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The Almighty Buck The Military Government Transportation United States Technology

Long-Range Projectiles For Navy's Newest Ship Too Expensive To Shoot (arstechnica.com) 303

An anonymous reader writes: The USS Zumwalt (DDG-1000) is the U.S. Navy's latest warship, commissioned just last month -- and it comes with the biggest guns the Navy has deployed since the twilight of the battleships. But it turns out the Zumwalt's guns won't be getting much of a workout any time soon, aside from acceptance testing. That's because the special projectiles they were intended to fire are so expensive that the Navy has canceled its order. As [Ars] described [Zumwalt's Advanced Gun System (AGS)] in a story two years ago: "The automated AGS can fire 10 rocket-assisted, precision-guided projectiles per minute at targets over 100 miles away. Those projectiles use GPS and inertial guidance to improve the gun's accuracy to a 50 meter (164 feet) circle of probable error -- meaning that half of its GPS-guided shells will fall within that distance from the target." The projectile responsible for that accuracy -- something far too complex to just be called a "shell" or "bullet" -- is the Long Range Land-Attack Projectile (LRLAP). Each projectile has precision guidance provided by internal global positioning and inertial sensors, and bursts of LRLAPs could in theory be fired over a minute following different ballistic trajectories that cause them to land all at the same time. Lockheed Martin won the competition to produce the LRLAPs, and the company described their capabilities thusly: "155mm LRLAP provides single strike lethality against a wide range of targets, with three times the lethality of traditional 5-inch naval ballistic rounds -- and because it is guided, fewer rounds can produce similar or more lethal effects at less cost. LRLAP has the capability to guide multiple rounds launched from the same gun to strike single or multiple targets simultaneously, maximizing lethal effects." The "less cost" part, however, turned out to be a pipe dream. With the reduction of the Zumwalt class to a total of three ships, the corresponding reduction in requirements for LRLAP production raised the production costs just as the price of the ships they would be deployed to soared. Defense News reports that the Navy is canceling production of the LRLAP because of an $800,000-per-shot price tag -- more than 10 times the original projected cost.
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Long-Range Projectiles For Navy's Newest Ship Too Expensive To Shoot

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  • by thesupraman ( 179040 ) on Tuesday November 08, 2016 @05:10AM (#53235715)

    They have to be expensive, they are made of the very VERY finest pork!

    • Don't Worry (Score:5, Funny)

      by Roger W Moore ( 538166 ) on Tuesday November 08, 2016 @06:10AM (#53235895) Journal
      Don't worry - the UK are busy building aircraft carriers without any jets [portsmouth.co.uk]. So perhaps if you bring the jets the UK can provide some ammunition and Canada can provide the fuel? Clearly the reason recent conflicts have required coalitions is so each government's incompetence can be cancelled out.
      • perhaps if you bring the jets the UK can...

        Are there any operational F35s to bring?

      • Re:Don't Worry (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Xest ( 935314 ) on Tuesday November 08, 2016 @08:36AM (#53236589)

        "Clearly the reason recent conflicts have required coalitions is so each government's incompetence can be cancelled out."

        I know you're (half) joking but there's some (half) truth to this. The reason it was such a problem when the UK first refused to join strikes in Syria, and such a big deal when we eventually did join is because of the UK's Brimstone missile, it provides a capability that the US just doesn't have - it's accuracy against moving targets, and ability to cancel very last minute if there's a risk of civilian casualties is immensly important when striking inner city areas such as those ISIS hides in, but it also has millimetre wave and laser guidance options making it incredibly flexible in terms of hitting the target. There was some buzz about buying Brimstone in the US, but instead they chose to reinvent the wheel and just try and upgrade the hellfire themselves to do the exact same thing - launch from fast jets, with dual mode seekers, because military industrial complex money wasting.

