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The U.S. Navy’s stealthy new first-of-its-kind destroyer will burn the targets with lasers, fire advanced weapons to destroy moving targets at sea and the use of upgraded interceptor missiles to detect and knock out approaching enemy fire-all as part of a broader strategic shift to prepare for the high-tech ship for the huge “blue water” maritime warfare on the open sea.
The USS Zumwalt, now by the fighting and weapons activation in anticipation of her first deployment, to receive new Maritime Tomahawk missiles can track and explode moving targets at sea, SM-6 IA interceptors, long-range precision weapons, and — very likely in the very near future – laser weapons, according to the DDG 1000-USS Zumwalt Program Manager, Naval Sea Systems Command, Capt. Kevin Smith.
“We are no longer what is called a land attack, operating in the littorals. We are now in an offensive surface strike platform for blue water Navy made a decision
go that way – for a good reason,” Smith said, speaking at the Navy League’s Annual Sea Air Space Symposium.
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The Zumwalt, said he, is specifically designed with space, weight and power configurations to a new generation of weapons. “The inherent capabilities of the ship, with respect to the signatures and the capacity as much space, weight, power, and cooling…there is a huge margin here for a lot of things to do in the future,” Smith said.
Considered the most advanced warship ever built, the Zumwalt uses an electric drive with an Integrated Power System, designed to be more quiet and efficient for the movement of the ship as well as the generation of enormous volumes of on-board electrical power for computing, maintenance and weapons. Power “surge” capacity, is exactly what is needed to fire laser weapons, Smith said.
“For directed energy weapons that you will need for an increase. There is a technology that we now look to review how the ship could be the energy storage that would contribute to the increase of the capacity. That is something we looked at with the rail gun a few years ago with a feasibility study and I think that with focused energy, we will do the same.
To explain it as ” basically just capacitors,” Smith said the process would probably start with a 150 kw laser — that is now installed on a Navy amphib — the LPD-27.
The Zumwalt electric drive and Integrated Power System, generating 78 megawatts of power, can provide a technological infrastructure sufficient to provide for a kind of “bridge” to the future of weapons and war, according to a 2010 Naval War College essay called “The ZUMWALT Class Destroyer: A Technology ?Bridge? Shaping the Navy after Next.”
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“The Integrated Power System allows such weapons as high-power lasers and electromagnetic rail guns to be used, without significant impact on the ship’s electronic surveillance and weapons control systems or speed, a critical operational factor, given the high electrical demands of these on-the-horizon weapons,” the essay states. (George V. Galdorisi and Scott C. Truver)
By pointing to the Zumwalt as a “bridge” or transition to the future of the war, given the collection of new, but promising technologies, the essay refers to the DDG 1000 as “the ship, that will help pull these technologies out of various laboratories and ground test sites and get them distributed to the sea, where they could revolutionize warfare at the tactical, operational and strategic level.”
At its inception, the Zumwalt was thought in the first place as a land-attack platform. While the mission has not completely disappeared, the ship of the development gradually to a shift in the direction of a wider control of the scope. So – the integration of the new weapons. Given this scenario, the Zumwalt weapons modifications are intended to be in line with the strategic shift in the direction of open water, major offensive of the war, the destroyer, in development since 2017, since the Chief of Naval Operations running requirements of directors.
Together with the current focus on the Maritime Strike Tomahawk and SM-6 block IA, the Navy is also preparing an SM-2 and Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile for the ship. The weapons, Smith said, will be integrated by a new network tactical common data link.”
“Some of these will be available for the ship’s first deployment,” Smith said.
The USS Zumwalt
Much of the preparation takes place on board an unmanned, remote-controlled Self-Defense Ship on which the Marine can fire weapons testing ship defense, carrying of fire-control integration and the preparation of the hardware for weapons systems before they are discharged from the ship itself. In early May of this year, the Navy fired its first Evolved Sea Sparrow from the test ship, a sea-skimming defensive interceptor missile designed to track and take approaching enemy anti-ship missiles and other threats.
The Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile Block II, or ESSM, is a new version of an existing Sea Sparrow weapons system that is currently protecting aircraft carriers, destroyers, cruisers, amphibious assault ships and other vessels against anti-ship missiles and other surface and in the air for a short distance to threats to ships such as drones, enemy aircraft and helikopters.De ESSM is the kind of weapon suited for the type of “blue water” warfare had in mind for the Zumwalt.
