The U.S.S. Zumwalt (DDG-1000) stealth destroyer is equipped with a pair of huge guns that are so advanced, they are said to be able to accurately hit targets 80 miles away with very little collateral damage. The only problem is that the rounds for the guns cost at least $800,000 each, which the U.S. Navy believes to be “excessive.”
The 155 mm guns are imaginatively named the Advanced Gun Systems. The munition designed to be fired from them is called the Long Range Land-Attack Projectile, according to Defense News, and they are integral to the Zumwalt’s purpose of becoming a land-attack destroyer.
The LRLAPs themselves are extremely state-of-the-art, as The Warzone tells us:
The LRLAP round itself is a rocket-assisted and GPS/INS guided shell that weighs 230 pounds. It can fly up to around 75 miles from the ship and strike with pinpoint precision, even attacking at near vertical angles in dense urban and mountainous terrain. The gun’s cooled barrel is capable of firing a shell every ten seconds, allowing for a large amount of projectiles to impact a specific target area.
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Originally, there were 28 Zumwalt-class destroyers planned. That number dropped to seven and finally came to rest at three. And while the number of ships has dropped, the costs have not: the LRLAP’s unit price has increased steadily.
An unnamed Navy official told Defense News, “We were going to buy thousands of these rounds. But quantities of ships killed the affordable round.” The official noted that there were no performance issues related to the round. Things just became too expensive to continue.
But just because the LRLAP is being canceled, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the AGS will become obsolete. The Navy is supposedly looking into potential replacement rounds for the big gun. Defense News writes:
But the likelihood is that there will be no LRLAP replacement before the Zumwalt enters operational service. While the ship was commissioned Oct. 15 in Baltimore, Maryland, another 18 months of shipyard work lies ahead in San Diego to complete installation of the ship’s combat system. After that, the Navy will run an extensive series of Combat Systems Ship Qualifications Trials (CSSQT) in 2018 to fully prove out the ship’s sensors and weapons.
Again quoting the unnamed Navy official, it seems that the 2015 budget allotted $113 million to buy 150 LRLAP rounds and other items and that these are the rounds that will be used in the tests, because “the intention is to shoot the guns.”
In the 2016 and 2017 budgets, no funds for buying more LRLAP rounds were included.