But a series of articles last summer by Michael Fabey of Aviation Week suggests that the smoldering argument is being re-stoked.1 According to the articles, much of the current dialogue among defense analysts, Navy officials, and contractors revolves around the Navy’s increasing commitment to ballistic-missile defense (BMD), development of a new missile-defense radar, and the optimum platform on which to put it to sea. In addition, the Navy’s decision on DDG-1000s has come under review by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO).2
The Wrong Debate
Reviving the argument over destroyer classes is a counterproductive apples-and-oranges exercise. Better to focus on each ship’s role in the Fleet.Three and a half years ago, the Navy announced it was truncating the DDG-1000 program and restarting procurement of DDG-51-class ships. This announcement sparked a flurry of protests from Zumwalt (DDG-1000) advocates, and generated considerable comment in various media. Strongly held views on all sides notwithstanding, the general debate subsided somewhat once the Fiscal Year 2010 Defense Appropriations Act set a course for Navy shipbuilding’s immediate future by providing advance funding for two DDG-51s and completing DDG-1000 procurement at three ships.
By Captain Michael J. Miller, U.S. Navy (Retired), and Robert E. Gray