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Who Are the DDG(X) Contractors Chosen To Build Next-Gen Navy Ships?
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Who Are the DDG(X) Contractors Chosen To Build Next-Gen Navy Ships?

The new and improved shipbuilding program for the Navy finally has two contractors locked on. Over the past 30 years, the (now) DDG(X) program has gone through many changes and evolutions, but it seems with the onboarding of defense contractor giants General Dynamics and Huntington Ingalls, the Navy is ready to dive head first into their new DDG(X) shipbuilding plan.

More like this: The Future of Naval Shipbuilding May Be in This Veteran’s Hands

What Is the DDG(X) Program?

The DDG(X) program, or the Next-Generation Guided-Missile Destroyer program, as it’s sometimes referred to, is a plan to engineer an entirely new generation of combat ships to follow in the footsteps of the Ticonderoga-class cruisers and Arleigh Burke-class destroyers.

But it didn’t start out this way.

Nearly 30 years ago, the Navy first announced plans to update their fleet and replace the Arleigh Burke-class ships. Initially, the program went by the name SC-21 in reference to “Surface Combatant” ships for the 21st century.

Next, it evolved into the DD-21 program, or the “Destroyer for the 21st century.”

For a time, the plan was scrapped with the development of the widely criticized DDG-1000 Zumwalt-class super-destroyer. Because of their insane size, 50% larger than average Navy cruisers, there are only three of these DDG-1000 U.S. Navy ships in the branch’s fleet, and the Navy currently isn’t planning to produce more before its DDG(X) program gets off the ground.

After announcing the updated DDG(X) plans in late 2021, the Navy has finally made their pick of defense contractors to lead the way in this next generation of Naval ships.

Who Builds Navy Ships Now?

If you’re in the military community, the names General Dynamics and Huntington Ingalls won’t be foreign to you. These two giants of the industry have been in the game for a long time and receive the vast majority of their revenue from defense work.

Huntington Ingalls currently sits at 88% of their revenue coming from the defense industry, while General Dynamics receives 68% of their revenue from defense work.

Suffice to say, Huntington Ingalls and General Dynamics’s military work precedes them, and these are the two Navy shipbuilders of the future.

General Dynamics

General Dynamics is no stranger to maritime development. They have tons of vessels under their belt and have been developing ships for the military since 1884.

They’ve worked on the Arleigh Burke-class and Zumwalt-class ships, nuclear-powered submarines, oil tankers, dry cargo carriers, and support and auxiliary ships.

Huntington Ingalls

Just by visiting their website, you can see how dedicated they are to the U.S. military, and this dedication spans back to the early 1970s with their development of Large Surface Combatant vessels.

There’s perhaps no better company to work with on the next generation of ships because Huntington Ingalls is well-versed in integrated digital shipbuilding, amphibious warships, nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and submarines, unmanned systems, and just about every other aspect of modern shipbuilding.

The Process and Timeline for Building Navy Ships

The Navy is expected to lead most of the initial ship design, but Huntington Ingalls and General Dynamics will have a large hand in informing the branch of best practices they need to follow to achieve their end goal of developing the most capable Naval ships the world has ever seen.

Once the design process is finished, the contractors will take it from there.

After the slow-going process that plagued Zumwalt-class ships, the Navy is prepared to execute on this program with exceptional swiftness.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office has stated that “scale-model testing and simulations” for the DDG(X) program are expected to start in 2024, and actual ship fabrication could be executed by 2028.

This quick action is assisted in part due to the Navy’s plans to borrow many existing systems and incorporate them into test models for the new ships. Currently, active combat systems will be added to the ships, and updated engines will be developed to accompany them.

DDG(X) Has a Bright Future Ahead

Now that the program has contractors tied to it officially, everyone’s waiting with bated breath to see how development comes along. With Huntington Ingalls and General Dynamics on the case, we have no doubt that the ships that come out of the DDG(X) program will be a huge success for the Navy and American dominance at sea.

Suggested read: How a 3D Printer on USS Essex Is Changing the Game for Naval Ships

Image: Reuters

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