February 03, 2016

Stop the Navy's carrier plan

By Jerry Hendrix

When there is a crisis anywhere in the world, the president’s first question often is, “Where are the aircraft carriers?” The modern supercarrier lies at the very center of American national security strategy, and, at over a thousand feet in length and approaching nearly 100,000 tons in water displacement, it is a uniquely American weapon.

The U.S. Navy currently possesses 10 of these behemoths, and while China, Russia, Brazil, India and France each claim a single carrier in their naval inventory, none comes even close to matching the capabilities of an American flattop. When an iconic supercarrier comes within sight of a foreign shore, its citizens know that the Americans have arrived. 

But the Navy’s current carrier plan would squander this military advantage — not by squeezing carriers out but by overbuilding them. Right now, the Navy plans to modernize its carrier program by launching a new wave of even larger and more expensive ships, starting with the USS Gerald Ford, which cost $15 billion to build — by far the most expensive vessel in naval history. This is a mistake: Because of changes in warfare and technology, in any future military entanglement with a foe like China, current carriers and their air wings will be almost useless and the next generation may fare even worse.

Read the full article at POLITICO.