A new wave of innovation for the United States Military

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An artists's rendering of the B-21 Raider (U.S. Air Force)

For many years, the United States has been the leader in military innovation and technology, and today is not different. Multiple branches of the U.S. Military are preparing to adapt new technology.

     In the Navy, a new destroyer is being rolled out. A destroyer is a moderately sized and quick warship that is designed for anti aircraft and anti submarine defense.Three Zumwalt class destroyers were built to replace some of the Arleigh Burke class destroyers. This number of 3 is down from an original plan to build 32. On the Zumwalt class destroyers, all of the exterior surfaces are flat, giving it a stealth classification. This means it is hard for radar to pick up its signature due to the way the radar waves bounce off of the flat surfaces.

A Zumwalt Class Destroyer (United States Naval Institute)

U.S. Navy
A Zumwalt Class Destroyer (United States Naval Institute)

     The Zumwalt Class destroyer is the first ship to get the military’s new Advanced Gun System (AGS). The AGS is a new concept to put on board ships as it is not a traditional “breech-loaded” artillery gun. It has an automatic ammunition supply that can fire up to ten rounds per minute, much faster than any breech-loaded artillery gun could fire.

     The placement of the Vertical Launching System or missile pods is strategic on the Zumwalt class destroyers. Instead of having all the missile pods placed in the middle of the ship, where an explosion to the magazine would destroy the entire ship, the missile pods are scattered around the outsides of the ship. If the magazines were struck, the explosion would be directed outward, allowing the ship to continue sailing.

     The crew on the Zumwalt Class Destroyers is much smaller than on a classic destroyer. An Arleigh Burke Class Destroyer requires 303 people to fully function, while the Zumwalt Class Destroyers only require 130 people. This means less space needs to be taken up for provisions, and the process of resupplying needs to be performed less often.  

     In addition to the new class of destroyer, the United States Navy is getting a new class of littoral combat ships (LCS). The LCSs are designed for patrolling areas close to shore as classic missile cruisers or destroyers can be quite vulnerable near shore due to their lack of maneuverability. Like the Zumwalt Class, the Independence Class also has a stealth profile with flat surfaces making it difficult for radars to detect it.  

An Independence class LCS (U.S. Navy)

An Independence class LCS (U.S. Navy)

     The Independence Class of LCSs currently has four ships, with nine more to come. The  main feature of the Independence class is the capability for it to quickly launch multiple dimensions of an attack. In its storage bay, the Independence Class can carry two SH-60 Seahawk helicopters and four lanes of Humvees or armored Strykers.  

     In the skies, the department of defense has a couple of new aircraft in testing and on the way. As the A-10, the most versatile aircraft in the skies begins to be taken out of service, the F-35 Lighting is being pressed into service. Built by Lockheed Martin, the F-35 is a stealth multirole fighter.  

     Not unlike the two ships discussed above, the F-35 is also designed to be stealth. The surfaces are more flat and streamlined than the F-15/16/18, making it harder to detect. Also, it does not have external fuel tanks like the other fighters which add significant bulk to the aircraft which increases its radar signature.

 

     While the F-35 is very modern, it does not quite fulfill its duty to replace the A-10. The A-10 is the most versatile aircraft in the skies today, as it can do anything from low altitude strafing runs a few hundred feet above the ground to light bombing runs.  F-35 has really struggled in dogfighting. A “dogfight” is a mid air fight between two aircraft. The large size of the F-35 makes it have decreased maneuverability, making it vulnerable. The F-35 is also not capable of doing low altitude strafing runs like the A-10 because it only has one cannon, whereas the A-10 has two.  

An F-35 test aircraft flying over the Arizona desert (U.S. Air Force)

An F-35 test aircraft flying over the Arizona desert (U.S. Air Force)

     In addition to the F-35, the armed forces also have a reinforcements coming on a much larger scale. The recently announced B-21 Raider is designed to replace the B-2 bomber.  

     The B-21 (pictured on top) is designed to be a long range stealth bomber that will be capable of dropping nuclear munitions. While not much is known about the B-21 as it was just recently announced, but it is expected that the U.S. Air Force will operate at least 100 B-21s and as many as 200.

     While the United States is not currently in any large confrontations, the rapidly advancing technology that the United States has at its disposal will allow it to be ready for any threat, anywhere in the world.