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Out of the Mouth of Babes

August 2, 2010

USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6), center, ROKS Sejong the Great (DDG 991), left, JS Akebono (DD 108) and other ships assigned to the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2010 combined task force.

At first glance, the temptation might be to ignore the following articles out of hand. A casual read by even a novice defense enthusiast will see the lack of fact checking, sure sign of an amateur on defense matters. For instance, the following was posted in the Louisiana News Star titled “Military: Indulging in overkill?”:

I looked it up. As of now, the U.S. Navy boasts 24 carriers of all classes against nine flat-tops for all the other navies in the world on all the seas. It costs around a cool $4.5 billion to build a carrier…My question is why America needs so many carriers when we have twice the big ships of all the other powers combined, as noted, and while — with the demise of the Soviet Union — we are the only bear in the big power woods.U.S. carriers have been useful in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, but the Taliban is a stateless terrorist organization, with not one carrier in its effective but stone-age arsenal. Neither does al-Qaida have a carrier.

We only have 11 dedicated carriers, and closer to that number if you count the 10 amphibious flattops which can only carry helos and Harrier V/STOL jets. Aside from this the writer makes a good case about the War in Afghanistan. So the military logic has concluded for decades to sustain a terribly expensive weapon to battle in the world’s most impoverished places. While you could argue you might need a carrier for supporting initial landings, it seems even after a few days it would be possible to establish a rough landing base for aircraft, and these need not be $100 million super fighters like the Navy deploys on its Big Decks. Then, why do you need to have so many large and expensive vessels in a fleet now desperate for numbers, against such foes?

So the argument might be you need them for a peer adversary. Well, earlier the author pointed to the fact that of the 9 foreign aircraft carriers in service today, only 1 is used by our former Russian foe. The rest belong to close allies who continuously operate alongside us in world’s hotspots. What about the Chinese threat?

It can be assumed that the People’s Republic of China is a future big power rival of the U.S. but — get this — China has not a single aircraft carrier and isn’t building one.

Actually, all signs point to the fact that China is aggressively seeking a carrier arm. If it does eventually, maybe deploy such a vessel, and painstakingly learn all the tricks of the trade the USN has developed for nearly a century, they still will have ONLY ONE, compared to our 20+. Such a drain on the Chinese budget would also be at risk from the same type missiles and submarines, the kind they may have used to intimidate the carrier USS George Washington out of the Yellow Sea last month:

Then there is the feeling that in the era of satellite reconnaissance and accurate anti-ship missiles the carrier is more and more vulnerable. Even now carriers are escorted by flotillas of destroyers and other warships.Looking deeper into the future, it’s speculated that U.S. nuclear submarines — not carriers — will be the centerpiece of the fleet. The price-tag on a nuclear sub is, by the way, $8 billion — almost twice the cost of a carrier.

The pricetag of the latest Virginia class SSN is $2.4 billion. Was the author thinking of the high cost of the USN Trident submarine, which is nearer his figure? Despite the flawed math, the point of new technology rising to threaten the Big Decks is well spoken, and experts have alluded to this, even the US Defense Secretary. What seems common knowledge to the public then, is looked on with doubt and apparent apathy by the naval leadership, who consistently have sent the 100,000 ton supercarriers, with their 5000+ crewmen into danger zones where they can have easily targeted by land-based defenses, shallow water suicide craft, naval mines, and especially stealthy diesel submarines. You see then the counter to a giant ship is far more cost-effective than using the $4.5 billion ship to strike the world’s poorest countries. The balance of power is shifting.

*****

While possessing nowhere near America’s defense resources, Canada still can boast a rich maritime heritage, as well as the wealth and natural resources to apparently build any type of fleet she desired. Still the nation, once one of the world’s largest, struggles even to maintain a modest ability at sea. Here from Bancroft, Ontario, Sylvia Hennessy plays armchair admiral:

In 1934 the Canadian Navy had only 11 fighting ships and 3,000 men. By the end of WWII we had 400 fighting ships and 100,000 men.
Today Canada has 33 ships. Our four submarines were purchased from Britain 20 years ago. One caught fire and has been in dry dock in Esquimalt B.C. since 2004 awaiting repairs. The three destroyers are almost 40 years old and are being held together with spare parts. Our 12 multipurpose frigates are due for a mid life refit. They are 15 years old and no new ones have been ordered.
The Sea King helicopters are seldom used since they are no longer air worthy, yet the 28 cyclone choppers ordered in 2004 won’t begin to be delivered until 2012 to 2013. This leaves us 12 patrol boats and two auxiliary.
In 2007, six corvette size patrol ships were ordered for the Arctic. With global warming melting northern pack ice, many experts have predicted the North West Passage will become a commercial waterway within the next few decades. Yet I have found no where it states that these patrol boats are completed and in use.

They haven’t been Sylvia, though there are more promises from the Government that they will be built, along with new frigates and giant command ships. Except previous governments has spent the last decade making promises which never get off the ground. Meanwhile, as you point out, the threats continue to worsen against Canada’s  243,000 kilometres of coastline, the world’s longest:

How vulnerable are we? … In an era when we lock our doors, cars, and even our churches, when we hear stories of pirates in the media, and drug runners, protection of our coastal waters seems not to be a priority.

We seem to be getting weaker, the more we spend. Overseas navies, rising foes like Iran, or North Korea, future rivals like India or China, spend far less while they seem to be having a greater effect on their surrounding region. It is true we can project power like nobody’s business, but what happens afterwards, and is the ability to use naval power against land powers really as important as we make out?

*****

Finally, and though hardly an amateur in matters of security, I still find it fascinating that it is the land-centric warriors, the Army generals who have been speaking out in Britain for need of a bigger fleet, while their admirals are focused on land threats. Here writing in the Telegraph is former Chief of the General Staff Gen Sir Richard Dannatt:

This dose of reality impacts on the aircraft carrier programme, too. At £4 billion, the two ships are not actually that expensive – but at £10 billion, the Joint Strike Fighters intended to fly off them most certainly are. This brings the whole project into doubt, and two related questions into focus. Those are: how does the Royal Navy best protect our trade routes and shipping – a lifeline on which our island nation still depends – and how is air power to be provided in support of our land forces?
The answers lie with more and smaller ships to secure the sea lanes, and land-based planes whose range is enhanced by a renegotiated air-to-air refuelling programme.

And to disavow any accusation of bias toward his service:

The Army needs to reduce immediately its holdings of main battle tanks and heavy artillery, and its presence in Germany.

So we see again someone not traditionally associated with seapower calling on the navy to perform its traditional role of defending the sealanes. This can only be done with hulls in the water, and lots of them. While aircraft carriers do perform an essential role still, this is only in support of the fleet as a whole, but how we are using such vessels against land targets, they require continuous and very expensive escorting that further distracts the navy from its primary function. But low cost patrol vessels are very handy for most of the functions required from the fleet today. However we say, “build a high end battleship for the worse case scenario“, yet they are so rare and can often be manage by newer technology as General Dannat points out.

How does the carrier-less Canadians fit also into this mindset? Well, they also build ships which are the most powerful and meant to operate with allies, such as the USN. In fact, the Americans are depending on allied frigates more and more to sail with their largest ships, to make up their own lack of funding in such craft. Ottawa has bought into the “build USA Lite” idea and are suffering the shortages now common using only high tech forces used against mostly low tech enemies.

*****

FGS Hessen (F221) cruises past USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75).

82 Comments leave one →
  1. Matt permalink
    June 8, 2011 10:29 pm

    For a start carriers prevent air bases on the ground from being overrun by Taliban, if the air bases get overrun then all other bases are without air power and cannot call in a broken arrow when the insurgents attack and close the gap. So two to three carriers floating off-shore are the difference, between victory and defeat. Without the US carriers we are vulnerable fighting insurgents.

    As the US has no rival in the maritime realm US aircraft carriers are used to launch land attacks, but in naval warfare they are used for battle group protection. People always talk about assets needed to protect the carriers not the role the carrier plays in protecting the battle group. The ability to keep rotating air assets above the battle group as we fire missile at each other from over the horizon.

