The Navy After Next Pt 2
Now for my version of the Navy After Next. What then will be the future of seapower? Will supersonic and hypersonic missiles, perhaps lasers and satellite weapons drive the traditional surface ship from the world’s ocean? In mind that the need for navies will not decline drastically in the near-future, around 2050, again we present theirs and ours:
Honestly, I haven’t a clue, though with their continued obsession with high tech and ever larger platforms I suspect it will be
- 2 mega carriers-200,000 tons (one for each coast)
- 1 heavy superfighter-bomber (which they will share with the USAF!)
- 1 Amphibious Assault Guided Missile Escort Submarine Littoral Combat Ship-100,000 tons (Sorry! We can only afford one of these multi-mission wonders!)
Back to reality, here then is my Navy After Next:
- 300 common platform corvettes for-aviation, missile, patrol. There may be a need to build high-end vessels of about 2500 tons due to the demise of large, exquisite missile battleships, but the bulk of surface combatants would consist of low-end 1500 ton vessels.
- 50 minesweepers on corvette hull. Mines being a greatly underestimated threat.
- 100 catamaran HSVs, variant sizes also for sealift
- 150 AIP Submarines, variant sizes, no larger than 3000 tons
- 35 motherships-for logistics support of corvettes and small submarines. Also may carry aviation assets.
- 12-18 Aegis motherships.
- 12-18 arsenal ships (missile barge on commercial hull for cruiser/destroyer replacement)
- No large deck aircraft carriers or manned fixed-wing combat aircraft. UAV’s on corvettes, motherships. Every ship an aircraft carrier with either missiles or UAVs. Fixed wing aircraft obsolete, except for transport planes. Helicopters still manned, used only for logistics and transport.
- This is a Hi-Lo Navy, with the Lo End Fleet greatly outnumbering battleships, as is logical.
- If missiles prove as deadly as some predict, the surface fleet numbers would fall while the submarine rises in strength.
There you have it. Note that with my smaller fleet, no vessel above 20,000 tons light, you could keep costs in the hundreds of millions while operating numbers would rise dramatically. The construction of small, spartan warships are much maligned in today’s Navy, but the very type vessel needed for most of the missions we do. Cheaper warships also means you can build more of them, as well as concentrate production and precious R & D funds on newer smart munitions and robot weapons like UAVs. Building only exquisite yet increasingly obsolete platforms takes away from the real revolutions in modern warfare, as the USAF learned with its stealth superfighter the F-22 Raptor, 25 years in development while the rest of the force died from old age.
By taking Aegis out of warships and placing it on a few specialized vessels, you also produce savings, as you don’t require Aegis for every mission. A few arsenal ships on a half-billion dollar merchant type hull could offer enormous firepower while taking the place of our 80+, $2 billion dollar Ticonderoga and Burke missile battleships. This is a savings and capability which the stretched thin, over-worked Navy can’t afford to ignore. The corvettes, HSVs, mine ships, small subs and motherships would combine in forward deployed Influence Squadrons in peacetime, and during war or a crisis be joined by these arsenal ships, submarines and Aegis vessels. A 700 ship Navy not stretched thin, easy to replace ships when they are worn out, and sailors not overworked through multiple deployments.
Some might balk at the great number of smaller ships, and the lack of battleships or their modern equivalent. With modern weapons like cruise missiles, smaller vessels can do power projection as well. Already our missile firing mid-size warships like destroyers and attack submarines have a land attack role not dissimilar from that of naval aircraft, and we think further along we can reduce the size of even these combatants into more compact and less costly hulls. Give me a gunboat on the scene anyday over a supercarrier where half of the handful any nation can afford is in dry dock at any given time.
Within the comments, feel free to add your own Navy After Next. In fact I encourage it!