Will the US Navy's DDG(x) program follow the same trajectory as the CG(x) and Zumwalt?

Will the new American destroyer from the DDG(x) program see the light of day? The least we can say today is that the surface combatant component of the US Navy is crossing a storm zone. A few days ago, its flagship program of the moment, the Constellation class FFG(x) frigate program, was under a deluge of criticism from the GAO, the US public accounts audit body, for hazardous management.

The three previous major programs also met disastrous fates. First there was the CG(x) program, which was to replace the Ticonderoga class cruisers, abandoned after 5 years in 2011, before the first ship was built.

Then the Zumwalt class heavy destroyer program, reduced to only 3 units delivered between 2016 and 2024, compared to 32 planned, after significant technological difficulties and an explosion in costs. Finally, the disastrous LCS program, produced in 38 copies in two versions, of which the US Navy is constantly discarding, unsuitable as its pseudo-corvettes are, for the needs of modern naval warfare.

In fact, since the initial design of the Arleigh Burke-class destroyers in the 80s, none of the American cruiser, destroyer, frigate or corvette programs have gone as planned, and all have encountered colossal difficulties leading to the explosion of costs and, when completed, capacities lower than those envisaged.

And the black series could well continue. Indeed, according to Mark Cancian, a US Navy specialist from the CSIS think tank, the US Navy's new destroyer program, DDG(x), which must take over from the Arleigh Burke from the end of the decade , could well, too, experience the same fate as CG(x), and be canceled soon, while its projected costs have exploded, and the US Navy is now giving priority to submarines against China.

Genesis and objectives of the US Navy DDG(x) program

When in 2010, the US Navy found itself without a replacement for its Ticonderoga class cruisers, after the cancellation of the CG(x) program, and for its oldest Arleigh Burkes, with the termination of the program Zumwalt, it decided to merge the two needs into a program called Large Surface Combatant.

US Navy Ticonderoga class
The replacement of the Ticonderoga-class cruisers was initially to be provided by the CG(x) program.

This was to make it possible to recapitalize the American surface combatant fleet from the end of the 20s, on the basis of a destroyer heavier than the Burke, but less expensive than the Zumwalt.

In 2021, this program was transformed into DDG(x), with the objective of replacing the 22 Ticonderoga and the 28 Arleigh Burke Flight I, starting in 2028 or 2029. According to the initial study, the ship would exceed 13 tonnes , which would make it the most imposing surface combatant ship after the Russian Kirovs, at least as imposing as the Chinese Type 000.

Its armament, for its part, would be similar to that of the Arleigh Burke Flight III currently in production, with a 5-inch (127 mm) gun, 3 blocks of 4 Mk41 systems for 96 vertical missile launch silos, two SeaRam CIWS systems with 21 missiles each, and two Mk32 triple tubes for 324 mm torpedoes.

Like the Burke Flight III, its sensors would be based on the new AN/SPY-6 radar for aerial detection, the An/SPQ-9B surface radar and the AN/SPG-62 firing radar, all integrated into a new evolution of the AEGIS system.

The differences with current American destroyers are to be found below deck, with in particular an integrated electric propulsion system, like that of the Zumwalt, offering greater autonomy at sea, and above all, allowing, in the future, to embark new, very energy-intensive systems, whether additional computer processing capabilities, or directed energy weapons, high-energy lasers or microwave cannons.

Explosion of forecast costs and immaturity of disruptive technologies

Presented in this way, the DDG(x) program appeared reasonable, as should its production cost, of the order of $2,4 billion per unit, comparable to that of Arleigh Burke.

It was to allow a flexible transition from the current generation of surface combat ships to the next, in which processing power, detection equipment, and the entire energy chain will prove more decisive than the raw number of missiles carried in silos. And then the CBO, the auditing body of Congress, came along...

CGI Constellation class US Navy
The US Navy's Constellation-class frigate program is also facing strong headwinds.

There are 75% of this article left to read, Subscribe to access it!

Metadefense Logo 93x93 2 Defense Analysis | Defense Contracts and Calls for Tenders | Heavy cruiser and destroyer

The Classic subscriptions provide access to
articles in their full version, and without advertising,
from 1,99 €.

For further


Last articles