    Air to Air refueling is good but when the shooting starts you need to be able to land an rearm while not leaving a gap in the air formation. That is why the US carriers are so big and carry so many air assets.

    Second the Indian and Pacific Oceans are going to go from one vintage foreign carrier ( I don’t count the Russian one it is followed by a tug) to 11 carriers in the future. That is not counting LHD’s.

    A large naval build up in a short period of time, historically means one thing, a war is a coming.

  2. ffb permalink
    August 10, 2010 10:36 am

    To Mike Burleson:

    You wrote: “Well, earlier the author pointed to the fact that of the 9 foreign aircraft carriers in service today, only 1 is used by our former Russian foe. The rest belong to close allies who continuously operate alongside us in world’s hotspots. What about the Chinese threat?”

    Well… where is your peer adversary then, the ONE who justifies the existence of 11 or 20 U.S. American aircraft carriers?

    With 3 to 7 U.S. American aircraft carriers per ocean (depending on what you define as an ocean), do the U.S.A. even expect a single peer adversary to pop up for every ocean out there?

  3. Mike Burleson permalink*
    August 8, 2010 5:32 am

    Tangosix, almost completely well now thanks!

  4. August 7, 2010 4:20 pm

    Let’s just hope that Iranian defence budget doesn’t get cut or we are all doomed………or not!

  5. Al L. permalink
    August 7, 2010 4:08 pm

    B.Smitty said:

    “Aren’t we essentially doing this now….”

    Yes, so why not build ships to fit, and that also fit the budget without drawing down total ship numbers.

  6. August 7, 2010 2:32 pm

    Hello Mike Burleson,

    how is the flu coming along?

    tangosix.

  7. Mike Burleson permalink*
    August 7, 2010 2:25 pm

    Tangosix-thanks!

  8. August 7, 2010 2:22 pm

    Hello,

    Mike Burleson said:

    “Do you have a link to that?”

    https://newwars.wordpress.com/breaking-news-links/#comment-20522

    tangosix.

  9. B.Smitty permalink
    August 7, 2010 2:20 pm

    Al L said, “I’m not proposing that an LHA-6 be used to support OEF, in fact just the opposite, I’m proposing the CVN’s be reserved just for those type of operations, let the LHA-6′s do all the things the CVN’s aren’t doing while they are stuck holding station off Pakistan and all the things for which a CVN is over kill.

    Aren’t we essentially doing this now with the new FRP? We only keep two or three carriers deployed.

  10. Mike Burleson permalink*
    August 7, 2010 2:18 pm

    x wrote-“according to the rumour mill the RN is going to loose 3 amphibs in October anyway.”

    Do you have a link to that?

  11. August 7, 2010 1:40 pm

    Al L. said “Do you believe the contractor(there is only 1 qualified contractor in the entire WORLD) ”

    Now there’s an idea. I wonder how much Hyundia charge for a bare hull if the reactor could be dropped in afterwards? I wonder how long it would take Hyundia to build one too?

  12. August 7, 2010 1:37 pm

    Hello Tangosix!!!

    Again I was talking more about a type of ship than actual class; I was using the America’s as shorthand. What you said about QE with extra berths is exactly what I am on about. On a European scale I would be talking about a Cavour plus large fast LPD (with aviation facilities.) (Or should I say San Antonio class-esque? :) )

    Though according to the rumour mill the RN is going to loose 3 amphibs in October anyway. But the newspapers forget about the RFA. I think we will see an LPD plus two Bays mothballed. Hopefully alongside either in Portsmouth (or Devonport now the latter is to loose its ships) and not stuck out in Fareham Creek.

  13. Al L. permalink
    August 7, 2010 12:20 pm

    B. Smitty:

    I’m not proposing that an LHA-6 be used to support OEF, in fact just the opposite, I’m proposing the CVN’s be reserved just for those type of operations, let the LHA-6’s do all the things the CVN’s aren’t doing while they are stuck holding station off Pakistan and all the things for which a CVN is over kill.

  14. B.Smitty permalink
    August 7, 2010 10:18 am

    Al L said, “ If the CVN’s were mostly the surge ships and the LHD-6 were mostly the deployed ships then there should be no problem exceeding current numbers by healthy margins.

    The LHDs can’t support Op Enduring Freedom like the Eisenhower and Truman CVBGs.

  15. Al L. permalink
    August 7, 2010 2:40 am

    G Lof said:

    “but ordering then two at a time has save much money in the past, and doing so again can save more.”

    Please explain to me how this would work. To maintain 12 CVN the Navy needs 3 new CVN before 2025(when the Nimitz retires). It has 1 fully funded. So it would need to order 2 very soon and then not receive the second until around 2023. Do you believe the contractor(there is only 1 qualified contractor in the entire WORLD) will charge nothing for the program risk over the next 13 years? Or spend the time slipping in change orders?

    “As for Escorts, Unless your going to a two carrier task group, there is little that can be done to cut the ship need to escort your carriers.”

    A 2 carrier group is exactly what I’m talking about, but only part time. Look at this:

    chart:http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/ops/where.htm

    There are 11 CVN: 3 Deployed. 5 Surge Ready (which means “in reserve”) and 3 unavailable. If the Navy had 8 LHD-6 and 8 CVN in lieu of 11 CVN then there would be 16 ships. If the CVN’s were mostly the surge ships and the LHD-6 were mostly the deployed ships then there should be no problem exceeding current numbers by healthy margins. The key is the CVNs would leave the reserve and deploy into the LHA-6 d forward deployed force, the escorts would already be where the CVN was going.

    “…they life expectance is truly measure in distance traveled, not time on a clock.”

    Well not really. A CVN’s life is largely determined by it’s systems life. This is proven by the fact that Enterprise is still going but the cost of keeping it in service has become intolerable because what was the state of art in 1957 is ancient history today. The skill set needed to keep it up is fading, there is no future in maintaining the skills so it costs a king’s ransom to service it.

    “The mix of carriers the USN needs has all been studied before. Look up the reports written in the 1970s and 1980s about the VSS, CVV, CV, and CVN. Those were the reasons we have the all CVN force we have today.”

    Now I understand where you are coming from…. the Cold War.
    The studies of the 70’s and 80’s didn’t anticipate the strategic conditions of the 2010’s let alone the 2020’s or the 2030’s.

  16. Hudson permalink
    August 7, 2010 1:08 am

    China’s anti-carrier inventory would include the H-6 series of medium bomber, developed from the Soviet Tu-16 plane, and the standoff weapons it can launch: C-601 & 602 missiles, Kh-10 & Kh-26 missiles, and DH-10 long range cruise missiles with land attack and probably anti-ship capabilities. So, China can attack our battle groups hundreds of miles out to sea with air-launched weapons, in addition to sub- and surface-launched missiles already deployed. China is thought to have 120 of these bombers, with relatively small numbers devoted to the anti-ship role.

  17. August 6, 2010 3:52 pm

    Hello,

    X said:

    “Over the last year or so I have sometimes thought we Brits would have been better off by buying a pair of America’s and Wasp’s.No development costs, known design, and with a bit more flexibility.”

    I heard this idea suggested elsewhere some time ago so I looked up the cost of the America class.
    At the time they were a good deal more than the Queen Elizabeth’s £2,500 Million including development costs.
    Off hand I can’t recall the numbers exactly but I think it may have been $4,200 (£2,660) Million for U.S.S. America.
    The exchange rate has changed a bit in favour of the American ships since I first looked it up.

    I am not very keen on the America class,the one thing I do like about them though is their capacity for marines.
    I would have liked the Queen Elizabeths to have been larger with more accommodation.

    tangosix.

  18. B.Smitty permalink
    August 6, 2010 3:52 pm

    G Lof said, “AS for the F-35. the whole JFX program suffer from “trying to put ten pound of shit into a eigth pound bag.” The only way to save it is split it into two or three parts and then simplify each part. Only then will we develop cost effective aircraft to fly each mission type.

