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  • Aircraft carriers are expensive, the latest carrier in the U.S.

  • Navy. Part of what's called the Ford class costs twelve point eight billion per ship, and that's before the cost of

  • fixing new technology, aircraft flying off the deck and the cost of operating the carrier in the high seas for

  • months at a time.

  • The U.S. has more active aircraft carriers than every other country in the world combined.

  • The U.S. Navy currently has 10 Nimitz class carriers, one four class carrier and nine amphibious

  • assault ships, which are smaller and that focus on helicopters and short takeoff and vertical landing

  • aircraft. A Nimitz class carrier can carry a mix of F/A-18E/F Super Hornets,

  • E-2D Hawkeye surveillance aircraft and an assortment of other support aircraft and helicopters.

  • The carrier fighter of the future is the F-35C..

  • But to field the new aircraft, most U.S.

  • carriers will need to be upgraded.

  • Do you want to operate aircraft carriers?

  • You need a whole lot of high end technology to be able to defend it with new threats, unproven

  • technology and a rash of pricey design failures.

  • Are aircraft carriers worth the high cost?

  • There are two major types of carriers.

  • The first is the one most are familiar with, the large capital ship that can field fighters, ground attack aircraft, helicopters and

  • even larger specialized aircraft.

  • The second is was known as an amphibious assault ship.

  • These smaller ships are usually tailored towards carrying helicopters, but in recent years, that trend is changing.

  • The WASP class in America class are capable of operating some variants of the F-35 fighter, but the smaller

  • size of these ships limits the quantity and types of aircraft they can carry.

  • On the larger side, the new Ford class has had costly issues with its ambitious design.

  • This includes a new sewage system that requires regular acid flushes that cost $400,000 Per go

  • plus $120 million to refit the weapons elevator system.

  • The Navy didn't, for example, do enough land based testing for really key technologies.

  • There have also been problems and cost overruns with the advanced arresting gear that helps land planes and setbacks.

  • With the electromagnetic launch system used to shoot aircraft off the deck have continued to be a headache for the Navy.

  • In a request for comment.

  • The U.S. Navy noted that the sewage system on the USS Ford is fully operational.

  • Overall, work on the advanced weapons elevators is 93 percent complete, and the AAG and EMALS has shown steadily

  • improving performance.

  • In an op ed in The Virginian Pilot, Rear Admiral John Mayer and Rear Admiral Craig Clapperton noted that it is not

  • unusual for the first ship of a class to have unexpected challenges and delays.

  • Ford is vigorously testing its new technology and aggressively resolving issues for class carriers will serve as the

  • centerpiece of strike group operations through the 21st century, supporting national strategic objectives.

  • But the question is how over budget?

  • How behind schedule can you go when it starts to really become a strategic issue for the

  • efficacy of the United States Navy?

  • And, you know, and we'll have to see if they call it they don't call it an arms race for nothing.

  • I mean, it's a race to the finish.

  • Building a carrier can take more than a decade and involves thousands of workers, companies such as Huntington Ingalls

  • Industries, Newport News Shipbuilding Division take the lead.

  • And other companies like General Electric are also involved in integrating the systems in the new ship hull.

  • The Navy wants 10 four class carriers, but that could change.

  • Some have advocated that the multibillion dollar program is the wrong strategy for the Navy and that fewer carriers or more

  • small carriers could be a better bet.

  • So that's the million dollar, well, multibillion dollar question.

  • Should the U.S. Navy move away from aircraft carriers?

  • It's it's a great question.

  • And it's one that if you get a bunch of naval vessels around the table with a bottle of scotch

  • and talk about you could argue about it all night and nobody would have a better idea on the other

  • side of of which direction we should go.

  • The importance of aircraft carriers and military history cannot be overstated.

  • Aircraft carriers help the United States win key naval battles in World War Two, especially in the Pacific theater.

  • In the decades after World War Two, aircraft carriers gave the United States the ability to project its military power

  • across the entire globe.

  • So I think the only thing one can count on is unpredictability and the fact that

  • if there were a large naval war, you would see each side rapidly trying to adapt

  • to the tactics employed of the other side.

  • The aircraft carrier will obviously play an important role in that, whether or not it will continue to play the central role as it

  • has for almost the last century and is really to be determined.

