Still would. After all, those who received the latest electromagnetic catapults and aero-finisher, low-level ammunition lifts with an automated control system, redesigned flight deck and island superstructure, as well as equipped with new nuclear reactors, giving 2,5 times more electricity than on the Nimitz type AVMA, new American floating aerodromes perhaps the only ones in their class today correspond to the title of “warship of the 21st century”.
However, in reality, not everything is so simple and rosy in America in the field of aircraft carrier forces. Moreover, gradually gaining strength, let's say, anti-aircraft lobby. No, its representatives do not urge the US fleet to completely abandon aircraft carriers, but they are actively in favor of a serious revision of the existing policy in this area and the approaches used over the past decades in relation to this segment of the shipbuilding program.
ATOMIC WAYS RIGHT BALL
Currently, the U.S. Navy carrier forces include 10 Nimitz-type nuclear multi-purpose aircraft carriers, which are fully operational, and one Ford aircraft carrier, which was put into operation in the summer of 2017, but will be actually in trial operation for several more years. . Thus, in fact, for the first time, the American admirals managed to ensure the uniformity of the military personnel fleet their aircraft carriers. Moreover, both by type of ship and by type of main power plant. This, in turn, makes it possible to significantly simplify and, possibly, reduce the cost of training specialists of various profiles for service on these ships, as well as the maintenance of ships of this class.
It should be noted here that atomic multi-purpose aircraft carriers and naval wings today are one of the most important components of the combat potential of the American fleet, capable of solving the whole range of tasks assigned to the naval forces in particular and the US military as a whole. Their main task, according to Americans, is to project power into any part of the world where there are American national interests. Moreover, if strategic submarine missile carriers are a kind of nuclear baton that destroys everything and everyone without special analysis, then aircraft carriers are a kind of sword and spear “in one bottle”, selectively destroying unwanted and inspiring fear and respect to the enemy.
Speaking once before the AVMA “Dwight Eisenhower” crew, General John Shalikashvili, at that time, the chairman of the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff, said: “I feel calm every time my question is to the operational officer“ Where is the nearest aircraft carrier? "He can answer:" He is in that very place! "For the interests of the United States, this means everything." It is unlikely to be able to more accurately characterize the importance of carrier forces for US national security. Is that the words of US President Bill Clinton: "When Washington utters the word" crisis ", then the first on everyone's lips the question arises:" Where is the nearest aircraft carrier? "But the question is: can the American admirals with a constant reduction in the number of their carrier forces observed so far, still clearly answer the question "Where is the nearest aircraft carrier?" Let's try to figure it out.
As part of the previous 30-year shipbuilding program, which provided for the maintenance of the size of the US Navy’s ship composition within 308 surface ships and submarines of the main classes, it was planned to have 2022 aircraft-ready aircraft carriers in the 11 – 2022 fiscal year during the 2024 fiscal year - 12 of aircraft carriers, in the period of 2025 – 2039 of financial years - 11 of ships, and starting from 2040 of the fiscal year - only 10 of aircraft carriers. It was assumed that the fleet in the period of 2017 – 2046 fiscal years will include six new aircraft carriers - one each in the 2018, 2023, 2028, 2033, 2038 and 2043 financial years. Thus, the rate of withdrawal of the Nimitz-type aircraft carriers from the US Navy was planned at a higher level than the entry of new AVMAs into service.
A serious change in the military-political situation in the world, as well as the arrival of Donald Trump in the White House presidency, who resolutely promised to "make America great again", including by increasing military spending and modernizing the national Armed Forces, prompted the US Navy to propose a new , a more ambitious military shipbuilding plan.
According to the estimated fleet strength (2016 Force Structure Assessment), which 16 of December 2016 released to the then US Navy Secretary Ray Meibas, the US Navy will need to effectively and timely solve all the tasks assigned to it, as well as successfully parry today's and future threats. have at least 355 warships of various classes, including 12 atomic multi-purpose aircraft carriers, 66 multi-purpose and 12 strategic nuclear submarines, as well as 104 large surface ships of the main classes and 38 large landing ships. Moreover, the application even exceeded the task of increasing the number of warships to 350 pennants and 47 units or 1,5% announced by 308 pennants to 2021 year announced by US President Donald Trump during his election campaign. In fact, American admirals conceived the largest increase in the number of naval personnel since the days of Ronald Reagan's presidency.
