It’s like the Navy’s version of the F-22 — a lingering vestige of the “blue water” fighting force the service once was. But like the F-22, and despite the Navy’s best efforts to shift its emphasis to surface fire support (a concept that still clings to life despite air-to-ground and surface to surface missile and artillery advancements) talk is that the DDG 1000 is slipping away.
From today’s Military.com headlines:
The DDG 1000 series of ships would run on quiet and compact electric motors, not today’s gas turbine engines. The ships would be unusually large but built with a radar-evading profile to make them appear small, and they would carry a new gun able to hit precisely targets 50 miles or more inland.
Most important for sailors, the destroyers would carry highly trained, computer-savvy crews half as large as the force on current destroyers.
As recently as early June, the Pentagon’s top weapons buyer reaffirmed the Bush administration’s support for the new ships. But as Congress refines spending plans for 2009 this summer, Navy leaders appear ready to abandon the DDG 1000 program, building only two destroyers for what once was seen as a force of two dozen or more.
The House of Representatives already has voted for at least a pause in DDG 1000 purchases, citing the cost - as much as $5 billion each - of the first two ships in the series and their dependence on still-unproven technologies.
In a statement released last week , the Navy seemed resigned to an early end for the program. “Even if we do not receive funding … beyond the first two ships, the technology embedded in DDG 1000 will advance the Navy’s future,” the statement asserted.
And the sad thing is that the littoral combat ship was to precede the DDG 1000 and even that’s on the skids (and is perhaps the most relevant ship the Navy’s looking into right now). Rummy started it with the death of Cold War vestige programs in the Army (remember the Crusader and Comanche?) and Gates pounded a few more nails into the coffin with is “next-war-itis” crusade. The services are beginning to see the writing on the wall and refocus their efforts — leaving a big job for the next defense secretary to get the procurement plans back on track.