Navy’s “Big Freeze” Seems Likely
For a while now we have been calling for a freeze in all large USN warships construction, mainly because what amounts to overkill in all categories including naval air, missile ships, submarines, and amphibious craft, while the increasingly essential littoral fleets suffers from neglect. Now it appears that Congress is getting into the act of halting the admirals spending spree, which since the end of the Cold War has given us an overstretched, smaller, yet more expensive sea service. From Defense Daily (sub. only) we read that SASC Says No Surface Combatants After 2011 Without Major Analysis:
Language in the Senate Armed Services Committee’s (SASC) authorization report for fiscal year 2010 would prohibit the Navy from funding construction of any surface combatants after 2011 unless the service conducts analysis and certain tasks at the beginning of major defense acquisition programs (MDAP)…
“For at least the past couple of years, the Navy’s strategy for modernizing the major surface combatants in the fleet has been in upheaval,” the report says.
SASC points to several efforts including the Navy’s call for a next-generation cruiser (CG(X)) that the service said would need to begin construction over the next two to three years. Although pieces of the analysis of alternatives for CG(X) have been released, the Navy is still determining what CG(X) should look like, and has pushed the start for the cruiser out to the 2015, 2017 time frame.
The committee also notes the Navy’s plan to limit construction of the Zumwalt-class combat ships to no more than three.
Speaking of CGX, plans detail that the yet-to-be-built cruiser might be nuclear powered on a 24,000 ton hull, which sounds much like the Zumwalt dinosaur on steroids! Considering the Navy’s habit of grossly underestimating the price of new construction, is there little doubt that the starting price for this monsters will start at $10 billion, or probably more. We can only consider that such grandiose naval projects can only hasten the USN’s death spiral in ship numbers and irrelevance for today’s Hybrid Wars.
We continue to argue that the threats from missiles and other low tech asymmetrical threats in the hands of China or even Third Rate powers or stateless regimes threaten to make a mockery of our very few large battleships. If we learned anything from World War 2 is that the heaviest defenses cannot save a warship from small and agile foes with the proper launch vehicles. Today taking the place of the torpedo and dive bombers of that era are even more lethal smart bombs, cruise missiles, and conventional MIRV warheads on ballistic missiles. No matter what the defense, the closer a giant warship gets to land areas, the more at risk it becomes, even from old fashion mines, d/e submarines and suicide boats.
Concerning a freeze, we wrote last month:
Here is a very drastic Navy construction plan that is the least they can do to build ships numbers. A freeze on all large warship (ships over $1 billion each) programs for a decade. Thats it. I can hear the howls now that it will be the end of American seapower and it will destroy the defense industry, but trust me, it won’t. Both are in a bad way as it is, with ships riddled with faults and numbers shrinking steadily since the 1990s with no end in sight. Can’t we afford to take some risks since we are failing anyway? And such a shock to the system might bring the industry out of the money-flushed coma it has suffered throughout the Cold War and ongoing to this day. Savings would go toward building up the small ship navy, historically the most important ships for fighting in the littorals.