Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Zumwalt Fiasco Looking Worse!

The Navy is attempting to explain away the Zumwalt fiasco but is only looking more culpable while doing so.

As you know by now, the Zumwalt’s Advanced Gun System (AGS) was designed in such a way that it could only use one, unique munition – the Long Range Land Attack Projectile (LRLAP).  The idiocy of that decision has become manifestly clear now that the cost of the LRLAP has risen to nearly a million dollars per projectile and the munition development project has been cancelled.  The Zumwalt is now left without a munition for its main weapon, the AGS.

“Even at the high cost, we still weren’t really getting what we had asked for,” he said. “So what we’ve elected to do is to separate the gun effort from the ship effort because we really got to the point where now we’re holding up the ship.”

“Holding up the ship”????  The ship IS the AGS.  The entire ship was designed around the AGS.  The ship’s reason for existence is to carry the AGS.  The ship IS the AGS.

You’re not holding up the ship – without the AGS, there is no ship.  The ship has no purpose or use.

You never, never, never, never design and build a ship around non-existent technology.  It’s failed every time it’s been tried and the Zumwalt was no exception.

Whoever approved the design concept for the Zumwalt program needs to be court-martialed for dereliction of duty and utter stupidity.  If stupefying stupidity is not a violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, it should be!

Did you also catch the part about not getting what was asked for?

“…the system was also failing to achieve the range it wanted …”

So, not only was the cost on an exploding, runaway trajectory (unlike the munition itself!) but the performance was inadequate.  The system couldn't achieve the claimed range.  What have I said, repeatedly?  - No system ever achieves its claimed performance.  Despite the 100% certainty of the truth of this statement, people will still wholeheartedly believe the claims for the next great weapon or system.

Take any performance/cost claim and double the cost and halve the performance and you’ll be somewhere in the ballpark of reality.

There’s no explaining this one away, Navy.  You screwed the pooch in a big way.


(1)Defense News website, “US Navy takes ownership of its second stealth destroyer”, David B. Larter, 24-Apr-2018,


  1. ""“Holding up the ship”???? The ship IS the EMALS/AAG. The entire ship was designed around the EMALS/AAG. The ship’s reason for existence is to carry the EMALS/AAG. The ship IS the EMALS/AAG.""

    Do I detect a pattern ???

    H.J. Kaiser

    1. The pattern is Rumsfeld era decisions on procurement. He made the 'initial' decision to reduce the F-22 to the 180 level as well

    2. The good news is the Navy did cancel the Zum at three ships and the AGS, but they have not admitted to the EMALS disaster. Articles now appear that demand the Navy move on to a new Ford based class with steam cats.

      The article refers to this blog and us as "insiders". Well, I"m inside something most the time.

  2. So how about they take away those guns and just install a few more missile cells in that space.

  3. You both have hit the nail on the head to expand a little how bout how LCS and the do all be all and end all F35 let's see the only one that works is the army future combat vehicle oh!! yes it didn't work either I smell a lot of wasted money and very rich lobbyist and cintractractors the only th8ng to do with the Zummies is something I read is to rip one GAS turret out replace it with the old and proven VLS and replace the other turret with you guessed it the old and proven 5 inch gun (if it's even feasable)

    1. Meant to say is replace one AGS turret with mk41 VLS and the other with the 5 inch turret maybe using the Vulcano round

  4. And lastly that stupid idea of a hull just reaks of trouble in anything but calm water

  5. Well at least they didn't contract to build dozens of them like with the LCS.

    1. They did plan on building dozens and under that plan they stopped producing Burkes but when they changed their minds and cancelled further DDG 1000’s they restarted building Burkes at a much higher cost.

  6. I got nothing.

    At this point, it's a very expensive test ship. Sure it has VLS but IIRC the Radar isn't what it was originally planned so it's anti-air ability is somewhat suspect.

    And it has fewer VLS cells than a Burke at 1/3 more the cost.

