The Zumwalt Guided Missile Destroyer is the most technologically advanced surface combatant in the world. The USS Zumwalt is outfitted with 80 vertical launch cells for both anti-submarine and land-attacking missiles. On September 26th, after making a port stop in Guam, the Zumwalt, sailed into Japan, practically on China’s doorstep. Reportedly this is the farthest the USS Zumwalt has sailed from its home port in San Diego, CA. Sakashi Tiwari of The EurAsian Times writes (abridged):
The most modern surface warship in the US Navy, the Zumwalt-class Destroyer, is conducting a mission in the western Pacific that could pave the way for the future deployment of US hypersonic missiles in the region, CNN reported.
The West of the Pacific has lately become more vied with Chinese overreaches in the region. In May this year, a PLA Carrier battle group led by Liaoning transited the Miyako Strait near Japan to conduct military drills in the western Pacific. In 2021, Chinese and Russian warships conducted their first-ever regional joint patrol.
The USS Zumwalt is the first of three multi-mission guided missile destroyers that the Navy claims will add a new layer of complexity to the battle space for prospective adversaries.
“The presence of a stealth warship will draw a great deal of (Chinese) interest,” especially if the Zumwalt is outfitted with hypersonic weapons, analyst Carl Schuster, a former US Navy captain, told CNN.
EurAsian Times had reported in August this year that three destroyers of the Zumwalt-class were set to be the first to be armed with Long-range hypersonic weapons, which will soon be mounted on the warships by the Mississippi-based shipyard Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII).
Dates for availability were not specified in the statement, but Capt. Matthew Schroeder, program manager for the DDG-1000 at the Program Executive Office, Ships, announced in March that the upgrade phase to outfit Zumwalt with hypersonic missiles will start in October 2023.
This could mean that deploying this cutting-edge warship at China’s doorstep would not only help create deterrence in the region but eventually lead to hypersonic missiles stationed close to Beijing, putting it in the line of fire.
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