March 11, 2013

First Report in New CNAS "Disruptive Defense Papers" Series Urges U.S. Navy to Change Course

In a new report released today by the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), career naval flight officer Captain Henry J. Hendrix (Ph.D.), argues that the aircraft carrier -- the centerpiece of American naval operations for over 70 years -- is in danger of becoming too vulnerable to be relevant in future conflicts. Captain Hendrix examines the life-cycle costs and utility of the aircraft carrier and recommends a new approach for American naval operations in At What Cost a Carrier?, the first in the new "Disruptive Defense Papers" series published by CNAS.

Download At What Cost a Carrier?

Captain Hendrix explores the evolution of the aircraft carrier and suggests a course that emphasizes greater use of unmanned aerial systems as well as submarines in combination with long-range precision strike missiles. The author analyzes the value of naval presence and the carrier's efficiency and survivability before concluding: "The carrier had its day, but continuing to adhere to 100 years of aviation tradition, even in the face of a direct challenge, signals a failure of imagination and foreshadows decline. Money is tight, and as the nautical saying goes, the enemy has found our range. It is time to change course."

The Disruptive Defense Papers will present hard-hitting arguments dealing with controversial issues in U.S. defense policy at a time when hard choices must be made to ensure the health of U.S. Armed Forces and their ability to promote and defend America's interests. The opinions in these papers are those of the authors, as CNAS does not take institutional positions.


The Center for a New American Security (CNAS) is an independent and nonpartisan research institution that develops strong, pragmatic and principled national security and defense policies. CNAS leads efforts to help inform and prepare the national security leaders of today and tomorrow.


Kay King
Director of External Relations
and Senior Advisor
Ph: (202) 457-9408

Sara Conneighton
Deputy Director of External Relations
Ph: (202) 457-9429