    We can talk about ripping out AGS but... that just seems to be a mess waiting to happen. The hulls were built around them. I would strongly doubt you can easily plug in any other weapons system. Maybe the best that you could hope for is some kind of boot strapped conventional round that could be fired from the gun. But it's going to be expensive due to scarcity of demand.

    I don't know the finances about cancelling the 3rd. I've heard it wouldn't save any money. But take what we have and just run the crap out of them. See what that hull does in terms of sea handling and stealth in the real world. Wring the crap out of the fancy powertrain to see how it goes. Make it an opfor ship to assess its strengths and weaknesses.

    It's the best we can do with the billions.


    1. "than a Burke at 1/3 more the cost. "

      Just a minor correction ... The Flt IIA Burkes cost around $1.7B, if you believe the Navy, and the Zumwalt costs $4B ($8B, if you include the R&D). That's a 235% increase in cost, not 1/3 more!

  7. I am thinking your right just run the crap out of them till they break then see what happens one good thing is they are adding SM6 to it so they have something bigger than ESSM for defense and I've read they are thinking bout adding Tomahawk blockIV so it won't be totally useless or defenseless

  8. -- The entire ship was designed around the AGS

    According to the former Chief of SSG Adm. James Hogg, — "Zumwalt was built for railgun. The SSG's efforts at railgun conceptual development were completed in 2001 - their mission accomplished."

    1. That was just a general observation about the Zumwalt being suited for a rail gun due to its power system. The ship was not designed for rail guns.

  9. Another thing, can those guns just fire conventional non guided rounds?
    If yes then they're not completely useless.

  10. S.Shadow, the guns have a slow twist, not compatible with existing 155 rounds. AGS is a missile with a gun powder launcher. Sort of Jules Verne space cannon.

    H.J. Kaiser

    1. thanks for the info, but i am sure they can "invent" something non-guided round for it.
      If not, well just cut them of put some extra VLS cells in it, call it a day and thats it :)

    2. When the Navy first announced picking 155mm for a caliber they said a big reason was to be able to use cheaper Army 155mm ammo for shorter ranged targets. Then half way through the program they quietly announced that 155mm ammo would not work in the AGS.

      It seems like the Military does no do any research before making decisions on projects. They must just sit in an office and come up with nice sounding plans without anyone with actual knowledge of the subject being asked. The ones who come up with the best nice sounding plans are promoted and move on to some other job no matter how badly things turn out.

      And the people who came up with that nice sounding plan are either retired or at the top of management some place else

    3. "i am sure they can "invent" something non-guided round for it."

      Technically, yes. Practically, no. The development program for a currently non-existent round would be astronomically expensive and, given the nearly one-off nature of the AGS, the per round cost of the munition would be huge - which is why the LRLAP became too expensive to continue with.

      Any new, dedicated round would just repeat the financial disaster of the LRLAP.

      Worse, if the new round were conventional it would negate the supposed strength of the AGS which is range. On the other hand, if we wanted to develop a new munition with the range of the cancelled LRLAP, the new munition would be another LRLAP with all the attendant problems and costs!

      So, technically, yes, practically, no.

  11. So if I'm right the only way this system works is with LRAP so it's screwed my thought if vulcano or Excalibur mods are out of the question could or would it be possible to simply replace the barrels with a normal 155 bore gun or would the entire system need replacing to include the ammo handling system too

    1. The Advanced Gun System (AGS) was designed to be completely unmanned including on-loading, storage, and movement of projectiles as well as operation of the gun itself. Existing 155 mm munitions are not compatible with the magazine handling system so either the munitions would have to be repackaged into a new system (still might not work depending on exact dimensions of the various mechanical, automated components) compatible with the magazine handling or the handling system, which extends throughout the ship, would have to be completely torn out and replaced with one sized to handle existing munitions. Either approach would be hideously expensive.

