The U.S. Navy was planning to build 32 brand new stealth warships, with Advanced Gun Systems that fire something called the Long Range Land-Attack Projectile (LRLAP). Unfortunately, costs quickly ballooned out of control and the contract was scaled all the way down to just three ships. The drastically reduced number of ships have now caused the price of the LRLAP to rise dramatically, to the point where the Navy doesn’t plan to continue buying them.
The LRLAP is a 155mm round that Lockheed Martin says is “the most accurate and longest-range guided projectile” in the history of the Navy. However, such technological advances come with a price. Every single round costs somewhere between $800,000 and $1 million, and the Navy originally planned to purchase 2,000 of them. For those aren’t great at math, that’s roughly $2 billion of LRLAP rounds.
Now the Navy is looking for a different kind of round that can still be fired from the same Advanced Gun System. However, they aren’t optimistic that a solution will be found by the time the first new warship, the USS Zumwalt, is integrated into the fleet in 2018. After all, the gun was specifically designed to only fire the LRLAP.
Then again, the cost of the ships themselves isn’t exactly thrifty. The Zumwalt, along with the USS Michael Monsoor and USS Lyndon B. Johnson (which haven’t been built yet), come with a pricetag of $4 billion each.