Monday, August 14, 2017

How To Build A Cheaper Carrier

Here’s a companion piece to the recent post describing how to build a better, cheaper aircraft and in only five years (see, "How To Build A Better Aircraft").  In this post we examine how to build cheaper carriers that still operate a full combat air wing.

We’ve noted the precipitous decline in air wing size and the corresponding, if utterly illogical, increase in carrier size (??!!!!).  We’ve also noted the exploding cost of carrier construction (yikes!!!!).  The logical implication of these observations is that we can get by perfectly well with a smaller, cheaper, carrier.  The overarching attribute of such a carrier would be simplicity.  Simplicity is the foundation that leads to size and cost reductions.  The simpler the carrier, the smaller and cheaper it should be.  With that in mind, let’s design a smaller, cheaper, simpler but still highly effective carrier.  Bear in mind that when I’m talking about a smaller carrier, it’s smaller only relative to a Nimitz/Ford supercarrier.  I’m, emphatically, not talking about the usual escort type carrier that so many people seem to want.  That kind of mini-carrier is of very limited use in combat.

As I’ve long harped on, the secret to a good ship design is a solid concept of operations (CONOPS).  With that in mind, the carrier I’m going to describe would operate paired with a regular supercarrier and two such pairs would constitute a carrier task force in combat.  I’m not going into any great detail on the CONOPS because that’s not the point of this post.  I mention the general usage simply to provide a context to understand where and how this ship fits into the overall fleet structure.

Anyway, here are the design points.

  • Ship size target should be the Midway of the 1980’s.

Length = 960 ft (vs. 1100 ft Ford)
Displacement = 50,000 t (vs. 100,000 t Ford)

  • Air wing size and composition should be a full size wing less helos other than a couple for Search and Rescue.

F-18/35 = 44
EA-18G = 6
E-2D = 4
Non-existent Tanker = 6

  • Catapults = 2 at the waist positions
  • Elevators = 2 or 3
  • Radar = TRS-3D or equivalent
  • SeaRAM / CIWS = 4
  • Power will be conventional rather than nuclear.  Naval engineers can determine whether we need 2 or 4 propeller shafts.

Air Wing.  The air wing will be a nearly full, standard wing.  Current air wings have 44 Hornets and so will ours.  We will also have 6 EA-18G Growlers, 4 E-2D Hawkeyes, and 6 non-existent tankers (if we have to pull S-3 Vikings out of the boneyard, we will).  The old Midway operated a larger air wing than this so we know we can fit this wing on a much smaller carrier than a Nimitz/Ford.

The reduced helo component means a significant savings in less maintenance space, parts storage, machine shops, magazine storage, and fuel storage.  The reduced pilot and maintenance tech numbers means less berthing, smaller galley, fewer heads, and less food and water storage.

Catapults / Elevators.  Carriers rarely operate all four catapults simultaneously.  Most of the time, only the two waist catapults are used and the bow is used for parking aircraft.  We’ll simplify and not even install bow cats.  We’ll go with two waist cats and call it a day. 

Without bow cats, we gain space under the deck at the bow that can be used for hangars or any other function.  Without the need for bow cats, we can also reduce the length of the bow and, thus, the overall length of the ship.  Further, with no bow cats, the bow deck space can be devoted exclusively to parking which “increases” the size of the carrier while actually making it smaller – meaning, that the parking area increases while the actual size decreases!

Sensors.  Carriers are always accompanied by Aegis escorts.  Further, carriers don’t radiate during combat.  Finally, carriers have no long range, advanced weapons that require sophisticated sensors.  Thus, there is no need for advanced radar suites.  The $500M Dual Band Radar and the $300M Enterprise Radar can be replaced by a simple TRS-3D, or equivalent – just enough for navigation and a bit more.  Both the SeaRAM and CIWS have their own radars so, again, there is no need for sophisticated ship sensors.

Weapons.  Carriers are always accompanied by Aegis escorts.  We’ll let the escorts do their job and provide the area AAW defense.  Our carrier will have only short range and close in self-defense weapons.  Four SeaRAM or CIWS will comprise the carrier’s weaponry.  Note that both SeaRAM and CIWS have self-contained radars which, again, is why we don’t need a sophisticated sensor suite for the carrier.