      A larger problem is that the AGS and LRLAP were intended to achieve ranges of 70+ miles. Converting to common 155 mm shells would drop the range to whatever a run of the mill 155 mm gun gets (15 miles? I have no idea). Thus, it would be an almost useless gun at that point since it couldn't provide useful standoff shore fire support so what would be the point?

      The Navy truly painted themselves into a corner with this ill-advised, one-of-a-kind gun system. There just are no good fixes for this.

    2. A good summary of the whole system here.

      The long range projectiles bursting charge is said to be 11 kg which compares with the last USN auto 6" gun on USS Worcester of 6.4kg. The heaviest bursting chage on Des Moines class 8" guns was 9.7kg

      Clearly a better projectile than an 8" gun. but the LR projectile was the $1 mill per round one. No details on the normal ballistic round which only would fire to around 40 km or so.

    3. "Clearly a better projectile than an 8" gun"

      You're clearly not understanding explosive effects and amplification due to thick walled shells. We've covered this repeatedly. Do some research.

    4. Why would the HC Des Moines 8in shell have a significantly different wall thickness than the HC 155mm in the AGS ( details would be classified so wont be found online)
      AP shells had smaller bursting charges ( 2.3kg in Des Moines , 23% of its high explosive cousin) but ships dont have armour anymore and the AGS is land attack anyway ( AP as you would know has really thick walls and nose to penetrate armour and then explode inside).
      Would be interesting to see your previous discussions on 'thick shell walls) as I didnt find any in a search of your naval guns keywords

    5. *sigh* I get tired of repeating this discussion. Every couple of months someone attempts to claim that missiles, with larger burst charges, cause more damage than naval shells. This is utterly wrong and I've explained why on many occasions. I guess I'm going to have to do a post and put an end to this misconception once and for all.

      I'll give you the exceedingly brief and simplified explanation.

      An explosion is a chemical oxidation reaction - the explosive burns. As it burns, it creates gases that expand. The longer the gas is contained, the greater the pressure buildup. The greater the pressure buildup, the more damaging the explosive effect is.

      Missiles have thin walls that barely contain the burning gases before they burst. Thus, relatively less of the potential pressure buildup is achieved. Naval shells have thick walls that contain the burning gases and allow the pressure to build to its maximum potential before bursting. What's important is not the amount of explosive but the pressure at bursting.

      To your specific claim (or question) that the 8" shell has the same wall thickness as the LRLAP (I assume that's what you mean by HC 155 mm since there is no other munition for the AGS and there is no such thing as an HC 155 shell even if it could be fired from the AGS - there are 155 mm HE but that's a different shell), we do have data even if not direct. From NavWeaps website,


      Weight 225 lbs
      Burst Charge 25 lbs surrounded by a two-piece acetal liner
      Length 88 in
      Specific Wt 2.56 lbs/in

      Des Moines 8”

      AP – Armor Piercing
      Weight 335 lbs
      Burst Charge 5 lbs
      Length 36 in
      Specific Wt 9.31 lbs/in

      HC – High Capacity
      Weight 260 lbs
      Burst Charge 21 lbs
      Length 35 in
      Specific Wt 7.4 lbs/in

      We see that the specific weight (weight per in of length - "density" of the shell, in a sense) is 3-4 times greater for the 8" shell than for the LRLAP. This is an indirect qualitative measurement of wall thickness. I have actual wall thicknesses buried in my reference collections but I can't be bothered to dig them out right now.

      Consideration of missile construction versus naval shells also supports this. Missile weight is consumed by fuel, guidance mechanisms and electronics, telemetry, sensors, fins and deployment mechanisms, and fuzes. A naval shell has only a fairly simplistic fuze. All the naval shell's non-explosive weight goes into the wall thickness. The missile "wall" is nothing more than a sheet metal container.

      Thus, missiles release their exploding gases at far less pressures and produce far less damage effects. There is a reason why a 16" battleship shell scoops out huge 50+ ft wide craters and a Tomahawk missile, for example, despite having around ten times the burst charge, doesn't even come close.

