Monday, March 25, 2013

Are Aircraft Carriers Going the Way of the Battleships?

Wired looks at threats to the carriers, and some of the alternatives the Navy might look to:
Navy Capt. Jerry Hendrix, a historian, analyst and futurist, caused a stir by making the case against the Navy’s cherished supercarrier fleet. Hendrix’s recent study ”At What Cost a Carrier?” (.pdf), published by the Washington, D.C.-based Center for a New American Security, urges the Navy to begin drawing down its 10-11 Nimitz-class flattops and follow-on Ford-class vessels.
A single new carrier costs $14 billion to build plus $7 million a day to operate. “Not a good use of U.S. taxpayer money,” Hendrix asserts. Moreover, he contends that huge carriers with their five-acre flight decks and scores of warplanes are ill-suited to the American way of war, in which precision and avoiding civilian casualties are more important than overwhelming firepower. Worst, Hendrix warns, the carriers — major symbols of American military might — are increasingly big targets for China’s DF-21D ship-killing ballistic missiles.
$14 billion, plus $7 million a day in operational expense?  That would be $2.5 billion a year to operate.  That is absolutely crazy.

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