Crew.  The smaller ship size, less equipment, less complex equipment, fewer helos, smaller conventional power plant, etc. all translate to a smaller crew.  A smaller crew translates to smaller hotel services support staff – for instance, fewer cooks and food service staff will be needed.  Add in some judicious use of automation and crew size should be around 1/2 to 2/3 of the Nimitz.  Let’s call it 3000, total, including the air wing personnel.

Cost.  The ship will be 87% of the length of a Nimitz and have 50% the displacement which should significantly cut costs.  Admittedly, the basic hull components are the least expensive portion of the ship but the reduction in length and displacement still offers significant savings.  Let’s call it $700M in hull construction savings. 

The use of conventional power will result in significant construction cost savings and if we can get by with only two shafts/props we’ll save even more.  The 2002 Shipbuilding and Conversion budget shows a line item for “Nuclear Plant Propulsion Equipment” of $1.47B.  Let’s call it $1B in savings from the use of conventional power.

The minimal sensor suite will save hundreds of millions of dollars.  Let’s call it $300M.

The elimination of two catapults will save additional money.  Let’s call it $200M.

The various reductions in equipment will allow a reduction in crew size which means fewer berthing areas, smaller galleys, less food/water storage requirements, and generally less of all the ship’s hotel services which, in total, provides significant savings.  Some of that is reflected in the smaller overall size which we’ve already accounted for.  However, a great deal more savings comes from the reduced equipment, utility demands, hotel service equipment, etc.  Let’s call it $300M.

The various savings total up to $2.5B.  That means that compared to the cost of the last Nimitz built, we can build a smaller carrier for $2.5B less.  So, for $2.5B less than the last Nimitz, we can have a fully functional carrier that operates a full size air wing (less helos). 

Since you’re wondering, the last Nimitz class carrier, the Bush, was commissioned in 2009 and cost $6.2B in then year dollars, according to Wiki.  That’s $7.2B in 2017 dollars.  Thus, we can build our carrier for [$7.2B - $2.5B = $4.7B] versus the $14B+ for the Ford class.

Why wouldn’t we do this?


  1. Waist cats means you can't launch and recover simultaneously does it not? Don't know if this is important or not.

    1. Correct. The carrier operates in cycles and doesn't usually conduct both operations simultaneously. Ideally, you'd like both bow and waist cats but, like everything when you're trying to save money, it's a compromise but one I deem acceptable.

    2. Why not launch from below deck, and use the topside flight deck just for recovery? It would spit out aircraft from the bow. This would make flight ops in bad weather much easier so far as fueling and loading.

    3. There are two problems with that. One is the historical need for wind over the deck to aid in launches. With more powerful catapults, that's no longer an issue. However, the other issue is operating jet aircraft engines in an enclose "hangar" space is unsafe from a noise, heat, and toxic fumes aspect. Also, jet engines need a great deal of intake air and an enclosed space might not be able to provide the required air.

      I'll give you full marks for creative thinking. Next time, though, think through the practical aspects!

    4. It need not be fully enclosed. The upper deck could be more like a platform. This doubles the usable deck space with the same ship size. If you want a much smaller ship without cutting aircraft numbers, this is the solution.

    5. Flying off decks have been tried before in the early days of carrier aviation on HMS Furious, Glorious and Courageous. Also the Kaga and the Akagi originally had two flying off decks. As planes grew bigger and more powerful these were abandoned (and removed entirely from the Japanese carriers). While you could probably make them work with more powerful modern catapults and most carriers already allow the engines to be turned over/warmed up in the hangar (not sure of the correct term), I'm not sure you'd actually gain any advantage as you'd lose a large amount of hangar space as can be seen on the Kaga and Furious:

    6. Why attempt 24/7 operations when you only have enough tac air (~40-48) for cycles instead of cold war era air wings with 64+ support.

      I agree with the trade off.