    I don’t think splitting it will help at this point. We need to take a step back and look at what we want our airpower to do. IMHO, this would lead to fewer short-ranged, land-based fighters and more medium and long range bombers (manned and unmanned). The forward basing crunch isn’t temporary.

    I also think there are potential synergies between land and sea based airpower, however the current systems in the pipeline don’t take advantage of them. The Navy needs the F-22. Carriers could move F-22s close enough to sweep the skies clear of enemy aircraft and “kick the door down” for heavy, land-based bombers. The F-35 won’t be able to do that.

    Just MHO.

  19. G Lof permalink
    August 6, 2010 3:35 pm

    AS for the F-35. the whole JFX program suffer from “trying to put ten pound of shit into a eigth pound bag.” The only way to save it is split it into two or three parts and then simplify each part. Only then will we develop cost effective aircraft to fly each mission type.

  20. G Lof permalink
    August 6, 2010 3:29 pm

    Al:

    As Smitty pointed out, number count when it come to controlling cost. Now I don’t expect the USN to build 2 CVN/year, but ordering then two at a time has save much money in the past, and doing so again can save more.

    Also remember that CVN are vehicles, they life expectance is truly measure in distance traveled, not time on a clock. So if you have only 11 carriers covering the same distance as your 12 CVN, they wear out that much sooner in term of time. To make matters worse, as I point out before, if you cruise durations start going above six months, which it might with only 11 CVNs, your ship maintains does not keep up with the need, and the life expectance of your CVN drops more.

    Frankly I expect if we order two CVN every seven or eight year. we save up to a quarter of the amount buy one at a time would.

    As for Escorts, Unless your going to a two carrier task group, there is little that can be done to cut the ship need to escort your carriers. There s minimum number of four I believe, and yuo need extras to to handle side missions. And going to two carrier task groups is a money waster, since one large CVN is cheaper to build and operate than a LHA and a smaller CVN.

    The mix of carriers the USN needs has all been studied before. Look up the reports written in the 1970s and 1980s about the VSS, CVV, CV, and CVN. Those were the reasons we have the all CVN force we have today.

  21. Hudson permalink
    August 6, 2010 2:06 pm

    “…but there’s a dire shortage of high-speed sophisticated CM simulators (esp emerging threats like BrahMos) in order to certify field-testing.”

    If true, this is inexcusable. Can a simulator be that much more complicated or expensive than a video game? Recently, I read somethere, the Navy bought app. 20 dummy cruise missiles to simulate real attacks. If they get hit, they’re certainly not reusable. Or this is not live counter-fire? This is a pathetic number. I’d like to hear more about the effectiveness of EW and decoys in defending against these missle threats to surface vessels.

    (This post I actually did write. You can quote me on that.)

  22. B.Smitty permalink
    August 6, 2010 1:55 pm

    Juramentado ,

    I hope you’re right and I’m wrong regarding the F-35B.

  23. Juramentado permalink
    August 6, 2010 12:11 pm

    Folks – apologies for the incorrect attribution on quotes.

    I’m still not sold on CEC. A lot of it requires datalinks that haven’t really been stressed under combat situations working correctly (or at all!), and heavy reliance on automated decisions about target-distributed missile allocation. Clearly it would be of benefit to a massed multi-axis attack, but for me, fall back to a dedicated AAW screen and putting up enough “shoot-shoot-look” to defeat the threat. Yes, we want to fight smarter, but there’s a dire shortage of high-speed sophisticated CM simulators (esp emerging threats like BrahMos) in order to certify field-testing.

    I like the MV idea, but the Marines are showing that the Osprey needs more work in the maintenance-flying hours ratio. It doesn’t help that they’re operating at altitude in one of the dustiest, nastiest FOD places in the world right now. But it does solve platform commonality, and the op model would be very different for an AEW bird.

    I think we’ll have to agree to disagree re: the B version JSF. :-) There’s a lot of buzz around smaller parts failures across the program as a whole as well. As the number of successful flights grows higher, more data will be available to come to some reasonable operational conclusions.

  24. B.Smitty permalink
    August 6, 2010 11:43 am

    Juramentado said, “Hudson sez:

    My point exactly – why develop it when the Merlin has already been fielded as a proven Helo-AEW? If the USAF was willing to go with EADS over Boeing the first time, why wouldn’t we consider getting a foreign make Helo AEW. We need to get over the Not-Invented-Here syndrome – it’s too costly and meaningless when we’re buying it from staunch historical allies.
    AEW is exactly that – Early Warning – as part of F2T2EA chain, it’s really only supposed to be Find and Fix, then hand off to the defenders to localize and engage. As for CM threats, you cannot put an HVA out there by itself. That’s why I said in conjunction with a proper outer picket and inner AAW screen. You would have at least one Tico and one Burke with you and goodness knows how well it would do – likely an aging Perry or a question-mark LCS at the outer ring.

    This was me, btw, not Hudson. :) The US military doesn’t operate the Merlin, so that would be adding another airframe and support pipeline to the mix. If the USN was serious, they might be able to talk the Brits into an MV-22 AEW variant. A mockup of one was shown recently.

    You don’t put an HVA out there by itself, but early warning is critical to CM defense. E-2D brings vastly enhanced capabilities here as well as CEC which, combined with SM-6, will greatly expand the coverage of AEGIS ships. Will a helo-based AEW have the same capability?

    Juramentado said, “Again, the whole point is not build a mini-CVN, but to build a deck that can do other things that the CVN can do, but at a smaller cost, plus things the CVN can’t or shouldn’t do. Delivering troops, providing a helo-heavy force and still have MRAs is the tactical implementation of an SCS.

    Is the point to build something that can deliver troops? We have amphibs for that.

    IMHO, the point is to build a vessel that allows us to deploy airpower in smaller packets. If it can deliver troops as a secondary role, all the better. Having a few MRAs and helo based AEW is certainly better than not having any, but there are large gains to be had if you step up to E-2D, EA-18G, UCLASS and UCAVs. And there are significant cost savings from “dropping down” to Super Hornets instead of F-35Bs IIRC, Boeing offered the USN SH’s for $50 million each fairly recently. How far above $100 million each the F-35B will be is anyone’s guess. You could save $1-2 billion per 20 aircraft airwing just by dropping down to Super Hornets. That could pay the extra expense for a CTOL ship by itself.

    Juramentado said, “Um – 40 years of STOVL service from the Harrier have proven most of that technology except the Lift Fan in one platform – the Harrier. And everytime someone took the English Channel ferry via hovercraft, they were relying on lift-fans. If anything, one should be more concerned about the reality of “5th Generation Fighter” capability than anything else. Sheer numbers and a true world-class IADS might be able to overwhelm a quality few stealth fighters.

    And the Harrier is the ONLY successful STOVL aircraft ever to enter service. (hard to consider Forger successful) The lift principles and design of the F-35B are completely different from the Harrier. AFAIK, there is zero technology transfer from the Harrier to F-35B, except maybe broadly what not to do.

    In any event, you asked why the STOVL variant is more risky. I think anyone associated with the program would agree the VTOL components make it far more risky than the other two variants.

  25. Juramentado permalink
    August 6, 2010 10:59 am

    Hudson sez:

    How much will it cost to develop, field and maintain helo-based AEW? How well can they detect low-RCS cruise missiles?

    My point exactly – why develop it when the Merlin has already been fielded as a proven Helo-AEW? If the USAF was willing to go with EADS over Boeing the first time, why wouldn’t we consider getting a foreign make Helo AEW. We need to get over the Not-Invented-Here syndrome – it’s too costly and meaningless when we’re buying it from staunch historical allies.

    AEW is exactly that – Early Warning – as part of F2T2EA chain, it’s really only supposed to be Find and Fix, then hand off to the defenders to localize and engage. As for CM threats, you cannot put an HVA out there by itself. That’s why I said in conjunction with a proper outer picket and inner AAW screen. You would have at least one Tico and one Burke with you and goodness knows how well it would do – likely an aging Perry or a question-mark LCS at the outer ring.

