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Can the $4 billion Zumwalt destroyer sink the Kirov?


When the two most powerful destroyers of the two naval powers confront each other, the US Navy’s more than $ 4 billion Zumwalt stealth destroyer and the Kirov cruiser, who will win?
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The recent deterioration of relations between Russia and the West, has put the war between surface ships back on the scale. After more than a decade of supporting land wars in the Middle East and Central Asia, the US Navy is reinvesting in its core mission of sinking enemy ships.

In the early 2010s, the US Navy put into service a new class of ships, the guided-missile destroyer USS Zumwalt ; Designed primarily to support land warfare, sea superiority and will be the future of the US class of warships, replacing the Arleigh Burke class of destroyers.

Meanwhile Russia is still trying to squeeze the capacity of the Kirov class cruisers . These are huge warships, over 30 years old, armed mostly from the Soviet era, but still generally effective; with the main task is to attack the enemy’s very large warships, especially aircraft carriers.

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Zumwalt is a class of guided missile destroyers , optimized for the US Navy’s fire support. These ships, designed in stealth technology, are the first of any warship in the US Navy; with angular, flattened features to reduce radar signal.Zumwalts displace 14,000 tons, making them the largest destroyer of the US Navy ever. Zumwalt’s size and weight is large, because everything must be hidden under the outer shell, capable of scattering radar waves, to ensure the stealth factor.

Another factor contributing to the ship’s weight is the weapons and sensors. The AN/ SPY-3 multi-function radar provides medium to high-altitude search performance, outperforms previous radars, and can guide SM-2 Standard air defense missiles.

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In terms of weapons, the Zumwalt-class ship has 80 vertical launch tunnels, to launch SM-2 and Evolved Sea Sparrow missiles, Tomahawk land-attack missiles and ASROC anti-submarine missiles.Zumwalt may not have regional air defense capabilities, despite being armed with SM-2 interceptors. The US Navy has purchased 18 SM-2AUR missiles, possibly for ships of this class. Zumwalt can also mount four shorter-range Evolved Sea Sparrow missiles, in missile launch wells.

Given the US Navy’s declining anti-surface warfare capabilities and the land wars of the early twenty-first century, it’s not surprising that Zumwalt lacked anti-ship duties.There are no Harpoon anti-ship missiles on stealth destroyers of this class, as they do not fit in missile wells and Harpoon must be mounted on angled tube launchers, usually located on the main deck.

Zumwalt’s two advanced 155 mm electromagnetic guns, with a range of up to 85 knots and a rate of fire of 10 rounds per minute, are resistant to surface ships. However, now, these cannons have to be removed because there is no ammunition; An alternative weapon could be the SM-6 multi-role missile.

Zumwalt’s rival, the Kirov cruiser; this is a class of warships entirely of the previous generation, built in the late 1980s; Its mission is to quickly neutralize the American aircraft carrier. At the same time, they have very strong anti-aircraft capabilities.Kirov-class warships are ships with displacement second only to aircraft carriers. Each was 251m long (roughly the same length as the German battleships Bismarck and the Japanese Iowa during World War II), but displaced only 24,000 tons.

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This is largely due to the fact that the ship uses nuclear-powered engines, instead of boilers and turbines, giving this class a top speed of up to 32 knots, unlimited range. regime. In addition, the heavy gunboats were also replaced almost entirely by missiles.In terms of offensive weapons, Kirov has 20 P-700 Granite anti-ship missiles. A P-700 rocket about 10m long and weighing 6,800kg, these are in fact unmanned aircraft. The P-700 has a range of 300 nautical miles, a speed of Mach 2.5 and a warhead weighing 740kg .

The Kirov is also designed for air defense purposes, when equipped with a defensive missile arsenal of 96 S-300F long-range surface-to-air missiles, forming an outer air defense layer; 192 short-range 3K95 anti-aircraft missiles and 40 4K33 missiles create an inner layer of defense. Extremely close defense weapons are 6 6-barreled AK-630 cannon.

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In a battle between two ships Zumwalt and Kirov, which ship will win? Let’s say, placing two ships in the open sea, at the maximum range of the two sides’ anti-ship weapons is 300 nautical miles, this is the range of Kirov’s P-700 missile.First of all, which ship was discovered first; if the Kirov has a Legenda satellite system that provides information on target coordinates; but Legenda is a radar satellite and Zumwalt is a stealth destroyer, with a radar signature the size of a small fishing boat.

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At this time, the helicopters of the two ships began to scan for targets beyond the horizon. In this situation, Zumwalt has a distinct advantage over Kirov; Zumwalt’s helicopter detects Kirov, sends location data back to Zumwalt; while Kirov’s helicopter detects Zumwalt, but does not know its location, due to Zumwalt’s stealth.

With Zumwalt’s stealth, it could theoretically get close to Kirov’s range without fear of annihilation. On the other hand, the Russian cruiser will want to step back and attack Zumwalt from a distance.Although all of Kirov’s weapons reconnaissance and guidance systems are radar-based; however, the Kirov can still launch P-700 anti-ship missiles in the direction of suspected Zumwalt is hiding. The self-guided radars for the P-700 Granite missile, still have the ability to find the target, although the radar reflected signal of Zumwalt is very small.

Even if the P-700 missiles can lock onto the target, Zumwalt still has an air defense system to deal with it. Zumwalt is armed with at least 18 SM-2 medium-range air defense missiles and several dozen Evolved Sea Sparrow short-range air defense missiles, which can completely shoot down the P-700. But what if Kirov carried out a saturation attack with dozens of P-700 missiles?

Perhaps the end result of this scenario is a draw. Neither side can accurately target the other. In the future, new weapons such as long-range anti-ship missiles will give Zumwalt a real edge. As for the present time, the Zumwalt ships have not yet formed combat power and are not rivals of the Kirov cruiser.


About Tufail Bakshi

I cover global military news, focusing on identifying technologies of strategic importance to aviation, aerospace and defense. I was Born in baramula, Kashmir ,I did my graduation from Kashmir University, I aspire in becoming a military journalist.
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