        As an aside the F-117 was cancelled in 2008, but there have been numerous videos of them flying since despite supposedly being mothballed, including earlier this year - one theory is that it's because the F-22 doesn't do laser guidance and so can't hit moving targets on the ground, therefore the F-117 remains the USAF's only option for doing this, hence why they're keeping them airworthy and flying and the crews trained and active just in case. The F-35 can do this (which is why when people say the F-35 can't dogfight they're missing the point, it's not meant to, it's a strike fighter, dog fighting is what the F-22 is for, which is why the F-22 can't hit moving ground targets - there's no jack of all trades aircraft that can do everything perfectly).

        Regarding the carriers, Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm fast jet pilots were transitioned to the RAF, but are seconded to fly with countries like France and the US to practice carrier efforts - there are currently RAF (former fleet air arm) pilots flying French Rafales with the French Navy and American F/A-18s and Harriers with the US Navy and Marines.

        France does a decent job of maintaining full spectrum capabilities making it much more independent than the UK and US but the cost is that it means some of those capabilities are now incredibly dated - it's hard for one single country to afford everything. The US can afford to do it, but due to overly inflated project costs through corruption and backhanders it just runs out of money even though it shouldn't.

        It's not just the West though - Russia's joint project with India, the PAK-FA, their 5th generation attempt at creating a competitor for the F-22 is also in the shit, with Russia now dropping it's order of them to a mere 12 aircraft so probably only ever between 3 and 9 combat ready at best (you don't have all your aircraft flying at once, some are always used as reserves, some will be trainers etc.). China's having a good go but whilst many of it's designs are based on stolen US designs (there's a reason some of it's aircraft have striking similarities, they don't appear to have ever managed to steal a comprehensive design, so what you get is something where half of the plane looks like a cutting edge Western equivalent design, and the rest of it looks straight out of the 60s. See this image for example highlighting the front of the aircraft having a similar profile to the F-35, but the engines demonstrating the stealth profile of a gigantic flying turd (and likely the avionics of a Commodore 64).

        So you're actually not far wrong, countries genuinely are working together to fill gaps, and it genuinely is because of terrible decision making based on corrupt procurement processes - there's really no question that the Brimstone was far and away the most sensible purchase option for the US, it would've saved millions and does everything they want. Similarly selling the Royal Navy's entire 72 Harrier fleet to the US for less than the price of 2 F-35s only to then pay the US to let our pilots keep

  • by fremsley471 ( 792813 ) on Tuesday November 08, 2016 @05:10AM (#53235719)

    Reminiscent of the remark made regarding firing $1 million cruise missiles at Afghanistan in 1998. "I can't think of anything in Afghanistan worth $1 million".

    • by gtall ( 79522 ) on Tuesday November 08, 2016 @05:41AM (#53235789)

      Nailing Osama's ass in 1998 would have yielded a much bigger return than $1 million. Too bad the U.S. figured the Pakistanis were allies.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Nailing Osama's ass in 1998 would have yielded a much bigger return than $1 million. Too bad the U.S. figured the Pakistanis were allies.

        Pakistan? We should have let India clean that cesspool out. Most people don't recall that Pakistan and India almost went to war after 9/11 [wikipedia.org].

        Also, after 9/11 the US should have told Pakistan that 100 Indian troops will arrive in Afghanistan each week until the US has custody of Bin Laden and Mullah Omar. That would have made the Pakistanis choose between protecting their agents and protecting their de facto control of Afghanistan. They'd have been fucked either way - a suitable result for supporting the Ta

    • by Joce640k ( 829181 ) on Tuesday November 08, 2016 @05:48AM (#53235827) Homepage

      Yep. I'm more worried that they'd have been perfectly happy paying $80,000 per bullet (that was the design!)

      And that only half of them would land within 50 meters of the target. That's WWI accuracy from GPS-guided bullets that cost nearly $1 million each.

      Also ... that they're about to spend a crapload more money refitting some freshly-built ships that don't have any bullets for their guns when taking them out to sea and making large holes in their bottoms is probably a much more sensible thing to do. At this point in history all they really need is something capable of launching drones.