    Certainly helo-based AEW is an option. However if you built a CTOL carrier, you might as well build one that can handle E-2D.

    Again, the whole point is not build a mini-CVN, but to build a deck that can do other things that the CVN can do, but at a smaller cost, plus things the CVN can’t or shouldn’t do. Delivering troops, providing a helo-heavy force and still have MRAs is the tactical implementation of an SCS.

    “How is this variant any riskier than the CTOL or catapult carrier versions?”

    VTOL – Lift fan, vectoring nozzle, roll posts, weight reductions, flight controls.

    Um – 40 years of STOVL service from the Harrier have proven most of that technology except the Lift Fan in one platform – the Harrier. And everytime someone took the English Channel ferry via hovercraft, they were relying on lift-fans. If anything, one should be more concerned about the reality of “5th Generation Fighter” capability than anything else. Sheer numbers and a true world-class IADS might be able to overwhelm a quality few stealth fighters.

  26. August 6, 2010 7:55 am

    I was hoping that the “rumours” about MoD(N) starting to look at catapults for the QEs had something to do with a carrier version of BAE’s new Taranis UCAV (or something that shared its base technologies.

    But we musn’t get carried away with the tech’. Speaking as someone who used to work on high end IT I have an appreciation of just how temperamental and stupid even “Rolls Royce”/gold plated IT can be. We Brits have been caught out before about placing too much faith in tech’.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1957_Defence_White_Paper

  27. Mike Burleson permalink*
    August 6, 2010 7:25 am

    G Lof wrote “I not sure were the idea that you will save money by build a fleet of less able ships to replace the carrier during peace time patrols”

    Depending on what your definition of less capable is. The 1980 airwing of the USS Nimitz was far less capable than the 2000 airwing, the addition of precision guided munitions making a dramatic difference. My thinking is, the idea of massed airwings is keeping this incredible technology concentrated and making it less effective.We are weak even with the appearance of great strength. If you spread the new capability out, you could do more missions with the seemingly “less capable” airwings, and you wouldn’t be bound by the 10 or 11 carriers you can afford, a handful of this forward deployed at any given time.

    On land, our warfighters are thinking of how many missions they can get out of individual aircraft, and UAVs are very able as well given their long-loitering persistence. In the very future one of two drones will do the missions we now launch giant fleets and their tens of thousands of crew to perform. Not just fantasy, its very nearly here.

    Because this new capability is so effective, less is more, but hulls are the life of any fleet. Get more hulls and you can project this new power in many places. Power concentrated is power wasted.

  28. August 6, 2010 5:25 am

    Let’s see if we can’t get the comment count up to 100 before Mike B rises from his sick bed…….

  29. August 6, 2010 5:24 am

    You have to remember politicians don’t know one ship type from another; their question would be “can’t the (smaller, cheaper) America’s do both jobs?”

    I have mixed feelings towards the America. Over the last year or so I have sometimes thought we Brits would have been better off by buying a pair of America’s and Wasp’s. No development costs, known design, and with a bit more flexibility.

  30. Al L. permalink
    August 6, 2010 1:56 am

    G Lof said:

    “Yous still need to bui;d enough CVN and their escorts, airwing and shore support to fight a war, which is very costly, and then build a seperate fleet of LHA/CVSs, with a like number of secorts, airwings, and shore support, for use only in peace time.”

    No. If the LHA-6 is the forward ship and the CVN is the reserve ship then most of the escorts sail with the forward ship. The CVN then plugs into the forward fleet when its capabilities are needed.The LHA-6 is equiped with the ASW, sea control, and low end assets, the CVN sails in with an airwing almost completely made of of high end fixed wing assets. There is very little redundancy. When operating together the LHA-6 handles ASW, low end SUW, force protection etc and operates nearer to shore. The CVN operates further out behind a layered defense and provides long range strike, AEW&C, long range AtoAW, etc.

    ” I beleive we shuold return to a twelve CVBG rotation as soon a possible> It will save money in the long run, and make the crews life easier.”

    That’s nice but the Navy’s ship building plan for even an 11 CVN force run almost 50% over historical budgets, so what do you propose to give up to fund that $155 billion CVN fleet?

  31. G Lof permalink
    August 6, 2010 12:43 am

    I not sure were the idea that you will save money by build a fleet of less able ships to replace the carrier during peace time patrols. Yous still need to bui;d enough CVN and their escorts, airwing and shore support to fight a war, which is very costly, and then build a seperate fleet of LHA/CVSs, with a like number of secorts, airwings, and shore support, for use only in peace time. That alot of ships and people. It would far less expensive to just build enough CVN and use then for both wartime and peacetime duties.

    BTW, a reminder too those who should know better, the limiting factor on any navy peacetime patrol schedule is personal. The few ships you have, the longer each patrol has to be. The long the patrol, especially when the go over six months, the worse crew retention. The worse crew retention, the higher the training cost, retention bonus, medical costs, and the lower the readiness and safety of the ships ( a CVN is a surface ship after all). And since manpower is the most expensive part of the navy budget, you can see how quickly any saving in building few CVN are eaten up by personel outlays.

    I beleive we shuold return to a twelve CVBG rotation as soon a possible> It will save money in the long run, and make the crews life easier.

    Another reminder, even if Ford will not need refueling, it will still need mid-life refits, which take almost as long, so that make cutting the CVN force that way a washout.

    About the need for Hawkeyes, why don’t you ask the French about why you need them, and how big of CVN you need.

  32. Al L. permalink
    August 5, 2010 9:18 pm

    B Smitty said:

    “IMHO, STOVL carriers (especially the America amphib) just don’t cut it as surrogate CVNs.”

    They don’t have to serve as surrogate CVNs so long as both ship types sre in the fleet in balanced numbers. Here’s what I wrote in the “build your own Navy” thread ( The FPF is my Forward Presence Force anchored by an LHA-6 type ship)

    “The FPF would replace the CSG as the forward positioned presence force, focused on the low to medium, green and near blue water challenges. The CVNs and their CAGs would become a reserve force, largely held back until their capabilities were needed. Once a CVN was needed the CAG would plug into the FPF. The CSV would then focus on the nearer shore threats, ASW, and force protection while the CVN would provide AEW&C, strike capability, and long range A-AW, etc.”

    The LHA-6 type ship and the CVN can be complementary.

  33. B.Smitty permalink
    August 5, 2010 5:53 pm

    Hudson,

    They would have to develop one, or go through a significant cost-reduction exercise with the Virginias. Going to 2+ boats per year would help a lot by itself.

    Juramentado said, “They don’t need to carry E2s to establish AEW. Most navies do just fine using helo-based AEW

    How much will it cost to develop, field and maintain helo-based AEW? How well can they detect low-RCS cruise missiles?

    Certainly helo-based AEW is an option. However if you built a CTOL carrier, you might as well build one that can handle E-2D.

    How is this variant any riskier than the CTOL or catapult carrier versions?

    VTOL – Lift fan, vectoring nozzle, roll posts, weight reductions, flight controls.

  34. Hudson permalink
    August 5, 2010 5:27 pm

    Fantasies aside, how is the USN going to obtain a $1.5 bil SSN?

  35. Juramentado permalink
    August 5, 2010 5:20 pm

    IMHO, STOVL carriers (especially the America amphib) just don’t cut it as surrogate CVNs. They can’t carry E-2D. They won’t be able to carry UCLASS/UCAV and they are tied to aging Harriers and the very risky F-35B as their only fixed-wing aircraft.

    They don’t need to carry E2s to establish AEW. Most navies do just fine using helo-based AEW – it’s not an expeditionary strike CV, it’s a combination short deck with the ability to do ASW and maybe some small scale troop landing work. You don’t need 250-300nm radius coverage – if you can get a working reliable 150nm detection range, coupled with a proper outer picket and an inner AAW screen, you’re more than adequately covered to conduct air ops even close to a contested shoreline.