    6. I wasnt disputing what you say about missiles vs shells, naval guns fire shells whether they are Des Moines or Zumwalt. There a different ways to launch missiles, which anyway have an order of magnitude higher weight of explosives ( Harpoon 221 kg of explosive in a 700kg missile weight it wouldnt make sense with 21kg of explosive)
      Blast from a large explosion can cause damage in a different way as you pointed out. The RAF in WW2 dropped 2000 lb thin walled bombs called 'cookies' specifically for their blast/shockwave effect on houses along with the steel cased bombs which would damage with smaller blast but high energy shrapnel pieces.
      If I was a naval captain firing at other ships I too would prefer a des Moines shell as it would do more damage inside a hull with very hot and high energy shrapnel. ( even so, a sea skimming missile seems to penetrate modern ships hull with ease and the hull internals provide some confinement )
      But land targets would be better suited for higher explosive weights where blast wave will disable troops in open and light skinned vehicles. For a command bunker the traditional heavy shell would be better.

    7. "An explosion is a chemical oxidation reaction - the explosive burns. As it burns, it creates gases that expand. The longer the gas is contained, the greater the pressure buildup."


      "The greater the pressure buildup, the more damaging the explosive effect is."

      It depends.

      "*sigh* I get tired of repeating this discussion. Every couple of months...."

      I doubt this will change until you recognize the difference between pressure, work, and energy. As I've tried to explain to you before, you are correct that confinement increases the detonation velocity and bursting pressure, and that the degree of confinement is proportional to the strength of the shell wall. While confining the explosives will increase the pressure at the interior shell wall, the blast wave doesn't recover the pressure needed to shatter the shell wall, that pressure is converted into the kinetic energy of the fragments. This is desirable if you're trying to perforate your target, but not necessarily a good thing if you're looking to maximize blast effects (i.e., the potential to do work on the target via the peak over-pressure and the dynamic pressure).
      This is the whole reason we design penetrating warheads, frag warheads, HE warheads, and fuel-air explosive warheads. The only reason you don't see the same spectrum of wall thicknesses in shells, as opposed to bombs and missiles, is that the shell has to survive the Gs of being shot out of a gun while a bomb or missile does not. The floor for the wall thickness of shells is much higher than that for bomb casings and missile warhead casings.

    8. CC, I get tired of this discussion. Let's see if I can conclude it, at least with you.

      The crux of the discussion is the production of damaging effects (destructive force, if you want to use that phrase) by a given munition. The misguided belief is that it is a simple matter of burst charge - the greater the burst charge, the greater the destructiveness. Thus, misguided proponents believe that a Harpoon missile with 488 lbs of explosive is ten times more powerful than a 16" BB AP shell with 40 lbs. That's utterly absurd. We see BB shells (likely HC) scoop out 50-100 ft craters whereas a Harpoon doesn't create anything even remotely approaching that level of destructiveness.

      Destructiveness is a subjective term that depends on what you want to destroy. You recognize that and so do I. I'm not going to belabor that any further.

      The difference between the 16" shell and the missile is mainly wall thickness which amplifies the destructive effects. That's the entire point in a very simplified statement.

      People who equate burst charge directly to damage simply don't understand explosive effects.

      What is your background, by the way? You seem to have some understanding of chemical/physics but not of explosive effects.

      There should be nothing left to discuss but if you want to "argue" futher, you'll need to account for the massive difference in destructive effects between a 16" shell and a missile and provide some type of supporting data. There have been published equivalencies between naval shells and bombs/missiles such as an 8" shell is equivalent to a 1000 lb bomb (that's a conceptual example, not an actual piece of data - I don't have the equivalency tables handy).

      This should conclude this topic.