  2. You forgot to mention ASW systems, its gonna need a robust ASW system especially in the south china sea.

    1. No, I didn't forget ASW. A carrier won't have any. That's what escorts are for. Am I misunderstanding you?

    2. I meant basic submarine detection and countermeasures

    3. Oh, okay. Well, sure, it would have the standard Navy towed decoys and the active anti-torpedo system whenever it's finalized.

  3. So... its an AOE with a flat deck and a hangar?

  4. Paveway, think America class LHA with an angled flight deck. 2 cats & traps, no digital ;-)

    1. After pondering, an AOE/CV makes a lot of sense to me...perhaps it is the rum...

      Additional stores for CVN and escorts alike, additional aircraft.

      If intended as always married to a CVN, you could move the larger/harder to handle aircraft to the CVN but plus up the task forces available aircraft with fighters, helos.

      You could even vismod it so it appears like the larger CVN to further confuse any possible submarine leakers. Sacrifical lamb.

      The question is, do all these benefits make the juice worth the squeeze to develop/build/field such a beast.

  5. CNO your spec. reminds me of the British CVA-01 cancelled in 1966.

    925 ft X 184 ft, 53,000 MT, 3 shaft design which have efficiency advantages over 2 or 4, crew 3,250.

    Two catapults but one on waist and one on bow with a max. 55,000 lbs per a/c. Arresting gear moved forward to more central position to for assist a/c landing in rough weather. Two elevators, one starboard edge near stern and one inboard and forward of the island so could move aircraft to and from the hangar deck without affecting flight operations, a single hangar, 660 ft long by 80 ft, able to take two thirds of a/c. It's design also allowed two-thirds of the aircraft to be parked completely clear of both landing and starboard catapult areas.

    On stern quarter deck had one twin Sea Dart long range AA missile system plus sonar.

    18 F-4 Phantom's and 18 Buccaneer S2 bombers plus 4 Fairey Gannet AEW and up 8 helicopters, normal max. number of a/c 50.

    1. It sounds like a decent small carrier. The air wing is a bit small and the AEW is lacking but, overall, not bad.

      I've always wondered about the RN's carrier air wings. They always seem too small to be effective. I know the RN believes they can surge larger numbers of aircraft but that seems a dubious proposition to me.

      If you spend the money on a carrier, why not spend the money to give it a proper size air wing? I assume it's just misguided budget priorities?

    2. Overall I like it one thing kinda missing the C2 greyhound or it's replacement as for the cat.position how 1 waist and one on the bow it may cut down on aircraft congestion around the 2 waist cat.ideas overall though a very doable and carrier would Theo a couple of ESSM launchers in I'm a (sucker) for them and Trs-4D radar for a little extension of radar coverage Related kinda Bob Work late of the Obama administration accepted a position with Raytheon

    3. C2/COD aircraft are not part of the air wing. They're used as needed on a temporary basis.

  6. As you are using waist catapults, you could move the island as forward as possible, freeing up deck space for parking aircraft, preparing them, etc. The island just shouldn't generate turbulence for landing aircraft.

    IMHO opinion, waist - and no bow - catapults could generate very interesting aircraft carrier designs.

  7. Two suggestions . . .

    First, add a few more Growlers, electronic warfare is too important to skimp on.

    Second, add a few MV-22 for CSAR, they have superior speed/range compared to any helicopter and they are becoming better at defending themselves from small arms fire.

    One downside, an aircraft like the large tanker from a previous post would be difficult operate from a smaller carrier.

    1. You'll note from the post that this is not a stand alone, full combat carrier. It's intended to operate paired with a supercarrier. Thus, the lack of a few Growlers is not an issue since the pooled air wings of the pair have enough.

      The V-22 is not a helo and is not really suited for hovering. Thus, it does not seem an ideal choice for SAR.

      A large tanker is not required for the roles I see the carrier filling.

    2. My opinion is that every airwing should have a few more Growlers.

      Based on what it has done before, I wouldn't discount the Osprey for CSAR role.

    3. "My opinion is that every airwing should have a few more Growlers."

      Why? I'm not saying you're wrong - just want to understand your rationale.

      On a smaller carrier, if the air wing size is limited by available deck space, every Growler added is another aircraft that has to be removed. That's potentially a problematic trade. So, what's your reasoning?

