Author Topic: The Future of Aircraft Carriers  (Read 385 times)


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The Future of Aircraft Carriers
« on: August 05, 2019, 09:46:03 AM »
Here's What Russia Thinks About the Future of America's Aircraft Carriers | The National Interest - August 3, 2019

The U.S. Navy’s newest aircraft carrier is briefly assessed. It is noted that the Gerald D. Ford aircraft carrier has electromagnetic catapults, an expanded aircraft capacity, and a smaller crew due to automation. Moreover, the Russian analysis notes both new nuclear reactor technology, as well as enhanced stealth. At the same time, it is realized that the vessel, as a first in its class, may suffer from certain “childhood illnesses [детскими болезнями],” and it remains unclear if these kinks can be resolved or are of a chronic character. What is beyond dispute, the author writes, is that the ship is “expensive. Very expensive.” Coming in at a cool $13 billion without counting the costs of the air wing or the escorts for the behemoth, “it makes sense in these conditions” that some in the U.S. are calling for smaller aircraft carriers that are less costly, according to the Russian analysis.

Much of the second half of the Russian article explores a RAND report on “Future Carrier Options.” It is explained that this study evaluated building either 70,000-ton, 40,000-ton, or 20,000-ton alternatives to the 100,000-ton supercarriers. For these smaller and cheaper ships, the Russian analyst notes, of course, that they would have “significantly limited combat potential [боевой потенциал существенно ограничен],” of course. Ultimately, it is concluded that the Americans are unlikely to sacrifice combat power in order to save money due to the admirals’ objections. The Russian analysis ends with a joke, wishing the Americans good luck with developing smaller carriers. It is explained that recent American experience shows that the U.S. Navy is likely “to receive ships 1.5 times smaller, two times less effective and three times more expensive as a result of efforts to make the carrier fleet less expensive.” [что в результате попытки удешевления авианосного флота ВМС США получат корабли в полтора раза меньше, в два раза хуже и втрое дороже существующих].

One could even be inclined to agree with the Russian strategist’s wry humor, and perhaps to even sympathize with the predicament of a Russian fleet that has seen some ups and perhaps more than its share of downs in recent decades. No doubt many Russian leaders still dream wistfully about gazing upon a shiny Ford-type supercarrier bearing the Russian naval ensign—the blue-cross flag of St. Andrew. Apparently, the idea is not quite dead, moreover, and may live on within a China-Russia partnership, although that “bilateral option” still seems rather far-fetched.

Nevertheless, the envy of other navies does not necessarily make the supercarrier the ideal capital ship for the U.S. Navy going forward. More than a few American naval strategists have pronounced the aircraft carrier to be obsolete for modern naval warfare. While reasonably useful in conflicts from the Korean War to Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, it must be said that these conflicts were notable in that they featured opponents lacking the means to contest the seas. It’s sad to say, but unfortunately even the smaller and more backward militaries of Iran or North Korea could have a chance of putting a flattop down these days. Never mind the determined efforts of both China and Russia, which have both been working energetically to solve this problem for now more than half a century.
Carrier advocates will often make the dubious claim that a couple of missiles or even a torpedo could not actually sink these hulking ships. Perhaps not, but please try to imagine the armada that would have to be assembled to rescue a disabled ship of this stature. To continue logically in this nightmare, now imagine the immense and vulnerable target that such a rescue operation would represent for an adversary. Such a scenario could result in the loss of a significant portion of the U.S. Navy. Regrettably, sometimes one must imagine a tragedy in order to prevent it.

« Last Edit: August 05, 2019, 09:49:51 AM by Ayoshi »