  12. FYI the 155mm Vulcano round stated range from a 155/52 caliber gun is 80km or around 50 miles the GAS is 62 caliber barrel so it's range may actually be a little longer

    1. The LRLAP's stated range was 70-100 miles depending on what reference you read but it was never able to achieve that performance.

      What is the demonstrated range of the Vulcano round? Does it even exist? I don't follow land weapons.

      Claims are easy, performance is not.

  13. But your right there ain't no easy fix in this junk pile

  14. Navy hints the Zumwalt may be basis of the new cruiser to replace Tico's, following its "successful policy" of parent ships for FFG(X).

    Major drawback is that Zumwalt stealthy tumble home hull requires unknown thousands of tons of ballast tanks to ensure stability, still to proven in sea trials. Reflected in its FLD of a massive 15,600 tons for a destroyer. No GA drawings of hull released by Navy.

    1. I like how the Navy has not fielded, let alone even pick, the new Frigate but has gone ahead and declared success already.

    2. Stability issues like the tumblehome can be 'fixed' by raising the GM ( metacentric height). The WW2 Cleveland class had tumblehome

  15. Should have built the class around a pair of modernized 8"/55s able to use the proven ammo that we had in service through Vietnam, then spent R&D on modern ammo to try to add all the modern bells and whistles. Worst case the Zumwalts would have been capable of throwing a conventional 300lb HE shell 30,000 yards and would be significantly more useful than the AGS.

    I have little doubt that it would be fairly easy to take the lessons learned from 155mm guided and extended range rounds and apply it to 8" rounds, and it may even be possible to design sabots to fire 155mm rounds already in inventory out of an 8" bore.

    1. Or simply modified some army 155mm guns for naval use the army has done an awful lot of that with naval guns through the years why can't the navy?

    2. Based specifically on the experience shelling Iwo Jima, 6" (or 155mm) rounds do not do well against reinforced concrete target. 155mm land artillery is rarely used to root out someone that is dug in and fortified, naval artillery is very likely going to be called on to destroy hardened targets. 8" bore offers significantly more potential than a 6.1" (155mm) bore does, specifically in regards to the size of the shell. The square-cubed law comes into play here, an 8" round has 2.25 times the volume compared to a 6.1" round assuming a same length to diameter ratio.

  16. Raze the superstructure, then make a luxury catamaran yacht out of them for Navy brass. On its maiden voyage with as many of the past and present grand poobahs responsible for this abortion on board as possible, conduct a surprise SinkEx with as many surface, subsurface, and air assets as possible. SEALs in boats can go in later and pick off any survivors. This is stupidity bordering on treason if we lose a war because of crap like this and the LCS.

    1. Setting aside the legality issue, I'm with you!

  17. Just a speculation, if they decide to get rid of the two guns theoretically how much VLS cells could they stick in in they're place?

    1. Most likely 24-32 would bring them past the Burke number and close to the Tico number cruiser type number for sure but it may be different you would ask some one with more knowledge than me

  18. "You never, never, never, never design and build a ship around non-existent technology."

    I disagree entirely. You should do that (if you have good reasons for a large navy at all).

    The mistake is to not test new stuff in clearly experimental ship classes (as the RN of old did with steam turbines and Walther turbines).

    The AGS could have been installed into an existing ship for experiments (same as 8" MCLWG), though.

    Personally, I don't think that offensive navies make much sense and thus don't think of such dedicated land attack equipment as justifiable regardless of technological and fiscal success.

    1. Oh good grief. It was obvious that I'm talking about production runs, not prototypes. I wrote an entire post about the desirability and benefits of prototypes.

      Regarding your view that offensive navies make no sense, all I can say is that your view puts you exceedingly far outside the mainstream thought. That doesn't necessarily make you wrong but it should serve as an alarm bell for you. Perhaps you should assemble a logical argument for that view, complete with historical precedents, geographical driving forces, and geopolitical considerations. If you can assemble such a position, it would make fascinating reading, I'm sure.

    2. "The AGS could have been installed into an existing ship for experiments (same as 8" MCLWG), though."