  8. Wow build this, populate it with Attack Aircraft (not the crappy F-35) and we will then have recreated the mix of carriers we gravitated to during WWII.

    Close in carriers are required for attack missions to limit transit time, and they have to be cheaper/expendable because they have to be in close.

    Ironic how practical proven ideas keep coming around.

    1. That's because the U.S. navy and most western navy's don't do evolutionary systems they believe in revolutionary systems with unproven systems mostly don't why or how this happens but it does

    2. You know why - it's funding. The Navy believes it's easier to sell fabulous, almost magical new technology to Congress than to ask for mundane, evolutionary upgrades that aren't glamorous and provide only small, incremental improvements.

      It's always about money!

  9. Does this design use steam cats and hydraulic traps? If so, boilers are the only power plant I know of that could be used. If the design is for EMALS then gas turbines and diesels would be the choice.

    As for the price and the figures you list, a CATOBAR Queen Elizabeth class seems to fit the bill with out going through the process of designing a new ship. Maybe a modernized CVV design could be used, but I do not know how the potential intake and exhaust of a gas turbine power plant would work in the design. In the end, a single A1B reactor could be used or an upscale reactor from the upcoming SSBN with a life of 42 years could also be and option. Of course the carrier would only have a service life of up to 42 years to take advantage of the lower costs of not having to refuel, saving over 2 billion dollars.

    1. Which cat and trap mechanism to use is something I'd leave to the engineers to select, assuming the EMALS and AAG are functional.

      Nuclear power is probably out due to the high up front cost. The intent of this is to be a cheaper carrier.

    2. For a modern conventional powered carrier EMALS would have to be used. The only way I know of to produce the steam required for steam cats with a conventional carrier is with boilers and reverting back to oil fired boilers is not a viable option today. My point being if steam cats are chosen your only option is nuclear, but is EMALS are chosen conventional power is viable with gas turbine and diesel.

      On another note, if reverting back to the Nimitz class is acceptable on a financial level verses the carrier you prosed then building Ford class carriers is also acceptable. The Navy states that the Ford class is supposed to save roughly 4b dollars over its lifetime, subtracting the savings on the purchase price of the ~12b dollar price of the class you end up with the carrier costing ~8b. That is in the range of a Nimitz.

      I am not arguing for or against nuclear carriers, just laying out my thoughts.

    3. EMALS requires a large power source like a nuclear reactor. Conventional catapults require a source of steam, which is provided by the nuclear reactor. Unless we're using steam turbines, which are inefficient, I think it is nuclear power all the way.

    4. "save roughly 4b dollars over its lifetime, subtracting the savings on the purchase price of the ~12b dollar price of the class you end up with the carrier costing ~8b."

      Do I need to recite a litany of all the things the Navy has claimed about costs and prices that turned out to be utterly incorrect? The Navy can claim any savings they want. History assures us that those savings will not materialize.

      The cost of Ford is "officially" $12.9B and that does not include the deferred construction and cost overruns above the Congressionally mandated cost cap. The best estimate of the Ford's cost puts it at $15B-$17B when it's finally complete.

      If you're going to quote numbers, make sure they're accurate!

    5. "I think it is nuclear power all the way."

      Or, we simply use an updated boiler/turbine plant that Midway had and call it a day and a huge savings.

    6. @DogoodPatriot

      "...and reverting back to oil fired boilers is not a viable option today."

      There would be no reason to.
      All Oil Fired Boilers that the navy had were converted to fire Navy Distillate Fuel in the late '70s to '80s, including the Iowa-class Battleships, with minimal efficiency loss.
      It stands that modern Conventional Steam Boilers would fire modern conventional fuels, there even exists Steam Boilers that fire standard gasoline to certain degrees of success.

      ...Or you could just be silly and use Electric Boilers, but that actually is inefficient.

      @Walter Collins

      "EMALS requires a large power source like a nuclear reactor."

      Or a large enough power plant and the capacitor/battery banks to store the required energy.
      I assure you, that is entirely possible, even with absurdly high power requirements.

      "Unless we're using steam turbines, which are inefficient..."

