WASHINGTON: The high-cost, high-controversy centerpieces for the future Navy fleet — the Ford-class aircraft carrier and the F-35C fighter — not only take it in the wrong direction, says a report out today. They double down on a strategic mistake made 20 years ago, when the Navy shortchanged range, argues Jerry Hendrix, a retired Navy captain now with the Center for a New American Security in a new study.
Only investing in new, unmanned aircraft with longer range — ideally launched off smaller, cheaper carriers — can restore the carrier’s relevance in the face of Russian and Chineseship-killing missiles, Hendrix argues. Like a recent study from the Hudson Institute, Hendrix sharply criticizes the modern carrier air wing for being too short-ranged and argues the Navy’s UCLASS drone (Unmanned Carrier Launched Surveillance & Strike) should be optimized for long-range raids.
In fact, both studies were at least partially inspired by a public debate Hendrix had with one of the Hudson co-authors, Bryan McGrath, back in January. Unlike the Hudsonites, however, who stoutly defend big carriers in general and the Ford class in particular, Hendrix takes issue with the ships as well as the airplanes flying off them.
Read the full article at Breaking Defense.