The US Navy is concerned about the too few missiles on board its destroyers…

The US Navy today operates the largest fleet of cruisers and destroyers on the planet, and the best armed. It thus lines up 84 cruisers and destroyers, ships of 9 to 000 tonnes armed with 10 to 000 vertical launch silos, or more than half of all vertical silos in the world.

While European specialists regularly complain about seeing their ships armed with only 16 or 32 silos, one might think that the US Navy was relatively confident in the available firepower of its escort ships.

However, it is she who has just accelerated the development of a microwave cannon designed to protect her destroyers in the future, fearing that its ships are under-armed to respond to this type of threat, faced with the arrival of naval attack drones, and anti-ship ballistic missiles, like those used by the Houthis in the Red Sea.

96 vertical silos aboard US Navy Arleigh Burke destroyers

Very often, the US Navy has been ahead of its European counterparts in the field of naval combat technologies. This was particularly the case in the field of anti-aircraft defense, with the simultaneous arrival of the SPY-1 radar, the SM-2 missile and the AEGIS system, designed to respond to saturation attacks that could be launched by Soviet naval aviation. against NATO fleets during the Cold War.

US Navy SM-2 Arleigh Burke destroyer
The Arleigh Burke destroyers have 90 to 96 vertical silos

For the first time, a cruiser, the Ticonderoga class, and later a destroyer, the Arleigh Burke class, were able to deal with numerous air targets simultaneously, without having to dedicate a pointing radar to a single target.

Over the years, this technology has spread, in Europe and elsewhere. However, the US Navy has long retained the most efficient ships in the anti-aircraft field, combining imposing hulls, efficient technologies, and a “magazine depth”, the number of on-board missiles, unmatched, with the exception of the Kirovs. Russians with more numerous, but ancient, systems.

At least, until the arrival of heavy destroyers of the Japanese Kongo class, South Korean Sejong the Great and Chinese Type 055, which are now on par with its ships.

Thus, today, the US Navy's new Arleigh Burke Flight III class destroyers, a 155-meter ship with a tonnage of almost 10 tons, carry 000 vertical silos loaded with long-range anti-aircraft missiles SM -96, SM-2 anti-ballistic missiles, ESSM short- and medium-range anti-aircraft missiles (four per silo), SM-3 multi-purpose missiles and Tomahawk cruise missiles.

Added to this are a 127 mm cannon, a CIWS SeaRAM system and a Phalanx, as well as two triple torpedo tubes, making it undoubtedly one of the best armed ships of the moment, even if it no longer sits alone , at the top of the hierarchy. However, the Houthis experience in the Red Sea tends to shake up this certainty within the US Navy.

Missile consumption against Houthi drones and missiles worries the US Navy

Despite this arsenal which makes all European ships green with envy, the US Navy now believes that it could quickly face serious problems, highlighted by feedback from engagements in the Red Sea and in the Gulf of Aden, facing Houthi missiles and drones. His last ones might not have enough ammo.

Houthi drone
Houthi drones are not difficult targets to intercept. But they consume a lot of ammunition for Western escorts.

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