      The GE LM-2500 is 36% efficient, and this according to GE's brochures (field data places it lower).
      The Nuclear plants on the Nimitzes are considered to be about 37% efficient.
      Meanwhile, the old WW2-era Steam Boiler-Turbines aboard the Iowa-class Battleships were rated as 48% efficient in the Bunker Oil era (this is counting for losses from both the boiler and the turbines), dropping to 42% when converted to use Navy Distillate Fuel in the 1980s, and modernization proposals have been tabled in the relatively recent past that would jump the efficiency up to an estimated 56-58%. The wonders of very precisely controlled burning.

      I assure you, efficiency is NOT why they switched away from conventional Steam Boilers.
      It was SKILL and MANPOWER.
      You didn't run the power of HARD STEAM with babyfaced knowitalls fresh from modern education, nor with drugged up street thugs - you needed men with sharp mechanical knowhow. Old generation Snipes (Engineers) were a whole different breed of men, but I'll spare you the glorification; suffice to say, it's a people problem, not a mechanical problem.
      FORTUNATELY, modern steam systems are nowhere near as complicated and hard to use as the old systems, through the wonders of automation. Now even tech-heads and geewizz guy teams could run them, to include modernized Iowa-type boiler-turbines, assuming they had the mettle - which is unfortunately still in short supply, from everything I've heard.

      Long story short, Conventional Steam Plants are entirely an option, if you are willing to front the cost of developing a new boiler-turbine combination, considering the US Navy left the Conventional Naval Steam business (procuring) in 1968. I wouldn't expect extreme cost, however. Just a few hundred million upfront (which is comparatively nothing).

      - Ray D.

    7. Ray D., very informative comment. Good contribution! I learned something.

    8. Ship steam turbines are not history and still an option, so tried and tested steam catapults still a viable option as against the costly and still unproven EMALS, though presume dedicated steam plant solely for catapult would be possible.

      One example of the new generation of steam turbines is the Mitsubishi 'Ultra Steam Turbine', UST, claiming a 15% reduction in fuel consumption from their previous generation plant by producing steam at a higher pressure and temperature plus adopting a reheat steam cycle. They do have a proven track record as now in service and have been ordered for seventeen ships to date so competitive with diesels in some situations. UST is a dual fuel and can use boil-off gas (BOG) generated from the LNG carriers cargo tank and oil. Power outputs range from 13MW to 37MW

      Mitsubishi state their steam turbines come with high reliability and safety; low maintenance costs; flexibility of fuel selection; environmentally friendly,~ 15% decrease in NOx, SOx, CO2; power concentration; low noise and vibration levels, a distinct advantage compared to diesels in aircraft carriers if being targeted by a submarine; extremely long plant life- operational for more than 40 years rivalling the new nuclear plantsat no doubt a fraction of nuclear cost.

  10. I don't know CNOPS. In your series here you are following your own template for a requirement that doesn't really exist except as a rebut to "the Ford costs too much" lamentations! The only requirements for a "smaller carrier" having been described by John McCain's fantasy point papers, the USMCs wetdreams to supplant Naval Aviation, and the "I hate carriers crew" for a multitude of reasons... All who in one guise or another have been around my entire 40+ year association w/carrier aviation as a warrior, operator, air warfare SME, CVN watchstander, and navy aircraft technical brand manager.

    To be brutally honest you seem to be proposing a flawed carrier version of the Little Crappy Ship (LCS), right in front of your very own eyes!

    I will not pick it apart because some of your assumptions appear anecdotal but only because I want to see more of the ideas others have thrown out that our equally interesting..... I also happen to like your internet strawman process to hear what others think.


    1. You've completely missed my rationale for a smaller carrier!

      I think you've also missed the scale of my "smaller" carrier! It's not really very small! This is emphatically not the escort carrier that keeps getting proposed over and over again.

      What is the trend in carrier numbers from the end of WWII until now? You know it because you appear to have lived part of it. We quickly dropped from WWII to 20 or so, then 15, then 12, and now we're at 11 with constant discussions about dropping another carrier. With only 9 active air wings, how long do you think it will be until someone does the arithmetic and decides 9 or 10 carriers is fine since we only have 9 wings?

