Mothballing half our CVNs in Near Future
WASHINGTON | Fri Jul 19, 2013
(Reuters) - Budget cuts have prompted the U.S. Navy to trim the number of warships deployed overseas and eroded the readiness of forces at home, undercutting its ability to respond rapidly to future crises around the globe, the top Navy officer said on Friday.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel toured bases across the Southeast this week, delivering the sobering news that the department next year will likely face a further $52 billion in sequestration cuts, which were not factored into the Pentagon's proposed $526.6 billion budget request for 2014. source
The Navy has had to cut training and maintenance because of spending reductions to the point where many other ships and personnel are not fully certified for all the tasks they might ordinarily have to handle, Admiral Jonathan Greenert, the chief of naval operations, told a Pentagon briefing.
[T]he Navy has only one fully prepared carrier strike group and one amphibious assault group in reserve that it could rush to the scene. By comparison, the Navy a year ago had three of each that could have been used. "The rest of the fleet is not ready to deploy with all the capabilities that are needed that we would normally have in our fleet response plan," Greenert said.
With the deactivation of the USS Enterprise in December 2012 (decommissioning scheduled for 2013), the U.S. fleet comprises 10 supercarriers. The House Armed Services Seapower subcommittee on 24 July 2007, recommended seven or maybe eight new carriers (one every four years). However, the debate has deepened over budgeting for the $12–14.5 billion (plus $12 billion for development and research) for the 100,000 ton Gerald R. Ford-class carrier (estimated service 2015) compared to the smaller $2 billion 45,000 ton America-class amphibious assault ships able to deploy squadrons of F-35B of which two are already under construction and twelve are planned. source
The US Department of Defense has stated that China has developed and reached initial operating capability of a conventionally armed, high hypersonic, land-based anti-ship ballistic missile based on the DF-21. This would be the world's first ASBM and the world's first weapons system capable of targeting a moving aircraft carrier strike group from long-range, land-based mobile launchers. source
Within "a few years" Years
Unmanned aircraft carrier that travels beneath the waves may be in the Navy's future - source
Imagine a big unmanned submarine designed to operate covertly for long periods, lurking silently off an enemy's shore. At a command from military leaders, this submersible mothership ejects pods that float to the surface and launch surveillance unmanned aircraft in all directions. At the same time, small unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) deploy from docks hidden in the big submarine's belly on secret reconnaissance missions of the enemy's submarine forces, shipping activity, and overall maritime readiness.The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) envisions an unmanned submarine mothership able to deploy unmanned aerial vehicles supposedly for secret intelligence missions off sensitive coasts.
- potential to gain undetected proximity to adversary's shores (unlike CVNs)
- potential to launch various flight-capable, minituarized weapons (missiles).
- leverages technological advantages (submarine design and building, etc) that adversaries will not be able to approach in the near future.
- reduces need for 10 CVNs and attendant operating, maintenance, and training expenses (military spending).
- reduces political risk of US military casualties.
- expands capability to respond to international conflicts surprisingly fast.
But, if national security is a primary goal, mothballing half our CVNs is hardly compelling. Yet, some expect that is exactly what SecDef Chuck Hagel is preparing to recommend within the next year, or two. Why a bad idea?
The Chinese can render trillions of dollars worth of communications, positioning, targeting and aquisition satellites useless for pennies on the dollar. While the U.S. military has been placing greater and greater reliance on such digital technology, we have become relatively more ill-prepared for conducting military defense and offense as it had been decades earlier. That would require resources no longer readily available as higher numbers of combat troops, ships, etc. have been replaced by such technological advances.
Submarines are always silent and strange.