      • Well if it's build quality is anything like the LCS they won't have to wait long. One of the littoral combat ships recently cracked it's hull just transiting the Panama Canal, and I believe has has repeated engine troubles as well. I think the Navy is trying to race the F35 project to see who can spend the most money and get the least amount of operational equipment for it.
        • by Shinobi ( 19308 )

          The LCS.... Such a stupid idea to start with. Our Visby class corvette is almost too large for littoral combat at 73m length, especially in dense archipelagos. So what does the US do? They build even LARGER ships for that purpose. Not just longer and wider, but with more draft as well.

          Then there's the build quality you mentioned. The one crashing in the Panama Canal was not the first to develop hull cracks. LCS-1 had cracks from firing the Bofors 57mm cannon. And the US Navy tried to blame that on the canno

      • There's a difference between NRE and per unit production costs. The $80K pricetag was based on an assumed volume of production. Slash that production, per unit costs rise accordingly. Now, since they've cancelled the $800K per copy order, I assume the taxpayer will be shelling out several Billion just to cover NREs, without a volume production line spun up to make the things. Which is fine, if the world still believes that we can spin up such a production line in short order, it's almost as effective a

        • by Isca ( 550291 ) on Tuesday November 08, 2016 @08:35AM (#53236585)
          That's one of the problems with this system. Most of the shells will land just outside of that range. But any shell that has issues with it's targeting system from the start could potentially end up hundreds, even thousands of yards off target. With missiles there are usually backup electronics in the system that can take over plus a redundant emergency system that can detonate the missile harmlessly if it is malfunctioning in many cases (Not all, but much better than most other systems we have) I'm actually perfectly fine with how the navy has worked with this technology. They were trying many things that have never been tried before on any ship and we now know what works and what doesn't. The Pork Barrel issue kept them from killing off parts of this project as soon as they would have liked, but at least the lessons learned can be used on other systems. A direct result of the technologies used for the railgun fired projectiles is a better understanding of how to build those systems better and in a less complex manner on future projects. One of these is a smaller railgun system that can be used to fire off many more dumb projectiles quickly in a phalanx like manner but at ranges of up to ten miles (versus 2 miles or less). Another is adapting the technology used to fire larger payloads at slower speeds - 1000 to 2000 miles an hour versus 4500 miles per hour. This leads to a shell that can only be fired 50 miles, but because the projectiles are larger they are actually testing launching small missiles this way. Launching a 14 inch "shell" at 1000 miles per hour means a missile can have drastically reduced fuel and reach hundreds of miles away. This same technology could also be used to launch smart pebble filled missiles towards ballistic targets much more effectively than the missile batteries we use now. So why these guns are a failure, the designs used to build and test them will still be useful with future projects that could be much more effective.

          The F35 program on the other hand.... That is a much better example of throwing bad money away. Unfortunately air force procurement is usually spread out to far more states than Navy is which leads to less chances to overcome pork.
        • by Ihlosi ( 895663 )
          it's almost as effective a deterrent as a live-fire exercise where a ship 100 miles away levels all the target buildings in a small town in 60 seconds.

          The shells will still be in flight one minute after they were fired.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by tburkhol ( 121842 )

        And that only half of them would land within 50 meters of the target. That's WWI accuracy from GPS-guided bullets that cost nearly $1 million each.

        To be fair, the biggest WWII guns only had a range of 24 miles and a pattern size of 200 m. So half the accuracy at a quarter of the range. No argument over the cost, though: these "guns" are basically high rate of fire cruise missile launchers.

        The US military isn't so much about winning wars as it is a jobs program. In the 1930s, we had the Works Project Administration, handing out menial jobs building pointless roads. Today, we have DoD, handing out engineering jobs building impractical weapon systems.

