The U.S. Navy’s plan to develop a successor to the Arleigh Burke destroyer has received a firm rebuff from Congress. Authorizing and appropriating committees contend that (1) the acquisition plan is not clear, (2) lack of clarity is a threat to the shipbuilding industrial base, and (3) the service should consider buying more Burke-class vessels for the time being. Their skepticism is understandable, because the Burke is an exceptionally versatile warship, and the Navy hasn’t made a persuasive case about the logic of starting over on a new class (the last attempt to do so did not work out well). The obvious solution here is to keep evolving the Burke class until its successor is ready for primetime. If the hull were lengthened to accommodate more on-board equipment, the Navy might discover it doesn’t really need a new destroyer. And even if it does, keeping the Burke in production through 2030 is good sense given the likelihood of increased tensions with China. This is not a good time to be switching from a proven warship to an unproven one. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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