Saturday, July 5, 2014

July 5 2014: The U.K. is getting aircraft carriers again

In the development of air power, one has to look ahead and not backward and figure out what is going to happen, not too much what has happened.

Brigadier General William 'Billy' Mitchell, USAS.

That idea is so damned nonsensical and impossible that I'm willing to stand on the bridge of a battleship while that nitwit tries to hit if from the air.

Newton D. Baker, U.S. Secretary of War, regards Billy Mitchell's idea of airplanes sinking a battleship. In July 1921 Mitchell got his experiment and sunk the captured German battleship Ostfreisland. Newton was not on the bridge. 1921

An aircraft carrier is an extraordinary capability—but also an extremely expensive one. The 65,000 ton HMS Queen Elizabeth and its sister ship, HMS Prince of Wales, will cost close to double their original contract cost of $6.2 billion each.

A single carrier is designed to be capable of 72 fast jet sorties per day based upon 36 aircraft—but it seems highly likely that the standard carrier air wing will be confined to 12 F35B aircraft and 14 Augusta Westland EH101 Merlin Mk2s. Still, plans are afoot to surge extra aircraft if necessary.

The British are doing interesting things regarding their services. Though carriers are clearly Royal Navy assets, the Royal Air force will supply most of the staffing capability for the fixed-wing strike capability of the F35Bs.

This raises a question near and dear to my heart. Should we—the U.S. continue with a service structure which spends a great deal of time on internecine warfare—or do some fundamental re-thinking?

Warship construction has now become so expensive, I have to wonder whether we shouldn’t be looking more closely at militarized versions of the kind of civilian ships that are built in volume—so vastly less expensive—for many roles.

Will they be as advanced and as militarily suitable? No—but they should be able to carry our many naval tasks just as well—and we will be able to afford more of them.

Right now, we are in danger of not having enough ships.

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