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Arleigh Burke Class Concepts

JFC Fuller

Apr 22, 2012
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Using the word "cruiser" doesn't help anybody, its a meaningless term.

As both TomS and Moose allude to the USN has some fundamental decisions to wrestle with, all of which will be major cost drivers, the Director of Surface Warfare outlines some of them in the above linked article:

Deep magazines: thats lots of VLS cells, especially if bigger cells are needed for the Conventional Prompt Strike weapon in addition to 96-128 (or more?) Mk-41s - thats a major size and cost driver and requires the navy to answer exactly how many cells of each type it needs. With the CPW thats a whole new set of questions around target set and CONOPs.

Big sensor: How big? DDG51 Flight III has 14ft x 14ft AN/SPY-6 arrays with 37 RMAs and that is a massive improvement over the Aegis ships. Many years ago, at the tail-end of CG(X), the USN was looking at 22ft arrays and Raytheon has been touting an AN/SPY-6 with 69 RMA arrays but that would drive up the need for cooling, computing, power, top-weight and space...and thus cost. The AN/SPY-6 programme is now relatively mature so the USN should be able to get a good idea of just what it needs.

Other payloads: Rail-guns and lasers, currently not that mature so assessing exactly what they mean in terms of space, weight and power requirements is going to be a challenge, how do you handle that, do you handle that?

Signature: clearly one of the cost drivers in the DDG1000 programme.

Speed, if you are going to build something pushing 15k tons or more that produces enough electrical power to run all of the above it is going to need some serious installed power for the high sustained speeds needed to provide the Air Defence role for the CVBGs. That will further drive size and cost.

All this on a platform that may be built in relatively small numbers if it gets boxed-in as a CG47 replacement (12, one per planned CVBG as the Navy has been trying to do with the current cruisers), so there might be little opportunity to make changes during the build programme.

As for the DDG51, the Navy managed a near perfect balance between capability and cost just a time when the need to make major structural changes in order to upgrade them evaporated (thanks to VLS and miniaturisation of electronics). A 30+ year build programme is a staggering achievement but moving away from that platform was always going to be hard.
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CLEARANCE: Restricted
Aug 7, 2019
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Imo it's going to become increasingly difficult to justify procuring large multibillion dollar surface combatants like the Burke, especially if they are just even further upgraded Burkes without the power margin left to integrate directed energy weapons of any consequence. The magazine depth problem isn't going to go away and the coming proliferation of long-range hypersonic missile systems is going to make the imperative to improve survivability against large missile salvos even greater. Navy can talk distributed lethality all it wants but if it continues to pour billions into building large surface combatants optimized for land attack and (charitably) ASW it is going to burn a lot of money for fairly limited capability.

Genuinely new doctrinal concepts badly need to be evaluated if the Navy is going to stay relevant in a world where American naval power is vigorously contested by a near-peer navy with increasingly robust ISR and maritime strike capabilities. If we keep buying an increasingly small number of increasingly expensive major surface combatants that are hard pressed to defend themselves we will find it increasingly difficult to execute any kind of meaningful sea control strategy in wartime. Burke production ought to be terminated after Flight III, but as JFC Fuller noted above, it's going to be hard for the Navy to make that decision.


CLEARANCE: Above Top Secret
Apr 21, 2009
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