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Friday, January 8, 2010

Navy CG(X) Cruiser Program: Background, Oversight Issues, and Options for Congress

Ronald O'Rourke
Specialist in Naval Affairs

On December 7, 2009, it was reported that the Navy wants to cancel its planned CG(X) cruiser and instead procure an improved version of the Arleigh Burke (DDG-51) class Aegis destroyer. Earlier press reporting had suggested that the Navy might be heading toward such a change in plans. The Navy reportedly was concerned about the projected high cost of the CG(X), and has concluded that it does not need a ship as capable as the CG(X) to adequately perform future anti-air warfare (AAW) and ballistic missile defense (BMD) missions. The Navy's desire to cancel the CG(X) and instead procure improved DDG-51s reportedly will be reflected in the Navy's proposed FY2011 budget, which is to be submitted to Congress in early February 2010. 

Prior to this reported change in plans, the Navy had wanted to procure as many as 19 CG(X)s. The Navy had wanted to procure the first CG(X) around FY2017 and have it enter service around 2023. The Navy had been developing technologies and studying design options for the CG(X), and the Navy's proposed FY2010 budget requested $340 million in research and development funding for it. The improved DDG-51 that the Navy reportedly now wants to procure would be considerably less expensive to procure than the CG(X). The improved DDG-51 would have more AAW and BMD capability than the current DDG-51 design, but less AAW and BMD capability than what was envisioned for the CG(X). Potential issues for Congress arising from the Navy's reported new plan include the following: 

• Is there an adequate analytical basis for canceling the CG(X) and instead procuring improved DDG-51s? Should an analysis of alternatives (AOA) or the equivalent of an AOA be performed before committing to this course of action? 

• Is there adequate stability in Navy planning for acquisition of surface combatants? 

• Would an improved DDG-51 be an adequate substitute for the CG(X)? 

• What would be the potential operational implications of a Navy equipped with improved DDG-51s instead of CG(X)s? 

• What would be the potential industrial-base consequences of canceling the CG(X) and instead procuring improved DDG-51s? 

• What would be some potential alternatives to canceling the CG(X) and instead procuring improved DDG-51s? 

Regarding the final question above, potential alternatives include but are not limited to the following: 

• Maintain the Navy's previous plan of procuring non-modified DDG-51s until the start of CG(X) procurement around FY2017. 

• Cancel the CG(X) and procure a version of the DDG-51 with more substantial modifications than what the Navy appears to be contemplating. 

• Cancel the CG(X) and procure a modified version of the DDG-1000 destroyer. 

• Cancel the CG(X) and procure non-modified DDG-51s while developing a cost constrained new-design destroyer that might begin procurement around FY2017. 

• Backfit existing DDG-51s with the improved radar and combat system modifications that the Navy appears to be contemplating for the modified DDG- 51s that it reportedly wants to build in coming years.

Date of Report: December 22, 2009
Number of Pages: 55
Order Number: RL34179
Price: $29.95

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