The End of the Supercarrier?

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Mike Burleson has written this editorial on the demise of the modern aircraft carrier. He begins with an ominous mention of the Iranian's "Hoot" super torpedo (based on the Russian Shkval rocket) which, fitted with a nuclear warhead, could wipe out an entire U.S. naval battle group. Burleson goes on to discuss the current weakness of the super carrier:

There are three main reasons for the increased obsolescence of the modern super carrier in Western navies. First is its immense cost, causing only a handful of very rich countries the ability to support their construction. Next, smaller and more affordable weapon systems are currently being deployed which can perform many of the functions of the carrier. Finally, and most crucial for the fate of the West, is the giant vessel’s vulnerability to modern precision weapons in the Digital Age.

All nine Nimitz Class U.S. carriers have been built in Newport News, Virginia by Northrop Grumman Ship Systems. I wonder what impact ending the carrier's central role in the U.S. Navy would have on Virginia's shipbuilding industry... especially given that each carrier costs a whopping $8 billion. Hmmm…

UPDATE: Here is more background on the Soviet inspired Iranian "Hoot" weapon. Looks like it isn't much of a threat after all.

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2 Comments

Greg said:

This guy is talking out of his posterior and hasn't any understanding whatsoever of naval warfare. An exocet is not a cruise missle. Laser guided bombs are not a useful anti-carrier weapon, as the bomber carrying it would never penetrate a carrier group's air defenses. And it hardly requires a PGM to hit a 100,000 ton carrier.

I'd love to see what other "smaller, cheaper" platform apparently can carry naval aviation and provide the strike, ASW and air combat capabilities that a carrier can provide. This is a laughable assertion. Does the LCS have the ability to strike targets 400km inland?

And as far as Iran's new "superweapon" goes, there's a reason that the soviets, who developed the technology in the first place, have abandoned fielding the weapon. It doesn't work. It's wildly inaccurate, cannot be guided, is easily detected on launch, has a relatively short range and can be easily defeated by aircraft gunnery. Some superweapon. I'll bet the Navy was rolling on the floor with laughter when they heard this one.

What a joke.

Sophrosyne said:

It's good to hear that the article (and Commander Levin) may be incorrect and that the Iranians won't soon have the ability to nuke a carrier with their "Hoot" weapon.

Although I think idea that the carrier's role in naval warfare will significantly change is not unrealistic.

I think the "smaller, cheaper" platform discussed would be something along the lines of the new Global Strike capabilities being advanced by STRATCOM... including the conversion of some Trident SLBMs into conventional weapons. They certainly can strike more than 400k inland.

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