First of all, in terms of plan, there are atomic multi-purpose aircraft carriers, for which, for the first time in recent years, growth is planned for just one ship (from 11 to 12 units), but here we must understand that an additional aircraft carrier and, accordingly, an additional aircraft carrier group will also require a significant number of additional combat ships , airplanes and helicopters, as well as support vessels, etc. Not to mention the personnel, which will need to be further recruited and trained. So in the aggregate, the intention of the US Navy command to increase in the future the number of aircraft carriers will lead to a very significant overall increase in the combat potential of the US Navy, but will require considerable time and enormous funds.
The reason for the increase in the minimum number of atomic aircraft carriers is quite understandable - in recent years, the volume of tasks solved by aircraft carrier groups and units of the US Navy has increased significantly, which has led to an increase in the operational voltage ratio. With all the ensuing consequences, including the emergence of a "vacuum of force." So, in December 2016 for the first time in many years history The Persian Gulf region was left without a US floating airfield — the AWMA Dwight Eisenhower, whose 3 shipboard wing was actively involved in launching air strikes against the terrorists, did not come to replace the departed AVMA home. Designated for this AVMA "George G.W. Bush "stayed in Norfolk, where he took another scheduled repair, unexpectedly stretching from the standard six months, first to eight, and then completely to 13 months, and forced the Strait of Hormuz only on 21 in March 2017, becoming the first US Navy aircraft carrier during the presidency of Donald Trump who arrived for combat duty in the Persian Gulf.
However, this document does not contain any more or less specific data on the marine fleet “desirable” for admirals aviation Navy and Navy personnel. Although the application for an additional aircraft carrier will require the formation of an additional naval aircraft wing as part of naval aviation, for which the budget will have to cover the costs of the purchase of up to hundreds of aircraft and helicopters for various purposes, including at least 48 aircraft of the F / A-18 family, and increase training costs and the content of additional personnel. However, American experts consider it quite reasonable to increase the staffing level of the Navy from the current 324 thousand to about 340-350 thousand. The official representative of the Navy, in a comment to reporters of the Navy Times in mid-December 2016, emphasized that “in order to determine the appropriate number of personnel, conduct additional research. ”
The same time, then US Secretary of the Navy Ray Maybas spoke about this in his 16 speech in December 2016, noting that the estimate of the desired fleet numbers is just one of a series of studies that naval experts will perform. Including taking into account the results obtained in the framework of the Future Fleet Architecture series of studies conducted under the auspices of the Congress and completed in October 2016 of the research series, the structure of the future fleet is also often translated. At the same time, according to the Minister, if necessary, the Assessment can be adjusted so as to “best suit the tasks that the Navy will solve.”
It remains to add that on February 9 of 2017, the Chief of Naval Operations (Commander) of the United States Navy presented a new working paper to the new US Secretary of Defense James Mattis entitled “United States Navy Accelerated Fleet Plan”. In this document, the name of which can be translated as "Plan for the Accelerated Development of the US Navy", the command of the US Navy proposed a significant increase in the rate of renewal of the ship and fleet fleet. As far as aircraft carriers are concerned, the plan calls for the commissioning of a second Ford AVMA not in the 2023 fiscal year, as planned in the 30-year-old shipbuilding program adopted as part of the military budget for the 2017 fiscal year, but in the 2022 fiscal year, that is, a year earlier. In this case, the number of aircraft carrier forces in 12 combat aircraft carriers saved.
WITH COMMANDING, NOT ALL AGREE
However, not all US naval experts are so determined on the need to increase the number of atomic aircraft carriers. For example, back in March 2013, the Center for New American Security (Centerfora New American Security - CNAS) released the monograph “How much will we pay for an aircraft carrier?” (Originally At At Cost Cost Carrier), the author of which is Captain Henry Hendrix, for a long time He has served in the US Naval Aviation and in various positions on the coast, and currently heads the US Naval History and Heritage Command (Director, Naval History and Heritage Command). In this monograph in sufficient detail, including even mathematical calculations, a number of important issues related to the further development of the US Navy aircraft carrier forces are considered: should America continue to build "big" aircraft carriers, considering them as the main means for projecting power and solving the most important tasks in the interests of national security; how much the continuation of such a line in naval construction can cost; are there alternatives to this approach, etc.
"The aircraft carrier is the cornerstone of the strongest military fleet that the world has ever seen, facing the threat of becoming like the battleships to support which it was originally created: huge, expensive, vulnerable, and also, which may come as a surprise, completely unresponsive to modern to the requirements of an armed confrontation, the author begins his monograph. “An aircraft carrier that has only manned strike aircraft is a constantly increasing method of projecting firepower, while aircraft carriers themselves in the era of satellite reconnaissance and long-range strike missile systems will no longer be able to approach targets so closely that they can operate effectively and remain unharmed.”
