Aircraft Carrier Vs Cruise Missile #29
I somehow over-looked this article from earlier in the month by Mark Thompson at Time, titled Can Robert Gates Tame the Pentagon? A mistake which we now rectify:
Carriers replaced battleships at the center of U.S. naval power in World War II, but they’ve been losing ground, offensively and defensively, for years. Until the 1980s, the offensive punch of smaller warships was limited to short-range guns. But now these ships pack Tomahawk cruise missiles, giving every destroyer, cruiser and attack submarine the ability to destroy targets well beyond the reach of carrier-based planes–without risking pilots. Distributing that firepower across 120 warships instead of concentrating it on America’s 11 carriers makes sense. Then there’s the huge built-in cost of carriers. Much of a carrier group’s firepower–accompanying ships and subs and the airplanes on its deck–is dedicated to protecting the flattop itself. “We need to move from a Navy of a few large carriers to a Navy of many smaller ships,” says John Arquilla, a professor of defense analysis at the Navy’s postgraduate school in Monterey, Calif. “The carriers ought to have their numbers painted over with bull’s-eyes.”
Naval air still has its place, but it should be allowed to receded, specifically in cost, as unmanned vehicles take their rightful place, which are increasing in capabilities, and able to loiter for greater periods and in some cases at greater ranges than old legacy aircraft.