The future US destroyer will be bristling with laser cannons and hypersonic missiles

Before him overwhelming thrust of the Chinese Navy, The United States Navy has already accelerated its new program to build the destroyer of the future, a platform bristling with 10 times more powerful laser cannons than their experimental models and loaded with hypersonic missiles, in addition to new high-power sensors and energy generators capable of powering an entire city.

The project called DDG (X) – which is not an acronym, but the symbol for US Navy guided missile destroyers – will replace the Ticonderoga cruisers and the Arleigh Burke destroyers later this decade. According to the United States Naval Institute, the DDG (X) will be the largest warship class in the US Navy in two decades. It is a naval warfare platform designed to fire high-energy laser cannons, conventional missiles, and hypersonic missiles. It will also incorporate new high-power sensors so that these weapons can attack targets at great distances.

Why the DDG (X) is the destroyer of the future

Hypersonic missiles aside, the US Navy’s new class of destroyers will be totally dependent on electricity. To do this, it will incorporate a power generation system similar to that of the Zumwalt destroyers, which were canceled in 2016. due to cost overruns and deficiencies in their weapons after building only three ships. The generator will be vital to propel the ship while generating the enormous amounts of power required by its new high-powered lasers and sensors.

US Portland testing a laser weapon on a drone. (US NAVY)

The 600 kilowatt lasers They will have as their mission the destruction of enemy offensive weapons, from missiles to drones or any other threat. Apart from lasers, the system will have 32 cells to launch conventional MK-41 missiles and 12 to launch large hypersonic or supersonic cruise missiles.

The US Navy affirms that its new combat system – integrated into the ship’s hull – will be derived from the systems that it has begun to install in its current destroyers. One of the fundamental pieces will be the new AN / PY-6 radar, a machine 30 times more sensitive than the previous generation, able to detect a submarine’s periscope miles away.

The rising power of the Chinese Navy

According to the last annual report of the US Department of Defense —Published last November—, the North American Navy has gone from being the first to the second in the world in number of ships, behind China. The latter currently have 355 ships and submarines, with a total of 145 combat ships and about 65 submarines. And the Chinese continue to invest billions of dollars in what they see as their great asset to dominate their area of ​​influence, especially the China Sea, and the rest of the world.

The Zumwalt has been the great failure of the US Navy. (US Navy)

Nobody has a clear idea of the exact capabilities of the Asian Navy. The United States continues to have a clear superiority when it comes to aircraft carriers – with its supercarriers and amphibious attack ships of the Marines– but the rest is not so clear. In addition, the effectiveness of the North American aircraft carriers also is now in question in the face of the clear threat of hypersonic cruise missiles.

After the resounding failure of the Zumwalt destroyers and the worrying lack of hypersonic missiles, what is still – theoretically – the most powerful Navy in the world is at a crossroads. The Americans know that the DDG (X) is perhaps their last trump card to stand up to the Chinese in a potential future naval conflict. And there is still almost a decade left to have them. If everything goes according to plan and they don’t get another Zumwalt, the Americans will begin construction of their first destroyer of the future in 2028, but it will take several years to have it operational.

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