Stealth destroyer DDG-1000, the Navy's high-tech contribution to naval combat, was cancelled two weeks ago thanks to its nearly $5 billion price tag. However, more details about the failed vessel have begun to find its way into the public domain, which paints a clearer picture of why, precisely, the stealth destroyers were sunk before they really had a chance to prove their mettle in combat.
In a recent letter to Senator Ted Kennedy, Admiral Gary Roughead explained why he preferred the $2 billion Arleigh Burke-class ships over the DDG-1000. "While there are cost savings associated with the DDG-1000’s smaller crew, they are largely offset by higher estimated maintenance costs for this significantly more complex ship," Roughhead wrote. "On balance, the procurement cost of a single DDG-51 is significantly less than that of a DDG-1000, and the life-cycle costs of the two classes are similar."
According to Wired, the cancellation may have more to do with the ship's defensive capabilities than it's hefty price tag. Deputy Chief of Naval Operations Barry McCullough stated that the technological marvel apparently can't defend itself against air attacks, leaving it almost entirely vulnerable to assault. Furthermore, the DDG-1000s might not be able to protect its fleet from common household weaponry employed by just about every militarized country on the planet.
If this wasn't already cause for concern, sources have told Defense News that the military was particularly concerned about a new ballistic missle that could, in theory, sink the DDG-1000 with relative ease. The older ships, however, are better equipped to handle the "classified threat" than its modern, $5 billion counterpart.
"One source familiar with the classified briefing said that while anti-ship cruise missiles and other threats were known to exist, those aren’t the worst. The new threat, which didn’t exist a couple years ago, is a land-launched ballistic missile that converts to a cruise missile," the source explained. "Other sources confirmed that a new, classified missile threat is being briefed at very high levels. One admiral, said another source, was told his ships should simply stay away. There are no options. Information on the new threat remains closely held."
I guess the adage is true: Sometimes older is, in fact, better.