While we hope it never happens in real life, brainstorming the outcome of a conflict between US and Russian military equipment is usually an entertaining exercise. And that's no different today, as we look at a piece from The National Interest breaking down a hypothetical battle between the Navy's newest destroyer, the USS Zumwalt (above), and Russia's aging Kirov-class battlecruiser.
It's a great read. NI breaks down the advantages and disadvantages of both ships before theorizing how an even-stakes fight would shake out. On paper, Mother Russia's undeniable firepower advantage is overwhelming – armed with the 33-foot long, 15,000-plus pound Granit missile, the Kirov-class can deliver a 1,653-pound warhead up to 300 miles away and at speeds of Mach 2.5. It's a big, scary, ship-killing missile. Bad news for Russia? The Granit will probably never be able to hit a Zumwalt-class.
See, since the Kirov hasn't been cutting edge since Pink Floyd's Another Brick in the Wall was at the top of the charts, all of its weapon systems rely on radar. And since all 610 feet of Zumwalt are flat and angular to reduce the radar signature, the destroyer has a radar cross-section of a small fishing boat. Hell, even in visual range, the Zumwalt is hard to spot – just look at the image above and imagine trying to spot that thing on the high seas.
But on the flip side, the Zumwalt has a primarily anti-air mission – the US Navy loaded its new destroyer to the brim with Standard SM-2 and Evolved Sea Sparrow missiles at the cost of the destroyer's anti-ship abilities. It doesn't carry any Harpoon anti-ship missiles, relying instead on a pair of 155-millimeter guns. With a max range of 83 miles, the US destroyer would need to get far closer to the Kirov, and even then, its shells are slow enough that it'd only get off an initial volley before the Russians set about zig-zagging.
The result? Surprising considering we're looking at a battle between 2016 and 1980. Head over to The National Interest for a full read.