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Aircraft Carrier Vs Cruise Missile #29

February 22, 2009

crosshairI 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.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Total permalink
    February 22, 2009 7:47 pm

    Lot of American enemies have ships with Tomahawk cruise missiles on them, do they?

  2. February 22, 2009 12:02 pm

    UAV’s need to be launched and rearmed from something – Naval Air may change in form, but I doubt very much aircraft carrier will go, possibly they will get smaller; afterall they would need to accomodate less personal and man support stores, but I doubt they will go, because what they are designing are things like the X-47 Pegasus; http://www.airforce-technology.com/projects/x47/, these are not small, they are certainly not going to launch of an escort, you will need a large dedicated ship to run them, just as you will need ships (if you continue build such large underarmed vessels) to protect those flat tops.

    now cruise missiles are great, the tommahawks have been proved in action, but they are also becoming subject to ever increasingly sophisticated SAMs, radars and other weapons. The trouble with it is that the next generation of TLAM is not much of an improvement, whilst America has funded UAVs, next generation warships, even SLAM systems, they have not designed anything other than the son of tommahawk; compared to Russian designs it is terribly slow.

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