  • Japan is looking at converting existing Izumo class helicopter destroyers to carry the stealthy F-35,

  • and South Korea is aiming to build a light carrier class to be able to feel the new stealth fighter they've also acquired from the United

  • States. India is producing its own new carrier, and the UK has two new carriers nearing operational

  • status. Spain, France and Italy have produced or are in the process of designing, building or fielding

  • new carriers or amphibious assault ships with an emphasis on airborne capability.

  • China is also building both fleet carriers and amphibious assault ships.

  • Some have contended that covid-19 and the economic crunch caused by the pandemic could slow shipbuilding.

  • But that may not be the case for China, and it looks like they're still progressing.

  • There's a few things you can look at to point.

  • The third aircraft carrier, they keep making improvements and they keep they keep working on it, keep sort of moving along

  • to things on the sort of paramount projects, really prestige projects, but also the

  • sort of pushing the boundaries of China's technology or continuing to move forward.

  • And I think that shows a clear prioritization that they weren't going to let this slowdown.

  • China's shipbuilding also works much more closely with the state than shipbuilders in democratic countries.

  • The China State Shipbuilding Corporation re-merged with the China Shipbuilding Industry Company in twenty nineteen, which created

  • the largest shipbuilding company in the world with one hundred and ten billion in assets and 20 percent of global market share.

  • What you see is just that there's not a there's not a clear separation between sort

  • of the commercial side of things and the military side of the same shipyards that are

  • producing commercial vessels that other countries are buying.

  • They need tankers or whatever the case may be.

  • You know, just, you know, the next dock over just a little bit over is also where military vessels are being produced.

  • So there's a there's a blurring there between the military and the commercial side, which I think is is a

  • question that we need to spend a little bit more time thinking about, like what are the consequences of that?

  • What is the relationship between a company that has both a commercial and a military arm and it's getting

  • financial input or financial capital injected into it from other countries because

  • they're looking to purchase commercial vessels?

  • You know, what does that mean as far as helping to advance China's naval ambitions?

  • One of the biggest arguments against a larger carrier fleet is that a much cheaper, long range advanced guided missile could

  • sink these billion dollar floating airfields.

  • Which side is going to be able to innovate into what is the

  • next type of warfare that comes after the sort of classic 20th century style of carrier warfare that

  • we've seen and then made that might continue to be a carrier based and carrier centric type of naval warfare,

  • or it might become more reliant upon sort of more asymmetric types of warfare.

  • We've seen, such as carrier based drones or even land based drones or ship based missiles or even

  • land based missiles.

  • We don't know. All we know is that there is both with the United States and China, a

  • sustained investment in new technologies and seeing how those technologies overlap

  • with one another, that is going to be the future of naval warfare.

  • China, Iran and Russia are three major producers of guided missiles designed to attack carriers, but

  • carriers remain effective at lower intensity missions.

  • A soft operation is where a carrier is used to help after a natural disaster or to train with other nations.

  • Talk about the smaller carriers and that's a big part of their job.

  • Just showing up in humanitarian assistance roles and disasters.

  • You get a lot of utility out of that flight deck and the equipment that the Marines have is designed to haul heavy

  • stuff along ways.

  • Sometimes in a war that's really handy.

  • Well, every time in a war that's really handy, but in a disaster, it's also vitally important.

  • China continues to grow its blue water navy, but questions remain about its capabilities, yes, technology is

  • important. Yes, it's making that a really impressive strides that we shouldn't that we should be paying very close

  • attention to. But the human element is more important, in my view, because it's really about how

  • those systems are operated by whom and how that can be used to secure certain

  • types of defectives.

  • And that's something with China.

  • We just haven't we just haven't seen it happen yet with the ongoing concerns about the viability of the carrier.

  • It's possible that the U.S.

  • Navy could change its plans for the size and mixture of the carriers it will buy in the future.

  • There's a range of capabilities that the carrier brings.

  • And it's and so it's not just the it's not just the fighter jets coming off

  • the flight deck.

  • It's all of these other capabilities that the carrier brings that are really essential to any warfighting

  • effort in on the open ocean.

  • The U.S. Navy needs to continue to innovate.

  • And with innovation, there are obviously setbacks.

  • We've seen that one of the great aces the United States

  • has is our private sector, which is an incredible incubator for innovation.

  • And when the private sector teams up with government and government puts that muscle behind the private sector, you can really see these innovations

  • taking to scale.

Aircraft carriers are expensive, the latest carrier in the U.S.

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The Future Of The Aircraft Carrier

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    joey joey posted on 2021/05/15
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