Navy to retrofit 3 new San Diego-based warships to launch hypersonic missiles

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The Navy's newest ship, USS Michael Monsoor, sits in San Diego Bay at Naval Air Station North Island on Coronado.
The USS Michael Monsoor anchored in San Diego Bay at Naval Air Station North Island on Coronado. Photo by Chris Stone

Navy plans to replace giant cannons on three San Diego-based futuristic warships with launchers for new ones hypersonic missiles.

The USS Zumwalt and USS Michael Monsoor are already in San Diego, and the future USS Lyndon B. Johnson will also be based here.

According to the association United States Naval Instituteit is planned to remove the two 155 mm guns from each destroyer and replace them with missile tubes for the Common Hypersonic Glide Body being developed for the Army, Air Force and Navy.

Few details have been released, but the hypersonic missiles are expected to fly at 17 times the speed of sound to attack targets nearly 2,000 miles away. Unlike ballistic missiles, they will be maneuverable in flight to avoid anti-missile systems.

General Atomics, based in San Diego, is one of the defense contractors working on the hypersonic program.

Russia and China say they already have functional hypersonic missiles, although US officials say those allegedly used against Ukraine were actually traditional ballistic missiles launched from aircraft.

The Zumwalt will be the first destroyer converted to launch hypersonic missiles, with work completed by 2025.

Although called destroyers, all three ships in the class are roughly the size of small World War II battleships. They are designed to focus on ground attack missions while avoiding detection through stealth technology.

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