      • by i.r.id10t ( 595143 ) on Tuesday November 08, 2016 @09:25AM (#53237023)

        50 meters at 100 miles is just about 1 minute of angle - a VERY good grouping for just about any gun. At 100 yards, just about 1 inch from center to center of the bullet holes furthest apart in a group.

        Inaccurate? Hardly.

  • War 3.0 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jovius ( 974690 ) on Tuesday November 08, 2016 @05:23AM (#53235755)

    I propose that the ships should be financial organizations rather than military ones. For example, to fund the operations and perhaps to turn profitable even the smart missiles could pick and deliver goods to nearby customers before striking the targets.

  • It's because our government is not only wasting trillions of dollars on the DoD, but also the fact that the engineers working on this shit aren't working on things that provide any benefit to civilians.

    -jcr

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by gtall ( 79522 )

      The U.S. Defense budget is about $600 Billion per year now, the Federal Budget is about $4 trillion. So that's about 15%. So 85% of the budget is going for Grandma, her meds, her opiate addicted great-grand kids and their parents, etc. The military also spins off a lot of technology, networks for instance.

      This isn't the 60's anymore, grow up.

      • The military also spins off a lot of technology, networks for instance.

        Really? None of that would have been invented without blowing things up?

        • The military also spins off a lot of technology, networks for instance.

          Really? None of that would have been invented without blowing things up?

          Really, yes. Without competition, threat of annihilation, etc. bread and circuses rule the day. Networks, jet engines, satellites are all used to deliver bread and circuses today, but they wouldn't have been developed if that was their only use.

          • by meglon ( 1001833 )
            .... not with the cowards we have in politics, and in the rest of the country, that we have today.

            When Kennedy said we were going to the moon... that wasn't declaring war, or even a threat to anyone else. We didn't kill people in another country just to do that. And you can damn well be sure that NASA has developed and spun off far more useful and groundbreaking technologies than the military ever has... at an incredibly small fraction of the cost.
      • for Grandma, her meds

        Actually, for pharma companies selling drugs for 1000x times or more it takes to produce them.

      • by meglon ( 1001833 ) on Tuesday November 08, 2016 @08:37AM (#53236599)
        DoD budget is about 600B of the discretionary spending.... over 50%. Not including, of course, the share of the debt and interest that's a direct result of the military and military adventurism, as well as the Veterans administration. https://www.nationalpriorities... [nationalpriorities.org]

        Social Security and the majority of Medicare are paid for by a tax specifically for that purpose, which congress does everything in their power to use on everything else they can.

        Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone.

        It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.

        The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some 50 miles of concrete highway. We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people.

        This, I repeat, is the best way of life to be found on the road the world has been taking. This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.

        ...Dwight Eisenhower

        .... and this was before the stupidly expensive weapons systems that cowards scream at the top of the lungs that we need, while they sit useless still on the drafting table, or on some tarmac collecting dust because they simply do not work. The death of the nation will be because of the loud mouth cowards who are scared of their own shadows.

  • It makes sense (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MrKaos ( 858439 ) on Tuesday November 08, 2016 @05:43AM (#53235797) Journal

    All the scientists, engineers, doctors, nurses not trained, all the people that didn't get help when they needed it, all the tax money not spent on roads, education, bridges and hospitals, everyone made a willing and needed sacrifice so that the Navy could use that money developing a weapon system that is too expensive to use because that saves money.

    It makes perfect sense.

    • The logic goes: the overpriced weapon system makes the world safe for democracy, without it there would be no capacity (peace) in which to train scientists, engineers, doctors, nurses, etc. The question is: do we need to spend $1T/year ($2800/year per capita) doing this, or maybe could we get by with $2600, or even $1400 per year per capita, if we did it smarter? If we guess wrong and underspend, the consequences could be... severe.

      Personally, I think we can do it for less, and do it better. But, then, I

    • by hey! ( 33014 )

      It probably does save money. The key is that you have to ask in comparison to what.

