The U.S. Could Save Billions by Getting Rid of Its Useless, Expensive Aircraft Carriers

With major defense cuts finally on the table, all branches of the military are looking long and hard at their biggest-ticket items. And even in the big-money world of defense spending, the $14 billion price tag of a new aircraft carrier makes it a juicy target.

The Navy currently operates 11 carrier strike groups, which also include support ships, planes, and submarines, at a cost of almost $7 million per day. Each. That’s a lot of food stamps, Social Security checks, and soldiers’ pensions.

Given the threat of new ship-killing missiles capable of wiping out billions of dollars of hardware (and thousands of sailors) in a single blow, might it make more sense to buy more, smaller ships?

Navy Captain Henry J. Hendrix thinks so: he notes that, in today’s environment, a smaller ship or submarine armed with cruise missiles or long-range drones could provide just as much deterrence as the overwhelming killing power of a fully-loaded aircraft carrier at a fraction of the cost.

“Money is tight, and as the nautical saying goes, the enemy has found our range,” writes the salty sailor/PhD historian. “It is time to change course.”

Not mentioned in the report, but relevant, is that no other navy in the world is capable of deploying more one modern aircraft carrier, so maybe 11 of the things is a bit of overkill anyway.


H/T to Wired’s Danger Room blog, which also has a nifty slideshow of possible carrier replacements. Photo is actual cover of the report.



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