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The Future of Naval Supremacy Pt. 2 – Are Aircraft Carriers Too Big to Lose? | U.S. PATRIOT NEWS & REVIEWS

The Future of Naval Supremacy Pt. 2 – Are Aircraft Carriers Too Big to Lose?

In continuing the discussion of naval supremacy and the current emphasis on aircraft carriers in U.S. Navy doctrine, the cost and potential cost of having an aircraft carrier destroyed by enemy action cannot be ignored.

To replace any of the current aircraft carriers would cost upwards of $14 billion (the projected cost of the Ford-class carrier currently under construction) and would take many years to complete. Additionally, the loss of over 5,000 sailors and marines would be a bitter pill for the American public to swallow. In comparison, the U.S. lost a total of 4,490 service members during the Iraq War running from 2003 through 2015.

The impact of that many losses in one incident cannot be stressed enough.

Unfortunately, it would have to be faced if the Navy was forced to deploy to a region that had the capability of targeting and destroying American carriers. As long as we are fighting countries that have little area denial capabilities – such as Syria, Iraq, Iran and most of this country’s potential foes – the hazard to the carriers can be minimized, but as soon as we face an opponent that can challenge us, the carrier becomes an unacceptable risk.

Submarine
Ohio-class submarine

Fortunately, naval officers are looking at the problem and working on solutions. Many of them are radical, but with the change in the way that naval wars will be fought in the future, radical changes may be necessary.

If wars to control the seas and ensure that ships with material and troops can take the war to the enemy are no longer to be fought – can anyone really see a way the United States could invade China? – then the weapons that were conceived and built to fight that war need to be retired or redesigned to encompass the realities of current and future warfare.

In a war with China, for example, the most effective assets the United States Navy could employ are submarines. In addition to attack submarines to destroy China’s naval assets, guided missile submarines fitted out with cruise missiles could attack China’s military and industrial base. The SSGN version of the Ohio-class submarine carries 154 tomahawk cruise missiles and is one of, if not the, quietest submarines in the world. Designed and built for stealth and survivability, the Ohio’s are potentially the Navy’s most potent naval force in the South China Sea.

Naval doctrine of sea control rose from World War II and could be adapted to the realities of the Cold War. The current climate that emphasizes littoral warfare over high seas warfare puts the aircraft carrier at a distinct disadvantage. Submarines could go where carriers cannot and even though the loss of an SSN or SSGN would be a personal and financial tragedy, it would be anywhere near as bad as the loss that a nuclear aircraft carrier would represent.

This is the second in a series of articles talking about the changing environment of naval strategy.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

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Matt Towns

Matt is a former military journalist who spent 10 years in the US Navy. He served in various posts during his career, including a couple of deployments on the USS Valley Forge (CG-50). After leaving the Navy, he worked in management for a number of years before opening his own businesses. He ran those businesses until 2012 when he chose to leave the retail industry and return to writing. Matt currently works as a freelance writer, contributing to the US Patriot blog and other websites about political affairs, military activities and sailing.
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1 thought on “The Future of Naval Supremacy Pt. 2 – Are Aircraft Carriers Too Big to Lose?

  1. Even the new supercarriers from any country are less against a fourth generation aircraftkiller submarine, like the new Project 955 class of the Russian Navy, VMF RF.

    The naval- and geopolitical future will rather more be on the Euroasian continent and the geopolitical game there, and the closer allies and connection between the European Union, Russian Federation and China and India – all the three latter are now close political and rising military allies as well which must be a total nightmare for the U.S´and Pentagon planners of the “future” supremacy superpower which is rather falling apart more or less – United States have now allies like Pakistan, the turmoiled Iraq and Saudi Arabia to play with in this new geopolitical game. I guess the superpower conflicts in the future will not at all be handled with new Aircraft Carriers or new stealth jetplanes or any new types – this is the old warfare from the 1900’s. A United European Union, Russian Federation and new allied Connections with China and India will make the Euroasian continent to the new Superpower for the 2000’s and into the 2100’s. The time and era when superpowers came flying with bombers and showed up their Aircraft Carriers are soon very much history. Like General Napoleon Bonaparte once said: “A country’s politics is the country’s geography” – and in this game – the United States are in one of the very corners of the World.

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