      In comparison to not making a naval super-gun, of course it's a money loser. But the problem is that there are people in Congress who really, really like big guns. At the time this particular gun was proposed there were still people advocating for re-activating the New Jersey, with it's titanic (although primitive) 16 inch guns. And that would be very expensive indeed.

      The New Jersey fired 2700 pound Mark 8 shells which co

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 08, 2016 @05:44AM (#53235803)

    We can save a lot of money if we stop with these expensive weapons systems and just start killing our enemies by throwing heavy bags of money at them.

  • by Qbertino ( 265505 ) <moiraNO@SPAMmodparlor.com> on Tuesday November 08, 2016 @05:46AM (#53235821)

    I'd say this all is classic over-engineering. As with the F35 JSF, Airbus A400M and Jaeger90 ... errrm, sorry, "Eurofighter". These projects have been running over time and budget for *decades* (you may guess when the Jaeger90 was supposed to enter service ...) and are just about outdated by drones and new types of asymmetric warfare when they'll finally will be finished.
    Meanwhile the russians are gradually updating their Mig29s and Sukolevs with junkyard scraps or something and can actually fly. Like, they have pilots trained on them that can strap in and take off in 3.5 Minutes flat.

    If I were king of the US i'd cancel these projects inmediately and do a maintainable iteration of existing aircraft.
    Upgrade/iterate the F15, F16 and A10, get some new upgraded missiles and stuff and built 700 of each and get some pilots to learn to fly them.

    This new warship is also not much more than some PR move/dick measuring contest of the US Navy vis-a-vis the other forces.
    Insanely expensive and not really of any pivotal value in a conflict I would guess. Not much different than in WW1.

    New-toy-cash would be way better invested in stealth drones or something.

    My 2 cents.

    • by Nidi62 ( 1525137 ) on Tuesday November 08, 2016 @06:07AM (#53235885)
      Maintaining existing fleets of aircraft doesn't advance your career, let you stroke your ego by putting your name on a big budget project, or guarantee you a nice cushy position at a defense contractor (on top of your flag officer pension) after you retire like the LCS, F35, etc do.
      • This is also true of websites. Maintaining an existing, working website doesn't advance your career. Rewriting it in a trendy new Javascript framework, with flat rectangles bouncing all over the page, and half the functionality moved/hidden and the other half gone - now THAT advances your career.

    • by jabuzz ( 182671 )

      The issue with the Eurofighter is that it is an intercept air defence fighter designed for the cold war. As it came into service the Soviet Union collapsed and the claim was that we no longer (at least here in the UK) needed an intercept air defence fighter.

      I suggest that you go live near one of the current bases for the Eurofighter in the UK for a few weeks, because they are being scrambled for intercept air defence on a regular basis, and far from being unneeded are actually essential.

      • Part of me wonders how essential air intercept really is. We play this big cat and mouse game of flying planes up to the edge of another nation state's airspace.

        What if we just ignored them? What if we tracked and filmed them violating our airspace and simply resorted to diplomacy and coordinated sanctions when international law was broken?

        • by dbIII ( 701233 )

          What if we just ignored them?

          From hitting the archives after the USSR fell it turns out that the USSR completely ignored the Nixon era "madman theory" probes by US bombers getting close to their territory. It turns out they knew what real madmen were like. Nixon didn't rate.
          So it appears that empty sabre rattling can be ignored.
          Another bit of history - doing the same with Cuba and North Korea just showed a lack of follow through on an empty bluff resulting in a dead pilot and a captured ship (which is sti

      • The issue with the Eurofighter is that it is an intercept air defence fighter designed for the cold war. As it came into service the Soviet Union collapsed and the claim was that we no longer (at least here in the UK) needed an intercept air defence fighter.

        I suggest that you go live near one of the current bases for the Eurofighter in the UK for a few weeks, because they are being scrambled for intercept air defence on a regular basis, and far from being unneeded are actually essential.

