditional clustered VLS system. If the Mk41 VLS clustering has been deemed a sufficient survivability weakness to justify a radical VLS relocation in the Zumwalt, wouldn’t it also justify a redesign of the forthcoming Burke Flt III’s? I understand that it would be nearly impossible to rework existing Burkes but the Flt III’s are new construction and are going to be extensively reworked anyway.
When you consider that the Flt III has been deemed by the Navy as unable to meet the full AMDR performance specs due to the inability to carry the full size AMDR and you combine that limitation with the survivability issue of clustered VLS, you really have to wonder why the Navy insists on moving ahead with a clearly sub-optimal Flt III rather than a new design.
|Mk41 VLS - Unsafe?|
Of course, the reason is obvious. By calling the Flt III a modification to an existing design, the Navy hopes to avoid a great deal of oversight and scrutiny that would come with an officially new design. By being unwilling to stand up a new design, take it to Congress, and justify it, the Navy is knowingly saddling itself with a sub-optimal vessel with no growth margin. That’s just sad.