The U.S. Navy’s future destroyer, the DD-X, will change radically the
concepts associated with naval surface fire support.
The DD-X will accomplish fire-support missions with the Advanced Gun System,
which will launch precision-guided projectiles at a range of up to 100 nautical
The highly automated 155 mm (6.1-inch) gun will answer Marines’ call
for fire as they move further inland faster. AGS also will support joint and
coalition expeditionary ground units, including Marines, Army and special operations
“With the increased range and speed of expeditionary mobility assets,
the landward area of influence of naval forces has increased by an order of
magnitude. Consequently, the nation requires weapon systems with correspondingly
greater range, lethality, flexibility and tactical mobility,” said Gen.
Michael W. Hagee, commandant of the Marine Corps. “Our expeditionary forces
ashore will remain at considerable risk for want of suitable sea-based fire
support until DD-X joins the fleet in significant numbers.”
The new gun, which can be described as a “trainable rocket launcher,”
will fire a GPS (Global Positioning System) guided, rocket-assisted round called
the Long Range Land Attack Projectile, among other munitions, at targets up
to 100 nautical miles away, with a sustained firing rate of up to 12 rounds
By comparison, the maximum range of the 5-inch/54-caliber Mk 45 naval gun currently
used in the fleet is 13 nautical miles. The Navy now is installing the 5-inch/62-caliber,
Mk45 Mod 4 naval gun on new Arleigh Burke (DDG 51)-class destroyers and will
back-fit it on Aegis cruisers as part of the cruiser conversion program. The
improved 5-inch/62 will shoot the Extended Range Guided Munition, currently
being developed by Raytheon, to a maximum range of 63 nautical miles.
The Long Range Land Attack Projectile planned for DD-X will deploy from a fully
automated gun and magazine, will contain three times the ERGM payload, and will
have 60 percent more range, as well as other advanced features.
“AGS has a multiple round simultaneous impact capability to coordinate
simultaneous delivery of multiple rounds,” says Scott Leitch, of United
Defense, the AGS manufacturer. “You can fire six rounds, one right after
the other, at the same target, with slightly different trajectories, so each
round impacts the target at the same moment.”
The multiple round simultaneous impact capability can be used against targets
up to 75 percent of the gun’s maximum range, says Leitch. For AGS, that
means multiple rounds can be fired simultaneously at targets up to 75 nautical
Two different loading systems are being considered for the advanced gun. The
standard loading system can fire 12 rounds per minute. A vertical load version
is 38 tons lighter than the standard loading system and takes up less space,
but has a slightly reduced rate of fire. Both loading systems will fire the
same rounds. The magazines in both options are highly automated. The Navy has
not decided yet which loading system will be employed.
Concept of Operations
Naval fires complement and augment the capabilities of the Marine Air Ground
Task Force. The range and capabilities of the new naval guns will prepare the
battlefield before expeditionary forces arrive, and will deliver rapid and accurate
close support once they have arrived.
The AGS is being developed as a part of the DD-X program. Completion of the
gun system’s preliminary design review is expected later this year. A
design review for the LRLAP projectile is scheduled for fiscal year 2004. The
first AGS installation on DD-X is planned for fiscal 2008, and will achieve
its initial operating capability in 2013.
Under development by SAIC and Lockheed Martin, the seven-foot long, 155 mm
LRLAP will contain 24 pounds of explosives, considerably larger than the seven
pounds of explosives in the 5-inch ERGM. Initial LRLAP rounds will be GPS guided,
but future rounds may be laser guided, or employ submunitions similar to XM-80
bomblets or sense and destroy armor (SADARM) munitions.
The AGS-equipped DD-X will complement the towed M198 howitzer, now in-service
with the Army and Marine Corps, and the Army’s M109 tracked howitzer.
All these guns may one day share common 155 mm ordnance.
In addition to the AGS, DD-X will carry the next-generation Tactical Tomahawk
cruise missiles, along with the gun-launched projectiles to support expeditionary
The TACTOM will provide a precision strike capability for targets more than
1,000 nautical miles away. The TACTOM, made by Raytheon, features an in-flight
reprogramming capability to strike preprogrammed alternate targets or to redirect
the missile to new GPS target coordinates. In addition to its unique ability
to loiter over a target area for several hours, the missile uses a built-in
television camera, allowing commanders to assess battle damage in real time.
A spotter on the ground also can illuminate a target with a laser to guide the
TACTOM to it. The missile recently completed successful demonstration test flight
trials. It will join the fleet in 2004, and will be deployed in both surface
combatants and submarines.
DD-X will employ an Advanced Vertical Launch System, which is a different concept
than the MK41 Vertical Launch System currently used in the fleet. The AVLS cells
surround the ship in separate four-cell launcher compartments along the periphery
of the ship’s hull, improving the ship’s survivability and war-fighting
capability. AVLS will support a variety of offensive and defensive missiles.
The DD-X will have a local area air defense capability, anti-surface and anti-submarine
capabilities delivered by a package of traditional organic sensors, unmanned
vehicles, and two armed SH-60 Seahawk helicopters. The Cooperative Engagement
Capability system will assist in the theater ballistic missile defense mission,
and will employ a detachment of unmanned aerial vehicles.
“Our naval surface fire support programs will contribute critical precision
and volume fire support to maneuvering forces ashore from the sea, complementing
aviation assets and ground-based artillery,” said Rear Adm. Donald Loren,
the Navy’s deputy director for surface ships.
DD-X will be followed on the construction ways by the CG-X cruiser, which will
be designed with a common or scalable hull. Larger, faster and longer-range
missiles will allow CG-X to counter state-of-the-art air threats hundreds of
miles over operating areas ashore and to perform other missions well in the
littoral. Equipped with a new generation of air defense radars under development
to counter low-radar cross section threats at extended ranges, CG-X will detect,
track and engage ballistic missiles outside of the atmosphere. nd
Edward Lundquist is the communications director at the Center for Security Strategies
and Operations of Anteon Corporation. The company provides information technology
and engineering services to the Defense Department and other government agencies.