“The carrier strike group is very expensive to acquire and operate. Including the cost of the full life cycle of the ship's air wing, five surface ships and one atomic multi-purpose submarine plus the cost of 6700 people of their personnel, the use of each carrier-based combat group costs about 6,5 million per day, says the following data from the category “Cost - efficiency”. - Carriers such as "Nimitz" can carry out about 120 sorties per day. Ford-equipped aircraft carriers equipped with an electromagnetic catapult should carry out about 160 sorties a day - by 33% more. This is impressive at first glance, but just before you realize that “George G. W. Bush, the last Nimitz type aircraft carrier, cost 7 billion dollars, and Gerald R. Ford cost 13,5 billion dollars. Ultimately, the state pays about 94% more for an aircraft carrier that can do only 33 work. % more.
"Even if we take into account the reduction of costs due to reduced crew and lower operating costs, it is still not the best way to spend American taxpayers' money," he emphasizes. “If it’s true that when money is not enough, people are getting smarter, then the United States needs some smart people right now.”
At the same time, Captain Hendrix believes that the development of aircraft carrier forces and the fleet as a whole should go ahead in a number of areas, including:
- intensification of efforts in the field of creating unmanned aerial systems for various purposes (percussion, reconnaissance, support), including carrier-based, which, in his opinion, will eliminate a number of serious shortcomings inherent in manned aircraft (limitations on the loads and duration of the flight, the possibility of error due to human factors, etc.), as well as reduce the time and financial costs of training pilots and reduce combat and non-combat losses in flight personnel;
- expanding the nomenclature of ship-based attack missile systems, in particular, long-range sea-based cruise missiles of the Tomahawk family, which will allow strikes at the enemy with weapons systems that limit the ability of US naval groups to access vital areas for America’s national security ( such systems, he relates, for example, the Chinese anti-ship ballistic missile DF-21D).
“After 100’s years of its history, an aircraft carrier is rapidly approaching sunset as a beneficial strategic tool,” Capten Hendrix sums up. - Achievements in areas such as observation, intelligence, global positioning, rocket weapon and high-precision weapons, show that not only the war at sea, but also all forms of conducting armed confrontation is changing. ”
MEDIUM AIRCRAPS LEAVE FOR ARENA
On the other hand, not all US naval experts are ready to support such a rather sharp assessment of the future of aircraft carriers. And in general, it must be said, the approaches to the formation of aircraft carrier forces for the long term among the existing specialists of the US Navy and the Defense Ministry are not monolithic and are quite different. Sometimes it is even suggested that it is expedient to build both “large-deck” atomic multi-purpose aircraft carriers like the AVMA of the “Nimitz” or “Ford” types, as well as some “average aircraft-carriers” that will be different in size and size of the ship’s air group, but will cost the budget much cheaper in construction and operation, and surrender to the fleet will be at a faster pace.
In particular, as a result of three analytical assessments of an alternative version of the US Navy’s shipbuilding program, performed in 2016 by specialists from a special working group, which included leading experts from various departments and departments of the Ministry of Naval Forces, as well as representatives from the Office of General Assessments of the Office of the Secretary of Defense and Research Naval Problems Analysis Center (Center for Naval Analyzes - CAN), October 27, 2016, the US military-political leadership was presented with a possible shipbuilding plan flax program for the long term, according to which it is proposed to have in 2030, the carrier-based forces in the 11 "large-deck" and 3 "medium" aircraft carriers. At the same time, however, it was proposed to reduce to two units the fleet of universal amphibious ships, which have quite large air groups and are often able to solve very serious tasks on their own - without support from aircraft carriers.
The authors of the report prepared by the American Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA), prepared in 2017 by the experts of the independent American Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, even more radically propose to "redraw" the strength of these forces. As part of the creation of the “Fleet of 355 Pennants”, they propose to build 12 “large-deck” and 10 “medium” aircraft carriers, but instead write off all the existing UDCs and reduce the total number of amphibious forces with the planned command of the 38 fleet of ships to 29.
There is a serious attempt to redistribute the strike tasks between the aircraft carrier and amphibious forces of the American fleet.
However, all this is not a prospect for the coming years. In the meantime, the combat strength of the US Navy has been replenished with the most modern and most powerful aircraft carrier in the history of mankind, which at least in many respects corresponds to the concept laid down during the construction of aircraft carriers of the Nimitz type, is even to a certain extent similar to them, but from a technological point of view it represents the ship of the new generation and therefore significantly exceeds them in a number of parameters.