Eluding radar, quietly sailing into enemy territory and launching long-range precision attacks from less-detectable positions all begin to paint the picture of how a “stealthy” offensive surface destroyers could transform modern maritime warfare.

Can a massive surface destroyer, armed with Tomahawk missiles, deck-mounted guns, sensors, antennas and heat-generating onboard electrical power, truly be considered stealthy? Surely, tall, vertical masts, hull-mounted sensors and protruding antenna could never be a low-observable ship, yet performing these missions comprised the technical starting point from which engineers launched into building a first-of-its-kind stealth warship.

Stealth attributes are just one of a number of defining characteristics of the much-discussed Zumwalt class warships, perceived by many to represent the beginning of a transformational pivot into a new generation of warfare -- including laser weapons, artificial intelligence, expanded networking, advanced sonar and electric-drive.

All three high-tech Zumwalt destroyers are now “in the water,” Capt. Kevin Smith, Zumwalt-class Program Manager, said at the Navy League’s Sea, Air, Space Symposium. Smith detailed how each of the three new destroyers are at various stages of development. The first-in-class USS Zumwalt is preparing weapons on its way to final delivery later this year. The Zumwalt is now test-firing its weapons systems, completing an operational scenario transit through Alaska and Hawaii and advancing tactical training for the crew, as it prepares for its maiden deployment. The activation, which involves refining weapons, sensors and networks, is a vital step towards launching the destroyer for war.

“The crew has been learning a lot as far as combat activation, a lot at-sea and a lot at its home port in San Diego. The maturity of the computer system has come a long way and is now at a higher level of completion,” said Smith.

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