    I don’t understand the issue behind the F-35B. How is this variant any riskier than the CTOL or catapult carrier versions? And the benefits more than outweigh the costs – you have a fully supersonic, stealthed MRA that gives you all the traditional roles plus gives you back an air-superiority fighter that the Harrier wasn’t.

  36. B.Smitty permalink
    August 5, 2010 4:56 pm

    The USN doesn’t need SSKs. What it needs is a good, ~$1.5 billion SSN.

  37. Hudson permalink
    August 5, 2010 4:17 pm

    My thought for the day is: we should be more concerned about declining sub numbers (fewer Virginias to replace Los Angeles), over time, than declining carrier numbers (fewer Fords to replace Nimitz). While carriers project sea power, the evidence indicates that subs are more dangerous to carriers than the reverse. Subs will control the sea lanes. Both Russia and China build SSBNs, SSNs and SSKs. China has 13 of the new Song AIP boats plus older Kilo models.

    The USN will not build SSKs short of an act of Congress, so in a decade or so we could find ourselves outgunned beneath the waves, protecting our CVNs in the way the Japanese held back with the Yamato and remaining battleships late in the war, until it was too late for them to win or even seriously affect the naval battle,

    I also think that during the next decade, most political issues of the day will be decided: Iran, N. Korea, Israel vs. Iran/Hezbollah/Hamas, China vs. Taiwan. And, yes, whether there will be a Falklands War II. We will be strong militarily sailing into those waters. The next ten years will also decide the direction of U.S. policy, and whether we have a coherent foreign policy or not.

  38. August 5, 2010 2:14 pm

    Gosh!!!! I remember it from way back during previous discussion(s) on carrier number reduction.

  39. Al L. permalink
    August 5, 2010 10:28 am

    X said:
    “Yes. But the USN says it takes 5 (five) to keep one on station”

    How do you get that number? The US has 11 carriers and typically keeps 3 deployed. Secondly it can put 8 in action with some notice so depending on what and when you want to call “on station” the ratio is some where between 3.67 to 1 and 1.375 to 1.
    http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/ops/where.htm

    I contend that if the Navy had 8 CVN none of which needed a mid-life RCOH because they either a)already had it or b) do not require it (Ford) then as many as 6 could be available as a reserve at any one time.

  40. B.Smitty permalink
    August 5, 2010 10:08 am

    IMHO, STOVL carriers (especially the America amphib) just don’t cut it as surrogate CVNs. They can’t carry E-2D. They won’t be able to carry UCLASS/UCAV and they are tied to aging Harriers and the very risky F-35B as their only fixed-wing aircraft.

    We need a smaller, conventional, CTOL carrier.

    The size should be determined by operational and cost analysis. Besides cost, one key question is what constitutes the minimum capabilities needed for a significant percentage of CVN deployments? Another is, in wartime, what capabilities are needed to supplement CVNs to a “useful” degree?

    Does such a vessel need to provide persistent AEW and persistent CAP and have sorties remaining for strike or ISR? Or is performing only one or two of these missions at a time enough?

    I think the lower bound should be something like the pre-STOVL, angle deck HMS Hermes. It could operate Buccaneers, which are around the same size as the Super Hornet. A larger carrier might make more sense if it doesn’t cost that much more.

    The last question is, what are we willing to give up (if anything) to have them?

  41. August 5, 2010 7:36 am

    Al L. said (paraphrase) use CVN as big stick in reserve.

    Yes. But the USN says it takes 5 (five) to keep one on station. You have to be careful not to under estimate working up time, maintenance, etc. etc.

  42. Al L. permalink
    August 5, 2010 1:21 am

    To leesea:

    The New Navy Fighting Machine is wonderful except for 2 things: It’s a fantasy that ignores both the current fleet make up and domestic ship building capacity. Should we toss all the existing ships that will serve for the next 3+ decades to create this ideal fleet? Who will make all the small,low volume ships in this fanciful fleet for the prices in their plan? L-M? N-G? Good luck.

    To G-lof:
    The America class does have a role to play: as the everyday forward presence ship. The Navy should stop patroling with CVNs and start patroling with CSVs (Carrier Sto/Vl). The CVN’s should be used as a reserve force to be inserted when their capacity is called for.

    This is the solution to declining fleet numbers and it’s a solution that doesn’t require the immediate creation of fanciful ships.

    If you want to know more about this concept go to “Build Your Own Navy” on this blog and look at my Navy construct. It puts in service 311+ capital ships AND 90+- support and patrol craft, using VERY generous ship budgets and no pie-in-the-sky designs. The key is building LHA-6 type ships.

  43. Juramentado permalink
    August 4, 2010 3:44 pm

    leesea – concur that SCS did not have amphib ambitions. Although one could argue that since the actual SCS trials used the Guam, there was already capability built in for that purpose. But that’s cutting it too fine even for me.

    I would like to think that there is a place for SCS in the new world order. The capabilities jump immensely if two things could happen – one, replace the expected Harrier complement with JSFs (exponentially improving your MRA and getting decent AAW to boot), and a solution is found for a true OTH delivery method for the Marines. But that’s fodder for another day I guess.

  44. August 4, 2010 1:15 pm

    All the Harriers were off (8 SHARS, 6 GR3s)

    It was Chinooks and Wessexes that went for a float test.

  45. Chuck Hill permalink
    August 4, 2010 10:59 am

    Always heard about the loss of the helos on Atlantic Conveyor. Looks like at least 14 Harriers in the photo. Were they lost too?

  46. Juramentado permalink
    August 4, 2010 10:47 am

    There were RAF pilots who flew with FAA squadrons but I don’t think the percentages were that high were they? I shall have to go and check on that.

    Correction, there were purely RAF birds with the Task Force – I think the OOB was somewhere around 30 Harriers total. Of which 6-7 were actually RAF GR.3s; a detachment of No.1 Squadron that made it’s way south on the Atlantic Conveyor.

    Someone mentioned the AIM9 not being integrated into RAF Harriers – for the skinny on that from a squadron viewpoint, read No.1’s diaries on-line -the comment in the April entries about begging for a card-board mock-up in order to bamboozle the Argentinians is fascinating…

    http://www.raf.mod.uk/falklands/1sqn_index.html

  47. G Lof permalink
    August 4, 2010 3:13 am

    leasea

    The USN cannot depend totally on large number of smaller carriers. Time and again, study after study, large deck carriers have come out the most cost effective way of meeting the USN needed. For one thing smaller carriers can not carry enough strike and air defence aircraft. Another thing is that you build small, less effective aircraft to fly from those ship (compare the airgroup of a Essex verse large carriers of the 70s). You end up having to deploy two or three carrier battle groups to do what one does today. That is far more costly in terms of manpower requirements and escorts requirement than any saving building smaller carriers.

    There is a place for few ‘America’ class carriers in the USN, one that can act a swing ship between the strike carriers and the amphibous assualt carriers. A group of them can even provide emergeny replacement for some CVN missions if necessary. But the USN can not afford to replace all or even most of our carrier forces with the number of America class ship it would require to meet the USNs needs.

  48. leesea permalink
    August 3, 2010 11:44 pm

    Juramentado to be fair to SCS they did NOT have any amphib pretensions. Notice how the newer small carriers to to one or the other genre? JDS Osumo is amphib, JDS Hyuga is ASW and really a CVL. Same observation of ROKS Dudko (sp?)

    I buy G Lof’s viewpoint, the USN is just trying to cover too much ocean with too few CVNs. We simply cannot afford a one big ship platform and still do all the other “lesser” missions with only the bigges sledge hammer in the tool box. The solution resides in adopting the New Navy Fighting Machine by Capt Hughes. A different spectrum of ships to peform complimentary mission at an overal stable cost.

  49. August 3, 2010 5:21 pm

    Juramentado said all sorts of stuff.

    I do actually have a Tilley and I forgot to take it with me.

