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Old 05-07-2022, 05:40 PM
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Exclamation Billions Wasted? Why The Aircraft Carrier Could Be A Giant Paper Tiger

Billions Wasted? Why The Aircraft Carrier Could Be A Giant Paper Tiger
By: Peter Suciu - 19FortyFive News - 05-07-22

Photo link:
A (Feb. 5, 2021) An F/A-18E Super Hornet, from the "Kestrels" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 137, rests on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) during a strait transit. Nimitz is part of the Nimitz Carrier Strike Group and is deployed conducting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Elliot Schaudt/Released)

Why the US Navy aircraft carrier could end up being just as obsolete as the old battleships of decades past: The last “battleship battle” has gone down in history as a one-sided slaughter when the United States Navy destroyed the Imperial Japanese Navy’s battleship Kirishima during the Battle of the Surigao Strait on October 25, 1944. As part of the larger Battle of Leyte Gulf, that particular engagement marked the last battleship-to-battleship in history and was one of only such fights between the capital warships in the entire Pacific campaign of the Second World War.

While the battleship’s role in navies around the world for another fifty years, and it wasn’t until Operation Desert Storm in 1991 that marked the last time that U.S. Navy battleships fired their guns in anger when the USS Missouri and USS Wisconsin conducted standard naval artillery support.

One hundred years ago the battleship ruled the wave—but World War II proved what Gen. Billy Mitchell and other aviation supporters already knew: that the aircraft carrier would be the future. The United States had been a pioneer in naval aviation when a flight deck was erected on the forecastle of the cruiser USS Birmingham (CL-2), but the Royal Navy’s HMS Furious was the first warship to be refitted to operate as a carrier. The Japanese would subsequently launch the Hōshō, the first purpose-built aircraft carrier.

For one hundred years the carriers have gotten larger and more powerful—and are arguably far from obsolete.

Yet, there are reasons to question the long-term future of aircraft carriers. Interesting Engineering addressed the issue this month, highlighting the time and cost to build carriers. During World War II, the United States went from having just a handful of carriers to save the day during the Battle of Midway, to literally having a massive fleet of the flattops by war’s end.

It is not hyperbole to state that the U.S. Navy had more carriers than it knew what to do with—but today it still maintains eleven supercarriers, with talk of keeping some of the aging carriers around a bit longer than expected. The reasoning is that it takes a massive amount of time to build a carrier—upwards to five or six years but that is only to the commissioning. Sea trials take an additional two to three years. The USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) took eight years to build.

Anti-Ship Weapons

With the introduction of new warships, military thinkers sought ways of both protecting their ships but also ways to sink their enemy’s vessels. The battleship proved especially vulnerable to new weapons notably from the airplane—as the Royal Navy found out in the most horrific way in December 1941 when HMS Prince of Wales was sunk.

During the Cold War, the great threat to U.S. Navy carriers had been Soviet submarines, but today the aircraft carrier could face even more powerful threats including so-called carrier-killer missiles and nuclear-tipped torpedoes. Such weapons could mean that carriers would need to operate far from enemy waters and increasingly far from enemy territory.

2nd photo link:
At sea aboard USS John F. Kennedy (CV 67) Mar. 6, 2002 — The sun rises behind USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71), as it prepares to turn over operations to the John F. Kennedy Battle Group. The Kennedy and her embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) are relieving the Roosevelt to conduct missions in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. U.S. Navy photo by PhotographerÕs Mate 1st Class Jim Hampshire. (RELEASED)

That could seriously limit a carrier’s effectiveness given the combat range of aircraft.
(Question: You Think?! - that bother's me - Boats)

The Future Carrier

The carrier likely won’t go away, but it may need to evolve to stay relevant. This could include a shift away from the massive supercarriers of the U.S. Navy and a move to smaller amphibious assault ships that can operate with short vertical takeoff and landing (SVTOL) aircraft such as the Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter.

Additionally, unmanned drones could be developed to operate from these smaller flattops. They would have the added benefit of being cheaper to build and can stay in the air for extended periods, Interesting Engineer noted. Moreover, unmanned aircraft don’t require added time in pilot training—and could address the military’s pilot shortage.

3rd photo link:
200125-N-KB540-1134 PACIFIC OCEAN (Jan. 25, 2020) The aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) transits the Pacific Ocean Jan. 25, 2020. The Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group is on a scheduled deployment to the Indo-Pacific. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Alexander Williams)

4th photo link:
Explosive Ordnance Disposal 1st Class Christopher Courtney assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit Six (EODMU-6), Det. 16 assist his team members during Special Purpose Insertion Extraction (SPIE) training from an SH-60 Seahawk helicopter. The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) is deployed in support of Maritime Security Operations (MSO) and the global war on terrorism.

The carrier may evolve in other ways, and perhaps we could see a reconsideration of submersible aircraft carriers, which could surface to deploy those unmanned drones and then dive to avoid being targeted by an enemy’s hypersonic missiles.

Simply put, the carrier has to adapt for the changing world of the twenty-first century to remain relevant. Otherwise it risks sailing off into the sunset like the battleship or worse being an expensive target in a future conflict.

About this writer: Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on
Personal note: This report should bother most as - we all know its going to be a primary
target come hell or high water. Hell - the planes may not even get off the deck if whens
ones fired - and I don't think carrier's have any defense other than their support ships -
and if the planes are still on the deck they may not even have time to get off the deck
and shoot down the incoming missles. Hmmmm - makes me nervous just thinging about it.

O Almighty Lord God, who neither slumberest nor sleepest; Protect and assist, we beseech thee, all those who at home or abroad, by land, by sea, or in the air, are serving this country, that they, being armed with thy defence, may be preserved evermore in all perils; and being filled with wisdom and girded with strength, may do their duty to thy honour and glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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