The Zumwalt: Hit or Miss? Mostly Miss

by | May 28, 2024


The corporate/access media press is gushing about removing the 155 mm Advanced Gun System (AGS) to replace it with the Conventional Prompt Strike (CPS) missile on the ugly Zumwalt-class ship in the US Navy. The AGS was designed in the 1990s to increase the ability of ship to conduct shore bombardment but too little too late with technology that (of course) didn’t prove out.

So Lockheed Systems looked at rocket assisted guided rounds, and came up with the Long Range Land Attack Projectile (LRLAP). Nor would it meet US Navy Insensitive Munitions requirements (LRLAP having fairly strict requirements in regards to shells resting in hot gun barrels for hours). Cancelled in November 2016.

A version of the LRLAP was being designed to be used in the 127mm (5in) guns which were the ubiquitous round in the surface navy. This was due to rising costs resulting from the trimming of the Zumwalt-class destroyer fleet to from 35(?) to just three ships, raising individual shell cost to $800,000-$1 million, about as much as the Tomahawk cruise missile. About 90 rounds had been secured for testing aboard the three hulls, but a full buy of about 2,000 planned rounds would be about $1.8-$2 billion. The LRLAP is dead.

So the AGS was something of an interim replacement for the cancelled LRLAP.

The LRLAP story is a snapshot of the martial malpractice that has been a hallmark of American military thinking for half a century.

Check out this snapshot I drew from the 2016 budget request (those figures are in millions):screenshot 2024 05 28 at 07 52 24 justification book panmc 1 book.pdf

And, of course, the AGS gun has a different chamber and rifling than all other US military 155mm guns in the inventory. Bottom line is the form factor limitation for long range 155mm shells would trade range for reduced actual munitions payload. It appears, once again, ,no one was paying attention to the unintended consequences of using technology to increase effectiveness and failing on all counts.

So they parked the AGS on the three hulls of the silly Zumwalt. Now they’re removing them for the newest pipe-dream destined for oblivion, the CPS missile.

And the Zumwalt may be one of the ugliest ships in the entire global inventory of surface craft.

AGS and LRLAP problems are primarily due to high-technical risk leading to high R&D costs, combined with truncated programs loading those R&D costs over an ever-smaller number of platforms, further increasing costs, rather than having them spread over a large production of ships.

CPS formerly called Prompt Global Strike (PGS), is a United States military effort to develop a system that can deliver a precision-guided conventional weapon strike anywhere in the world within one hour, in a similar manner to a nuclear ICBM first started in 2.

The rosy article below is reflective of the nature of the defense press.

US Navy removes first 155mm AGS from USS Zumwalt at Ingalls Shipbuilding

Bill Buppert

Bill Buppert

Bill Buppert is the host of Chasing Ghosts: An Irregular Warfare Podcast and a contributor over time to various liberty endeavors. He served in the military for nearly a quarter century and contractor tours after retirement on occasion and was a combat tourist in a number of neo-imperialist shit-pits around the world.

He can be found on twitter at @wbuppert and reached via email at

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