CNO: Hypersonic Missiles First on Zumwalt DDGs Before Block 5 Virginia SSNs

The Zumwalt-class guided-missile destroyer USS Michael Monsoor (DDG 1001) leads a formation including the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyers USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62), USS Spruance (DDG 111), USS Pinckney (91), and USS Kidd (DDG 100), and the Independence-variant littoral combat ship USS Coronado (LCS 4) during U.S. Pacific Fleet’s Unmanned Systems Integrated Battle Problem (UxS IBP) 21, April 21. U.S. NAVY / Chief Mass Communication Specialist Shannon Renfroe

ARLINGTON, Va. — The Navy’s top officer said Zumwalt-class guided-missile destroyers will be the first U.S. Navy ships to be armed with hypersonic missiles. 

“With respect to our research and development budget, hypersonics is our top priority, so we are working closely with the Marine Corps, with the Army, and with the Air Force to reach a capability that we can deliver to the fleet in 2025,” said Adm. Michael Gilday, chief of naval operations, testifying April 29 before the defense subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee.  

“We intend to do that on the latest and greatest destroyers we have, the Zumwalt-class destroyer,” Gilday said. “Our intent is to first put the weapon on those destroyers and then on our Virginia-class Block 5 submarines. Right now, our projection is that capability will be on our submarines by 2028.” 

As recently as November, Vice Adm. Johnny Wolfe, director of Strategic Systems Programs, said the plan was to deploy the Conventional Prompt Strike (CSP) capability hypersonic missiles first on the four Ohio-class guided-missile submarines (SSGNs) 

The CSP will be deployed by the U.S. Army first in 2023. Wolfe said the Initial Unit Training of Army units without the All-Up Round will begin in 2021. A canister hot-launch operational demonstration is planned for 2022. Delivery of the Army’s prototype truck-hauled delivery system is scheduled for 2023. The delivery of the All-Up Round — including the hypersonic glide body — is planned for 2024.   

Gilday said a hypersonic weapon was successfully tested last year with the Army, being fired thousands of miles at very high speed and with very high precision. 

“We’re very excited about the path we are on right now in hypersonics,” he said. “We’re very confident of the delivery timeline.”