The USS Zumwalt was designed two decades ago, and three Zumwalt-class destroyers have been in the works for years. So how the US Navy missed the fact that it wouldn't be able to afford the ammunition for the Zumwalt's $22.5 billion, 155-millimeter Advanced Gun Systems, specifically designed to house 600 rounds that could hit land targets up to 80 miles away at a speed of 10 shells per minute, "is a mystery," reports Popular Mechanics. That's exactly the case, however. The Navy is now looking for alternatives to the GPS-guided Long Range Land Attack Projectiles just weeks after the warship was commissioned because a single round costs $800,000, and that's just the low estimate, a Navy official tells Defense News.
Had the Navy ordered 32 Zumwalt ships as initially planned, rather than just three, the cost would have been lower, the Navy says. Back in 2001, Lockheed Martin said the projectiles would cost "less than $50,000 each." Adjusted for inflation, that would be $68,000 today—still a good deal more than the smaller, unguided rounds that match the guns found on Navy destroyers and cruisers, at $1,600 to $2,200 per round. The Navy is looking at the $68,000 Excalibur GPS-guided artillery round to replace the LRLAP, but it may opt instead for railguns or expand the Zumwalt's 80 vertical launch missile silos, which could change its stated mission as a land-attack destroyer. (The USS Montgomery is also giving the Navy a headache.)