The newest emerging variant of the ESSM, Block II, is designed with what is called an active guidance system, meaning the missile itself can improved flight or guidance to the target by both receiving and actively sending electromagnetic signals, Raytheon weapons developers told the Warrior in a previous interview. The ESSM is used radar technology to locate and then intercept a fast-approaching target during the flight; the use of what’s called a “lighting” is a big part of this capability, Raytheon officials said. The current ESSM missiles use of a so-called semi-active guidance system, meaning the missile itself can receive electromagnetic signals bounced off the target by an illuminator; the ESSM Block II active guidance includes illuminator technology built on the rocket itself that it both receive and send important electromagnetic signals, Navy and Raytheon officials explained. Block II relieves the rocket from the requirement of having to use a lot of lighting guidance of the ship as a short-range self-defense, senior Navy officials have said.
As for the deck-mounted precision weapons for the Zumwalt, the weapon and the ammunition are in the early phase of the development.
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“We are waiting for that ball to come and give us the longest range possible for the land-attack strike and surface warfare,” Smith said.
It is also logical that the Navy is planning a Maritime Tomahawk for the Zumwalt’s Vertical Launch Systems, because it will be much better prepared for a greater range when in open water, moving targets at sea. In contrast to a typical Tomahawk missile which over the years has been used to successfully target and destroy “hard” targets such as enemy bunkers, static troop locations, command-and-control as the most important infrastructure – the new Maritime Strike Tomahawk is specifically designed with a next-generation ability to track and destroy moving targets at sea, Navy and Raytheon developers say.
The Maritime Strike Tomahawk hinges on new viewfinder technology and faster computer processing power to engineer different modes in which the Tomahawk can be re-targeted in flight to destroy moving targets in the case of unforeseen situations.
Navy program managers have told Warrior that the weapon contains an all-weather seeker, in combination with the middle-course in-flight target updates. While weapons developers explain that many of the particular details of the new seeker technology will not be available for the discussion for reasons of safety, the officials do say that it is designed to integrate with the function in addition to the existing Tomahawk targeting and navigation techniques, such as infrared guidance, radio frequency targeting and GPS systems.
Smith said that the Zumwalt program is now the acquisition of existing Tomahawks during the preparation for the integration of new Maritime variant. The Navy is also upgrading the Tactical Tomahawk Weapons Control System to reduce the hardware footprint, streamlining of the weapons functions, and integration of new, updated software can increase cybersecurity by means of a simplified user interface, service officials said. Multiple systems can now be accessed from a single workstation, and other systems have been shortened, freeing up space in control rooms, a Marine statement said.
Tomahawks have been upgraded several times over their years of service. The Block IV Tomahawk, in service since 2004, includes a two-way data link for in-flight retargeting, terrain navigation, digital scene-matching cameras and a high-grade inertial navigation system. The current Tomahawk is built with a “loiter” capability, allowing it to float in the vicinity of a target, until there is an optimal moment to strike. As part of this technology, the missile uses a two-way data link and camera to send images of a target to a command center before it strikes. The weapon is also capable of performing battle damage assessment missions by relaying images through a data link as well, Raytheon said.
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The Navy is wrapping of the purchasing cycle for the Block IV Tactical Tomahawk missiles. This year, the Navy is conducting a recertification and modernization of the program for the missiles at the end of the first 15 years of service period, which will be an upgrade or replacement of internal components. The enhanced weapons will then be returned to the fleet for the second 15 years of their 30-year planned life.
The handling of the rough sea of the great maritime combat, of course, is an indispensable element of the nature of the warfare, to water expected for the Zumwalt. The ship of the cutting edge Tumblehome, wave-piercing hull can be a bit of a paradox; in one sentence the next generation hull brings enhanced agility, speed, and wave-cutting, it has also led to questions as to how stable the ship would be in the case of very rough sea. The Navy itself, Smith has some questions and wants to review and validate the ship to the ocean stability. Recent calm and heavy weather trials, Smith said, have added new levels of trust with regard to the ship of the combat of the ocean properties.
“What will I say to you, all the engineers and scientists of the world are excited about the way this is going. We were not sure that with the dynamical stability,” Smith said. Smith said the ship will be able to demonstrate that the control of the stability, to to the low end of the Condition of the Sea, 6 — a World Meteorological Organization standard to specify of 13 – to – 20-foot waves and very rough seas
“The Navy is very interested in this platform and they are excited about in the Pacific ocean,” Smith said.
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