The end of the Strike Carrier?

Foxbat

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Interesting article.
The Age of the Strike Carrier is Over

What we're talking about here is the use of carriers to strike land targets.

It argues that - not only did the pollution of history lead to this flawed doctrine but that the age of the Strike Carrier never really existed. Much of the argument is based on the fact that no Strike Carrier force has ever faced a technologically equal opponent (and this now might change given the resurgence of Russia as a world power) and therefore has always looked more effective than it actually is.

From a UK point of view, if the article is correct in its argument, the new carriers may obsolete before they are even complete. Perhaps (and I've always felt this) that the UK would have been better off continuing and developing/evolving the through-deck cruiser of the Invincible class, which was designed with anti-submarine operations in mind and was never meant to be used as a strike platform - despite its success in the Falklands.

The re-emergence of Russia on the world stage will almost certainly mean a greater number of submarine operations in the Atlantic.

Where the US carrier fleet is concerned, the article argues for a much greater emphasis on the anti-shipping role - an argument difficult to counter wheh we see the Admiral Kuznetzov steaming through the channel or China's carrier off to rattle a few sabres in front of Taiwan.
 

Foxbat

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So...everybody looks to China as the main naval threat right now. They're showing off their new carrier and building islands (which will effectively become unsinkable aircraft carriers) in the South China Sea. The Russia navy has been dormant for around twenty years but, in recent years sub activity in the Atlantic has been increasing by 10-15% per year.

Now, Project Shtorm 23000E 23000E Storm

A nuclear Russian carrier by 2025 (with a view to building between 3 and 6).

But here's a few caveats.
As seen by the website, they can build fine models but the Russians are notoriously bad at building large surface craft.
All previous Russian carriers were built in the Ukraine before it split from Russia.
Russia only has the capability to build a ship of 60000 tonnes in its biggest yard (Shtorm is to come in at around 100000 tonnes) so the two choices are 1) build a bigger yard or 2) build in two parts in two different yards and then weld together.

Other things to consider...the Kuznetzov deployment was seen as a success by the Russians but a failure by the West (the Russian carrier lost two planes during landing operations in the first week). Eventually the ship transferred its craft to land and headed home (often belching white smoke...not a good sign for its diesel engines). The Russian fleet has to run the GIUK gap(Greenland, Iceland, UK) bottleneck gaunlet, come through the Black Sea and Med or Northern Pacific. They don't have many ideal places for an operating base.

Will Shtorm actually happen? Personally, I doubt it.

But if the USA has to consider two potential agressors with large navies (Russia and China) it kind of adds a new perspective to the proposed increase in the US navy.

British doctrine pre WW1 was to have a navy larger than the next two biggest navies combined.

Perhaps this is the new thinking in Washington.....but more doesn't always mean better and I cite as an example the British submarine, the relatively small fleet, small landing force that lost much of its equipment and handful of Harriers that helped Britain win the Falklands war against a numerically superior opponent.
 

Brian G Turner

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Much of the argument is based on the fact that no Strike Carrier force has ever faced a technologically equal opponent

I would have thought there was massive strategic and logistical value in having mobile airfields at sea. However, for the Americans at least, they've ensure a good strategic distribution of land-based airfields for their use around their main theatres of interest, via NATO in the northern hemisphere, and a string of its own naval bases in south Asia. I do not think any other nation has anything comparable.
 

Foxbat

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I do not think any other nation has anything comparable.
I think that's part of the problem. Nobody knows how good they actually are because there's nothing comparible and their usefulness may be overestimated.

But here's some food for thought - The weapons load of sea-based aircraft does not come close to its land based equivelent. Also, sea-based aircraft are nowhere near the level of complexity in delivering the precision munitions of their land-based counterparts and have to rely on less precise ordnance. Desert storm proved this with land based craft being far more effective.

And finally, the range of ship to ship missiles is now at the stage where they are beginning to outstrip the range of strike aircraft from a carrier. The Coral Sea in 1942 was the first sea battle where neither fleet came into visual contact with each other and reiled on planes to deliver the killing blows. We are now at a point in technology where even aircraft may become obsolete in this role.
 

Brian G Turner

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And finally, the range of ship to ship missiles is now at the stage where they are beginning to outstrip the range of strike aircraft from a carrier

It's an interesting point, and one I've wondered about recently as well. Ships have the advantage of mobility, and indeed missiles might make more sense than plane launches. But the ships themselves are also clear target for cruise missile strikes, if that counter attack feature is available.

I find this all especially interesting, because whatever changes are taking place in our ocean fleets are likely to have an impact on how we think of space fleets. :)
 

Foxbat

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I find this all especially interesting, because whatever changes are taking place in our ocean fleets are likely to have an impact on how we think of space fleets. :)
I have exactly the same opinion and is why I posted in the first place (plus-for some obscure reason-weapons technology fascinates me):)
 

Ursa major

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From a UK point of view, if the article is correct in its argument, the new carriers may obsolete before they are even complete.
Don't tell Crispin Blunt MP (Chair of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee), the one Conservative MP who voted against Trident renewal (at least that's what I heard him claim during an interview)... because he thinks the money would be better spent on more aircraft carriers (and, presumably, the aircraft to be carried on them).

He didn't say which distant countries he thinks we should invading (but can't without those additional carriers).
 

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