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"'The Carrier is Vulnerable and Obsolete.....'" Topic

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Personal logo David Manley Supporting Member of TMP15 May 2020 10:10 a.m. PST

‘The Carrier is Vulnerable and Obsolete' according to 100 years worth of military journals


Uncannily accurate satire…..

newarch15 May 2020 10:12 a.m. PST

Don't say that, my mob have just spent most of our defence budget building a brace of new ones. Do we have any aircraft to park on them yet?

Personal logo David Manley Supporting Member of TMP15 May 2020 10:20 a.m. PST

That would be my job too :)

Oberlindes Sol LIC Supporting Member of TMP15 May 2020 10:45 a.m. PST

What a great article!

Wackmole9 Supporting Member of TMP15 May 2020 11:00 a.m. PST

I just finished a book called rearming for the Cold war 1945-60 It point out that the Army,the Navy,Marines, and even the Coast Guard are Obsolete. All we need is to give the US Air Force every single defence dollar and will be safe.

Legion 415 May 2020 11:42 a.m. PST

I think that is a bit of a narrow view. Bombers and Strike Aircraft can't do everything. We saw that in WWII … E.g. They are only part of the Nuclear Triad

And as has been said about the Tank many times, the aircraft carrier is far from dead …

Reminds me of what happened before the Vietnam War. The USAF was generally only arming their aircraft with high tech missiles. No cannons or MGs. And as we saw … that was wrong. And cannons and MGs along with missiles and rockets were mounted on aircraft.

Because they worked …

Personal logo McKinstry Supporting Member of TMP Fezian15 May 2020 11:48 a.m. PST

I love DuffleBlog. Not every day is a home run but often enough to make them a must read.

Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP15 May 2020 12:21 p.m. PST

I remember the 1992 article. And I remember an admiral (one of the better ones, IMHO) remarking, "I have a five-seater sedan and a seven person minivan … I guess my wife and I need to make eight more kids to justify the expense."

Woollygooseuk15 May 2020 12:22 p.m. PST

Everyone who's ever visited the boating lake knows that carriers have been vulnerable and obsolete for at least the last 200 years (except when in hindsight they're not). How many did Nelson need in his fleet? Exactly!

On a mildly less facetious note, I spent most of 30 Navy years agreeing with this – _if_ we can 100% guarantee that any future enemy will be within strike distance of a friendly airfield, I will take the airfield every time. If we can't. I suggest vulnerable & obsolete carrier air power is 100% better than non-existent air force power. Simple. YMMV may vary of course, depending on whether your in contact or in an armchair.

Fitzovich15 May 2020 12:23 p.m. PST

They lost me with the unnecessary comment about Bill Clinton which was inserted only to make a nasty remark and added nothing to the discussion.

Aethelflaeda was framed15 May 2020 1:42 p.m. PST

Too easy to sink them if you are fighting a big war with a real enemy with its own submarines, tactical missiles, and airpower…and if you are fighting asymmetrically, than they are way too expensive and have a very limited zone of influence for the bucks spent. Better to have a half dozen lt "jeep" carriers and rely on choppers and long-loitering RPVs , than a single super carrier. Even a cruise missile launching destroyer is preferable in terms of bang for the bucks.

Carriers are just expensive status symbols…their tactical power is far less nowadays then a wing of Predators which cost far, far less.

Frederick Supporting Member of TMP15 May 2020 1:50 p.m. PST

A carrier is a way for big powers to extend their reach to regions where they don't/can't/don't want to have air bases – useful in many situations but I have to agree that they are problematic as "big war" weapons

raylev315 May 2020 2:40 p.m. PST

As long as we need force projection, and if you can't guarantee a friendly airport to fly from, carriers are needed. (And I'm an Army guy who believes that.)

parrskool Supporting Member of TMP16 May 2020 1:51 a.m. PST

depends on the size of the carrier and what it's role was designed for. The two new UK carriers are what I would call a "target rich environment". The smaller combined arms assault ships (like Bulwark) were more useful…. as was the Sea Harrier …. all now scrapped.

Allen5716 May 2020 8:06 a.m. PST

In "the big war" they are very vulnerable. During Vietnam my carriers orders were head north, start launching one way missions and hope you got them all off before a nuke took you out. AAW is better nowadays but still not great.

Under most other circumstances the flexibility for power projection offered by a carrier keeps it from being obsolete.

As part of the nuclear triad they are still useful against secondary targets. ICBMs have a better time to target and strategic bombers a longer reach but the carrier has its place. Expense vs. value is a hard to quantify consideration but the carriers flexibility is very great.

Legion 416 May 2020 9:13 a.m. PST

As long as we need force projection, and if you can't guarantee a friendly airport to fly from, carriers are needed. (And I'm an Army guy who believes that.)
+1 Raylev

Under most other circumstances the flexibility for power projection offered by a carrier keeps it from being obsolete.
+1 Allen

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP16 May 2020 3:54 p.m. PST

I didn't see Truman's SecDef (or SecNav?)announcing that "the Navy has just bought its last large aircraft carrier." He ought to be in there somewhere.

For the record, I agree with most of the pro-aircraft carrier arguments. But I also keep in the back of my mind the certainty that at some point the critics will be right, and we don't know when. We should have a plan for that, too.

Legion 416 May 2020 6:23 p.m. PST

The PRC and Putin say they have missiles that can takeout a Carrier. I'm sure we are working on something that is classified. But if either one of those sink any of our ships with any kind of weapon … well … it's going to get real messy.

Thresher01 Supporting Member of TMP17 May 2020 8:48 a.m. PST

"The Carrier is Vulnerable and Obsolete", AND too expensive.

So are US admirals, but you don't see us getting rid of any of them, so why should aircraft carriers be any different?

Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP17 May 2020 10:12 a.m. PST

certainty that at some point the critics will be right, and we don't know when. We should have a plan for that, too.

In the last 30+ years in which I have been professionally involved in such matters (less so in the last decade, but a surprising increased involvement for me in the last five), the USN has made four major changes in the way a carrier battlegroup works in response to threat capabilities.

Since capabilities, strategy, and tactics are constantly evolving, the number four is my personal estimate of what constitutes a change and what is major. YMMV.

More importantly than that last bit is I said "carrier battle group". When I look at the analytical approaches for many of the arguments as they have been made in various professional journals, I see a lot of "A motorcycle is fairly vulnerable and easy to take out … the motorcycle gang in completely ineffective."

von Schwartz17 May 2020 5:25 p.m. PST

+1 raylev3

Covert Walrus25 Aug 2020 4:16 p.m. PST

Well, according the the infamous 1957 White Paper from the UK, there should be nothing but helicopters and missiles by now-
– Manned Bombers would have been replaced by ICBMs and so forth by 1970.
- Manned fighters would have been replaced by Bloodhound and Thunderbird-type missiles by 1965.
- Tanks would have been replaced by a variety of helicopter-launched missiles against obsolete tanks and fixed insatallations by 1980.
- And infantry would have been replaced by small helicopter-launched missiles by 1990.
The Royal Navy would be around, mainly to carry the helicopters; Some of which would also be launching torpedoes which would replace attcak subs and most small classes of ship.
I suppose the obsession has moved to Drones now . . .

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