The U.S. Navy’s Chief of Information (CHINFO) department replied to Naval News in mid-April 2022. Naval News asked CHINFO if the three Zumwalt class destroyers’ 155mm Advanced Gun Systems (AGS) will be:
- Dismantled, saved and stored in a Navy warehouse for possible future use in another new class of ship.
- Dismantled, saved and stored at the manufacturer’s location for possible future AGS modifications and upgrades.
- Dismantled and stored by the U.S. Navy for future scrapping and destruction.
- Dismantled and destroyed in the removal process for Hypersonic missiles.
Lt. Lewis Aldridge, CHINFO News Desk Officer, replied via email;
“The Navy plans to remove the two Advanced Gun System (AGS) mounts. Disposition plan to be determined.”
— U.S. Navy CHINFO, April 2022
Naval News Comments
Naval News has previously covered the quest and the decision on what to do with the inactive 155mm AGSs, two guns per DDG 1000 destroyer.
As stated in a previous Zumwalt story;
“The AGSs were originally intended to provide Long-Range Precision Fires (LRPF) shore bombardment of approximately 37 to 62 miles (60 to100 kilometers) in support of amphibious assaulting U.S. Marines; however, the AGSs never lived up to their intended roles because the extended-range GPS-guided shells cost anywhere from $800,000 to $1 million each, an exorbitant cost that the U.S. Navy found too hard to justify.”
Naval News, October 28, 2021
Instead of pursuing cheaper custom-made 155mm AGS shells (U.S. Army and NATO standard 155mm howitzer shells cannot fire from the Zumwalt AGSs), the U.S. Navy has finally settled on removing these stealthy angular turrets and ammunition hull magazines to install the Conventional Prompt Strike (CPS) hypersonic missiles vertical launch system (VLS) tubes in their places because the CPS hypersonic missile is larger than the dimensions of the Navy’s Mark 41 and Mark 57 VLS tubes. The Mark 57 VLS is so far only found aboard the Zumwalt destroyers.
The U.S. Army’s Long-Range Hypersonic Weapon (LRHW) is the same missile as the Navy’s CPS, just named differently. The size of the U.S. Navy’s CPS, when installed inside the DDG 1000 destroyer, can now be made from this February 22, 2022 photo of the U.S. Army’s LRHW prototype at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state. In the photo, two U.S. Army LRHWs are mounted and raised to the vertical launch position on an M870 trailer being towed by an 8×8 wheeled HEMTT tractor.
The U.S. Army and Navy’s hypersonic missiles are the same diameters (0.87 meters) and both carry a Hypersonic Glide Body (HGB) that flies down and destroys targets with hypersonic kinetic energy. The U.S.’s LRHW and CPS are a direct response to peer nations’ hypersonic missiles, some mounted on land-based wheeled Transporter Erector Launchers (TELs), inside warships’ VLS tubes, or carried underneath bombers, that vary in diameter, weight, and dimensions such as the Chinese hypersonic YJ-21 Anti-ship ballistic missile as reported here.
Naval News has covered the U.S. Navy’s HGB and CPS testing and development here.
The U.S. Navy CHINFO and NAVSEA declined to comment to Naval News as to how many CPS VLS tubes can fit inside the removed 155mm AGSs’ ammunition hull spaces, but CHINFO did state that any remaining empty spaces will not be filled with Mark 41, Mark 57, or ESSM VLS tubes around the CPS launch tubes.
Due to funding and logistic issues, it remains unknown if the U.S. Marine Corps will field the Navy’s CPS hypersonic missiles on USMC tractors and trailers similar to the U.S. Army’s LRHW tractor and trailer setup for Long-Range Precision Fires (LRPF) for ground launch. The CPS missile will reportedly have a range of more than 1,725 miles (2,775 kilometers).