A Proposal For A New Class of Aircraft Carriers
1. Size. The CVX would preferably have a displacement not exceeding 65,000 tons, a flight deck of 800-1000 feet, a beam of 110 feet, and an overall length of roughly 1000 feet. The CVX would have an angled flight deck, and would retain the Navy's older steam-powered catapults. The reason for this is that the new EMALS catapult uses electricity, and could be susceptible to an EMP blast and could be unreliable. Also, a steam catapult relies on steam generated by the carrier's powerplant, and to reduce costs the CVX would stick with proven technology.
2. Powerplant. The CVX would hopefully be nuclear-powered, using dual A4W reactors similar to the Nimitz-class. However, since the CVX would be much smaller than the Nimitz-class it might be necessary to either design a new reactor, or use only one. The disadvantage being a reduction in top speed. The other option would be a dozen boilers similar to the Midway-class, which is the template for the CVX. However, the disadvantage of using a conventional power plant is the increased need for oilers, and a relatively limited range. Another issue with using boilers is the vulnerability of their uptakes, which could pose a serious problem depending on the protection given them.
See this page for a discussion of nuclear vs. conventional propulsion.
3. Speed. The CVX must have a top speed of a least 30 knots.
4. Radar. The CVX would use an AN/SPY-1 Aegis radar, and an SPS-49(V)5.
5. CIWSs. The CVX would use 8 Phalanx CIWS, 2 on both sides of the bow, and 2 on both sides of the stern, this arrangement is the same as on the USS Carl Vinson and all Nimitz-class carriers after the Vinson. The RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile would replace the Sea Sparrow as the missile based CIWS on the CVX. The CVX would carry 8 RAMs as well, in a configuration matching that of the Phalanxs.
6. Aircraft. The CVX would at minimum have an air wing of 65 aircraft.
7. Cost. Less than 8 Billion USD. As of 2011 it costs 13.5 billion dollars to build a single supercarrier of the Gerald R. Ford-class, and with the rising debt, and tighter defense budget the cost must come down on a per carrier basis. This can be accomplished by purchasing many CVXs, with a minimum of 20. Enough for all 4 stations the Navy has carriers at, plus 8 more for either more stations, or surges to hotspots.
8. Naming. The CVX-class carriers would all be named after American naval victories or distinguished ships (Midway, Leyte Gulf, Coral Sea, Wasp, Hornet, etc...).
Photo Credit: U.S. Navy