73 years ago, 16 U.S. Army B-25 Mitchell bombers took off from the USS Hornet (CV-8) to conduct the famous "Doolittle Raid" on Japan. Flying 700 miles to strike Tokyo, the twin-engine, prop-driven bombers then proceeded to land in nearby China and Russia.
Today, American carrier aircraft struggle to fly even 500 miles without refueling. Naval air forces are understrength to the tune of 140 aircraft -- the equivalent of almost two full carrier air wings -- and the Navy is struggling to afford the F-35 stealth fighters Lockheed Martin(NYSE:LMT) proffers to make up the difference.
This, in a nutshell, is the situation U.S. Navy Captain Jerry Hendrix (retired) outlines in his latest paper, "The Rise and Fall of Carrier Aviation," published through the Center for a New American Security. After learning at great cost the need to equip aircraft carriers with long-range aircraft to attack targets before the carriers come within range of enemy firepower, the U.S. Navy has, through a series of miscalculations, stripped itself of the ability to project air power at great distances. Today, to hit a target, American aircraft carriers must first run a gauntlet of anti-access/area denial (A2AD) defenses, sailing perhaps hundreds of miles (at 30 mph) under an umbrella of anti-ship missile fire before they can launch a single strike.
Read the full article at The Motley Fool.