[Note: This item comes from friend David Rosenthal. DLH]
Long-range projectiles for Navy’s newest ship too expensive to shoot
At $800,000 per round, the Long Range Land Attack Projectile has been priced out of business.
By SEAN GALLAGHER
Nov 7 2016
The USS Zumwalt (DDG-1000) is the US Navy’s latest warship, commissioned just last month—and it comes with the biggest guns the Navy has deployed since the twilight of the battleships. But it turns out the Zumwalt’s guns won’t be getting much of a workout any time soon, aside from acceptance testing. That’s because the special projectiles they were intended to fire are so expensive that the Navy has canceled its order.
Back when it was originally conceived, the Zumwalt was supposed to be the modern-day incarnation of the big-gunned cruisers and battleships that once provided fire support for Marines storming hostile beaches. This ability to lob devastating volleys of powerful explosive shells deep inland to take out hardened enemy positions, weapons, and infrastructure was lost after the Gulf War’s end, when the last of the Iowa-class battleships were retired. To bring it back, the Zumwalt’s design included a new gun, the Advanced Gun System (AGS). As we described it in a story two years ago:
The automated AGS can fire 10 rocket-assisted, precision-guided projectiles per minute at targets over 100 miles away. Those projectiles use GPS and inertial guidance to improve the gun’s accuracy to a 50 meter (164 feet) circle of probable error—meaning that half of its GPS-guided shells will fall within that distance from the target.
The projectile responsible for that accuracy—something far too complex to just be called a “shell” or “bullet”—is the Long Range Land-Attack Projectile (LRLAP). Each projectile has precision guidance provided by internal global positioning and inertial sensors, and bursts of LRLAPs could in theory be fired over a minute following different ballistic trajectories that cause them to land all at the same time.
Lockheed Martin won the competition to produce the LRLAPs, and the company described their capabilities thusly:
155mm LRLAP provides single strike lethality against a wide range of targets, with three times the lethality of traditional 5-inch naval ballistic rounds—and because it is guided, fewer rounds can produce similar or more lethal effects at less cost. LRLAP has the capability to guide multiple rounds launched from the same gun to strike single or multiple targets simultaneously, maximizing lethal effects.