Defense News, quoting an unnamed Navy official, broke the story that the long-range shells for the newest U.S. Navy destroyer, named after Vietnam-era Chief of Naval Operations Elmo R. Zumwalt, are too expensive at $800,000 each, and no more will be purchased.
That makes the stealthy ship, still more than a year from deployment as a weapons system, unable to do some of its primary missions: softening up beachheads for Marine landings and taking out inland terror-training camps.
I'm sorry, but the notion that a $7+ billion dollar ship is going to get close to an enemy shore to bombard enemy targets is nonsense. I don't care how stealthy the ship is, explosions on shore are big, loud, and as non-stealthy as you can imagine. The enemy can trace a radius around the impact points and look for the offending target.
"Stealthy" does not mean "invisible," recall.
Truly, if the threat environment for non-stealthy amphibious warfare ships bringing in the Marines is low enough, we won't need stealthy Zumwalts (we will have just 3, remember) to bombard the enemy.
And cruise missiles will do just fine for inland terror-training camps.
Seriously, thinking that this ship is intended for shore bombardment is just so mind numbingly stupid that I cannot fathom any Navy planner actually drawing up plans to do that with this ship.
If planners did that anyway, assuming plentiful shells, thank God for expensive shells. Their absence will save the even more expensive ships.
And if they are still intended for that mission if we can get around the shell costs, we have bigger problems than $800,000 shells.
Or bigger problems than defense topic writers who don't seem to understand that when 3 Zumwalt "destroyers" are the only ships in our fleet with this caliber cannon, that this reality will automatically make the ammo for them more expensive.
But hey, with 3-D printing, unique products like plane-specific toilet seats or screws will one day no longer suffer from the per-unit cost problems of small production runs. What will writers with shallow knowledge bases write about then?
UPDATE: After seeing nothing of note in the article above, Strategypage writes about the gun and ammo issue. Yes, there are program problems too, in addition to the small production run to drive up costs.