Merz: Zumwalt to Proceed to Fleet While Navy Works on Advanced Gun System Solution
By RICHARD R. BURGESS, Managing Editor
WASHINGTON — The Navy’s new Zumwalt-class destroyers will be proceeding into operational status while the Navy searches for an acceptable round for the ships’ Advanced Gun System (AGS), a senior Navy admiral said.
Testifying April17 before the Senate Armed Services Seapower subcommittee, Vice Adm. William R. Merz, deputy chief of naval operations for Warfare Systems, said the AGS “has become a particularly hard challenge to get through, not because of the gun but the projectile. The projectiles were too expensive, and they were not meeting the range [requirement]. So even at the high cost, we still weren’t getting what we asked for.
“What we’ve elected to do is to separate the gun effort from the ship effort,” he said. “We really got to the point where we’re really holding back the ship. That ship is very capable with or without the gun. So what we’ve elected to do is proceed with the ship, deliver it to the fleet as a strike platform — with 80 vertical-launch cells. That opens up opportunities for advanced development on our weapons side.”
Merz said the Zumwalt’s combat system is “very good” and that the ship is “very well-built” and “ready to join the fleet. We are very excited to get her and will continue to develop the rounds for the gun in parallel. … Whether or not directed energy is an ultimate replacement for [the AGS], time will tell in how we deal with the projectile, but [a directed-energy weapon] is a candidate option for all ships.”