    Kills in a FAA airframe are FAA kills. Sorry. Them is the rulez. :)

    There were RAF pilots who flew with FAA squadrons but I don’t think the percentages were that high were they? I shall have to go and check on that.

    Of course by 1982 FAA fast jet recruitment was suffering because of the death of the CTOL carriers.

  50. August 3, 2010 5:10 pm

    Hudson said “To your list of cock-ups, you could add the bombing of the Chinese embassy and killing of civilians on bridges. Still, at the end of the day, who won? How many U.S. planes were shot down, U.S. soldiers or airmen killed?”

    I take your point about US casualties. And I was hoping that somebody would mention the Chinese embassy.

    Oh! And when I said “I will stop now!” what I meant was I had made three successive posts and not one longish post as is my wont. It wasn’t directed at you my friend.

  51. Heretic permalink
    August 3, 2010 4:38 pm

    Actually, the RAF in Falklands story is even more entertaining.

    Prior to the Falklands, the RAF was hidebound and determined to keep the Harrier a ground attack ONLY aircraft. If the mantra for the F-15 was “not a pound for ground” then the mantra for the RAF on their Harriers was “not a thought for air” … and they made good on the threat.

    When the RN was frantically trying to get sidewinders from the US for their Sea Harriers before the carriers sailed south, the RAF very deliberately stuck their heads in the sand (shoulders deep and still pushing!) and farted … loudly … at the notion of equipping their ground attack Harriers with air-to-air missiles. For one thing, the RAF brass didn’t want their Harrier pilots thinking they were Fighters, nor did they want to have to go to the trouble of training their pilots for air-to-air combat (which would cost money!). No … the RAF Harriers were ATTACK planes, and nothing more.

    To give you an idea of just how short sighted the RAF were on this, when the RN cleared sidewinders for use on their Sea Harriers it would have been a trivial matter to do the same for the RAF Harriers. So what did the RAF do? They specifically … and deliberately … forbade the installation of wiring necessary to equip the RAF Harriers with sidewinder missiles.

    The RN wisely, as it turns out, chose the AIM-9L for their Sea Harriers.
    No doubt the RAF would have insisted on picking the AIM-9N for their Harriers, if only to spite the RN, if they hadn’t stuck their heads in the sand and farted … loudly … at the idea of Harriers acting like Fighters in RAF colours.

    So naturally, when the RN’s Sea Harriers started racking up the kills against the “Argies” … the RAF got jealous, naturally, of the RN record of air-to-air prowess. It was only belatedly, and far too late that anyone in the RAF caught a clue and figured there was NO REASON WHATSOEVER why the RAF Harriers shouldn’t be sharing in the air-to-air glory too along with the RN.

    Of course, by then, it was far far too late.

    That ship had quite literally already sailed.

    And the RAF had no one to blame but themselves. No one.

  52. Juramentado permalink
    August 3, 2010 2:35 pm

    But then again, RAF pilots made up about, what a quarter to thirty percent of active Harrier pilots during the Malvinas conflict? So who’s to say; does it count as an RAF kill if it was a RAF pilot but a Fleet Air Arm bird?

  53. Juramentado permalink
    August 3, 2010 2:30 pm

    Can somebody remind me again how many enemy aircraft in air-to-air combat the RAF have downed since 1945? It slips my mind; too much sun last Friday me thinks.

    Try a Tilley Hat and some SunBlock.

    The count is nine for the RAF since 1945, including the infamous Phantom-Jaguar blue-on-blue incident in the 80s.

  54. Hudson permalink
    August 3, 2010 1:43 pm

    x,

    To your list of cock-ups, you could add the bombing of the Chinese embassy and killing of civilians on bridges. Still, at the end of the day, who won? How many U.S. planes were shot down, U.S. soldiers or airmen killed?

  55. August 3, 2010 1:21 pm

    Hudson said “Bill Clinton’s cunning bombing campaign of Serbia.”

    Really? I think the Serbs proved once more how ineffective air power can be. How many bombs were dropped on drain pipes and oil drums covered with camo-netting? And where was the US Army? Trapped the wrong side of a river….

    If Gulf War frightened the Russian and Chinese with the US and Allies use of precision guided munitions the cock-up in Kosvo probably calmed them.

    I will stop now!

  56. August 3, 2010 1:16 pm

    Oh yes one more thing….

    Can somebody remind me again how many enemy aircraft in air-to-air combat the RAF have downed since 1945? It slips my mind; too much sun last Friday me thinks.

  57. August 3, 2010 1:14 pm

    Um. Rule of thumb is 1000 tons displacement for 1 aircraft carried.

    And somebody mentioned conventional and nuclear. Above 8000 displacement the space/volume needed for gas turbine or steam or nuclear is roughly the same. We Brits missed a trick by not going nuclear for the QE’s. We are struggling now for oilers; how we keep a 60,ooo ton monster at sea in a decade or two will prove to be interesting. The contracted availability for the two ships may go out of the scuttle if we can’t keep the things fuelled.

  58. Juramentado permalink
    August 3, 2010 1:11 pm

    That is exactly the point I was making.
    In seven out of seven major air wars in which the United Kindom has been involved since 1945,the carriers have been closer to the action than the land bases and have generated higher sortie rates as a consequence.

    No – we’re talking a little bit of oranges and tangerines here – close, but not exactly the same.

    You’re attributing the ability to mount high sortie rates without looking at the missions being flown. The two are interrelated. As I said before, change the dynamic for the UK to fly an offensive sweep or a strike mission and watch your sortie rates go down and I mean *way* down. It doesn’t matter if you’re using an airbase or a carrier at that point. The ability to generate sorties is also based on asset/pilot availability, turnaround times, fuel/munitions supply, ingress/egress and time-over-target. Now if for some reason the UK task forces could not close with the Malvinas and had to conduct offensive and defensive missions from a distance, that number heads way South. Just attributing sortie rate without acknowledging the circumstances behind the missions is disingenuous.

  59. Hudson permalink
    August 3, 2010 11:13 am

    If you define superpower as that nation which can act with impunity in the world, then the U.S. has never been a superpower. At the height of its military power 1945-1953, it left Korea with an Armistice – we might have won militarily, but already politics was impinging on the military.

    We have waged brilliant campaigns in Gulf War I, the opening phases of Gulf War II, Bill Clinton’s cunning bombing campaign of Serbia. We did not answer the Soviets in Berlin 1953 & 1961, Hungary 1956, Czechoslovakia 1968. Perhaps our most brilliant use of soft power was the Berlin Arlift 1948-49.

    The USN today has the ships and sailors to carry out any type of mission today, but seems most anxious about its future. It might not always have the right ship to do the job, i.e., a destroyer to chase down pirates in a skiff, but it can defeat the skiff. All naval powers are limited by the tyranny of cost, including ultimately, China. Whether the U.S. can prevail in all its semi-naval campaigns largely depends on the land battle and politics.

  60. August 3, 2010 10:03 am

    Hello,

    Juramentado said:

    “Whoa – the only reason the Argies couldn’t generate more sorties is because of the distance from the mainland air bases and the A2A refueling requirement. Sure, the UK put up more aircraft per hour, but that’s because they were fighting a mostly defensive air battle close to their deck.”

    That is exactly the point I was making.
    In seven out of seven major air wars in which the United Kindom has been involved since 1945,the carriers have been closer to the action than the land bases and have generated higher sortie rates as a consequence.
    That is the carrier’s great advantage.
    See maps here:

    http://grandlogistics.blogspot.com/2010/06/f35c-versus-f35b-combat-radii-applied.html

    tangosix.

  61. Juramentado permalink
    August 3, 2010 9:40 am

    With the money saved it could building 100+ ASW frigates and another 200+ Global Corvettes and regain much of what it has lost. It could also cut the ship building budget in half and stop bankrupting the country.