        Well it should not surprise anybody, as you point out, that now that Interceptors are back in fashion now that we have a cold war again thanks to Big Vlad. Pundits delight in pointing out that the Eurofighter would have a bad time against the F-22 and use it as a way to argue that it is obsolete. Well experiences from maneuvers have so far shown that while stealth is an advantage even the lower tranche Eurofighters without AESA, state of the art jamming pods, IRST and advanced AWAC backup do not necessarily

    • by Feral Nerd ( 3929873 ) on Tuesday November 08, 2016 @07:32AM (#53236197)

      I'd say this all is classic over-engineering. As with the F35 JSF, Airbus A400M and Jaeger90 ... errrm, sorry, "Eurofighter". These projects have been running over time and budget for *decades* (you may guess when the Jaeger90 was supposed to enter service ...) and are just about outdated by drones and new types of asymmetric warfare when they'll finally will be finished. Meanwhile the russians are gradually updating their Mig29s and Sukolevs with junkyard scraps or something and can actually fly. Like, they have pilots trained on them that can strap in and take off in 3.5 Minutes flat.

      I find it interesting how you managed to shit all over the F35 JSF, Airbus A400M and Jaeger90 ... errrm, sorry, "Eurofighter" because they have been obsoleted by drones and the transitioned into praising Russians for still producing and fielding manned aircraft, re-designs and re-re-desings of cold war relics from the 1980s, which makes them basically 1970s vintage airframe designs that Russia cannot afford to replace. At least the Jaeger90 ... errrm, sorry, "Eurofighter" is a design that went into design when the current crop of Russian fighters was in the process of entering service.

      If I were king of the US...

      You have for years to prepare for a mudpit bitchfight with Mrs. Clinton or Donald Trump over that title. Better get training, they fight dirty.

      Upgrade/iterate the F15, F16 and A10, get some new upgraded missiles and stuff and built 700 of each and get some pilots to learn to fly them.

      F-15, F-16 and A-10 pilots already know how to fly they've been proving it in the Middle East for years, even the Turkish F-16 drivers are in good shape, shot down a trespasser not that long ago I seem to remember.

      This new warship is also not much more than some PR move/dick measuring contest of the US Navy vis-a-vis the other forces. Insanely expensive and not really of any pivotal value in a conflict I would guess. Not much different than in WW1.

      That's why it is being cancelled. Can only criticise the navy for not doing it sooner.

      New-toy-cash would be way better invested in stealth drones or something.

      My 2 cents.

      That's true, which brings me back to wondering why you are heaping praise on the Russians for fielding un-stealthy manned aircraft designs from the 1970s. Make up your mind...

    • Like,

      Imagine standing in front of a large audience, lecturing... only you've accessorized the back of your pants with a massive shitstain. Can you see how that'd kill your credibility?

      Using "like" in that fashion achieves a similar result.

    • Stealth drones are for actually achieving a destructive objective.

      Flashy weapon systems are mostly for not having to actually destroy anything, yet still achieving a political objective.

    • by Duhavid ( 677874 )
      They do upgrade and iterate the aircraft. The F-15 is up to version D/E ( E being the strike variant, ground attack roles are often added towards the end of a fighter's lifespan )

      Unfortunately, there does come a time when, depending on the intended use, upgrade and iterate does not work any more.
      For aircraft like the B-1/B-52 and like the A-10, I am in much more agreement with you. But for fighters, things get different.
      You can do what the Russians are doing, buy many less expensive aircraft.
    • by Xest ( 935314 )

      "Meanwhile the russians are gradually updating their Mig29s and Sukolevs with junkyard scraps or something and can actually fly. Like, they have pilots trained on them that can strap in and take off in 3.5 Minutes flat."

