When the Navy needs to surprise and overwhelm an inland enemy, it can send in its new Zumwalt-class destroyer.
PopSci – When the USS Zumwalt rolls out of dry dock at Bath Iron Works in Maine next year, the Navy’s newest warship will be 100 feet longer than the destroyers currently serving around the globe—and nearly twice as massive—yet it will have a radar signature 50 times smaller and will carry half the crew. Packed bow to stern with state-of-the-art radar, stealth, weapons, and propulsion systems, the USS Zumwalt, which will be operational in mid-2016, will be the most technologically sophisticated warship ever to hit the water.
A complement to Arleigh Burke–class destroyers that currently protect the Navy’s prized aircraft carriers from aerial attacks, the Zumwalt-class destroyer is for laying waste to land. It can evade enemy detection; slip into the shallows along foreign coastlines; and deliver devastatingly accurate firepower hundreds of miles inland, supporting special operations ashore, clearing the way for amphibious troop landings, or knocking out air defenses. It’s a seaborne battering ram—a specialized piece of equipment for smashing in the enemy’s front door.
In the 1990s, the U.S. military carried out successful amphibious assaults in Somalia and elsewhere. But as coastal defenses around the world grew more advanced—not least those of Iraq, which would have been a serious threat to U.S. troops had they invaded Kuwait by sea during Operation Desert Storm—the Navy decided to build the Zumwalt.