    I *know* I’m not the only person asking this question. How does a frigate or even corvette heavy Navy align with Strategy 21C? Does it meet any of the six tenents of NOC 2010? Quite frankly, too many people are obsessed with trying to maintain a Fleet-In-Being (even a fantasy one) that we’re all missing the point – a force structure is the last step in the strategy-to-tactics chain, not the first. How does a Corvette Navy help with HADR? Can it deliver assistance as readily as an LPD or an LHA? Or even some re-purposed T-AKEs? How does a pure Frigate Navy deliver soft power? Can it provide a significant amount of troops or training to Maritime allies, or effectively patrol a brown-water coast that’s thousands of miles long? Can it deliver long-range fires when facing a contested entry into a peninsula or other enclosed body of water? The answers are all NO. And that’s where we really need to rethink our personal likes and desires that we’re subconsciously (or otherwise) overlaying on top of our thinking for what capability gaps need to be filled.

  62. Juramentado permalink
    August 3, 2010 9:19 am

    Yet over a five day period in May 1982 the British carrier aircraft flew 300 sorties while the Argentinian land based aircraft managed just 180.

    Whoa – the only reason the Argies couldn’t generate more sorties is because of the distance from the mainland air bases and the A2A refueling requirement. Sure, the UK put up more aircraft per hour, but that’s because they were fighting a mostly defensive air battle close to their deck. Change the dynamics to a strike or offensive campaign and the numbers would be very different, especially if the carrier had to stand-off due to coastal defenses.

  63. martin permalink
    August 3, 2010 6:33 am

    On the LHD and LHP as carriers. These are not ideal platforms to operate as strike carriers. The British found that out to their detriment in 1982. A strike carrier needs to be CATOBAR to be effective and it needs a decent fixed wing AWACS capability to be able to defend itself.

    I would accept though that 100,000 tonnes nuclear powered Nimitz or Ford class is over kill for this requirement. a conventional powered 60,000-70,000 tonne carrier along the lines of the Kitty Hawk or the New Queen Elizabeth (with Angled deck and catapults) Could do the job equally as well for around 1/5 of the cost.

    Better defensive suite of missiles could be added to replace some of the armour lost by opting for conventional propulsion along the lines of the Charles De Gaulle which has Aster 15 and possibly soon Aster 30 SAM’s.

  64. martin permalink
    August 3, 2010 1:52 am

    I think the article makes some very valid points. What the US calls a carrier and what he rest of the world calls a carrier are two very different things. With the rise in modern anti ship missile defences both land and air based it is highly doubtful that a US carrier group could approach a well armed enemy coast. However that does not mean that the platform is not needed.

    If you wanted to win some type of third world war. Taking away the nuclear dimension you will have to hold the central oceans. Unlike world war two every country on earth is now completely dependant on foreign trade in a way that was unthinkable in 1939. While Submarines are excellent platforms for sea denial they cannot carry out basic sea control. This type of sea control is what makes a blockade effective.

    Compare two blockades of the twentieth century The British blockade of Germany in the first world war and the German blockade of World war 1. The British blockade annoyed neutral counties such as the US however having to open cargoes for inspection and being diverted to foreign ports to have your cargo impounded for fair market value is hardly grounds to justify going to war against the blockading Navy. The British Blockade brought Germany to its knees in 3 years and was the main factor in deciding the outcome of world war one.

    In contrast the German Submarine Blockade in world war one brought the United State in on the British and French side. While highly effective in its early days once ASW counter measure were deployed it never really threatened to knock Britain out of the war.

    While I am rambling here I think it is important to note that All the current platforms in the US navy are required from the SSN to the CVn’s. Only a properly balanced fleet will win a war as the Royal Navy was in 1917. That being said the US navy is far from balanced and concentrates way to much on the high end power projection platforms. 11 CVN’s is a joke. The Chinese are laughing at America. They deploy a couple of low end up gunned destroyers and a couple of outdated SSN with the threat of one day building a single carrier. The US responds by replacing its $4 billion dollar CVN’s with $15 billion Gerald Ford’s. It spends billions on new DDG’s and plans for a class of $3 billion dollar Zumwalt Battlestars. The US navy is complaining that it cant meat its commitments with a $15 billion per year ship building budget.

    Meanwhile in order to fund the battlestars and CVN’s the US is borrowing money from China quicker than it can print it. America ceased to be a super power in 2008 as soon as it had to approach tiny little Singapore for a bailout. With military spending running at 4% of GDP this is a process which will continue.

    The Navy needs to maintain its SSN fleet Cut its high end Destroyers and CVN’s. The US could have 4 CBG’s and 4ARG’s and still out gun the next 3 biggest Navy’s in the world. With the money saved it could building 100+ ASW frigates and another 200+ Global Corvettes and regain much of what it has lost. It could also cut the ship building budget in half and stop bankrupting the country.

    Being a super power is about not having to fight. Soft power and economic muscle will accomplish more than 100 CBG ever could.

  65. G Lof permalink
    August 3, 2010 1:17 am

    As normal for such articals, it misses the point, that we need to size our navy, not to match some what some other navy is, but to profrom those function the United States requires them.

    The main mission of the US Navy carriers is not to fight wars, but to deter wars by their presents. Very few countries have the wherewithall to attack a CVBG.Few yet have the ablity to with withstand an attack by Multi-CVNs such a attack would generate.

    Therefore the number and types of carrier the Navy deploys is determine by ‘Peace time” operational requirements. Today the United states interest cover the whole world, including all three oceans. To provide the coverage needed for these areas, we have determine, correctly, that we need a carrier battle group, forward deploded in each ocean. From there it mathimatic that determine the size of the carrier force we need to maintain this requirement.

    Those who want to size our Navy simple by looking at what other nations are doing should have little wieght in any future debate about the Navy. They knowledge of naval matters seem to come from reading old Janes Fighting Ship and science fiction novel.

  66. Nicky permalink
    August 2, 2010 11:34 pm

    So how dose the US Navy’s CVN force stack up to countries that operate carriers that are equivalent to LHA & LHD in the US Navy. I know some countries, an LHA and LHD would equate to our carriers.

  67. RW2 permalink
    August 2, 2010 11:20 pm

    AI L, my “I” button has be sticking lately. lol it should say FAIR fight however I agree with your statement.

  68. RW2 permalink
    August 2, 2010 11:12 pm

    The CVNs of the U.S. Navy CAN carry up to 100 aircraft however it was found that 55 to 65 was better for flight deck operations and it also gave the ship the ability to secure a higher percentage of the airwing in the hanger deck away from the elements. During OIF some of the CVNs carried an additional Hornet Sqaudron for a total of 5 fighter/attack. Plus AEW, Electronic warfare, and various helo squadrons.
    Quick facts:
    -CVN are the fastest ships in the fleet. Allowing them to react, sprint and pursue targets at will
    -Super carries can with stand in incredible amount of damage. Examples include the Forrestal, Enterprise, Nimitz, Contstellation and most recently the GW (George Washington)
    -CVNs can carry up to 100 aircraft
    -CVNs can carry just about every airborne launch or drop weapon in the U.S. arsenal.
    -CVNs have large amunition storage for around the clock combat operations.
    -CVNs today carry the equlivant of 5 aircraft carriers of Desert Storm.
    -CVNs carry the latest in torpedo, and anti ship missile defense.
    -CVNs have extensive repair and maintance capibilities for embark aircraft.
    -CVNs embark long range E-2C/D AEW aircraft
    -CVNs embark dedicated electronic warfare and attack aircraft. E/A -6B Prowlers and E/F-18G Growlers.
    -CVNs carry a wide variety of SH-60 family of helos
    -CVNs carry a longe range proven strike fighter in the F/A-18 Hornet family. Which can carry 2,000 pound bunker buster bombs
    -CVNs carry the most extensive command and control capabilities out side the Whiteplains and Blueridge.
    -CVNs have a hull life of 50 yrs

    CVNs are designed to carry the war to the enemy. They are offensive weapons. That why they are deployed inside the Persion Gulf. Contrary to what you read here, CVNs are ships of the line. The U.S. Navy has no problem and sending CBGs into someones backyard.