      Nonense, many of Russia's projects are in complete disarray too. They created a high tech electronic controlled tank that crashes more than Windows ME, and a 5th gen fighter jet that spontaneously explodes and has become such a fuckup that Russia has reduced it's order to a mere 12 aircraft,

  • by jonr ( 1130 )

    "It takes one million dollar to fire this weapon.... once"

  • WOW. Just. WOW. (Score:5, Informative)

    by NoNonAlphaCharsHere ( 2201864 ) on Tuesday November 08, 2016 @06:02AM (#53235867)
    A few things, after 5 minutes of Googling, in no particular order:
    1) That max range was 100 km, not 100 miles; so, 53 miles. It's only been tested to 83km/45mi. And that's just the "let's see how far it will go" test.
    2) Yeah, it's 155mm, but not compatible with any other 155mm munitions.
    3) The elevation is 70 degrees, so it's really a guided missile launcher, not a "gun".
    4) There's so much guidance and propulsion crap onboard, there's hardly any (24 lbs) room for the High Explosive for the warhead.
    5) Most of the lethality estimates involve using the Multiple Round Simultaneous Impact theory. So the plan is to have half-a-dozen rounds land on target, at the same time. Good luck with that.
    6) So, $80,000 per shot was the pie-in-the-sky target cost??? From a glorified cannon?
    • 7) A cruise missile can hit a 1 square meter target. This can only hit a 50 square meter target. That's pretty fucking useless "accuracy" for a "guided" munition that costs nearly as much as a cruise missile.

      • Re:WOW. Just. WOW. (Score:4, Insightful)

        by jittles ( 1613415 ) on Tuesday November 08, 2016 @08:51AM (#53236703)

        7) A cruise missile can hit a 1 square meter target. This can only hit a 50 square meter target. That's pretty fucking useless "accuracy" for a "guided" munition that costs nearly as much as a cruise missile.

        That may be by design. For instance, the chain gun on the AH-64 is called the AWS or "Area Weapon System". It is designed so that it spreads its shots over an area. There's no point in firing a cannon at foot soldiers and have a 10 round burst hit in one spot. It's far more effective to have those 10 rounds hit in a predictable pattern that the co-pilot can depend on when he aims the gun.

      • by meglon ( 1001833 )
        8) a 16 incher can hit a 1 meter target, a 50 meter target, a 100 meter target, and a 1000m target.... all with the same shell at the same time. Too bad ours are sitting and turning into rust because weapons of war are completely useless for anything to do with helping society.

        Biggest gun since a battleship... pfft. If danger close isn't counted in miles, it ain't a big gun.
      • by fnj ( 64210 )

        A cruise missile can hit a 1 square meter target. This can only hit a 50 square meter target.

        It's worse than that. An accuracy of 50 m means a circle of 50 m radius, which is 7900 m^2, not 50 m^2. If the cruise missile does indeed have an accuracy of 1 m (dubious), that would be 3 m^2.

    • A big waste of money, I agree. But this gun should be able to strike a vessel being guarded by a missile defense shield while keeping far enough away that it is not put in danger. For example, sinking a defended enemy carrier. There will also be other niche applications where this gun is a perfect solution. But one could easily argue that this does not justify the price - and I would have to agree.
      • by meglon ( 1001833 )
        In time of conflict, nothing will get within 100km of the Admiral Kuznetsov without going through it's perimeter ships, and the Chinese jump carrier is a training ship.... so the whole "sinking a defended enemy carrier" is an incredibly small one-off event, and no one else has any carriers. Nothing an Exocet hasn't been able to do for the past 40 years or more.
    • by Ihlosi ( 895663 )

      Sounds more like a mortar for rocket-assisted, guided projetiles.

  • I call these "missiles".
    They cost as much as actual missiles too.

  • sunk costs (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 08, 2016 @06:20AM (#53235921)

    how much of that $800K/shell is from sunk costs like R&D that has already been spent.

    They expected that the shells would be reasonably cheap when produced for 60 ships, but that same startup cost now is only being spread across 3 ships because the others have been canceled.

