US Navy to cancel newest warship ammunition costing $800,000 per round - report

The guided-missile destroyer USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) © PO2 Timothy Schumaker / US Navy
The US Navy’s newest warship is designed to carry two huge guns that can hit targets 80 miles away – but although that may sound impressive, the Navy has now decided that the necessary ammunition is too expensive.

The Long Range Land-Attack Projectile (LRLAP) is a guided munition capable of hitting targets in “urban canyons of coastal cities with minimal collateral damage,” manufacturer Lockheed Martin said.

It is the only round designed for the Advanced Gun System (AGS) of the DDG 1000 Zumwalt-class land-attack destroyer.

But although the LRLAP may look good on paper, the Navy moved to cancel the projectiles, citing excessive costs of $800,000 or more per round.

“We were going to buy thousands of these rounds,” a Navy official familiar with the program told Defense News. “But quantities of ships killed the affordable round.”

The official went on to state that the problem lies solely within the price of the projectile, rather than with its performance.

“Everything seems to have been performing correctly. I never saw any test results that showed we had problems,” the official said. “We don’t have an issue with the gun, and no issue with that ship carrying the gun. We have an issue on the price point.”

The official said the high price is “probably low.”

“That’s what the acquisition community wanted to get it down to,” he said, noting that there is no indication the contractor is overcharging.

The Navy is now looking at other ammunition options, according to the official. The service has so far looked at the Army’s Excalibur munition from Raytheon and the Hyper Velocity Projectile (HVP), a project currently under development by the Office of Naval Research and BAE Systems.

The decision to accept the LRLAP cancelation is part of the Program Objective Memorandum 2018 (POM18), the Pentagon’s annual budget process. The cancelation proposal was presented to the Office of the Secretary of Defense on November 2, but has yet to be approved.

It comes just three weeks after three Zumwalt warships were commissioned in Baltimore, Maryland. Another 18 months of shipyard work will take place in San Diego, during which the ships’ combat systems will be installed. A set of extensive tests will be carried out on the ships in 2018.

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