The U.S. Navy’s idea to develop a successor to the DDG-51 Arleigh Burke destroyer is facing high seas and heavy winds on Capitol Hill. Lawmakers aren’t convinced that plans for what the Navy calls DDG(X) are ready for primetime. They are probably right. The sea service is proposing to end Burke production and commence DDG(X) construction at a time when China’s maritime threat is expected to peak. The rationale for developing a new destroyer is largely speculative, and much of what the new warship would carry is already resident on the latest Flight III version of the Burkes. Starting another new class of warships would add risk to a shipbuilding plan that is already burdened with uncertainty, and as Congress has repeatedly warned, potentially devastate the shipbuilding industrial base. The solution is obvious: keep the DDG-51 in production through the end of the decade, and then ask whether DDG(X) is really needed or a modified Burke can do the job. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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