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Old October 26 2009, 11:27 AM   #11
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Re: Navy testing two pricey, super-fast warships

F. Kreuger wrote: View Post
Having served on board a Nimitz Class carrier I can tell you that it boils down to one thing - COST.
No debate there.

The primary purpose of the carriers has been forward deployment of aviation forces. Well, who are they going to fight? The Soviets are gone as are Warsaw Pact nations. There is no need for planes like the F22, which were designed to combat an enemy that no longer exists. That brings up another cost: fighters. In 1990, an F14 cost ~$30 million at acquisition. Start lumping in a lifetime of repairs and operating costs and the price goes skyward. Compare that with the UAVs. I don't believe they break the $100,000 mark yet are more versatile, cheaper to maintain, cheaper to train pilots to fly them, and if one gets shot down -- no major loss.
Well remember that the US Navy needs to retain the capability to sail into an area and gain air supremacy where it does not currently exist. UAVs cannot yet operate against even the mildest form of air defenses, even an enemy with a lot of stingers would be insurmountable. This will not be like the Cold War where you could expect hundreds of Flankers as opponents but a lot of potential US enemies have fighters capable of taking out even the most advanced UAVs imaginable. Iran for example has a large and capable air force.

As I said UAVs will take over a lot of jobs, they are very cheap as you say, but the US Navy will not give up its carriers and F-18s (and later F-35s) for many years.

The same held true with the submarine fleet. Once the Soviet threats dissolved, the Navy had to find a mission for them very quickly. Is China a growing threat? I don't know, but last I knew the US subs were basically acting as a below surface escort guard for the fleet.
Well they also pose an immense threat to any nation that would oppose the USA. Only Britain and Russia match the US Navy for skill in handling subs, and the rest of the world together would not match the capabilities of the current fleet.

The US bases it's world position on its immense economic and military power (in that order) if the first is gradually lost to the Eurozone, China and India then they will not quickly give up the second.

Either way, there are no major threats on the horizon that necessitates the need for 10+ carriers and a complement of attack squadrons. The threats and the missions have changed.
It is hard to argue that the US Navy is probably quite big for the tasks it currently faces, but should there be a coup in Saudi Arabia or Pakistan, or if war with Iran becomes a certainty, then you can expect them to need every single one.

Hopefully this can be avoided, I personally have no wish to see that level of bloodshed.
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