US Navy's Zumwalt destroyers' stealth is too effective

Engineering solutions sometimes means engineering more problems: The US Navy’s new Zumwalt destroyers’ stealth capabilities has been reported to be too effective.

There’s an old adage that in some cases, engineering solutions all too often results in engineering new problems. The US Navy’s new Zumwalt destroyer class, built for stealth capabilities, has been found to be too effective.
How exactly can a stealth warship be too effective at its purpose? New findings have revealed that during sea trials, the destroyer’s reduced radar signature is too effective, potentially hiding the vessel from allied or civilian ships.
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The solution? The US Navy, as reported by, might have to resort to equipping radar reflectors on such vessels when they’re not engaged in a theatre of war.
While the Zumwalt destroyer class boasts an advanced radar array of its own – meaning it can detect other sea vessels from miles away – other vessels, namely civilian craft, are unable to appreciate the full size of the ship on radar; a Zumwalt destroyer would display as just 40-50 ft long on a radar screen, belying the vessel’s true 610 ft length.
The ship’s stealth capabilities leave it a fearsome adversary during conflict, but an annoying hindrance during inclement weather or while navigating shipping channels.
The US Navy is presently investigating means of improving the ship’s visibility outside of war theatres, with the view of protecting a sizeable investment: each Zumwalt destroyer is estimated to cost a whopping $22.5 billion USD to purchase.
At least the US Navy doesn’t need to supply a fleet of submarines that are completely inoperable, as their South African counter-parts are able to attest to…
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Follow Bryan Smith on Twitter: @bryansmithSA