      Why have we seen a steady drop in carrier numbers? It's because the world has moved in a steadily more peaceful direction so we don't need as big a fleet!

      We've dropped because carriers have gotten steadily more expensive even after adjusting for inflation. We are literally pricing ourselves out of the carrier business. We can continue to ride the runaway cost train until we have no carriers or we can do something different. My "different" is a Midway size carrier that operates what passes for a full air wing.

      How could anyone object to a carrier that operates a full air wing but is cheaper?

      Okay, you don't like my idea. Aside from simply saying so, which you've done, do you have any specific objection or do you just generically refuse to consider any alternative?

      In what possible way is a cheaper carrier that carriers a full air wing a version of the LCS???? I'm intrigued.

  11. Basically, your proposal isn't very small but it isn't big enough, IMO. In a blue water match we need all cats, elevators and redundancy/size a big deck gives speed and range... We have to generate innumerable sorties until first contact and then sustain combat ops until we have victory. IMO, you can't that with a smaller capital carrier. This concept dominated during the Cold War and allowed us to display power through about every incident the post war world has offered up. Don't be mislead by present ops for the WOT as a baseline...that isn't W-A-S, bluewater.

    Re the aiwing/CVN downsizing and numbers game, I have seen that close up and seen the vagaries and small vision that went into that process. 12-15 CVNs and equal numbers of larger air wings(10-15 more) are what we need.


    1. I keep repeating this to you: we are pricing ourselves out of the carrier business. If you don't like the alternatives, what do you propose? Are you just content to ride the runaway costs down to zero carriers?

    2. Defense costs taxpayer $$. Supposedly a "common defense" is the first priority of our government.... We spent more per capita on "D" during the Cold War that everyone disparages as not being serious.. Now we want to confront all our enemies/adversaries like we did just 26 years ago in today's world on a budget? No friggin way...

      We either increase defense spending significantly given worldwide islamic terrorism, dangerous nuclear armed nations like Iran, NOK, etc... the rise of the PRC and the resurgence of a pugilistic Russia along with all the other issues or become irrelevant/toothless just like France or Britain... IMO, the USA should face up to its future and go back to Cold War levels of spending or face a future where we cannot guide events (benevolently of course...) like we have since WW2. It's that simple.

      The tremendous costs for the Ford come from Congressional dickering with the 50 state stuff as usual while GWOT- LIC raged, the US Navy too eager for new development "R&D items" ($$) like the maglev cats/ARR, and the very nature of how stretched out the program was executed from the only shipyard capable.... I would wager you that any new start capital ship, even your proposed CV(N) Minus would come in at equal or negligible lessor costs than the Ford...Unfortunate but predictable..8636684
      I do not trust our procurement system and our government to execute another program for a new class of ship today.. sorry.


    3. Okay, your "solution" is to ride the carrier death spiral down and hope for a huge budget increase at some point.

      I know you're aware of the carrier numbers trend and the fact that we're down to 9 air wings and that the squadron sizes will shrink to 8-10 aircraft per squadron as the F-35 reaches squadron service. With all that in mind, doing nothing and hoping for a huge budget increase seems a very unlikely scenario. I hope you're right! In the meantime, I'll continue to look for alternatives.

    4. CNOPs,

      Yes I can see that linear shrinking (death spiral) over the past 25 years up close and in the NA business. However "no bucks no buck rogers".. All that will remain will be a Sand Pebbles size Navy of the 1920's ultimately, with an expensive USMC that we will have to shuttle around when it works....

      Working within standard "budgets" that aren't really "budgets" the past 8 years and effectively longer since 9-11's bearded AK-47 enemy arrived on the scene and before that with the "peace dividend" Bill Clinton extracted.

      No CNOPs, I say think bigger and think pre-1990 budgets (as % GDP). Push for that increase in your blog I say and build a real capital ship Navy. Don't always try to save a buck with perceived innovation/miracle weapons like rail guns/lasers and drones, or what some foreigners use. The US Navy can't always perform miracles like Midway or even GW1 for America without some investment by those same citizens... IMO, the taxpayer will gladly support a powerful Navy IF they only were told the truth about what they have and why the Navy is important. Why plan and waste your time writing up your possibilities within the tired old budget box that the political buffoons have provided us...


