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Navy to Retrofit 3 New San Diego-Based Warships to Launch Hypersonic Missiles

MilitaryNavy to Retrofit 3 New San Diego-Based Warships to Launch Hypersonic Missiles

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

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

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

According to the nonprofit United States Naval Institute, plans are to remove the two 155mm guns from each destroyer and replace them with missile tubes for the Common Hypersonic Glide Body being developed for the Army, Air Force and the 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.

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

Russia and China claim to already have working hypersonic missiles, although U.S. officials say the ones reportedly used against Ukraine were actually traditional ballistic missiles launched from aircraft.

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

Though called destroyers, the three ships in the class are about the size of small World War II battleships. They are designed to focus on land-attack missions while evading detection through stealth technology.

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