    I’ve wrote this as well as some others here that the LHD/LHAs are not capable of being aircraft carriers. They were designed from the keel up not to be.
    Quick facts:
    -LHDs/LHAs cruising speed is far to slow to be a rapid reaction strike platform. Max speed is only 20+ knots
    – Limited amunition storage for anything above 500 pound bombs. And those are limited.
    -Av-8B have a very limited payload because the gators (as we call them) dont have a ski jumps.
    -Ammo load out and storage is only design for close air support missions. For only the early stages of the amphibous assault.
    -Their defensive capibilities are LESS than that of a CVN.
    -Their sensor capabilities are FAR LESS than that of a CVN.
    -Their damage control capabilities are LESS than that of a CVN.
    – The F-35B produces more heat than the AV-8B in vertical take off and landing. Thus they must, like the AV-8Bs, do a rolling vertical launch to save the flight deck.
    Meaning a smaller bomb load than a CVN launch aircraft.

    Saying all that LHDs/LHAs are the best in the world at what they are DESIGNED to do. CVNs by just being in a region of the world can prevent a war. Not many warships can claim that.

  69. Al L. permalink
    August 2, 2010 10:01 pm

    RW2 said:
    “The U.S. is not in the business of offering it’s enemy a far fight.”

    The U.S. is most definitely in the business of far fights. There hasn’t been much near fight since the 1890’s and I hope we keep it that way.

    (I know what you meant but part of keeping it unfair is keeping it on the other guy’s block.)

  70. RW2 permalink
    August 2, 2010 9:40 pm

    The U.S. is not in the business of offering it’s enemy a far fight.

  71. August 2, 2010 8:47 pm

    Hello,

    MatR said:

    “Each carrier can accommodate 35 jets and a few helos, or more helos and less jets. Given that we’d have 2 carriers available in the best case scenario, how on earth do we take on an enemy’s land-based airforce with so few assets? A quick scan of countries with more than 100 fighters or fighter-bombers includes Turkey, Brazil, India, Pakistan, China, North Korea, Iran, Russia and our mortal enemies, *France* (narrows eyes).”

    Actually they are designed for 36 F35s and 4 other aircraft officially,though some sources say they can carry more if needed.
    Carrier based aircraft have defeated land based air forces on every occasion on which they have fought eachother in the 65 years since 1945.
    There are two reasons for this.

    Firstly land bases are in fixed,known positions and hence are extremely vulnerable as you can see here:

    http://grandlogistics.blogspot.com/2010/06/analysis-of-warfare-is-bit-like.html

    Secondly,air power is not about how many aircraft there are in your fleet,it is about how many sorties and hours on station those aircraft generate.
    In every major air war that the United Kingdom has been involved in since 1945 carrier based aircraft have generated far more sorties per aircraft per day than the Royal Air Force’s land based aircraft.
    This means the carrier can generate a given level of airpower with a far smaller and hence cheaper air fleet.

    Probably the best example of the carrier’s sortie generating advantage was the Falklands war.
    The Royal Navy’s 28 Sea Harriers were outnumbered by more than 3 to 1 by Argentina’s 90 operational fast jets.
    Yet over a five day period in May 1982 the British carrier aircraft flew 300 sorties while the Argentinian land based aircraft managed just 180.
    The British carriers had far fewer aircraft than the Argentinians but had far more airpower thanks to the carrier advantage.

    Incidentally,are you suggesting that we would single handedly go to war with Russia or China?

    tangosix.

  72. Anonymous permalink
    August 2, 2010 6:28 pm

    Al said “This site’s obsession with aborting carriers is peculiar and obsessive. I read less and less the more is posted on this theme. The whole “lets get rid of MBT’s because we could just fight with Strykers” was an interesting thread though…”

    I thought it was obsessed about steel canoes with popguns!!! :)

  73. August 2, 2010 4:39 pm

    It’s pointless to bring up Canadians or any other western nation in this debate- their defense spending is based on the presumption that the USA will take care of the problems. As for the comment from MatR – those countries may have 100 fighters, but do you seriously think battle resembles “they fly their 100 planes, we fly our 35, and we see who wins”? I think it’s quite a bit more nuanced, and a carrier group can devastate any one of those countries on their own account (without land based assets).

    This site’s obsession with aborting carriers is peculiar and obsessive. I read less and less the more is posted on this theme. The whole “lets get rid of MBT’s because we could just fight with Strykers” was an interesting thread though…

  74. MatR permalink
    August 2, 2010 2:14 pm

    “IIRC the British CVF will have a secondary LPH role.”

    I’ve heard the same. Seems potty to bring a 60,000 ton carrier within a hundred miles of a contested shoreline. It’s like we’re trying to justify the carriers any way we can, regardless of practicality. (I bet someone in the MOD sells them as LPDs next.)

    Each carrier can accommodate 35 jets and a few helos, or more helos and less jets. Given that we’d have 2 carriers available in the best case scenario, how on earth do we take on an enemy’s land-based airforce with so few assets? A quick scan of countries with more than 100 fighters or fighter-bombers includes Turkey, Brazil, India, Pakistan, China, North Korea, Iran, Russia and our mortal enemies, *France* (narrows eyes).

  75. August 2, 2010 2:03 pm

    I think somebody should go to re-read their naval history to look who invented the angle deck, optical landing system etc. etc. It wasn’t the USN……..

  76. Joe permalink
    August 2, 2010 11:28 am

    Borrowing from the thought behind B.Smitty’s first post…

    Depending on maintenance issues at any given time, the score on long-range heavy bombers is something along the lines of USA – 150, WORLD – 0. Again, what do you judge the LR bomber fleet by: How many more we have versus the world or instead, what we can achieve given the qty/variety we own?

  77. B.Smitty permalink
    August 2, 2010 11:00 am

    The SCS wasn’t an amphibious assault vessel was it? I thought it was just a small STOVL carrier meant for convoy escort. We use LHAs and LHDs as surrogate SCSs, but they weren’t built for that role.

    We did convert older carriers and CVEs to LPHs, as did other nations.

    IIRC the British CVF will have a secondary LPH role.

  78. Juramentado permalink
    August 2, 2010 10:41 am

    To be fair – the combined carrier and LH assault vessel was tried out by the Navy in the 70s – the so-called SCS or Sea Control Ship. If one doesn’t require the full capability of a strike wing that a CSG carries (i.e., air superiority, ASW sanitation, extensive strike templates), then a complement of strike VTOLs like Harriers today or JSFs tomorrow could suffice.

    But the Maritime Strategy doc or the NOC 2010 doesn’t call for an SCS requirement. So if your CONOPS isn’t needing one, why build it? There are other capability gaps needing to be filled.

  79. Juramentado permalink
    August 2, 2010 10:14 am

    Here’s my Question, why can’t the US Navy come up with a Carrier that combines the LHA & LHD with a normal carrier

    Because you would end up with a compromise that would not excel at any of the envisioned roles and probably cost more to operate than two or three dedicated vessels.

    Tactically, it’s a nightmare for ops planners. If you needed to off-load troops for a shore assault at the same time you needed to launch CAP and preliminary air strikes, you’d have to make a choice between getting closer to shore or (assuming no EMALS) turning into the wind to launch aircraft. If you sequenced the operations, someone would be burning gas or diesel waiting for the second operation to complete.

  80. Nicky permalink
    August 2, 2010 10:05 am

    Here’s my Question, why can’t the US Navy come up with a Carrier that combines the LHA & LHD with a normal carrier. I know most country’s that have carriers, their carriers are no larger than our LHA and LHD. So I think we should come out with a common carrier that combines the best of both worlds.

  81. B.Smitty permalink
    August 2, 2010 9:13 am

    Ugh. Why do we keep having this argument? We don’t base our military force structure on a game of one-upmanship with the rest of the world. It doesn’t matter how many carriers other nations possess. They aren’t us. They don’t have the same strategic goals and requirements.

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