    That doesn't make the production costs of individual shells _that_ much more expensive, just the overall program costs are split across far fewer shells, so the overall program costs per shell are much higher (even if the total cost of the program is less)

    This is the same stupid logic that is applied any time they reduce production of something and then want to reduce it more because if they cancel 90% of a production run, the remaining 10% that are produced still are charged with the full R&D (including testing) budget, they actually only save 5-10% of the overall program costs. But they then act surprised that the remaining 10% now 'cost' 10x as much as before.

    The B-2, and F-22 also suffered from this, if they had been built to the original quantities, the 'cost' of each plane would be 1/10 the 'cost' that they are listed at now.

    For these shells, what is the cost to finish production from this point, forget about the money that's already been spent on the program, canceling the program doesn't make that money re-appear. I guarantee that it doesn't cost $800K to produce each shell once they are being manufactured.

    David Lang

    • how much of that $800K/shell is from sunk costs like R&D that has already been spent.

      Who cares? The point is that somebody sat down and thought it would be OK to build this at taxpayer expense.

  • by RobRyland ( 960596 ) on Tuesday November 08, 2016 @06:23AM (#53235925)

    The Navy originally projected that they would buy thousands of rounds (to outfit 28 ships). Then they cut the order because they decided to only make 3 ships.
    Well, you have a large fixed development cost.
    The "per missile" cost = (DevCost + RealPerMissileCost)/N
    naturally, when N goes down by a factor of 10, then the "per missile" cost will go up by nearly a factor of 10.
    that just tells you that you can't look at it as a "per missile" cost.

    This sounds like a complete screw up from the Navy; not at all clear how much of a screw up by the contractor.

    • Total per missile cost = (R&D cost + Tooling cost) / N + per missile production cost. If N decreases by a factor of 10 and the per missile cost goes up by a factor of 10, then all the costs are in R&D and setting up the production line, after that the costs of producing each missile would be 0.
  • Looks like Chris Rock called it. Well-done, sir.

  • Time and again we have been told private industry does things better than government. They're more efficient, less expensive and get things done more quickly.

    That we are now talking about private industry over-promising and under-delivering sounds preposterous. Clearly someone has moved the commas to the wrong position. Simple artillery shells can't cost $800K. Private industry would never let that happen.

    • by Zak3056 ( 69287 )

      Time and again we have been told private industry does things better than government.

      If you're going to make this argument, defense spending is probably not the place to do it, because everything about it is inherently controlled by the government. (hint: cancel 90% of the ships, and the fixed costs don't suddenly decrease).

      I'm not saying your point in general is a bad one, just that it has nothing to do with this issue.

    • This isn't private industry, this is government contracting. I'm not sure we are quite ready for private industry to have it's own armies...but I guarantee you that if they did they wouldn't be spending it on pie in the sky weapons systems like this one.
  • Naval artillery (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Orgasmatron ( 8103 ) on Tuesday November 08, 2016 @07:37AM (#53236219)

    We have other 155mm artillery, such as the M284 (commonly mounted on a M109 Paladin [wikipedia.org] chassis). Current versions of the Paladin have capabilities eerily similar to the desired capabilities of the Zumwalt's guns.

    So, how exactly did these geniuses develop what appears to be the same gun, with the same capabilities, but somehow make it incompatibly different?

  • Looks like the defense industry figured out how to earn lots of money selling arms while making an actual large-scale war way too expensive.
  • I don't get it. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by nospam007 ( 722110 ) * on Tuesday November 08, 2016 @09:50AM (#53237281)

    Only 50 Meters accuracy for this expensive crap?

    Since cheap drones could send guided missiles through a tiny the bathroom window of a bunker 10 years ago, this seems a bit poor.

  • by petes_PoV ( 912422 ) on Tuesday November 08, 2016 @10:41AM (#53237779)
    For a projectile aimed at something 100 miles away, it's going to be very difficult to tell, in real time, whether you've hit the target or not. The best you could do would be to have a drone nearby to report back. But if you can operate a drone in theatre, why not use that to fire a missile of its own?

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