      Actually, that would have been quite a challenge depending on what part of the AGS one wanted to test. The "S" part of the AGS is "System" which refers to the entire system of fully automated ammo handling, magazine loading, storage, and movement from the magazine to the gun. The "Gun" is just one part of the system. So, yes, the gun itself could have been tested but the larger and more important part of the system, the fully automated handling, would have been an enormous challenge to add to an existing ship. The Zumwalt was literally designed and built around the AGS. Possibly some sort of miniaturized system capable of handling just one or two pallets of rounds could have been designed for test purposes but then it wouldn't have been a true prototype or true test.

      Finally, none of it should have been considered for prototyping until the R&D portion was complete. At that point it would have become apparent that the system was incapable of achieving the desired performance (range) and that the cost was going to be unaffordable and that there was, therefore, no need or point to prototyping.

      In fact, that's essentially what happened. The R&D portion was largely completed and the system was found to be deficient and overly expensive but by then the Navy had already completed or irreversibly committed to the production run of three ships.

      You never design and build a ship around non-existent technology.

    3. You may have talked/written about production runs, but I replied to the article, and that one is not visibly aimed at production runs.

      I have a supporting case for the notion that offensive / land attack-oriented navies make little sense, and wrote it down over the course of a decade or so. That wasn't meant for petty comments sections, though - it's in my blog (mostly the label 'military and economy', but also under 'war and peace' and 'navy').
      Your idea of mainstream may the the mainstream in the United States. That's less than 5% of mankind.
      More importantly, I have never encountered substantive evidence supportive of the idea that a an offensive, land-attack-focused navy is "worth it" economically. And by economically I mean "all upsides minus all downsides", not just money (the picture is even clearer when looking at money only).

      To test the AGS as a whole would not have been too difficult with a cargo or supply ship as test bed. The USN has dozens of suitable hulls.

      "You never design and build a ship around non-existent technology."
      You keep insisting on such phrases.

      The DDX program looks like an attempt to test multiple new techs in one ship class. The irresponsible part was really only the constant lying. The USN kept pretending that it could test lots of new tech in one ship class with all the cumulative technical risk and the ship class would still make sense.

      The brazen lying and the carelessness with public funds are likely the result of them not getting punished for similar behaviour in the past. The prestige and budgets of the navy are both still sky-high due to militarism. The waste of resources is a kind of punishment for that militarism by the natural order of things.
      You don't reach efficient outcomes with ideology, ever.

    4. As far as i understand the main problem is the expensive cost of the rounds not the entire gun system , right ?

      Why don't they hand some new contract to all manifacturers out there including Europeans with the intention to design a newer cheaper round for those guns?

    5. Becuase there's less than a dozen guns going to use these rounds, and the total order is going to be but a few thousand rounds.
      The development costs, costs for preparing production and so on would have little economies of scale. Moreover, a 155 mm glide projectile that goes to the intended distances is simply of little military utility regardless of its accuracy.

    6. "Why don't they hand some new contract to all manifacturers out there including Europeans with the intention to design a newer cheaper round for those guns?"

      Don't you think the original manf would have made the round cheaper if it were possible? Asking someone else to redo the project is just going to result in a replay of the fiasco unless you think some new company will magically produce the same product at 10% of the cost.

      Recall the definition of insanity?

      The Ford cost $15B. Why don't we just hand a new contract to all the manufacturers out there with the intention to design a newer cheaper carrier? We could specify a cost of, say, $1B. That would be quite a savings.

  19. This USARMY 50 year development by 25000 engineers{shut down except Grand Forks ND}[by these at as far stableizing to Russisn arms negotiations] and a second site maybe where is Washington DC (defending the capitol .I've tried land is this as same except Safeguar DDF c as ight warhe as Rd from vandenbu Rd g in the Soloman island as well! Now Usaf is remarkBly different see B-52s on a run ...(upgrades again motors)


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