    5. "Push for that increase in your blog"

      You seem to be solidly rooted in the reality camp (notwithstanding your utterly unlikely desire for a mega-budget increase!). My problem with the bigger budget approach is that, realistically, the Navy will squander any increase on useless things like the next Zumwalt/LCS/F-35/etc. while simultaneously early retiring completely usable ships and failing to maintain what we have. I am pro-Navy as can be and anti-bigger budget as can be until the Navy demonstrates some small capability to manage and care for what they already have. As we speak, the Navy has effectively retired 6 Aegis cruisers, the most powerful surface ships in the world, well before their service life has ended. You want me to reward that with calls for bigger budgets? No can do.

      We're going to have to disagree on this one, I'm afraid.

    6. I don't trust them to design/acquire anything new and you don't trust them to manage whatever $$ increases they could get as part of a buildup....It is a double edged sword that would require real leadership to blunt and that leadership is just not available.

      Trump "wishes" it, Mattis just seems to crave the status quo for the moment, and there are none on active duty that seem to understand how to accomplish what was done before...

      This recent incident at sea in the straits of molucca has me thinking the Navy is in real decline from within. How can a Navy succeed when the wrong people are in positions of leadership? Nice as they are on paper the CNO is an SSBN driver working for STRATCOM and the VCNO is a P-3 pilot with not even one disassociated sea tour embarked...Shaking things up and change got us into all this mess and now it is insidiously embedded and almost unrecognizable as the institution it was....

  12. Personally I think this is what the LHAs should become with full fixed wing capability and catapults.

    1. For their size, it is baffling why LHAs/LHDs dont have angled decks and at least a few trap lines and one cat - if for emergency use only.

  13. Your design defeats the biggest rationale for the angled deck; the ability to land and launch simultaneously. In combat this means no fighters could be launched to reinforce the CAP while some fixed wing aircraft needs to land.

    Another problem stems from the reduction in helos. Those helos are wasting deck and hangar area that fixed wing aircraft should use, true - but they're necessary for ASW screening because Arleigh Burkes have little helo capacity, the oldest ones even lack a hangar.
    The ASW screen would be insufficient for a single carrier CVBG with the typical quantity of escorts. Your design would thus be forced to either have a helo carrier as support (the USN ones are too slow) or it require as many Ticos and Burkes as do now have two CVNs. This in turn means that a two-CVB battle group would be required in warfare with submarine threats.
    That redundancy is not necessarily a bad thing for warfare, but it doesn't fit the obsessive forward patrolling of the peacetime USN. The typical peacetime CVBG would have ASW insufficiencies.

    1. You noted what the subject of the post was, right? - how to design and build a smaller, cheaper carrier. If we keep every capability that the Ford has, we won't have a smaller, cheaper carrier, we'll have a $15B+ Ford!

      Smaller and cheaper means that something has to be left off. Carriers don't generally use the bow cats so that's a reasonable thing to eliminate. It's very rare for a carrier to simultaneously launch and land aircraft. Traffic control issues discourage the practice. It would be an incredibly rare circumstance that would require true simultaneous launches and landings even in combat. Carriers operate on launch/recovery cycles even in combat.

      You also noted that I explicitly stated that this was not a fully Nimitz/Ford functional carrier, right? It's a smaller, cheaper carrier. Smaller and cheaper is not perfect but perfect costs $15B+.

      This carrier is not intended to replace the Nimitz/Ford carriers. It's a smaller, cheaper (I'm going to keep saying that until you grasp it) complement that allows us to increase naval aviation without breaking the bank. In war, I would envision one or two of these operating in a group with two Nimitz/Ford carriers. That takes care of the ASW helo issue.

      People persist in wanting to evaluate every ship and aircraft in isolation and if it can't win a war single-handed then it's no good. Well, a smaller, cheaper carrier can't win a war single-handed but it can certainly make a major contribution with it's full combat air wing for a fraction of the price.

      You understand that no carrier is going to operate alone during war, right?


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