Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Aircraft Carriers: The Newest Trend In Deterrence

     The photo above is a picture of the USS Texas, which is literally the last dreadnought, and a distant cousin of today's aircraft carriers.
     When the dreadnought era began with the launching of the HMS Dreadnought, a massive arms race began with countries all over the world racing to build dreadnoughts, to either deter other countries from attacking them or to intimidate surrounding countries. The same goes for aircraft carriers to some extent, if you don't have an aircraft carrier(s) you are at risk of having distant territories taken (Britain & the Falklands) or being bullied by another country.
     However, aircraft carriers today are not as all-powerful as they were through the late 1940s to the mid 1960s before modern anti-ship missiles like the AS-4 "Kitchen" came into service. New threats to aircraft carriers continue to arise, such as anti-ship ballistic missiles like the DF-21D and ever quieter submarines (a similar situation was the advent of naval aviation and the threat to battleships). To further aggravate the problem is that navies like the U.S. Navy build ever larger carriers like the Gerald R. Ford-class, which concentrates the Navy's air power in 11 or so locations that every country with a space program knows.
     I am not saying aircraft carriers are obsolete, far from it. I am saying carriers are an integral part of a country's national security, but instead of large size and limited quantity, they must be of small size (30,000 to 70,000 tons), and a larger quantity (12-20 for the U.S.). Aircraft carriers that would be examples of this would be the Queen Elizabeth-class and the USS America (LHA-6), both of which are relatively small compared to American super carriers (72,000 & 45,000 long tons compared to 100,000+ long ton Nimitz-class carriers).
     With aircraft carriers continuing to increase in size, and new threats constantly appearing, it will be in the next 25 years that the aircraft carrier really and truly comes of age as a new Cold War begins in the Pacific Ocean, and the aircraft carrier shows what it can really do.

Photo Credit: Daniel Schwen

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